“You” is the second EP by dodie, a singer-songwriter and Youtuber, featuring 6 songs, released on the 11th of August 2017. It is available on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.

I’ve been a fan of Dodie for a long time now, making me slightly biased when it comes to her music. However, I will try to be as neutral in my descriptions as possible.

In The Middle
Unlike the other songs on this EP, In The Middle is more similar to those from Dodie’s first EP (Intertwined)- upbeat and poppy. The theme is not about love or negative feelings, it’s about a fun fantasy of three people “getting along”. The chord progression is simplistic,yet pairs well with the melody and beat.
Personally, this is my favourite song from the whole EP as it immediately makes me want to dance.

6/10
This song was first released on Dodie’s main channel before being recorded for the EP. 6/10 describes feeling average, feeling like a burden to friends. A cello and violin add a warm yet sad tone. This track is special as Dodie enlisted the help of her viewers to help sing the various lines that overlap towards the end of the song. Hundreds of voices can be heard (I’m one of them- I sang the lower chant!) singing along, showing that we are not alone in the way we feel.

Instrumental
This is a short tune played by piano and strings. It is light, calming and sweet.

You
French-themed, atmospheric- as if you are sitting in a smokey French café, watching a performance in the late afternoon. The sound is very effortless, the lyrics matter-of-fact despite the story. This is my second favourite song on the EP, and one of my favourite original songs that Dodie has ever released.

Secret For The Mad
Simplistic, airy and beautiful. A single note on the piano played rhythmically, with harmonies added by voice. This manages to express such palpable emotion immediately, and is frankly breathtaking. I’d loved this song as soon as it was uploaded to YouTube. It is very personal to me as the song addresses how I feel at the moment.
I have to admit, when the multiple layers of harmony kicked in at the penultimate chorus, I was in shock. It sounded so hopeful. Amazing.

Would You Be So Kind
This is the last track on the EP and leaves the listener on a high note. The lyrics are full of anticipation at the thought of love being reciprocated, and the chords fit this mood. A sense of fun seems to ooze out of this song, and can put a smile on your face easily.
Many people view the song as slightly more bittersweet however, given Dodie’s explanation at the beginning of this video.
I’m a little sad that the harmonies on some of the lines were removed in the EP version, but the song is still a bop.

I highly recommend this EP (and Intertwined, the previous EP) to those who enjoy genuine lyrics and atmospheric music. Dodie is an extremely talented singer, instrumentalist and songwriter who deserves a lot more recognition than she gets. Click here to go to her main channel, and here to go to her second channel.
Oh, and here‘s her Vevo 🙂

Thank you for reading!
-A. Bluegown

It’s exam season.

Coursework deadlines are impending and it’s making the teachers and students alike shit themselves as they scramble to get things finished.
I have one last piece of coursework to get finished, and it’s music. We’re getting a lot of support from the teachers so luckily it’ll all be done by next week.

I thought I’d write a post compiling a few revision tips, exam pointers and advice on how to destress. Hopefully it’ll help me as well, since my motivation is nonexistent.

 

Revision Pointers

  • Don’t rely on the same method of revision you have always used (especially if you’re still using the same one you used at GCSE).
    Even if one method works really well for you, there’s no harm in trying a different one. Who knows, you could find a type of revision that works better for you.
  • Make it as fun as you can.
    Whether that’s turning it into a song, drawing, poster or just using coloured pens, fun stops revision from becoming boring.
  • Take breaks.
    If you’ve been revising for half an hour, take a five or ten minute break. Revising for four hours might get everything done quickly, but it’ll tire your brain out.
  • Don’t get angry at yourself for not sticking to a schedule.
    I have made revision diaries and schedules, and I never stick to them. This made me so upset with myself until I realised that schedules don’t work for everyone. As Lin Manuel once said on Twitter: “Just make [procrastination] part of your process… Use the Pressure”.
  • Remove distractions.
    Everyone always says it, but not having your notifications turned on on your phone does help. It might annoy you at first, not seeing who’s sent you a streak on Snapchat for the fifth time, but it stops you from procrastinating.
  • Work in a place that’s comfortable.
    If you prefer a messy space or a clean space, a wooden chair or a comfy bean bag, make sure the space in which you revise is a place you’re comfortable being in at length.

 

Methods of revision:

  • Flashcards.
    Write keywords, key points and phrases in short form. Either leave it at that, or add a question on one side and test yourself/get friends to test you.
  • Posters.
    Pictures, mind maps or just notes can be presented as a poster that can be stuck on your wall for a quick review.
  • Apps.
    For the technologically-minded, there are tonnes of apps that can be used to revise. Khan Academy (videos) and Quizlet (quiz-making) are amazing, and there are plenty of subject-specific free apps that can be downloaded for free. QuizUp is a fun app, as it allows you to compete against others in any given subject.
  • Reading over notes. 
    For some people, the best revision is reading over notes or copying out a textbook word for word.

 

Exam Advice

  • Always have the correct equipment.
    Sharpened pencils, multiple pens, rubbers, sharpeners, ruler and a calculator are used in most exams.
    Although you might not need 3 pencils, especially when you’re given equipment, it’s always comforting to know you’re prepared.
  • Prevent distractions.
    If your brain has a habit of being easily distracted in stressful situations, it’s best to make sure that you have everything you need to stop this happening during an exam. If you tend to feel sick during exams, perhaps try chewing chewing gum (it helps me when I feel anxious too), have a bottle of water to quench your thirst and go to the toilet before you start the exam.
  • Be prepared.
    Not an intentional reference to The Lion King but oh well. Being prepared for your exam will stop you from worrying. If you only revised one topic that you already knew perfectly, you’re not going to be too confident walking into the exam hall are you? Even if it’s last minute cramming, skim-reading the topic book, you have a better chance than not revising at all.
  • Self care.
    Eat something really ostentatious for breakfast, get as much sleep as you can, do something that makes you feel a bit more human. If it’s the night before the exam and you’re thinking of revising frantically all night, DON’T.
    I know it might seem like a good idea but believe me, you’ll feel like shit for the exam and the whole day.
  • If you need certain arrangements for the exam, tell your teachers.
    Whether that’s extra time or you want/need to sit at the back of the hall, let your teachers know in advance and see what they can do. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

 

De-stress

  • Revise.
    I am a hypocrite. I don’t revise as much as I should. But when it comes down to it, even if it’s a month till exams, you still have time to revise.
    Maybe stop going for a piss-up every weekend, start going to a mate’s and revising instead. Or stop watching YouTube, rereading your favourite book or playing on your Xbox.
    You can do those things after exams, which will make them feel more rewarding.
  • Self care.
    Yes, again.
    Have a bath (or a shower if you don’t have one). Deep-condition your hair, shave, exfoliate, moisturise etc. Pamper yourself. It’ll relax you mentally and physically and helps you to reset your mind.
  • Talk about your worries.
    Whether it’s someone online, a friend, family member or teacher, tell someone that you aren’t feeling good about the upcoming exams.
    If you talk to a teacher, they’ll probably wave it off and say “everyone’s stressed”, which is true. However, if you feel you need extra support, a day off timetable to catch up on coursework or you just need someone to tell you to revise then let them know! They can’t help you if you don’t ask.
  • Remember that exams don’t define you.
    Another point that I need to listen to myself. Yes, you need grades to get into certain courses at university but there will always be another option.
    If you want to study a certain subject, but you’re afraid you’ll fail all your A Levels, ask your teachers if there are other paths into that field of work.

 

And that concludes this post. It’s repetitive and chatty, so I’m sorry for that, but if this helps someone then I’m happy.
Good luck to all those about to take exams or hand in coursework.
-A. Bluegown.

 

People who have lost family members get asked this question a lot.

Not necessarily all the time, probably when the loss originally happened and then whenever someone new finds out. And it’s a fair question, to those who haven’t experienced the death of someone close to them.

The answer, for me anyway, is yes and no. Yes, because the initial shock and having to adjust to never seeing that person again does go. You adapt to living without that person, to never seeing them again.

But also no. For me, every time I see someone my age or older with their parent(s), I remember that I don’t have that. I think, “Oh, yeah, I don’t know how my mum would interact with teenage me”. It’s quite jarring sometimes, especially at special events in life such as GCSE results day, at prom, the first day of college. You don’t have that loved one there.

Again, this can be applied to situations as common as being sad. Recently, I have found that I’m getting sad a lot more often, which I talked about in my previous post (not-so subtle self-promotion). I can’t talk to who I live with, and the other adults in my life either have their own kids or their own problems and I don’t want to burden them more with my melodramatic “problems”. And that’s when I wish I still had a parent. Parents are the ones you take for granted and put all your problems on because that’s their job, and even though I would probably still feel too guilty to say anything, it’d be a comfort knowing I had someone there who was available to talk to.

The main point I’m trying to make, in a very convoluted way, is that the lack of a certain close one in your life is omnipresent- it just isn’t constantly at the forefront of your mind. Most of the time, I don’t even think about it. And that’s normal after a long time.

Anyway, I am aware that I am privileged. I have a family, a house, food, clean water, sanitation and free education and free health care. I don’t want to come across as feeling sorry for myself as there are people in the world so much worse off than me- people without any family at all. We should all remember how much we have and how much we take for granted.

-A. Bluegown

Lately, I’ve realised that the main reason I’m feeling so shit is because I’m not part of a group. I would be telling all this to an adult in my life, but unfortunately they either have their own kids (and I therefore don’t want to bother them) or they don’t grasp the issue.

Or maybe there isn’t an issue, and it’s just me being silly. 

At college, I have loads of friends. They’re people I truly care about and find funny, caring and relatable. Despite this, I still don’t feel part of a group. If it’s the fact I’m not on the orchestra, or if it’s the fact I never see any of them outside of college, I feel utterly separated from them.           

 I’m too scared to message them and say “hey, we should all meet up and do something during the summer holidays!”, and this just means I’ll feel like shit when they all go out and don’t invite me along.

I’m terrified that at A2, if classes change, I’ll be even less incorporated into the group. I’ll be even more of a desperate loner, awkwardly hanging on at the edge of a group.                                                        

 The worry of not being accepted even stems to the future. I want to be a teacher and a musician, both of which involve being members of a team. I want to do a year’s work experience before uni, but I’m too scared to ask if I’m allowed because I feel as if I’ll be laughed out of the music department.

Maybe my expectation of friendship is unrealistic for a person my age. I expect that friends go out every so often, have a get together and a catch up.                  Perhaps I’m just selfish, and this desire to be a part of something is my psychological egoism breaking through My otherwise altruistic principles. 

Who cares? 

I don’t expect this to be read, this is just an attempt to feel less shitty.

-A. Bluegown

As most people know, the GCSE results of 2016 were given out last week. I won’t say how I did, but I will say that I did better than I expected (by a long shot).
This blog post will sound just like every other article you’ve read, and you probably won’t believe what I say because it’s so cliché.
However, I was in that position about 4 months ago: whenever people told me you do better than you thought you would, that the actual exams don’t feel scary and that you’ll miss Year 11 when you leave.
Predictably, I am about to agree with all of the above. I do miss year eleven, to an extent- I miss the familiarity, I think. I don’t miss all of my year and I don’t miss some of the teachers. 

I miss putting on the same uniform, walking into the same building,  seeing the same people when I look around during class. The security of knowing where each and every classroom is, of knowing you can comfortably talk/sit next to anyone in your class (or almost anyone).

As for the optimistic “you’ll do better than you think”, I genuinely did. I got a whole grade higher than predicted for maths, the first of that grade that I ever got.

I passed everything and get higher than predicted in another subject too. You won’t believe it now but most people I know did better than they ever though the. You tend to play how well you did down, because you’re worried you’ll jinx it or people will think you’re boasting.

But when you actually get your results, you probably will have done so much better than you ever imagined. That doesn’t mean you can relax and stop (or not start) revising. The only reason I got the grades I did is because I got scared and started to study- I was not the best at revision.
Seriously though, please at least read over your notes or flick through your subject books. 

Yes, it’s boring and tiresome but you might read a small paragraph that gets you those marks you need to pass/get the grade you need.

Exams are actually not as scary as you think. I still got sweaty palms, nausea and shook before exams but they didn’t feel any different to my mocks, except that all the questions were new. If your school is anything like my old one, then you’ll have done countless exams in class and in an actual hall, so it won’t feel that different. 

Mocks are also grouped together more than your actual GCSEs. I only had more than one exam on one day twice. That’s it. 

Whereas, when I had mocks I’d have up to three a day. Of course, it all comes down to what subjects you have taken: Not to scare you, but someone from my school had 5 exams in one day… It’s safe to say I’m glad I didn’t take that option. 

That’s all I can say on the matter of leaving high school and GCSEs.
I’d mention coursework but my year was part of the last lot of people who could pass subjects by doing coursework and exams. I might do a separate post on that because I really don’t think the GCSE format should have been changed back.

That’s it for now, I’m starting college in three days so posts will be quite spread alart.
Thank you for reading.

-Alice x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my first book review, and I am in no way a professional. This is just my opinion.
MAJOR spoilers will be included so read with caution.

On The Other Side is a fiction novel by Carrie Hope Fletcher, published on July 12th 2016. The original hardback price from Waterstones is £12.99. She has a video (here) that answers some questions about her book.

I have been a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher for a while now. When I heard about her non-fiction book, I was excited and when it came out I bought it instantly.
Therefore, when I heard Miss Fletcher was releasing a fiction novel I couldn’t wait to read it.
I wasn’t disappointed- overall, I really enjoyed the story and thought the writing was very cohesive. The characters were unique and complex while still managing to be believable. For me, they were vivid, colourful and alive. Of course, Miss Fletcher also included many LGBTQ+ characters without making their sexuality the plot, which is a rare occurrence even in 2016.
The plot itself was a twist on a very overrated (and overdone) idea: souls not being able to get to Heaven. Having a wall that changes and undulates as a living thing, a thing that can transport you back to where you need to go is very interesting and something I haven’t seen done before, and felt new instead of boringly familiar.

That being said, I was slightly disheartened when I discovered that each secret had unlikely elements. Obviously, this story is a fantasy that includes an afterlife- something that requires you to believe in something that some people say is unlikely.
I can allow myself to believe the afterlife part of this story, because afterlife is unknown and uncertain. However, trying to believe a dove can live for 55 years and somehow survive being covered in ink, paper inexplicably turning to glass (which somehow creates sentient images)  and someone being able to rip their heart out without bleeding and carry on surviving is too much to ask of my imagination.
I know that makes me sound like a boring an unimaginative person, but I just expected something different from this book. The impossibility of some features shocked me because I expected the book to be more mature. I think the most odd part of the book was the final secret- Evie burying her heart. I could not bring myself to enjoy that bit because it was completely inexplicable. Evie can still love her children and still allows Jim to kiss her. It confuses me as surely having no heart makes you unable to feel in this universe.
Despite the inexplicability, for a first- and a fantasy- novel, it was a very good book.
I admit I cried at the end and I know I will reread it. Sometimes, the impossibility is nice to get lost in.

I mean no offence to Miss Fletcher. I am a Hopeful and I have admired her and aspire to be half as talented as she is.

Feel free to share your opinion (nicely please) in the comments below.
Thank you for reading.
-Alice x