Thursday, 18 April 2013

Musical-Things Mini Hiatus

Thanks to everyone who has been checking out!

We are loving all the positive feedback and hope you continue to check in and most importantly share what you read on the site.

The Musical-Things Team are taking a short break but will be back in a couple of weeks with lots of great new content for you to read! In the meantime, make sure to check out Interesting-Things for articles, factsheets and website and Musical-Events for upcoming music events.

If you have an event coming up and would like us to put it on the site, make sure to email across the details to!

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Monday Review - Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience

At Musical-Things we know how difficult Monday mornings can be: the weekend is over, you have a full working week ahead of you and frankly you can't wait for the day to be over! So, in a bid to make Mondays just a little bit more tolerable and put you in good stead for the week ahead, we've got a fantastic review for your entertainment.

For today's Monday Review, we've got a great guest post to share with you from newbie student writer, Joanna Smith. 

Justin, Justin, I love me some Justin!

The 20/20 Experience is the third studio album by Justin Timberlake since his musical hiatus in 2006. It succeeds his last hit album FutureSex/LoveSounds, an impulsive breakthrough album with an eclectic mix of tracks - from the egotistic hit ‘SexyBack’ to the more sensual R&B/Prince-inspired ‘Until the End of Time.’ The 20/20 Experience alludes to 20/20 vision, the coveted standard of optical clarity and sharpness, and arose after previewing the album to his closest friends. Asking them “What do you think of this?” his best friend replied, “This is music that you can see,” and the rest is history. The visual element is definitely present; when listening I envisaged a different music video for each track (with me playing lead girl in all of them, of course!). The interludes, which suggests that the album should be listened to in order from start to finish, give it a sincere old-school feel as if you are listening to it on vinyl.
Here are a few of my favourite tracks from the long awaited but yet brilliant The 20/20 Experience:

Track 1. Pusher Love Girl
With its swooning orchestral introduction topped of with a whipping of heavy bass, 70’s acid funk and Justin’s famous falsetto in the chorus, the narrative of Pusher Love Girl compares loving a woman to narcotics addiction. The track sets the tone for the album as it contrasts the elements of making you want to dance with mellow vibes and tranquillity. Much like the rest of the album, there are moments that you can’t help but ‘Rock Your Body’ to, while the more romantically intense ones leave you ‘LoveStoned’.

Track 4. Strawberry Bubblegum
Opening with Mr Timbaland’s best Barry White impression (which does add a strange sexiness to the track), hearing the needle-on-record sound throughout adds an authentic flavour to this song. Timberlake sweeps through the opening with vocal layers of Temptations-like harmony accompanied by a clean 808 bass and high-hat combo - courtesy of Timberland's techno production. The theme this time is love at first sight (on “such a mellow day”) juxtaposed against the title as various sexual innuendos follow. Ending with a funky, futuristic outro (“And I will love you till I make you pop”), Justin concludes on a climaxing note.

Track 8. Let The Groove Get In
A sample of the Africa-Burkina Faso – Rhythms of the Grasslands kicks of this track, which really suits it. I honestly do believe that Justin was a black brother in another time. This track is pumped full of energy – with a trumpet choir blowing throughout, heavy bass, African drums and maracas – making it one of the best instrumental tracks on the album. It is definitely one for all of the family to “groove all night long” to and enjoy. You will become infatuated with the beat; the place to be is with JT! The bridge is what really makes this track. Against the constant pace of the fast tempo and percussion, you are transported suddenly into a trance with the African rift returning, questioning “are you comfortable? Let the groove get in!” Sweet piano chords, beautifully placed under the voice, accompany the chant taking the track to another level, and if you thought Justin’s falsetto couldn’t get any better, the outro could have been a track on its own!

Track 10. Blue Ocean Floor
It sounds very much like JT is singing this while watching an old slide projector, viewing old photographic memories. The sound gives the song an immediate feel of nostalgic sadness, like the love was lost. The most lyrically powerful song on the album, it is one you have to hear to truly understand. The sound of the ocean really adds to the context of the song. In my opinion, this song is a double entendre and is JT describing his view of his honeymoon with wife Jessica Biel and the doubts others may have had of his marriage. He talks about the strong love he has for her and how he will always find her in the deep end – excuse me as I wipe a tear from my eye…

There are many more great songs on the album but these four tracks were just the cherries on top of my sundae. I encourage you to experience The 20/20 Experience a ‘visual’ ride you won’t regret. 

For more from Joanna check out her Tumblr at

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Free Music! - iTunes Classical Essentials

Music is everywhere now; it is more accessible than it has ever been. Yet, Classical music has still, to some degree, evaded this ease at which more popular genres are available for free. It is for this reason that whenever there is a chance of getting half-decent recordings of classical pieces for free (the quality available online does tend to vary based on recording equipment) I grab it with both hands - regardless of whether I will like it or not!

So, yesterday when I retweeted with enthusiasm Classic FM's tweet about free Classical music, it took me several hours before I comprehended that I didn't even follow the link. On actually reading the tweet and clicking through, I was more than pleasantly surprised at the musical offering of 10 popular classical music excerpt recordings for free! Consisting of popular movements from classical giants such as Vivaldi, Bach and Mozart, it is definitely a pop-Classical compilation. But who can really complain when you are getting high quality recordings of aesthetically pleasing music for no charge? I certainly wasn't going to and  downloaded a copy straight away! 

A thumbs up for iTunes and Classic FM for their small gesture to increase the accessibility of Classical music to the masses. With a good mix of orchestral, choral and solo instrumental pieces, this is both an accessible introductory collection and an enjoyable listen for those who are more accustomed. Get your free copy of iTunes Classical Essentials here and see below for the track list.

  • Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85: I. Adagio - Moderato – Elgar
  • Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049: I. Allegro – Bach
  • Enigma Variations: Variation IX. Nimrod – Adagio – Elgar
  • Spring from ‘The Four Seasons’, Op. 8, Concerto No. 1 in E Major, RV 269 –Vivaldi
  • Messiah, HWV 56, Pt. 2: Hallelujah! – Chorus – Handel
  • Nocturnes, Op. 32: No. 1 in B Major – Chopin
  • Requiem, K. 626: I. Introitus "Requiem" – Mozart
  • Rhapsody On a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43: Variation 18 – Rachmaninoff
  • Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act I: No. 2 - Valse in A flat (Tempo di valse) – Tchaikovsky
  • Tu Es Petrus – Palestrina


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

M-T Song of the Week - Laura Mvula - Green Garden

Welcome to the first Musical-Things blog post!

 In the spirit of all things musical, how better to start off the blog than with a trusty 'song of the week.' And this week’s song is a really corker – the toe tapping, hand clapping medley of Green Garden by Laura Mvula.

Now, I’m not usually one to follow the hype (to be honest, I would usually do the opposite until convinced otherwise) but in this case, I cannot deny that I am loving what Laura Mvula is doing! Though I’m not sure that I am completely convinced by all the comments I’ve read – I’m not entirely sold on the Nina Simone comparison – I totally respect the freshness and vibrance she brings to the British music industry, which is frankly getting a bit stale.

'Green Garden' manages to break through the mundane, humdrum of the British music scene in its eclectic mix of musical inspirations – gospel, pop, electro, dance etc. These elements are all fantastically crafted into a tune which is both catchy and current (but simultaneously timeless).

The catchiness is really in the rhythms, the onbeat/offbeat xylophone rift, unchanging throughout, provides the base which when decorated with the clapping, is practically impossible not to: click/stamp/headnod/clap/ or all of the above too. I could literally sit there and listen to this alone all day – the hypnotic quality is addictive. The multi-layered vocals, ooos, aaaahs, doooos and the likes, are just the icing on the cake and when the bass and drum kicks in, around the end of the first minute, it takes the previously acoustic vibe to an all new catchiness!

Mvula’s stuff is definitely current, it has the right mix of acoustic and electric, repetition and new material, creativity and tradition. All these things give it the ‘timeless’ factor and I guarantee that this song will still have you sticking it on repeat when your iPod shuffles across it in a few years time.

I would highly recommend that if you have not yet encountered Mvula than this is where you start. Check out the video to 'Green Garden' below, but be aware - it may lead to you loving the song even more! ENJOY!

 Laura Mvula’s album Sing to the Moon is out now. Check our her website for more info.