Author: Gavriel Sacks (Page 1 of 2)

Debt: A New Form of IMF Imperialism

In his latest blog, Shyam examines the IMF and its role in contributing to increased levels of poverty internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic.

23rd July 2021

By Shyam

The COVID-19 pandemic came on the back of a fragile and imperfect recovery from the Global Financial Crisis. Worldwide lockdowns resulted in millions of people being pushed into poverty after losing their jobs. Meanwhile, governments around the world tried desperately to mitigate the effects on their economies. In an effort to re-stimulate their economy, 81 countries applied for loans from the IMF. 

The IMF

IMF

The IMF has always held a place of power amongst the international community. It labels itself as an advocate for sustainable development and growth. An organization looking to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor to create a world that promotes international trade and cooperation. However, since its inception, the IMF’s ulterior motives have been clear. It tries to trap developing countries into unequal trade relationships in order to gain control over their resources, democracy, and population.

After forcing countries (mainly in Asia and Africa ) into generations and generations of indebtedness, the IMF has free-reign to impose what they call “Structural Adjustment Policies”. These are severe austerity measures such as reduced public expenditure, mass production of cash crops, and devaluation of the currency in order to promote exports. These are especially effective in sponsoring capital flight and speculation from foreign investors. As a result, more than $100 billion is leaving emerging market countries, the most rapid case of capital flight in history.

For the few not the many

Countries that have imposed these measures in order to take out COVID-19 loans have only experienced rises in poverty, inequality, and disease. For example, the IMF mandated VAT on countries like Nigeria and Angola has been applied to everyday food products such as clothing and food, preventing the population from meeting their basic needs. Violent protests in Ecuador were needed in order to prevent the government from cutting back expenditure on healthcare and unemployment benefits. Throughout history, one thing has been clear: austerity measures are used to benefit the few, not the many.

What has become clear as we navigate through this crisis is that major financial institutions and the governments that back them don’t have the best interests of the world’s greater population at heart. Developing countries have fallen victim to debt imperialism. Now, to truly promote equality and development, major changes have to be made to the world economic system.

The K-Pop Trainee System – Interest of the Week

Sayon begins off his blogging career with the beginning of a new series: what Sayon looks into this week. For his debut, he explores the K-pop training system. Check it out!

19th July 2021

By Sayon

History of the K-pop training system

In 1989 Lee Soo Man, founder of SM Entertainment (home to groups such as EXO, Red Velvet and NCT), implemented the modern-day K-pop trainee system. His goal was to ensure his idols stood out amongst the rest. In 1996 the ‘first K-pop group’ H.O.T debuted. Now, let’s look into the phases involved in creating an idol

Scouting

Firstly, before we even enter the practice room, we need to find people with the potential to become an idol. One way of doing this is street casting. This involves scouts being sent out to major cities in South Korea to find attractive children. Yes, children. Nowadays the age of a scouted trainee is usually around 11-13. But, in 2000, while on a family trip to Korea, f(x)’s Krystal was street-cast at just age 6.  

Auditioning

So after being street-cast, if the person finds the opportunity to enter the K-pop industry appealing, they will enter the auditioning phase. Those who were not street-cast most likely dreamed of becoming an idol from a very young age and therefore spent much of their early years improving their vocals and dancing skills to ensure they were in the best condition possible for their auditions.

Starting from a young age is beneficial. You are conditioning your body for the trainee process, which is useful. Also, post-debut your time as an idol will normally be no shorter than 7 years, so having prior training will always be an advantage. 

The aim of the auditioning phase is to get a training contract. The auditioning phase is the first filtering stage where one’s individual talents are pointed out. This stage will usually indicate how their training will be structured. Say, for example, you are heavily complimented for your rapping ability.

Some candidates are extremely unlucky and will sometimes spend years in this phase. For example, TWICE’s Jihyo started auditioning at age 8 and was not picked up by a company until 10 years later. This is where street-cast candidates somewhat have an upper hand as they are usually selected around the time a company is trying to form a new group. Thus, they are brought in to fill a specific role as their face fits the concept of the group the company is trying to form. 

Sidenote: Roles within a K-pop group

  • Leader – usually the eldest member, or whoever spent the longest time as a trainee, a good leader is someone who is able to take care of their members and be a mature representative of the group
  • Vocalist – if you showed potential in your singing ability you were trained to be a vocalist
  • Rapper – usually when you cannot sing, you are made to rap
  • Dancer – when you cannot sing or rap, you dance 
  • Visual – definitely a controversial role, as it essentially means you were not good at singing, rapping, or dancing so you are simply there to look pretty 
  • Center – refers to one’s position during promotions such as photoshoots; this is generally the most attractive and/or popular member
  • Maknae – a term given to describe the youngest member of the group 

Survival Shows

Survival shows are a public form of auditioning. However, instead of aiming to receive a training contract, winners of these shows are immediately debuted. This is after the number of candidates is reached after some are eliminated. Groups that you may have heard of that are a product of such shows include Monsta X (formed by No Mercy), iKON (formed by Mix & Match), and BIGBANG (formed by BIGBANG Documentary).

Training Costs

After successfully passing the audition phase, candidates sign a contract with the company that chose them. However, this contract has a few issues. For one, trainees must pay for the training they are about to receive. This can range from $500 (~£360) to $2000 (~£1440) a month. These costs will go towards vocal coaches, choreographers, stylists, make-up artists, accommodation, living expenses, and staff salaries. So, as you can imagine, the kill fee is rather large. 

Another issue with these expensive training costs is that in the trainee contract that is signed after the audition phase, it states that the company cannot tell the trainee when they will likely debut. Hence why some people stay in this phase for years. On average a person will spend 4 years as a trainee. Let’s say you pay a grand a month for training, they’re looking at about $48,000 (~£35,000) of debt to their company.

To ensure they stay in the training system and/or company, some talented trainees will have their fees waived until they debut. Now, this may sound like a great deal, but not every idol debuts and grows to become a millionaire like the members of BTS. An extreme case would be the girl group Lovelyz, who for most of their time as idols, were not paid a single penny of profits. Anything they earned simply went back to the company as a means of paying off their debt to them. 

K-pop
BTS

Debt as a result of training costs is usually the reason why some idols have a second job as well. This is even worse if you’re still in full-time education as you will need to balance school, a part-time job and being an idol.

Life as a K-pop Trainee

As I previously mentioned most people are around 11-13 when they become a trainee. So, they will spend their mornings and afternoons at school. But, the rest of their evening will be dedicated to training and practicing usually until midnight. Trainees who have graduated or made the decision to drop out of school however will practice between 16-18 hours a day. They start from around 9/10 am and practice until 2/3 am the next morning. Due to this tightly packed schedule, many trainees have come out and said that they generally do not receive the recommended amount of sleep. On average they get at about 4 hours a night. 

Maintaining Appearances

The K-pop industry is home to some of the harshest fans. So, it is unsurprising that during the training process individuals are encouraged to undergo surgeries such as blepharoplasty (double eyelid surgery) and rhinoplasty (a nose job) to meet Korean beauty standards. These standards, to use an understatement, are high. However, plastic surgery is an interesting topic in the K-pop industry. Although the surgeries help idols meet the standards, I have seen some online users criticise idols for not maintaining their “natural beauty”. 

Diets 

Even though most trainees are going through puberty, unhealthy relationships with food and body management are common. They are forced to maintain a certain standard so as not to be criticised by the public. A common diet among girl K-pop groups before a comeback (release of a new album/single) is one where their calorie allowance is set to 1500. Now, as a short-term diet, this is alright especially if your daily life consists of mostly sitting down. However, for teens practicing 16-18 hours a day with little to no sleep, 1500 calories is appalling. They practically burn all the calories they consume and more. 

Personality Training

Yeah I know, the sub-heading is weird. You seem not only are the physical appearance standards high, but the standard of behaviour expected from idols is debatably even higher. There is an argument to be made here that this is why companies scout for trainees during their formative years, as this will give them more time to edit and extract all their imperfections in time for them to fit the mold for the company’s next group. This ‘personality training’ will transfer over to events such as fan signings and meetings. This is where idols are meant to give off happy vibes only, if not, they risk being slandered online for being ‘unfriendly’ or ‘rude’. 

Speaking of online usage, cancel culture is much much stronger in the K-pop industry. As I am sure you are aware of K-pop stans’ activity on platforms such as Twitter. They have no chill. A famous example would be Jay Park’s removal from the group 2PM. This was after online users found messages attacking Korea on his personal Myspace page. They were posted 4 years prior.

Evaluations

Probably the most iconic part of the modern-day trainee system is the monthly, sometimes weekly evaluations. During these evaluations, all the trainees are ranked in each of the skills they are developing. As a result, one of three things can happen. 

  1. If the company is in the process of forming its next group, scoring high enough will increase your chances of debuting in it.
  2. Scoring low enough can get your contract terminated. As the industry has become more and more saturated, companies will be incentivised to cycle in more talent whilst side-lining or scrapping those who do not show potential immediately. 
  3. Trainees are sometimes swapped around companies. 

Post-debut K-pop

Unfortunately, life after a debut does not get any easier. The skeletal structure of trainee life remains the same but now as idols schedules are packed with promoting your new albums/singles. This is through filming commercials, attending photoshoots, and appearing on variety shows such as Weekly Idol and Knowing Brothers. However, I have rambled on long enough. So, to tease my future plans, I will leave the struggles of being a K-pop idol for another day. 

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

Loki Episode 6 – For All Time. Always

In his return to MARVEL blogging, Gavriel takes a deep dive into the season finale of Disney + series Loki. As if pointing out loads of hidden details wasn’t enough, Gavriel also speculates about what this might mean for the future of the MCU.

18th July 2021

By Gavriel

It’s Been A Long, Long Time

The episode begins with the song “It’s Been A Long, Long Time”, first played in Captain America: The Winter Soldier but more memorably when Cap dances with Peggy at the end of Endgame, possibly creating at that moment a new timeline.

Loki

Iconic Sounds

As the MARVEL title animation comes into focus we hear famous lines from each character as they begin to appear. But as the camera pans out and shows the Sacred Timeline in its entirety circling the “time citadel” the sounds merge and become a cacophony. Perhaps this represents the simultaneous occurrences of all these events and time as a whole from the perspective of the one who remains. From Spider Man’s web shooter to Peter Quill’s dance-off and “the friend from work” line, the sequence pays homage to the entirety of the MCU. Fun fact: a make-a-wish kid visiting the set of Ragnarok came up with that line, which is arguably one of the more iconic lines from the MCU.

Expanding the Loki “verse”

The voices then transition away from MCU lines to the words of notable people. Philosopher Alan Watts begins: “We think of time as a one-way motion from the past through the present and on into the future.” Watts argued that time wasn’t the past affecting the future but an imaginary concept we perceive from the present. Niel Armstrong’s first steps from the moon are recorded as a mysterious ship flies by, and then Greta gets a word.

Malala is also heard followed by Mandela as Tchaikovsky’s music from Swan Lake is heard. Putting on my English Literature student cap, this might represent the battle between light and dark. In a sense, this is like this variant of Kang’s battle with other, worse variants.

Beethoven’s Für Elise is then heard as we see two adjacent black holes. We zoom into the next black hole as we hear “GLORIOUS PURPOSE” screamed by the older, variant Loki.

Ravonna

In her initial conversation with Miss Minutes, Ravonna seems to have no clue who “he” (He Who Remains) is. However, when she has her chat with Mobius she seems far more agitated. She is certain that “he” is the only one with free will and she is determined to find him, disappearing off perhaps to find a variant of Kang.

Ravonna came from FDR high school, where she was the principal “Rebecca Tourminet”, an alias she uses in the comics. She is Kang’s love interest in the comics, and her search for free will might lead to her entanglement with Kang at some point down the line.

Kang/He Who Remains Explained

Kang the Conqueror was a scientist who discovered alternate universes and made contact with other versions of Kang. They were all narcissists and started fighting with each other, naturally. This version, “He Who Remains”, won their war, and he uses the TVA to keep his throne secure. When he is no longer able to control the timeline, the other Kang’s start fighting again.

“He Who Remains” is a variant of Kang the Conqueror. Jonathan Majors has been cast as Kang for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and his character in episode 6 was dressed like Immortus (another variant of Kang). He refers to himself as a “Conqueror”, and the light initially casts his face in blue which makes him look like his comic-book costume.

He snaps at Sylvie, calling her a murder and a hypocrite, similar to Kaecilius calling the Ancient One a hypocrite in Doctor Strange. The breaking of the timeline is depicted similarly to lightning, which is also seen in Doctor Strange when the Ancient One slows down time as she dies. At this point, neither He Who Remains nor the Ancient One can see beyond this point. When Loki returns to the TVA it has already changed.

That Was Loki Very Deceitful

When Sylvie stabs He Who Remains he winks and says “see you soon”. This scene is executed chillingly. She truly had no free will in their battle. Kang well and truly was in control the whole time, and in spite of his inability to see the future he set up a scenario in which he, and only he, could win.

Kang’s offer to promote Sylvie and Loki is backhanded. Their affection for one another (albeit somewhat inappropriate) makes them Nexus beings with immense powers when together. Kang probably realises this and thus drives a wedge between them the entire episode masked by his candid attitude. Now Kang can return in an even more dangerous form.

Loki and Sylvie

Despite their odd relationship, it is strange to see them fight. Their fight is undoubtedly a callback to Loki a few episodes back when he calls love a ‘dagger’. Up close you can see yourself in it and it is beautiful (Loki and Sylvie kiss). But, when you reach for it you bleed (Sylvie pushes Loki through a time-door).

Classic Loki’s wisdom reigns supreme. Blades are worthless against a Loki’s magic. However, Loki learned the key lesson Sylvie laid out for him at the beginning of the series – it truly isn’t all about Loki. Hopefully, we can see more of the duo in season 2 of the series. It will probably come out just before the next Ant-Man and the Wasp in early 2023.

Multiverse

Loki’s return to the TVA shows on the monitor many branches overlapping, and in our cosmic view of the multiverse, many sections are red. Perhaps this is an explanation for Scarlet Witch hearing her children calling out in the post-credit scene of Wandavision? Perhaps this will also explain how Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx will appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home. We should get a trailer for that soon.

Mobius and B15 don’t know who Loki is and the timekeeper statues are replaced by a statue of Kang the Conqueror. Its true creator (Kang) is now for all time, always. Well, at least until he is inevitably dethroned in a possible Fantastic 4 movie, or any other movie really. It does seem as if Kang has the potential to be the next big bad of MARVEL.

If you have any questions or theories feel free to email us at decablogs10@gmail.com and I’ll be sure to respond.

You will never be a god me,

Gavriel

Black Widow Movie Review

Warning: Spoilers! Nilesh this week gives us his thoughts on MARVEL’s latest blockbuster, Black Widow. Released just last week, the movie is already a fan favourite.

17th July 2021

By Nilesh

Black Widow (Movie, 2021) | Trailer, Release Date, & More | Marvel

Fan favourite character Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, finally got her highly anticipated and long-awaited standalone film. It only came 11 years after her introduction in “Iron Man 2”. The events of this film take place following “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016, in which the Avengers are disbanded via a disagreement over the Sokovia Accords. This is prior to her death in “Avengers: Endgame”. (Seriously, 2 years on, that cannot be classed as a spoiler).

A star-studded cast is assembled around Scarlett Johansson includes Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova), David Harbour (Alexei Shostakov), Rachel Weisz (Melina Vostokoff), and Ray Winstone (Dreykov).

The Good…

The opening credits scene is by far my favourite scene of the movie. It captures the trauma that Natasha and Yelena had to endure in their Red Room training to become assassins for the main villain Dreykov. Polaroids depict the true cruelty of the child kidnapping and antagonises Dreykov from the get-go. Not only this but he is shown with numerous world leaders (e.g. Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin). All this is accompanied by the main theme song for the film, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” originally by Nirvana but performed by Malia J. This perfectly sets the nostalgic and harrowing theme of the film.

Florence Pugh’s performance as Yelena was also a standout in this film. Her on-screen chemistry with both Scarlett Johansson and David Harbour led to some comedic moments to break the ice in an otherwise serious film. One moment, in particular, is distinctly memorable. This being an exchange with Natasha at a corner shop where Yelena mocks Natasha for having a “superhero pose”. This becomes a running gag throughout the film, in which its climax is when Yelena herself ends up doing a superhero pose. She immediately regrets her decision, shrugging it off in disgust.

And The Bad…

However, there are some major problems in this film. Primarily, the plot is very thin and uneventful. The movie took some time to reveal the true endgame (pardon the pun) of the plot. When it finally did it was the stereotypical superhero plot: hero seeks vengeance on a figure from their past for causing them pain in life. The fate of Black Widow is already known in “Avengers: Endgame”. Therefore, the writers did not have much room for creativity in the storytelling of this popular character. It felt, in a way, almost like a filler film. The MARVEL fans have demanded this solo Black Widow film for so long. But, now it is here it feels slightly underwhelming.

Dreykov

Moreover, certain characters are extremely underdeveloped. Dreykov, who is the main villain makes a brief cameo at the beginning of the film and then does not appear for the next 90 minutes. There is very little substance to his character and no clear origin story is given. Without a doubt, Dreykov is one of the worst villains to be written into existence by MARVEL Studios.

An Underwhelming Taskmaster

Taskmaster, who is a masked combatant that can mimic your every move, is severely underwhelming. No dialogue, no character, no evil. This is a character I found very difficult to antagonise as there is so little flavour to it (even when it is hunting down Natasha). The grand reveal of the identity of Taskmaster ends up being Dreykov’s daughter (who Natasha believes she had killed in an attempt to assassinate Dreykov). Natasha, throughout the film, had been struggling to come to terms with this killing. She gets her salvation in the end by freeing her from the villainous clutches of her father. She too had been manipulating similar to Natasha and Yelena and thousands of other Widows across the globe.

Is Black Widow A Filler Film?

MCU’s phase 4 has taken route on Disney’s new streaming service Disney+, with the introduction of new series such as Wandavision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Loki. This signals an evolution in the everchanging MARVEL Universe, following the end of the Avengers era. This film, however, is very much a blast from the past and takes a deeper look into the origins of the elusive Black Widow. In my view, this film fails to meet its hype and does a disservice to its extremely talented cast. As I have previously mentioned, this film feels like a filler and does not seem like a proper goodbye to the much-loved Black Widow and Scarlett Johansson from the MCU.

A Return For The Widow?

A silver lining, perhaps, is that indicated by the post-credits scene, Yelena will return in the upcoming “Hawkeye” series, which will debut on Disney+ in the not too distant future.

White Chicks – Movie Reviews by Devin

Devin reviews the film White Chicks. Notorious for being hilarious (and probably not your typical comedy) the film is packed with statements about philosophy and racial politics. Take a peek!

17th July 2021

By Devin

White Chicks

“Your mother is so old, her breast milk is powder” – Tiffany Wilson, White Chicks

The last time I tried to write a film review of White Chicks I had to take a hiatus after hitting many writing blocks. I have now gained the emotional strength to attempt to fully review this film. I will not leave this computer until I finish this blog. Either the blog gets written or I die. (Editor’s Note: we are glad our movie guy did finish his blog because we don’t know what we’d do without him!)

Art I tell you, ART

Now you may ask what is all this fuss about. Surely it is just a film. No. It is not just a film. It is an artistic statement. The difficulty I had in previously writing this review was fully capturing every philosophical aspect of the film in a respectful and fulfilling manner. After watching the full 1 hour 55 minute run time, I did consider a great many things.

Money, money, money, and racial politics?

First of all, I considered the fact that on the long film production line this film was chosen to be made on a $37 million budget film. White Chicks had a box office of $113.1 million. Wow.  

Its satirical nature is a genuinely insightful commentary of racial politics. Albums like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly pale in comparison. No pun intended. The cinematography, acting, editing and the like were all average. Like 99% of films, the script was the most significant part. Containing black people pretending to be Mexicans and white Americans, fart jokes, and Terry Crews, the film is a statement that one can only fully understand by genuinely watching the film. 

While I have given this film a hard time, there were some moments I believed to be genuinely humorous. This film falls under the category of ironic watching with the central idea that a studio genuinely decided to fund this film, and it paid off.

Rain: Is It Good or Bad?

Is rain good or bad? Is God real? We obviously only tackle big questions such as the former at Decablogs, so obviously, Noah was the first to have a crack. Check out his answer. (P.S. It isn’t 42)

16th July 2021

By Noah

Today is Monday the 12th of July (Editor’s Note: Noah didn’t get this to us for a few days). I just got absolutely soaked. I’m talking T-shirt stuck to chest soaked. Hair stuck to face, socks stuck to feet. At this point you may be thinking, (in fact, you will definitely be thinking): ‘Why hasn’t he mentioned shorts stuck to bum?’ The simple answer to that is that I was on the Northern Line and it was very hot and, honestly, my shorts were stuck to my bum long before I got out into the rain.

But anyway, I digress. Having been drenched, I couldn’t help but think ‘rain sucks’. And yet I’ve been kept awake in the two hours since then (from 6 o’clock to 8 o’clock), wondering if it really does. This blog will conclude that it does, and yet also doesn’t. Enjoy 🙂

Rain

1. Hay-fever – Doesn’t suck!

Say goodbye to snotty noses, burning eyes, and phlegm-ed mouths (pronounced fleg-meed-ed). Rain washes away all the pollen and you can finally breathe for the first time since March. Undeniably a delight for us hay-fever sufferers. After all, breathing is kind of useful in the late economic climate. (Don’t believe me? Skip to 13:45 in The Big Short)

2. Outdoor sports – Sucks/Doesn’t suck

Rain is amazing when playing sport outside because it simply makes it that much more exhilarating. To quote: ‘the rain adds to the excitement with maybe a few slips and maybe a few spills’ – Martin Tyler/ Alan Smith, FIFA 16. But then, you have to get changed or stop playing and the general ‘wetness’ is no longer enjoyable. Where ‘slips’ and ‘spills’ increase excitement on the football pitch, they only increase the chances of cracking your head open in the changing room on a bench, bin, or toilet. 

3. Clothes – Suck

Last year I came up with a solution. A solution to the clothes sticking problem. I realised that what is so uncomfortable about rain is not the actual being wet itself, but it’s the feeling of your clothes sticking to your body. Think about it. When you’re in the shower are you uncomfortable? No. Because you’re naked. The theory states that the less clothing I wear when it’s raining, the more comfortable I am. However, as previously mentioned, my clothes did stick to me and that was because I was on public transport, where people tend to get iffy about you being naked. 

4. Rain in Africa – Doesn’t suck!

No explanation needed here. Also, check out Elliot’s blog on the Songs of the Week!

5. Shorts stuck to bum – Doesn’t suck!

Now, this is a clever one. When it rains like this, not only does everyone else complain about their underpants being soaking, but also, they don’t notice mine were already! In dry weather, I’m an outcast – a sweaty bum-ed leper. But – ah – in the rain, I am a normal man in society, finally accepted back into the world. 

Evaluation of rain:

Ignoring the ‘Sucks/Doesn’t suck’, it’s 3-1 to the decision that rain doesn’t suck. As there are significant arguments on both sides, it is clear that rain both sucks and doesn’t suck. Thanks… chik chika chika… Jazz.  

Elliot’s Songs of the Week: No. 3

Elliot finally returns with his mega-famous Songs of the Week series. Elliot talks about songs which you might have never ever heard of but they are well worth checking out – he is the world’s best music critic after all!

15th July 2021

By Elliot

Welcome back to probably one of the most inconsistent [not very weekly] weekly blog segments you will ever encounter, where I find songs which I have enjoyed and talk about them, making the assumption that the world relishes in hearing my opinion. This in turn feeds into my ever-expanding ego and superiority complex until I have convinced myself that I am the only person who truly understands music as I set out to kidnap, torture and silence every other music critic that does not agree with me.*  That being said, here are some of my favourite tracks that I have been listening to this week.

The Ultracheese – Arctic Monkeys

Songs
Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino

The final track off of Arctic Monkeys’ sixth commercial album Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is The Ultracheese, a heavily Bowie-influenced venture into Alex Turner’s vision of a dystopia for celebrity. It is a look into a man’s mind whose loneliness caused by a loss of friendships and detachment from society leaves him paranoid. Turner’s characteristic lilting vocals beautifully accompany his piano as the song progresses, maintaining an almost lounge-like style.

If you take a step back and look at this song with the conceptual context of the album in mind, rather than a standalone reminiscent pondering, this in fact appears to be Turner once again imagining this hotel, on the moon, as a residence for those celebrities who have long passed out of the limelight. I would even go so far as to say this song portrays a man looking back at the Earth, where they once lived, thinking of those friends that he has left behind. Although in the first person, for me it is hard to say whether Turner is talking about what his future may look like or utilising a larger scope and predicting the doom of his peers as well.

Did these songs predict the future?

It is also worth mentioning that, while dystopian to most extents, day by day this album as a whole seems to be becoming more relevant with lyrics such as ‘no one’s on the streets’ and ‘we moved it all online as of March’ which very weirdly predicts the time at which the UK went into lockdown last year. I could not recommend this album or song enough. Since its release, verging on three years ago now, both have continued to grow on me with its unique imagery and luscious production. This huge musical left turn for the band took many fans by surprise but the Arctic Monkeys’s seemingly outdated grunge sound was in dire need of a replacement. 

Rapp Snitch Knishes – MF DOOM, Mr. Fantastik

Songs

It would be a crime to have not included, at some point, MF DOOM in one of these track lists. In light of his recent passing, it only seemed fitting to me. In 2004, ‘your rapper’s favourite rapper’ released Madvillainy and subsequently one of my favourite tracks off of it – Raid. Madvillainy was a collaboration album between prestigious hip hop sample producer Madlib and obviously DOOM.

To start off with, Madlib’s genius use of a sample taken from Bill Evans’ trios performance of Nardis at the Montreaux Jazz Festival is looped throughout and produces a very laid-back jazz lounge feel to the intro of this track. Furthermore, DOOM’s lyricism and sheer quantity of rhymes produced is, as always, unparalleled with lines such as ‘wrote the book on rhymes, a note from the author // with no headshot he said it’s been a while,’ flaunting the fact that he can rhyme so well whilst also explaining that as the author of the ‘book on rhymes’ he still covers his face with a mask preserving his identity.

Overall, I love this track and every single one off of Madvillainy: it caught DOOM and Madlib at their very best, an instant classic. This album was one of the first albums that introduced me to hip hop and opened my eyes to the genre and out of all rap and hip hop production it has still remained one of my very favourites. I cannot recommend MF DOOM’s entire discography enough – he is the underground king of hip hop. 

Dump – Kero Kero Bonito

Dump is British, electronic, J-Pop influenced, indie band Kero Kero Bonito’s statement on getting rid of old things that you do not need anymore. Having surprised me with their fusion of rather cheery sounding electronic music and conscious lyricism while watching them live for the first time at End of the Road Festival in 2019, Kero Kero Bonito enlightened me to a huge new world of music I had previously neglected.

Dump, although the production is somewhat simplistic and midi centralised, it really emphasises the band’s clear desire to maintain many aspects of dance music. Sarah Bonito, the band’s lead singer on this track, expresses her sadness in throwing her dead parakeet’s cage on the dump and this feeling is reflected in the, more sorrowful than usual, production on this track. I would heavily recommend this song and this band’s music with recent projects like their ‘Civilisation Series’. I would jump on the bandwagon now before their eclectic style of music truly spikes in popularity. 

*In the interest of not jeopardising future job applications and as to not be the next guest featuring on a CANCELLED blog segment, this is sarcasm. 

Check out all the songs featured in this series below!

Cynics

Check out Elliot’s own music below!

Lord of the Things – The Best Things!

Otto takes an in-depth look into the best things you can own. Check it out!

30th June 2021

By Otto

What am I on about?

Lord of the Rings? No. Lord of the things? Absolutely.

In the past, I have written about the best beers in Bavaria, and I guess Bavaria just reminded me of the Lord of the Rings. I’m not actually the biggest fan of Lord of the Rings, however. So, I searched up what rhymes with Lord of the Rings and guess what came up: Lord of the Things. So, for you today I’m going to list some of the best things a person can have.

What is the best thing? That is a great question. To be honest, I have not the foggiest clue yet but I can certainly give it a go.

Board games

We have come to a point in our world that board games are slowly being removed from our lives. Isn’t that sad? I can attest that Monopoly has provided some of my best moments in life. I didn’t win a great deal, but I had a lot of fun. Isn’t that what it’s about? I think an old, dusty board game set with at least two homemade pieces is one of the most essential things in any home.

A bike

Aren’t bikes great? I think so. Like come on, it really doesn’t get much better than bikes. You can get around a city so quickly, with no traffic. Plus, they are so good for the environment. Double whammy! And let’s be honest who doesn’t love a bit of adrenaline when you hit a nice steep hill or a little hop off a small ledge. Bikes are just a lot of fun and extremely practical, plus a bike doesn’t even have to cost that much. Basically, bikes are great and that’s why it is on my list as one of the Lord of the Things.

A sense of humour

This is a maybe slightly more abstract one, but I really do feel like it’s one of the most powerful things in life. Just sometimes, try not to take things so seriously! I’m not telling you to not take life seriously when your boss tells you to do a very important job, but maybe when someone makes a slightly snide comment, you just simply brush it off and move on. Don’t get me wrong, stand up for yourself, but often getting your knickers in a twist really isn’t worth it.

Things

A good book

I know reading is not everyone’s cup of tea but just having that one book that you can return to after a couple years, and simply enjoy the hell out of, is such a great thing to have. I can only recommend you find that one book AND another positive is that it’s a great conversation starter for an intellectual conversation. 

All of these 4 are only suggestions. Obviously, everyone has or will have in the future when they find it, their special bits and bobs in life and I think that’s one of the most important things. Keep hold of you things dearest to you. Trust me.

OG

France: Where Did It Go Wrong?

France, the favourites to win EURO 2020 following their World Cup victory, crashed out in disappointing fashion on Monday night. Shyam takes a deep dive into why they lost against Switzerland.

30th June 2021

By Shyam

Cockiness and Complacency: made in France

“No spirit, no togetherness and a poor attitude,” Patrick Vieira said with an expression mixed with disbelief, disgust and anger after witnessing France’s capitulation vs Switzerland. Stinging words, but reflective of the performance put in by Les Bleus, as they threw away a 3-1 lead to the Swiss before being beaten on penalties. Coming into this tournament, France were clear favourites. And why wouldn’t they be? Reigning world champions, world-class players in nearly every position and an experienced manager in Deschamps.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that there was an air of complacency about them throughout the EUROs. From the media’s comments before the game to Pogba’s celebration after his goal (that included no less than 6 unique celebrations), the overall impression was, “we’ve won the tournament already. These games are just a formality”. One can only imagine what’s going through the minds of every French player, journalist and fan following their humbling. 

Formation, formation, formation? A problem with France’s foundation?

However, France’s problems ran deeper than just a bad attitude. Didier Deschamps was forced into a 3-at-the-back, having no fit left-backs available for selection. Previously Deschamps experimented with little success with the 3-4-1-2, with the conclusion being it demanded too much discipline from Pogba. This formation demanded that he play as one of two midfielders and failed to get the best out of the attack.

Now add to the mix, an out-of-form Clement Lenglet and a makeshift left-back in the form of Adrien Rabiot and you have a recipe for disaster. The disconnect between the midfield and attack prevented France from creating meaningful chances and Deschamps acknowledged this, switching to a back 4 eventually.

What about the real France?

Deschamps switched to a back 4, and suddenly for 25 minutes we saw the “real France”. Les Bleus dazzled with free-flowing, electric football culminating in a 30-yard screamer from their poster boy Paul Pogba. It was maybe the first time we saw the team we expected. The one that created chance after chance, putting relentless pressure on the opposition until they got their goal. Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba also showed us how their individual brilliance could conjure a goal out of nothing. 

The collapse

However, France inexplicably collapsed in the last ten minutes. Following some particularly shocking defending from Kimpembe and Varane, Switzerland had equalized. The penalties, the ultimate test of composure, were always going to be a struggle. Granit Xhaka, the Swiss captain, had the entire team energized and the passion was palpable. Judging by the shell-shocked look on the faces of the French, the dreaded thought of losing probably played on their mind and resulted in them losing the shootout.

Is Deschamps to blame?

Deschamps of France

France’s problems could also be attributed to the squad. When choosing a 26-man team from a country that possesses such unbelievable talent, Deschamps was always going to leave some players out. But his decision to take two left-backs, coming off of long-term injuries, was one that proved costly. Lucas Digne and Lucas Hernandez both got injured in the group stages forcing Deschamps to switch away from his preferred formation.

Other decisions such as taking Moussa Sissoko over Camavinga and Ndombele were questionable at best (and criminal at worst). The fact of the matter is that France underperformed with the set of players they had. The shot of Mbappe walking alone to the tunnels with no players consoling him spoke volumes about the French squad. A squad of superstars lacking cohesion.

France will probably stick with Deschamps for the next World Cup in Qatar, but expect to see some changes in the squad, the tactics and most importantly the mentality of the team. 

Fight Club: Film Reviews by Devin

The first rule of fight club is don’t talk about fight club. The second rule is you can only talk about fight club if you are writing Decablogs about fight club. Hence, here is a blog about fight club.

29th June 2021

By Devin

The Fight Club of Revision

I must attribute my absence to the massive wave of work in the ocean of revision and exams. Thankfully, I was not pulled under and drowned. Now I have a whole sunny summer to relax on relatively dry land. Despite this mini dark age of film blogs, I did watch a few films here and there.

A Fight Club of Dead Poets?

Looking back, I think the two best films to me were Fight Club and Dead Poet Society. The two primary films for guiding male youths through the deadly maze called life – what wonderful influences. Whilst both films were incredible, I think, with my Decaqualifications to back me up, that Fight Club stands as a stronger film. However, this is probably due to the fact that Dead Poet Society gave me flashbacks to GCSE English as if I was a war veteran traumatised by ‘Nam.

Brad Pitt’s Abs

Another possible reason I preferred Fight Club was the attractive lure of violence, anti-consumerism, and Brad Pitt’s abs. Fight Club is everything a teenage boy would want from a film. However, some have been critical of the film, theorising that the film misled some viewers and that they missed the anti-consumerist messaging. This point is neatly presented by the rise in real-life fight clubs. However, I believe the vast majority of viewers understood what the film was attempting to say.

The film follows a discontented white-collar worker as he meets a soap salesman named Tyler Durden and forms a relationship with Marla Singer. The film plunges one into a world of explosions, comedy, terrorism, and philosophy.

Fight Club

Oh Yeah, Movie Stuff

The film has solid acting, editing, CGI and boasts many famous quotes such as: “I felt like destroying something beautiful” and, “The things you own end up owning you”. However, I felt that there was a great deal of irony when millionaire actors spout anti-capitalist messages. A great example is when Brad Pitt states, “We’ve all been raised on television to believe that we’d all be millionaires and movie gods.” Despite this mild nit-pick, Fight Club is a great film. However, if you don’t like violence, I would not recommend it.

Sincerely,
A dope motherfucker called Devin (insert Devin’s page)

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