Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Coleen Nolan - 'Let's Get Physical' (review)

Coleen Nolan has been one of key people in my life for nearly three years, and coinciding with my love for fitness comes my passion for Coleen's workout DVDs. Her first was a success, and her second was even greater. So when I heard she was releasing a third, to say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. The first DVD was very much a cardio workout, and the second was a bit more of a dance routine. I did wonder what 'Let's Get Physical' was going to be, and it turned out to be a complete dance workout. 80s style.

The first thing that will draw you to the DVD is of course the cover. A lot of effort has gone into this, with the colours in bright neon pinks and purples. Then as you would expect, you have a picture of Coleen, as if stuck onto the front. She's dressed in a bright pink leotard with purple leggings and a belt around the waist - very 80s! The smile on her face lights up the whole DVD, a smile that Coleen takes with her everywhere. In a little bubble at the side it says '4 x 20 minute workouts'. This got me thinking; usually exercise DVDs are an hour long and although broken into sections, they connect to one another. Though this one claimed to be four separate routines, taking the length to 80 minutes rather than 60. I was desperate to explore.

Putting the DVD on, I entered the first of four routines. This turned out to be quite energetic, but not overly so that by the end you're sweating. Twenty minutes later and I'd completed a combination of steps, turns and bops. Feeling motivated I carried straight on with the second, which turned out to be twice as lively and introduced box steps and grapevines among others. By the end of that twenty minutes I was beginning to tire a little and went to pause the DVD to get a glass of water. I was quite surprised to find that the DVD would not pause! That is very rare - usually fitness DVDs will allow you to pause the workout so you can grab a drink or take a breather, but not this one. Although I didn't get my glass of water, I wasn't too bothered. Had I paused the workout I may have taken a longer break than needed, but instead I just powered on with the routines.

Entering the third section I found things began to slow down a little. While we were still on our feet for most of it, various stretches were introduced to begin to cool us down. And by the fourth and final twenty minute slot we were cooling down with lunges, push ups and holding onto invisible ropes. Each of the twenty minutes has a warm-up, work out and cool down, though nothing is 'sign posted'. Unlike most, we are not told that we are doing the warm up etc, it all just flows together. And then each section connects together with the first acting as a warm up, the second two as the cardio and aerobic routines, and the final the extended cool down. What I especially like about the fact that it is four lots of twenty is that you do not feel you are doing a longer workout, yet you're increasing the general time by twenty minutes.

Better yet, our trainer does not irritate me! Quite often with fitness DVDs you can see little of the celebrity, with the focus on the obnoxious instructor. Though Deanne Berry (GMTV) was lovely. She laughed and sprung around merrily, with the occasional whoop and screech. Plus, much to Coleen's delight, we have three males at the back complete with toned abs who are there to assist. Needless to say, our flirtatious Coleen had fun with them.

Once you've completed the workout and you're brimming with achievement, you can watch the 'extras'. The first is a Behind-the-Scenes which shows us a little of Coleen's training and the preparations for shooting. The thing I like about this is the fact that since Coleen has already got two other DVDs, it's not your typcical "she weighed this before hand and was so unfit" and "now she's super skinny and energetic". It focuses more on the making of the workout DVD, which to be honest is more interesting. Then you have 'In the Studio', which shows Coleen recording her version of 'Physical'. Now throughout the DVD, both in the workout and on the menus, you'll appropriately hear 'Physical'. I was unaware of this until I watched the extras, but the vocals are actually Coleen's! It just highlights her singing for the strength that it is, and also makes this all the more unique - how many celebrities (Debra Stephenson aside) can say they sing the soundtrack to their workouts?

Not only do we have Coleen's song to move to, but there is also a great range of wonderful and lively 80s tracks from artists such as Dead or Alive, Bananarama and Blondie. Coleen tells us that the idea behind the DVD for her was that it took her back to the time when she was singing with her sisters. Though of course this is not just aimed at those who grew up in and around the 80s. I'm a 90s child and love all the songs that are on here, which makes it more interesting - some DVDs use music that is unknown and it is almost impossible to connect with it.

At around £12 from most good stores, this is a bargain of a DVD. You're likely to pay around that much for a single session at the gym. Why bother when you can work out in the comfort of your own home alongside the lovely Coleen Nolan? It is one you can do and enjoy again and again, and not only are you getting a good workout but you'll laugh too - that's something you'll never be short of when Coleen is around! It is incredibly unique; I've never come across a DVD where so much thought has gone into it, so much detail and individuality. A brilliant fitness DVD without a single flaw, 'Let's Get Physical' is one to get you moving!

Amy x

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Jason Manford - Live at the Manchester Apollo (review)

When I first started watching BBC's Live at the Apollo some months back, I was introduced to a whole new world of comedy. Before, I indulged in sketch shows or sitcoms, but had never ventured into viewing any shows featuring stand up comedy. However, Live at the Apollo quickly became one of centre things in my life - a 'cheer up' show that, thankfully, could be wathed over and over again on BBC iPlayer. The show itself introduced me to many great comedians whom I quickly became very fond of. One of which is Jason Manford.

Jason is probably the finest comedian to come out of Manchester, ever. In fact, if it weren't for Coronation Street, I'd say he would be the finest 'thing' to come out of Manchester. And while I adore Coronation Street, sometimes it's nice to take a break from the stresses of the cobbles and watch something a bit more light hearted to get my Manchester fix. This is where Jason Manford steps in.

Jason has appeared on all sorts of shows, and when he became a team captain on 'As Seen On TV, with the lovely Fern Britton as opposition, my passion for his comedy grew greater. Before long I was 'youtubing' his name on a daily basis, and longing for more Live at the Apollo appearances. Just when I thought all was at a loss as my 'Manford Fix' was becoming scarce, the news was broken that he was releasing a DVD. The world seemed a much brighter place.

I had to wait until Christmas to receive his DVD, 'Jason Manford - Live at the Manchester Apollo', which was quite a few weeks after it was initially released for public purchase. Thankfully though, I can safely say that it was well worth the wait. Now packaging of products is almost as important as the content itself, and this one excels. The main colour of the cover is a luscious sky blue shade, which stands out a mile away and helps you to locate the DVD in stores. Then, below the DVD title, you have a picture of Manford pressing a microphone into his ear. The image itself is quite comic, something that helps identify the nature of the show. Also, Manford used this picture as his Twitter profile image for quite a while (@Jason_Manford) so it is also something his followers could relate to and recognize.

With the thorough inspection of the design complete, there was nothing left to do but explore the show itself. I'd seen clips of the show, and liked what I saw then, so was completely looking forward to watching the entire thing. It lasts for a little over an hour, and this turned out to be a ball of laughs. Manford has a very fluent style, as opposed to those who just go for 'one liners', and the fluent style I prefer. He tells a lot of anecdotes in this which will have you crying with laughter. Some of these you will have heard if you are already a fan of Jason, such as the 'weeing in a bottle' or 'Chief Inspector Williams, Greater Manchester Police', but even still they never become less amusing. He tells them in a slightly different way too so not to lose the magic. Though there are lots of new tales for you to enjoy too, making the show a bundle of surprises.

What I love about this especially is the level of interaction with the audience. If I remember correctly, the first people Manford 'picks on' are two young lads in the front row wearing hoodies. Now unlike most audience members, the enthusiasm in these two boys was rather flat. Nonetheless, Manford handles this well and continued with the banter as best as possible, despite the almost-silence in these two boys. The rest of the audience interaction though went wonderfully, and I don't want to give much away, but there is a hilarious moment where a man talks about being mugged for his walkman. Given that this is the 21st Century and walkmans are considered a thing of the past, I cannot blame Manford or the audience for their outburst of hysterics. The 'mugged' also laughed along too though, making it such a great watch. That is just one of the hilarious audience moments you'll find, with so much more to add.

Once you've finished watching the show itself, you can select the extras at the end, which include Manford being interviewed by his brother, Manford interviewing the Manchester City mascot, and also a Behind-the-Scenes of the show itself too which is a delight to watch. Although these extras are not a necessity, they are still wonderful to have on there and make the DVD all the more thrilling.

Now this has a certificate of 15, which I would say is quite reasonable. There are a few moments where the language is quite strong, but nothing offensive. At around £10 from all good stores, this is a bargain of a price and well worth all the hours of laughter you can extract from this. My admiration for Jason has been taken to a whole new level for this, and it is simply encouraging me to see him live at some point (though I'll have to be quick, he sells out sharp!). Whether you are already a fan of Jason's or are looking to discover him for the first time, this is an absolutely fantastic DVD that will not disappoint.

Amy x

Sunday, 20 December 2009

JLS - JLS (review)

I've always adored the X Factor - it's the whole 'Simon Cowell Factor' - though with 2008's shows I never really took to any of the acts. And then when all the obsessive little girls started to commercialize JLS with their slogan jumpers and jewelery merchandise, I seemed to quickly lose any potential interest I had in JLS. Though when they released 'Everybody in Love', my opinion on the group changed quite dramatically. I went from loathing their existence to actually being quite fond of them just because of that single song. When asked to review 'JLS', their 2009 album, I simply thought, 'What they hey, it may just even change my opinion on them entirely!'. But was it going to succeed?

The artwork for this album is incredibly eye catching. Although it is very basic, it is also extremely powerful. You have a greyscale image of the four boys against a plain background, but above them you have the JLS logo in full colour. It does grab your attention - it's not as busy or as 'in your face' as some album covers we see nowadays, and is something to sell the album for sure.

Of course an attractive case is all well, but as the saying goes, 'it's what's on the inside that counts'. It is very important that the first track on an album grabs your attention to keep you listening throughout the rest, and it is safe to say that 'Beat Again' does just that. The song itself, with its glorious upbeat tempo and addictive lyrics, has been out a lot longer than the album itself and whilst I didn't really take to it straight away, I've found that the more I listen to it the more I enjoy it. It's quite a lovable song, and I have to hold my hand up and admit that it is one that I enjoy overly so.

Track two is a personal favourite of mine. 'Everybody in Love' is the very track that began to change my opinion on JLS. From the very first bar, I am hooked to this one and it has my full attention throughout its duration. It has an amazing rhythm that encourages you to move around as much as possible, and although it is quite quick paced it is very light hearted too. I've yet to find somebody who does not like this song, it's such an asset to the album.

Following two successes comes a third, in the form of 'Keep You'. Sometimes I find it hard to adapt myself to new music if I've not heard a song before (I'm probably one of the few who actually prefers covers!). Though I found myself taking to this song almost immediately. The great tempo is continued with this song, and the vocals are amazing too. It is definitely one that I would recommend you listen to.

The fourth track, 'Crazy For You', started off a little more slowly, with the strength within the song building up gradually. It never fully reached as much of a powerful tempo as the previous tracks, but it still held a steady rhythm to it. The vocals are much clearer though and this one is certainly easier to sing along to. Although it is not my favourite on the album, it is still an enjoyment.

'Heal this Heartbreak' is a track that confuses me slightly. Whilst I like it, it doesn't seem to stick in my mind. As soon as the song finishes, I have to listen again to be able to recall it's steady paced tempo and reasonably strong lyrics. It's one of those songs that are catchy whilst playing, but you wouldn't request it for radio play. It's definitely worth a listen but not one you should expect to fall in love with.

Our next track, 'Close to You', takes a new direction. It reminds me incredibly of bands such as Westlife or Boyzone with its gentle beat and soft vocals. I think some JLS fans may not like this one as it is quite a big step away from their usual hits, but it suits my tastes perfectly. It's so loving and caring, and I thank JLS for putting this one here to break the album up.

After a relaxing song, our spirits are raised again with track seven. 'Only Tonight' takes us back to the more traditional upbeat style. Okay so it's not much of a dance track, but it still provides you with a little bit more motivation with the previous. The lyrics stick with you more also - a thorough enjoyment!

Track eight is incredibly peculiar. 'One Shot' mixes a clubland-style tempo with gentle vocals before giving us something powerful all round. It's probably the most 'tencho' song on the album (but anything stronger than The Beatles is techno to me!). It is a catchy song and well sung, it's simply not my favourite.
'Private' was a song that I fell in love with almost instantly, the reason being I cannot place my finger upon exactly. Parts of it sound like 'Rock DJ', a song that I am shamefully fond of. The vocals are much stronger and attractive than the rhythm here, and I like that. It's very beautifully song, to say the least. Definitely one worth listening to.

With less than half the album to go, we head to 'Don't Go'. Although it does not have too powerful a rhythm compared to some, it is still quite a nice song and one I would happily listen to. Though again it is not one of those I'd go out of my way to listen to. But in all it is quite pleasant!

When a song begins with vocals, I find that I tend to dislike it more. I've never worked out why, but I prefer that tinkling of melody to introduce us. And 'Only Making Love' is no exception. Now I am not saying I dislike the track, I simply do not like it as much as others on the album. It's tempo is quite basic and the vocals are not overly impressive. I can listen to it, but would choose not to.

'Kickstart' is our second last track. It's certainly quite an exciting and upbeat song that is sure to make you move, if only slightly. Though I found it to be quite similar to other songs on the album, as if parts had been taken from various songs and merged together to create the one. I will admit though that it is quite catchy and one I enjoyed listening to the several times that I did.

The last track on the album is just as important as the first as far is impressions are concerned - this is generally the one that sees the album out and imprints the final impression. 'Tightrope' was definitely an option to go for here, but I was quite surprised at how gentle it was. Usually albums finish with an incredibly upbeat song with the exception of ballad albums, but JLS broke this rule. However I am not complaining at all. It is such a beautiful song, sung to perfection with an amazing rhythm. It is incredibly sweet and most certainly a joy to end the album on.

Right, that's it. I hold my hand up. I am a fan of JLS. I'll never be obsessed, but I think I'm going to be more likely to make the effort to listen to them now. This album has certainly won me over, and despite the few weaker tracks, it is build up of nothing but entertainment and quality. At no more than £10 from all major retailers, it is a bargain! Any fan of JLS simply has to buy this, and even if not you need to get your hands on a copy of this album - I promise you will not be disappointed. It will convert you too!

Amy x

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Jane McDonald - Jane McDonald (review)

From the moment I discovered the wonders of 'Loose Women', I fell in love with Jane McDonald's voice. I bought a range of her latest albums, but had yet to listen to some of her older materiel. Though after too long, I've finally bought a few of Jane's more dated albums, one of which is titled simply 'Jane McDonald'.

The cover to this album, first of all, is quite attractive. Jane is sitting on the floor against a gorgeous purple seascape. Her name is written in a luscious purple shade, with a few of the tracks listen below. It's a very basic cover perhaps, but it is still going to capture your attention and looks wonderful. Jane's hair is a bit 'different', but she still looks wonderful!

The CD Itself is home to fourteen tracks. Giving the album a scan, I realized that I had heard of over half of them, but not once had I heard Jane's versions. Excited about unlocking the wonders of the music, I decided to listen there and then. The first track we are faced with on this 1998 album is 'One Moment In Time'. Originally sung by Whitney Houston, this is one of my favourite songs. Often artists can kill a song when producing a cover, but I had every faith that Jane would deliver. And thankfully, she did just that. There is so much power in Jane's voice, it's incredible. And I might just happen to prefer her version of the song to Houston's now!

Next we com to 'The Twelfth of Never', a song that I had not actually heard before. I didn't know what to expect from it, but I turned out to be thrilled. It's not an overly lively track but it has a good rhythm to it that is quite catchy - you'll surely be singing along in no time. It is definitely a wonderful track and one that I am sure to listen to over and over again.

The third track on the album is 'Do You Know The Way To San Jose', again anothr track I wasn't aware of. This one is the most lively at this point, and certainly awakens you. The lyrics are not overly clear, but this is not too important as it is not one that you're likely to adopt to sing. It's a splendid track and one of my favourites!

'You're My World' is our first track, and I was shocked at just how beautifully it was sung. It's quite a slow and melodic song, and as Jane sings you can picture her in your head swaying as she does so, you can hear the emotion in her voice. It's so beautiful and gentle, it's incredible. I'm surprised this has not become one of her better known songs.

The next track is probably one of the more known songs. 'How Do I Live' was originally sung by LeAnn rhymes, and I do adore her version, but I had a feeling Jane was going to allow me to love it in a different way. Thankfully, she did just that. Jane has complete control of the vocals here, the strength in her voice is incredible. I must admit, I prefer Jane's version now - she's taken the song to a whole new leave.

'You Make Me Feel (like a natural woman) is our sixth track, and with the greatness of the album so far, I expected this one to be just as wonderful. Thankfully, it was more than that! The song has quite a steady rhythm to it with a strong beat, and I find that it fits Jane's voice perfectly. It's very gentle and loving, and while I have heard some monotonous covers, Jane's version is simply incredible.

Our seventh track is one that has been circling since the 80s. 'Wind Beneath My Wings' has always been a beautiful track, but when Jane sings it, it is phenomenal. She gives the melody a deeper meaning, and allows the music to sit in the air around you lovingly. I've never been in love with this song until now - Jane has opened my eyes to just how wonderful it is.

Halfway through the album now and everything is perfect. Track eight is one that I have loved for many years. 'Downtown' was originally sung by Petunia Clark, and I had yet to hear Jane's version. I found it to be just as upbeat as the original, and the vocals fitted in perfectly with the rhythm. Jane's version is slightly more choppy, but it works and still sounds brilliant.

Our ninth track is another that I hadn't heard of before so I was relying on Jane to give me a great first impression on the song. It turned out to be quite a slow song, very soft and considerate. It suits Jane's voice wonderfully and creates such a phenomenal atmosphere. I simply cannot believe it has taken me this long to come across this one.

'When I Fall In Love' is quite a peculiar song. It's quite upbeat yet is very soft and gentle at the same time - a combination that never fails to amuse me. It's a song that I knew of slightly but had never fully explored it. The vocals are flawless, and incredibly powerful too. Jane has certainly opened my eyes to this one.

Track eleven is 'I'll Never Love This Way Again', which I had actually heard Jane sing before. It has always been one of my favourite Jane songs, yet I find I listen to it very occasionally. It suits my own voice too, which I find is quite general for Jane's songs, so it is without a doubt going to be come one of my most played tracks very quickly.

Next we are faced with 'Some You Win Some You Lose'. This is another gentle track that gives the air around you such a fantastic softening and relaxing vibe. Although it is not the most powerful of Jane's songs, it is just as memorable and has an amazing rhythm to it. I love singing it too, and it is an all-round amazing song.

The next track is one I've had a stressful relationship with. Whenever you log into Jane's official website music plays in the background. While I love this, 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' always plays. Jane sang the song at her concert when I went to see her earlier in the year. Yet, I did not own this song on any of my Jane albums. So I was more than over overjoyed when I discovered it was on here. It's quite a lively song, and the vocals are incredible. Jane has strength, passion and control with this song, and it is without a doubt a favourite of mine.

Last but not least, we come to the final track - "I Will Always Love You". This is a song that seems to be heard all the time, whether it is a professional singer releasing a cover, or a talentless idiot killing the song during an audition on one of Simon Cowell's many TV shows. But thankfully, Jane's version is incredible. The vocals are so strong. At the beginning she sings it acapella, and my entire TV started vibrating because of the power in her vocals. The melody is wonderful and this definitely suits her voice. It's without a doubt the perfect song to end this amazing album with.

This is one of the most flawless albums imaginable. Better still, it has an incredible price tag. For all fourteen songs in an attractive case, you should expect to pay no more than £5 for a copy brand new. It's available from places such as eBay and Amazon.co.uk, and you'll find it occasionally in high street stores too. It is most certainly one to look out for. If you are already a fan of Jane McDonald then you simply must buy this. However if you have not heard Jane's voice before then this is a perfect album to start with. You'll fall in love instantly and I promise you, you'll never look back! This may have been Jane's first album, but it thankfully was not her last! It's phenomenal - incredibly powerful and controlled with a great mix of amazing tracks.


Amy x

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Eamonn Holmes interview

Q+A with one of Britain's finest presenters!

Me: You studied Journalism at University – what made you decide to go down that route?
Eamonn: I was heavily influenced by the Troubles.

Me: Now you joined GMTV in 1993, is that something you'd ever go back to if need be?
Eamonn: In my business you can never say never - I spent the majority of my working life there. If conditions were right , and the viewers wanted it, who knows?

Me: You've been with Ruth for 12 yeas now, how did you first meet?
Eamonn: On a street corner.

Me: Have you set a date for the wedding?
Eamonn: Still in negotiation - nearly there.

Me: Would you like your own show alongside Ruth, as the next 'Richard and Judy'?
Eamonn: Co-presenting is more difficult than single presentation. Co presenting with your other half could lead you to become single ! Maybe.

Me: You've taken part in various game shows including 'All Star Mr and Mrs,' and 'Ant and Dec's Game Show Marathon' – do you think you'd ever take up an offer for a reality TV show such as 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' or 'Celebrity Big Brother'?
Eamonn: That's easy - NO ! Just can't see the circumstances in which I would fel the need. Maybe a reality show of some type - but not those ones.

Me: Your autobiography, 'This is My Life' was released in 2006. Would your ever consider writing a part two'?
Eamonn: Might be getting near that time . People tell me they wanted to read more about me growing up in N. Ireland during the Troubles.

Me: You're such a well respected and admired TV Presenter, who was your career inspiration?
Eamonn: All the people who did it well - the famous anchors like Des Lynam and David Frost.

Me: What advice do you have for anybody wanting to get into the TV industry?
Eamonn: My advice would be "Get a real job".But you may just end up being as lucky as me - I haven't worked in 30 years because this is a dream.

Me: And finally, do you have any hopes for the future?
Eamonn: My only hope is that I can stay working until it suits me to retire - and that's a long way off!

Thanks Eamonn!

Amy x

Sunday, 13 December 2009

X Factor 2009

There's something highly entertaining about watching the X Factor auditions - it gives you the rights to laugh at all the talentless idiots and gaze in amazement at all the wonders. However this year it was not an enjoyable experience. When I heard the auditions across the country were going to be in front of a live audience, I wasn't best pleased, and as I had expected it felt like I was watching 'Britain's Got Talent', another Cowell franchise. So after just the second week I decide to boycott the X Factor until the live heats - that was when the competition was really going to kick in!

Now I feel there have only been a handful of acts that have stood out this year. In fact, I cannot actually name you all of the contestants that were in the final twelve - just a select few that I've actually cared about. First we have Lucie - a wonderful singer an a woman with a great personality. It was quite upsetting to see her leave, and there was a lot of debate floating around as Simon let the public decide to throw her out against 'Jedward'. Though personally I am a Jedward fan! John and Edward amused me right from the start when I saw their live audition, and although I still cannot tell the different between the two, I have nothing but positivity about them. They are incredibly entertaining and despite what certain people may think, they can actually sing! They're talented an charming, and are sure to go far!

Then we have Lloyd Daniels, Danyl Johnson and Jamie 'Afro' Archer. I cannot deny the fact that the three boys can sing, but there is something about each of them that annoys me somewhat. Lloyd to me seems that bit too much immature for the competition and to be honest is not the greatest of singers, and the other two seem too cocky for their own good. The amount of times Jamie was mentioned on episodes of 'Harry Hill's TV Burp' was laughable (much to my amusement of course). When Danyl, the final of the three, went out on the second last week, I was ecstatic with the acts we had left...

...Stacey Solomon, Olly Murs and Joe McElderry. There has been mixed responses regarding Olly - some say he can dance but not sing, others dislike the dancing, it's all meaningless bicker. On a personal note I adore Olly. He's got great charisma and determination, and is not afraid to show emotion either, which I love. Moving on to Stacey, I don't know where to start. From the moment I saw Stacey's audition, I was mesmerized by her voice. From the word 'go', you could tell she had a heart of gold and an amazing, genuine personality. And as the weeks went on, we saw Stacey blossom into a superstar. Almost straight away I knew I wanted Stacey to win the competition, so when she was voted off in third place, I joined her many fans in a state of devastation. However I do not fear, as I have every belief that only great things will come her way now and she will have a very successful career!

And then we have Joe - our X Factor 2009 winner. As a fellow Geordie, I warmed to his voice straight away, and his gorgeous looks came as an extra! He allowed his personality to shine through week after week without getting cocky, and progressed wonderfully with each song. And the look on his face when Dermot announced the winner - it just shows that he too is genuine and not for one moment actually got above himself and expected to win. He is a talented young lad - is he going to go far? Why aye!

I have to agree with Mr Cowell - this has certainly been one of the closest finals we've had. Which of course the judges had to work extra hard in mentoring their acts. For Louis it was likely just a case of sitting back and enjoying the show since his acts had all been voted off, but for Simon, Cheryl and Dannii, the game was on. They all seem to have their own styles and ways of going about things; Dannii - the friend, Cheryl - the emotional touch, Louis - laid back, and Simon - well, he's just Simon! Their ways all seem to work too, which is always going to be a good thing.

So its onwards and upwards for our X Factor finalists, and indeed our X Factor winner, and it won't be long before the auditions start again and the judges begin touring the country. I'd love to audition, just to meet our lovely judges (though I'd rather interview them given the chance!), but I don't think I'm quite up to the humiliation! May X Factor 2010 bring just as many delights, and best of luck to Joe with his release of 'The Climb'!

Amy x

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Westlife - Where We Are review

I've always liked Westlife, though I have never actually gone out and bought one of their albums. And with the recent release of their latest album, 'Where We Are', the case was no different. However a friend of mine who is head over heels in love with Westlife wanted my opinion on the album and, keen to find out what their music was like nowadays, I jumped at the chance, ready and raring to explore.

The cover of the album is quite attractive, a pale sky blue that gives a sense of peace and calm. The four band members are on the front, a distant photo of them all dressed in dark clothes and walking slowly. Again it is all so peaceful and welcoming - definitely a cover that would attract me to the album amongst others. You'll find that Westlife covers are generally black or blue so it does mean that fans know what they are looking for too!

Now the album itself is home to thirteen tracks, of which I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into. Giving their titles a quick scan, they seemed to give off quite a sorrowful and highly emotional style, which can be joyfully expected from Westlife. The first song on the album is 'What About Now'. It is important that the first track gives us an initial wonderful first impression to engage us into listening to the rest of the album. I hadn't actually recognised the song by its title, but as soon as I heard the first few bars I instantly knew it as the boys' single that was released in late October of the same year. It actually peaked at number 2 in both the UK and Irish charts. To be frank, I am not surprised either! This is one of the most amazing songs I've heard in a long time, with a reasonably upbeat chorus and lyrics that infiltrate your mind. Its incredibly melodic and extremely addictive. After this, I couldn't wait to explore the rest of the album!

The second track we face is 'How To Break A Heart'. The title itself suggests that it was going to be quite an aching song, and this is exactly what I found. Though it isn't one of those tear jerking songs that dampen your mood. It still holds a slightly positive tempo with a steady rhythm that surprisingly forces you to tap your feet along in time. It's beautifully sung and one that I will happily listen to time and time again.

Following on from two amazing songs we have 'Leaving'. The four minute track is much more mellow than the previous, and floats divinely in the air around you. The vocals are heavenly - I encourage you to play this song at maximum volume with headphones strapped to your ears so you can feel the power melt your heart! It's one that is sure to draw tears to your eyes in a way only magic can.

A little choked up, we come to 'Shadows' next for a bit of a lift. Whilst this lovely track is still gentle it does have a bit more of a spring to it. It's so powerful, my throat tingles as I refrain myself from singing along. With this song, to close my eyes is to enter a world of bliss and security. It's simply mystical.

So far everything's perfect, and approaching the fifth track I hoped this would live on. 'Talk Me Down' is the second of the delicate songs on the album, a breathtaking piece that will tear your heart. It's so beautifully sung an so gently strokes the atmosphere that it's impossible not to get wrapped up in the rhythm. 'Talk Me Down' is without a doubt a fine song.

'Where We Are' is not only the name of the album, but also the sixth song. Now generally the corresponding song on an album is one of the greatest and most memorable tracks, and with this I must agree. This is a superb, and indeed touching, song that will not leave you once you've listened. The vocals are so strong and hold firm control over all your thoughts. I could not be more wonderful.

The chain of delight continues as we approach 'The Difference'. This is one of the more steady songs, but in no way is it monotonous. It's such a warm song with secretive depth to it, bewitching to say the least. It's fair to say that it's one of my favourite songs on the album, one that I simply love to sing over and over.

'As Love Is My Witness' is another of our mellow tracks, and is quite sorrowful in a loving way. It is so perfectly sung, and it tugs on the heart with passion and delight. A song that makes you sway and close your eyes considerately, it's an amazing piece and a treasure to the album.

Just when I thought things could not get any better, I was introduced to 'Another World'. I was taken away by the peaceful yet powerful song - such a sensational piece that sends a thrill of delight throughout your entire soul. A truly amazing song that helps make the album the delight that it is.

The next track on the album brought more tears to my eyes than I had bargained for, thanks to the soothing rhythm of 'No More Heroes'. There's something so relaxing about the song that seems to force me to let my guard down and release any emotions locked within. It's so magnetic it's astounding. Definitely a delight to put it simply.

It was quite a sad thought when I realized I was approaching the end of the album, as I came to the eleventh track in the form of 'Sound of a Broken Heart'. This one has quite a fast paced tempo, to slot alongside the beating heart. And indeed it certainly has your heart racing! It's a beautifully sung piece, breathtaking in every which way.

Our second last track carries on this reasonable pace, though has much more aching vocals that tug at your heart with force. I was surprised by the fact that it has the ability to make me feel both joyous and broken, the magic created in just four minutes of music. This is one song that sticks by your side and will not leave you in a hurry.

Last but by no means least we have 'I'll See You Again'. As with the first track, it is especially important that this song lives up to all positive expectations, as it is likely to give you the opinions that you will leave the album with. Not only that, but this is also the longest track at just over five minutes. Thankfully, it was just as delightful as the rest. It has quite a steady tempo with gentle vocals that sooth the air and banish all signs of tension. It is completely overwhelming, and a splendid way to end the album.

With not a single ounce of disappointment, it is fair to say that this album is a complete and utter success. Better still, it has a price tag to match! It this current climate buying CDs at our leisure s not always the most practical of ideas, but seeing as this one will only cost you around £7 from all good music stores, it is definitely something to cheer about. Each and every track is beautifully sung with a sensational melody, and is enough to make me want to listen to more Westlife delights. This is just one of their many albums, unique and magical in every way.

Amy x

Jo Joyner 'interview'

I've been in contact with the lovely Jo Joyner for a good few years now and have received many wonderful replies from the actress. In an attempt to build up my portfolio I requested a snail mail interview with Jo and she granted my wish! I decided not to post the interview online in case it went against Jo's preference, though it came to my attention that she never actually said not to display it online. And having been asked to put it online by a friend as proof of certain information, I decided just to go for it. So Jo my love, if you read this and are not happy - just let me know! ;)

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Me: You've played Tanya for three years now. When you first joined 'EastEnders' in 2006, did you think Tanya would be such a popular character?
Jo: It is very hard to know how your character is received when you are in the midst of it. But I did think that as a whole family with the girls etc we would be loved.

Me: Tanya's had her share of men on the Square, but who do you think is right for her, if any?
Jo: I think, for better or for worse, Max will always be the one for Tanya. She's a one man woman at the end of the day. I also thin that as a couple they provide the most drama.

Me: On the show you work at Bootys - would you ever like to own your own business if any kind?
Jo: I don't think I'd like to run a business like Bootys - I wouldn't have a clue what I was doing!

Me: How did you feel when you first found out you were pregnant with twins?
Jo: Over the moon. We can't wait to meet them.

Me: Do you have any hopes for the sexes of the babies?
Jo: We just want them to arrive safely and healthy.

Me: Have you been throwing any names around for the babies? Might I suggest Amy for a girl? ;)
Jo: !

Me: When are the babies due?
Jo: The babies are due just before Christmas.

Me: When you return to EastEnders, do you have any hopes for Tanya?
Jo: When I return to EastEnders I'd really like Tanya to be right in the midst of the action as I think she's had quite a year.

Me: Did you have any say in how Tanya exits this year?
Jo: No. We never have any say! I think the writers and storyliners are the best people for the job.

Me: You have a lot of adoring fans! If somebody wants to send you a gift post-birth of the babies, would they be better to do it via EastEnders or your agent?
Jo: I will be on maternity leave for 6 months so I wouldn't send anything as it may not reach me.

Thank you Jo!

She really is a truly wonderful woman! Best of luck to her with the twins (may one be called Amy, boy or girl I don't mind!) and I look forward to seeing Tanya back in May!

Amy x

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

RIP Maggie Jones

Just a quick post to show my love for dear Maggie Jones who sadly passed away today. Best wishes to her family, friends and colleagues at Coronation Street. It won't be the same without Blanche and her constant moaning! She was a much loved character.

Thinking of you Maggie.

Amy x