Top 10 Songs For A ‘These Broken Stars’ Soundtrack

Despite having read ‘These Broken Stars’ in the summer holidays, I still can’t stop thinking about the unbelievable world that Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman have created for their YA readers. The story has everything: action, adventure, romance, sci-fi, fantasy… and it’s beautifully narrated by the main characters, Tarver and Lilac LaRoux (such a fabulous name). As I enjoyed reading this book so much, I decided to put together a playlist to accompany the story (in chronological order) as if I were adapting it for the big screen.

  1. Icarus by Bastille: Icarus is the name of the space ship on which the first few scenes take place. The lyric “Icarus is flying too close to the sun” acts as foreshadowing for the catastrophe that is about to occur.
  2. Roads by Lawson: Tarver and Lilac keep crossing paths onboard the Icarus. As much as she tries to ignore him and push him away, they are drawn to each other by coincidence (which we later discover…is fate).
  3. Unsustainable by Muse: I can imagine this song complementing the scene when Tarver and Lilac are thrust into space in the escape pod. They are forced out of their comfort zone and into a world void of luxury or even simple communication. The word unsustainable is a reflection on the unstable escape pod itself and the protagonists’ future, as they will have limited resources when cut off from the Icarus.
  4. Hold My Hand by Michael Jackson ft. Akon: Lilac is very determined not to be helped at all by Tarver. She does not want to depend on him, and even though he offers to make hiking on the foreign planet more bearable, she refuses to take off her green ballgown, heels, or hold his hand when crossing the rocky terrain. This song shows the conflict between Tarver’s kindness and Lilac’s stubbornness.
  5. If These Sheets Were States by All Time Low: In order to keep warm, Tarver suggests that Lilac should sleep next to him when they are camping outside. The tension is high as Lilac seems to repulse him and will not resort to such sleeping arrangements. This song reflects the protagonists’ yearning to be close to one another before Lilac finally caves in to her feelings.
  6. Staring At The Sun by Mika: Tarver and Lilac constantly look out for rescue space ships in the atmosphere, and they both miss their family, who could be anywhere in space. This song highlights their loneliness, despite having each other for company; they are truly isolated.
  7. Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons: Tarver develops a sickness and Lilac must gather medical resources from the crashed Icarus. If she loses Tarver then she loses everything. For them, it’s practically the end of the world, and as Tarver bleeds out, so does Lilac’s hope.
  8. Final Goodbye by Rihanna: Now that the protagonists have been rescued, it’s unlikely that they will be able to see each other again. Lilac’s father is the most powerful man known to the whole galaxy and it is unacceptable for her to socialise with someone as low-ranking as Tarver, despite his reputation as a fighter. They say a final, heart-breaking goodbye, as they are both sure that Tarver will be punished in the same way as Lilac’s previous boyfriend…by death.
  9. Neutron Star Collision by Muse: I don’t think this song fits into the plot of the story in any way; it’s more of a general commentary on the protagonists’ romantic feelings. The title of the song seems like a perfect metaphor for the way in which Tarver and Lilac’s hearts collided (as it explains in the lyrics). I found it hard to include only 2 Muse songs in this soundtrack because they use an impressive amount of space/physics jargon that could not be more suited to sci-fi and fantasy.
  10. Atlas by Coldplay: I would use this song alongside the credits rolling. I can imagine the audience in the cinema remaining in their seats, stunned by the incredible cinematography and poignant, heart-warming story of the film as ‘Atlas’ haunts them before leaving this fantasy world. I get chills every time I listen to this song – it just resonates with me for some reason, and I think it would be the perfect end to a ‘These Broken Stars’ movie.
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Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2: Film Review

I enjoyed Pitch Perfect a lot more than I thought I would, as I assumed all the hype about the cup song was over-rated. I decided to see Pitch Perfect 2 as a fun way to unwind and start my holiday.

Overall, I thought the film was vibrant and energetic, with a lot of colour and good music. I loved all of the musical performances and the choreography was great. I liked that they included a wide range of music genres that matched the singers’ personalities and situations. The sing-off between the different acapella groups in the crazy fan’s basement was well timed and entertaining. I feel like the music producer cleverly put together the mash-ups so that the songs flowed from one to another in a fun and interesting way.

It was also great to be able to recognise other singing stars in the cast, such as Pentatonix (my favourite acapella group in the entire world) and Snoop Dogg (although I think his subplot was completely pointless). I was excited to see Flula, the German YouTuber, in the film as well, as he is absolutely hilarious in the videos he makes (and appears in –eg, I couldn’t stop laughing when he featured in Grace Helbig’s podcast, Not Too Deep). As I enjoyed the music aspect so much – and could have just watched the actors perform numbers for the duration of the film – I listened to the movie soundtrack as soon as I got home. I predict that the hype about the Pitch Perfect franchise will definitely make acapella more popular and appreciated in the music industry.

Whilst I admire Elizabeth Banks for directing her debut film and starring in it as well, I had some issues with the film, which I would like to highlight.

First of all, the script was terrible. I’m usually the one who notices visual effects and not so much the acting or script, so this script really stands out to me as being very poorly written. Pitch Perfect 2 is a musical comedy, and I can tell that they really tried to put an equal emphasis on both aspects. However, I felt that the music was strong, and the comedy was shockingly bad. Don’t get me wrong, there were some funny moments, but most of the time, I knew that the script was ‘supposed’ to be funny, but nobody in the audience laughed at all. There were lots of comments and jokes that were so unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the script. I felt like many of the lines were wasted and were used as fillers to pad out the film (in terms of extending its duration).

Something else I didn’t like was the fact that the characters were trying too hard to be awkward, possibly to seem relatable to the audience. I am a super awkward person when it comes to social interaction, and if I get nervous, my words come out in the wrong order and I say things that I instantly take back. Anyway, imagine situations like these, but magnified and acted out by every character in the film on multiple occasions. I don’t know why the writers decided that every character should be an awkward turtle because it made it so cringe-worthy and pointless.

In fact, I think that some of the characters could have been excluded from the film entirely, such as Lilly and Flo. Everything that Lilly said was completely random and irrelevant, much like Grandma Georgina from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Flo’s vulgar/stereotypical ‘jokes’ about her background were not needed. I didn’t really like any of the characters, and I particularly disliked John and Gail, who made awfully racist remarks that were not even slightly funny.

Following on from the issue of racism… Obviously every story has to have a villain, and in this case, the enemy was the German acapella group, Das Sound Machine. They were portrayed as totally evil characters compared to the Bellas, but it wasn’t just their personalities that alluded to harsh stereotyping. They wore all black, all the time, and their choreography had a militaristic style – it couldn’t be any more Nazi-esque if they tried. Also, maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it seemed obvious to me that the choice of songs they performed further added to the evil aura. Firstly, they sang Uprising by Muse, which is based on the story of 1984 by George Orwell. Next, they sang My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up) by Fall Out Boy. If these songs don’t scream death, destruction, violence and manipulation, I don’t know what does…

Top Ten Christmas Songs For 2014

Just as Halloween is another name for October, Christmas is practically another name for December. I don’t actually celebrate Christmas, but when this time of year comes around, I can’t help but absorb the festive spirit. Everyone is very excitable, the streets look so pretty, and all I want to do is snuggle up on the sofa in my onesie with a mug of hot chocolate! So without further ado, here are ten songs (in alphabetical order) that I enjoy listening to during the Christmas period. And no, this is not the soundtrack to Frozen!

The Giving Tree by Plain White T’s

Christmas is all about giving and being with loved ones, right?

I Belong To You (Mon Ceur S’ouvre A Ta Voix) by Muse

In My Veins by Andrew Belle

Mary, Did You Know? by Pentatonix

I am obsessed with Pentatonix at the moment! They have just released their new Christmas album called ‘That’s Christmas To Me’, and I decided to buy it (this being my only Christmas album ever purchased). It’s truly wonderful and I urge you to at least watch White Winter Hymnal on YouTube because the way they create the beat is really awesome (you’ll have to see for yourself). Anyway, this song is just one of the beautiful arrangements you can find in their new album. (I would include all of them in this list but then I’d have no space for any other songs!) Enjoy!

The Mighty Fall by Fall Out Boy (feat. Big Sean)

To me, just listening to the introduction of the song puts me in a festive mood – I think it’s the combination of jingly bell sounds and the “na na na na”s.

Roads Untraveled by Linkin Park

I find this song quite haunting, and the chimes in the background make me think of clanging icicles or something.

Saviour by Black Veil Brides

I’m pretty certain that they’re not referring to Jesus as the saviour here, but it’s still quite fitting!

Tongue Tied by the Glee Cast

I first heard this is in a Hollister shop when I was doing some Christmas shopping a few years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since! I love the energy of the song, and Glee makes everything sound brilliant.

Tuning Out by Bastille

The harmonies in this one give me shivers down my spine!

Violet Hill by Coldplay

“It was a long and dark December / From the rooftops I remember / There was snow, white snow”

Question of the day: which songs put you in a wintry mood and why? I’d love to know (and receive some recommendations) 😉

Top Ten Summer Tracks For 2014

Let’s kick off this holiday with some music to get us in a summery mood. Here are ten songs to brighten up your days spent having fun in the sun (whilst I’m stuck at home writing essays)…

1) Bamboleo by Gipsy Kings

2) Holiday by Green Day

3) Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet

4) Hit And Run by LOLO

5) Na Na Na by My Chemical Romance

6) The Calender by Panic! At The Disco

7) Our Time Now by Plain White T’s

8) Lightning In A Bottle by The Summer Set

9) Drive By by Train

10) To The Sky by Owl City

Which songs should I add to the list? Let me know what you will be listening to this summer.

Aside

Writing101 Day#3: Commit To A Writing Practice

I’ve just been scrolling through my iTunes library, trying to find the songs that would make up the soundtrack of my life. For today’s task, I found it hard to pick just 3 songs to celebrate, because music is such a big part of my life, and I don’t think I’d be able to function without my daily dose of funky tracks. Choice of music is so personal, and in a way, I feel that the songs you like map out some kind of imaginary constellation which defines you – your personality and your journey through life. Yes, I may be more into The Summer Set than the Sugababes now, but that girl group is a slice of my childhood pie, and I wouldn’t be me without that music in my memory.

1) Weightless by All Time Low

This song is all about wanting to break free and do your own thing in life. When you’re stuck somewhere and you want to let go so that you can get started on something else, it’s really frustrating. Sometimes, I get so claustrophobic and impatient because I’m itching to begin a creative project, or it’s sunny and I’m indoors… I can really relate to this song, and I think the lyrics suit my life so well right now. Being a teenager is hard because you’ve escaped childhood and are on the brink of adulthood – and you feel like you have so much to offer the world, but you’re just not good enough yet, or you can’t focus on what you personally want due to demands like school and exams. You go through the good times and the bad times, but it will get better, and that’s what keeps you going. I just want to be weightless, and that should be enough.

2) Express Yourself by Labrinth

A lot of the time, I feel like an outcast. I think that I’m weird and awkward and just not normal. But this song helps me remember that there is no such thing as ‘normal’, and that everyone is different. You just have to follow your heart and do what makes you happy, and that is what life should be all about, rather than worrying about fitting in or avoiding stereotypes. This song makes me really happy (more happy than Happy) because I can relate to all of the strange ‘isms‘ and personality quirks mentioned, and I know that I’m not alone.

3) Upside Down by Paloma Faith

The title of this song is enough to explain me in 2 words! I live a busy, crazy life, and it’s all going so fast that I feel like I’m constantly living upside down! For a start, my desk is a tip and I can’t find anything on it; I make so many plans and I get stressed out when I’m out of time by even a minute; I don’t get enough sleep so I’m constantly tired and confused; and I prefer to daydream than to keep my head in the real world. I’m just a happy, messy wreck living in a fantasy.

Divergent

Film Review: Divergent

By some kind of miracle, I was able to watch Divergent on Friday – the opening day in the UK. Dream come true, right? My two friends and I raced to the cinema with 5 minutes to spare, extremely excited about what we were about to see. First of all, I have to congratulate Veronica Roth. I’m so happy for her, and couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out. I know the film is completely independent to the book, but I feel that it was a good representation of the original story, and it was pulled off very well. I had low expectations because I was too let down by The Hunger Games film and didn’t want to be as disappointed; however, I was not at all disappointed this time – I was highly IMPRESSED.

I want to start off with the ‘bad’ things I noticed about the film. I don’t have much criticism, so let me just get it out of the way. It’s not even to do with picking out differences between the film and book, which surprises me.

Music: Most of the time, the music was suitable for the situation, and wasn’t over-dramatic or anything. However, I absolutely hated the music that had singing in it. I found it very intrusive, and it didn’t go at all. Plus, Ellie Goulding was used as the main soundtrack artist, and I can’t stand her voice. It just didn’t work for me, and ruined the film.

Sound: The tone of the film (especially at the beginning with Tris’ voiceovers) was quite calm – either to set the scene or to create tension. But it was hard to hear everything that the characters were saying. I know that acting for film is totally different than acting for theatre because you don’t need to project your voice (as the gaffers pick up the sound from a close proximity to the actors). But some lines were barely audible, and I don’t think it was the cinema’s fault! I wouldn’t say it needed to be a lot louder, they just needed to have slightly raised the volume when the actors were whispering.

The sound wasn’t the only thing that was toned-down, in my opinion. I imagined the Dauntless to be more hardcore, somehow. They were definitely portrayed as badass, kickass people, and the instructors were menacing, but I feel that they needed extra… oomph?

Casting of extras: Your choosing ceremony is supposed to be when you turn 16. When the group is being briefed before the ceremony, I saw that there were lots of fully-grown men, and not enough young-looking people. I guess it didn’t matter too much, because it wasn’t mentioned in the film about the age of the initiates, and they all looked more mature. I guess that’s me being a bit picky.

Injuries: Something I didn’t understand was how the characters recovered so quickly from injury. One minute, they’d be shot in the shoulder, the next they’d be running down the street, with not even a glance at the bullet wound or a wince of pain. And Jeanine! I can’t believe that Tris threw a knife right through her hand, and when it was taken out, she was barely traumatised. I partly blame the actors, who should have done ‘method acting’ to be able to empathise with their characters more (I can’t criticise them too much because they were brilliant, really). I also partly blame whoever was supposed to check the film in post-production for continuity errors.

Veronica Roth: She had a cameo during the zip line scene, but it was too brief! It was too dark to see her face properly – I just recognised her physique and haircut. It’s a shame that she couldn’t have stayed on screen for longer…

Now onto the good stuff, because there’s a lot of it! A little bonus which has nothing to do with the film: I got a free book, which is an exclusive sample of the first 6 chapters of the original novel. I already own Veronica Roth’s masterpiece, but it’s such a nice memento of the special occasion.

Introduction: The introduction was so well thought out and it carefully pulls you into the Divergent world. I believe that if you haven’t read the book, the introduction explains everything so that you don’t need to have done. I loved the slow panning of aerial views of the dystopian Chicago city, complete with Tris’s explanatory voiceovers. The faction system is also described in sufficient detail, providing snapshots of their individual lifestyles.

Characters: They were extremely well portrayed on screen. You could see the personal development in each one. Caleb transforms from a smug, secretive Abnegation brother into a smart, brainwashed Erudite academic (a strong believer in the ‘faction before blood’ motto); Al transforms from a sweet, conscientious lad into a jealous, guilty wreck (it’s a sad, sad situation…); Four transforms from a tough, unforgiving instructor into a sympathetic, sensitive and protective (and totally gorgeous) boyfriend – at first he had no romantic intentions but then you can start to see him smiling to himself, which is so cute; Tris transforms from a shy, indecisive girl into a brave, selfless, independent and headstrong Dauntless initiate. Tris’ development is the most obvious and important, which is what makes her such a fantastic role model. Not only does she realise that she needs to train to survive, but she thrives in the Dauntless compound, and improves more than any other initiate (referring to the scoreboard). There are so many lessons we can learn from her determination, perseverance and feistiness. I also found Jeanine’s character worked well on screen. Her Erudite-coloured eyes and calm approach made her seem more threatening and cold than perhaps being outright aggressive. She has so much power and control, and her Erudite language woven subtly into her dialogue has a scary effect.

Actors: They were so much better than I had expected. Trust me when I say I’ve watched a fair amount of interviews with the cast, crew and author herself! I wasn’t keen on Theo James playing Four, just because he didn’t look like I imagined Four to look in my mind. But in the film, he fitted Four’s persona so well that I not just accept him as the face of Four. Shailene Woodley also wasn’t my first choice. Now I don’t know who I would have preferred in her place! They were both excellent and they deserve a lot of praise for their portrayal of such inspiring characters. Kudos to the casting directors for surprising us all, in a good way. It was great to see some other familiar faces – Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort (my baby) and Kate Winslet, for example.

Relationships: The relationships within the Prior family seem so tense, especially at the beginning of the film. This really added to setting the scene and laying out the family situation for the viewers. In the book, Christina and Will get it on, but here the main focus (understandably) was on ‘Fourtris’. I did notice how Christina and Will become closer all the time, and their growing relationship is definitely implied through the way they interact. I thought this was such a clever way of addressing the situation without dwelling on it and stealing the power couple’s thunder! Four and Tris were adorable. I ship them so much, and the relationship works so nicely in the film, which made me happy. The awesome thing was the development of their relationship. Usually in films, you can immediately tell who’s going to end up with who, and they get together within the first third of the film. But in this case, the crescendo comes at just the right point; there is enough time for them to build up a level of trust, and for Tris to gradually steal Four’s heart through her bravery and strength. The romance doesn’t dominate the film – it’s just kept very real and Dauntless-like.

Pace: The film has great pace; nothing is too rushed or too boring. It’s gripping throughout, and you never know what’s coming next.

World building: As I mentioned, the introduction helps build up an image of the rusty dystopian world in which the factions exist. The landscapes are beautifully shown, and nothing looks too CGI at all. The fence has an air of mystery about it, and the viewer is left to wonder what will happen in the next installment of the trilogy, with reference to it. It’s absolutely believable. The factions are all true to their characteristics described in the novel, and their buildings and costumes help to reflect each one’s nature. The style and colours of the costumes make Veronica Roth’s world come to life on the screen, and I appreciate all the details. I liked the style of the Abnegation houses: simple, grey and low key. Inside the Priors’ home, it’s kind of dark, and nothing has labels. It’s a combination of wood and olive/ grey tones along with dim lighting. I’ve seen a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, so I already knew what a lot of the sets would look like. The ones that I hadn’t seen came as pleasant surprises, and I was so fascinated by the way in which all these fictional places had been created. I particularly liked the jazzy tattoo parlour (and how the tattoos were printed on rather than injected with a needle).

Themes and messages: All of the key ideas and themes from the book were translated beautifully onto the screen. I could spend ages analysing everything, but there’s not really any point because if you’ve read the book then you’ll know that there are important things we can learn from the story and characters. I feel that young people can come away from the film having gained something (inspiration or hope) that they didn’t have before. I think that Divergence itself is explained well in the film, and it’s a significant idea that holds the story together. It doesn’t dominate the plot but the threat of being Divergent crops up at random times, reminding you of the danger Tris is in. It’s mentioned enough times for you to take it seriously, but the film is really more than just Divergence: it’s about friendship, loyalty, uprising, society and all that the factions stand for, plus more.

****

I recommend this film to those obsessed with the Divergent book(s) because it does stay true to the original work. However, maybe it’s not the best idea to read/re-read it just before seeing it, because you’d probably pick up on a lot that has been omitted. But anyway, it’s a really great film and I certainly enjoyed it.

 

Valentine’s Day: Top Ten Love Songs

As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I sifted through my iTunes library to compile a list of my 10 favourite love songs. They make me smile, feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and sometimes give me chills*! Here’s the selection (in reverse alphabetical order, to jazz things up a bit), as well as links to the videos on YouTube, and a quote I like from the lyrics. Enjoy!

 

1) We’ll Be A Dream – We The Kings ft. Demi Lovato

“We’ll take control of the world like it’s all we have to hold onto and we’ll be a dream”

 

2) Vanilla Twilight – Owl City

“The stars lean down to kiss you and I lie awake and miss you”

 

3) Sarah Smiles – Panic! At The Disco

“Velvet lips and the eyes to pull me in – we both know you’d already win”

 

4) Rhythm Of Love – Plain White T’s

“My heart beats like a drum, a guitar string to the strum: a beautiful song to be sung”

 

5) Rescue – The Summer Set

“When you need me I’ll be there, a friend in the eye of a storm”

 

6) I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes

“I’m booking myself a one-way flight – I gotta see the colour in your eyes”

 

7) Fever* – Michael Bublé cover

“Thou givest fever (when he kisseth) – fever with thy flaming youth”

 

8) Everything – Michael Bublé

“You’re the swimming pool on an August day, and you’re the perfect thing to say”

 

9) Be Your Everything – Boys Like Girls

“I’ll be your shelter, I’ll be your storm, I’ll make you shiver, I’ll keep you warm”

 

10) Backseat Serenade – All Time Low

“Lazy lover, find a place for me again”