Forrest Gump

Hidden Gems

You can find part two here; https://thechriswhitingshow.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/hidden-gems-2-2/

A lot of the time, my favourite songs slip under the radar and I’m absolutely bored today so I thought I’d make a blog post commending some of my favourites, that are unknown to most.

Marina & The Diamonds – Oh No!

I’m actually somewhat a fan of Marina & The Diamonds. It always strikes me that behind her catchy songs are some really depressing, emotional and at times wonderfully observant lyrics. The well-known hits, ‘Primadonna’ and ‘Hollywood’ deal with society’s obsession with fame but ‘Oh No!’ provides a much deeper social commentary. Like the others mentioned, the song itself is very catchy but conveys a deep meaning about her ruthless desire to succeed and escape from a monotonous life where ‘TV has taught her how to feel’.

Frank Ocean – Forrest Gump

Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange received rave reviews when it was first released. I initially resisted the temptation to listen to it, given his rising popularity in the quite frankly pretentious hipster culture. However, after hearing one of its singles; ‘Lost’, I changed my mind. After listening, one track stood out among the rest. ‘Forrest Gump’ kicks in with an almost eerie organ that quickly turns in to a nostalgic summer synth masterpiece. As if the song itself wasn’t good enough, the honesty of the song’s lyrics about Ocean’s unrequited love for another male from his teenage years only adds to the song.

Hellogoodbye – Two Weeks in Hawaii

One-hit wonders with keyboards is probably the best way to describe quirky band, Hellogoodbye. Their hit ‘Here (In Your Arms)’ was big back in the summer of 2007, the subsequent album, ‘Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!’ however, was not… except in my house. My sister had gained an admiration for them over that summer leading to many plays of their LP. ‘Two Weeks in Hawaii’ and ‘Baby, it’s Fact’ are the only ones still on my iPod today. It’s hard to pinpoint just what is I like about this song but it has survived the test of time.

fun. – Walking the Dog

Now, I probably shouldn’t have even included this in my list because I could go on for hours praising this band. They’re a favourite of mine and I highly recommend every single song from the commercial successful ‘Some Nights’ and its superior predecessor, ‘Aim and Ignite’. ‘Walking the Dog’ simply got the nod because it’s the cream of the crop. Fun pride themselves on their unique pop and complex lyrics, something the non-album single, ‘Sight of the Sun’ is good for too.

The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather

My Dad knows nothing about music but to credit him, he did bring this band to my attention. The song is instantly catchy and a classic juxtaposition in its construction. The music has a definite sombre feel, seemingly conflicting with the lyrics of adoration the singer has for his girlfriend. The rest of the songs on their EP, “I’m Sorry…” are basically average but in all honesty, ‘Sweater Weather’ could have topped the charts.

Maroon 5 – I Can’t Lie

Another of my favourite bands up next. I’ve always been a big fan of Maroon 5’s albums, particularly ‘Songs About Jane’ but this gem lies unnoticed on 2010’s ‘Hands All Over’. I hadn’t given the album much of a chance initially but during my American ventures last year, my iPod broke meaning I had to listen to my Dad’s. This album was one of the only bearable ones to choose from and this quickly stood out for me.

Little Comets – One Night In October

The inclusion of this song is again down to my sister’s influence. At some point, she made me listen to Little Comets and this insanely catchy song about a failing relationship was soon being played on a loop. The lyrics are less intellectual than some of the others in this list but the song is redeemed by the music itself. Other standout songs by the Little Comets include ‘Dancing Song’, ‘Adultery’ and ‘Isles’.

Alex Winston – Velvet Elvis

Most of you will recognise this from a Google Chrome advert or simply as the ‘Satchel song’. In reality, this track has nothing to do with either. The tune is chirpy and melodic, serving as a fascinating contrast to the sinister lyrics played over top. The single recounts a twisted love affair with a picture of Elvis Presley and her insistence that no one can come between them, not another woman, her father or a psychiatrist.

Californian Dream (Part 2: Journey South)

“If you want your birthday cake, you’ll have to do a birthday shake! WOOO!” – Enthusiastic staff goad a customer in to dancing

On Thursday morning, my Dad pulled up outside the hotel in a rented Lincoln. No, he wasn’t driving a shit English city or a founding father, it was actually just a normal car.  We forced our bulky cases in to the boot and off we went on our travels. The distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles is a colossal 381 miles, so an over night stop was necessary. My Dad and Debbie were keen to take the scenic drive, which basically meant enduring an added 2 hours on to our trip, which was made significantly more difficult by a snippy Sat Nav who rudely declared that her application did ‘not support British English’, the cyber bitch!

Anyway, we were on the road, with the shorter leg of 103 miles to Monterey to contend with. Initially, we sat back, enjoyed the scenery and eachother’s company. Quickly, we resorted to plugging in our iPods and relentlessly requesting service station stops. After about 45 minutes, we pulled up at Taco Bell,  a famous American fast food chain. I was quite excited to sample the States take on Mexican fast food. You can imagine my disappoint, when the Central American treat I was served tasted less like a spicy, flavoursome burrito and more like a mushy pile of minced beef that had been soaked in dishwater and wrapped in a bit of scrap paper. Although, the food was a let down, I was becoming very accustomed to the States generous policy of free refills wherever you went. Pepsi galore for the road ahead.

Poor show… My first and last Taco Bell

For the most part, the drive was full of inspiring scenery; scorched, yellow grass and poor towns. That was until we reached Santa Cruz, which is quite simply fantastic. A moderately-sized town with some stunning houses. Santa Cruz was a genuine delight to behold and although we only drove through it, it was rightly deemed the pinnacle of Central California. Monterey would simply not compare. In fact, Monterey was a bit of a shithole. My impressions of it were perhaps not helped by the fact we had endured a perilously dull journey only to be shacked up in a shitty Travelodge. Honestly, I didn’t care that we were staying in a motel in the middle of an American ghetto, I had needed a wee for an hour before we arrived and my bladder was pulsating more violently than an overly-loud stereo. We hastily dumped our luggage, eager to spend as little time in the hotel room as possible and we hit the town. We settled on eating at Bubba Gump’s, an American seafood chain, based on  the film, Forrest Gump. The staff were enthusiastic and all sang acapella for whoever’s birthday it was. The restaurant was so cheesy, there was even an obligatory Forrest Gump trivia quiz. Seriously. The food and atmosphere were both enjoyable and lifted our spirits before we returned to the Travelodge. Oh, on the way back we saw some motorbikes, a lot actually. They were thoroughly uninteresting. We all went straight to sleep bar me. I couldn’t get a wink as I was ambushed with an attack of acid reflux so I stayed up looking on proudly at NBC’s coverage of the Olympics’ opening ceremony until the early hours of the morning.

By 6am the next day, we had checked out and were ready to grab breakfast and head off. Fortunately, the second stint of our drive was much more scenic yet stressful. Dad had opted against popular opinion to pay a $10 entrance fee to access the 17-mile-drive through the neighbouring town of Carmel. The drive was beautiful albeit repetitive, I mean if you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all. It wasn’t as spectacular as my Dad was trying to make out, that came later and it certainly didn’t merit the 42 minutes of film that is now lodged in my camera thanks to Debbie.

The Big Sur… The mountain-top café

The scenery gradually became more and more breath-taking as we approached the Big Sur, famed for it’s vast rolling hills and proximity to the pacific ocean. The contrast of the two was formidable and prompted a stop at an opportunistically placed café nestled in the mountainside showing a stunningly picturesque view of both aspects. Accompanied by a hot chocolate and the surprise appearance of a hummingbird, this stop was the most relaxing moment of what had been a very testing trip. To be honest, the subsequent drive down to La La Land was bloody terrifying. I’m well aware that I’m a bit of a wuss but I’m fairly certain most people would be terrified of driving on a windy clifftop road entrenched in fog with your Dad turning away from the wheel to gawp at every boulder we passed. We then came across a group of elephant seals bathing in the sun on a sandy beach, we liberally stretched our schedule to make time to observe these magnificent beasts.

We made one last stop before we reached our final destination,  an In & Out Burger restaurant in Santa Barbara, the city where Michael Jackson took former residence. The burger was delicious; fresh, crisp and meaty. It was made even the more better due to the golden rays of the sun coating the lush palm trees of the American riviera. We then continued on our journey, we hit Malibu and suddenly we could smell the Hollywood air. The land of the rich and famous was dawning. We had arrived in Tinseltown.

Wildlife… Hummingbirds and Elephant Seals