Michael Jackson

The Damning Consequence of Accusation

Today, Coronation Street actor, Michael Le Vell was cleared of sexual assault and raping a minor. Although, today may seem like a victory for the actor; the power of a simple accusation will plague his career for years to come.

Innocent… Michael Le Vell was cleared of all charges

The official approach of all courtroom proceedings in the UK and indeed, most other places is ‘innocent until proven guilty‘. But, if we were to gage the general public’s response to Le Vell during his trial last week, a more accurate description would be ‘guilty until proven innocent and probably still guilty after that’. A quick search of ‘Le Vell paedo’ on Twitter returns several tweets condemning an acquitted man as irrefutably guilty.

https://twitter.com/_JadeFulton/status/377498568250376192

Damaged… The acquittal of Michael Jackson didn’t stop abuse.

Unfortunately, labels stick, as we’ve seen time and time again with other accused celebrities. Michael Jackson was famously tried in court on two separate occasions for child molestation charges. The singer came to a private settlement with the accusers the first time around but was acquited in 2005. Both Jordie Chandler and Gavin Arviso have admitted lying about Jackson’s abuse but still, he is widely considered to be a predator. You probably didn’t know that because the media doesn’t want you to. These celebrities are stuck with this tag for lifetime and the liars that tarnish their livelihood usually get off scot free.

In fairness, many believed that Michael Le Vell was the victim of a Salem witch trial type scenario, basically meaning he was accused, knowing that the accusations alone were enough to ruin him – which they will. Michael Jackson was never the same after his court cases and like him, Michael Le Vell will always be the target of ‘paedophile’ jibes. Even though, the accuser didn’t get the defendant a conviction, he will still pay the price for this episode.

The question is what can be done? Why do people assume the worst? Well, in honesty, people resent success. It’s human nature to enjoy the fall of a person high up in the world because it makes civilians feel and look better.  But the real culprits promoting this cause are the sensationalist tabloids who only sell papers if they convict without evidence. The Sun isn’t going to sell more copies of a paper that labels a loved Corrie star as ‘accused by probably innocent’ than they would labelling him as a ‘sick pervert’. The celebrities accused in these instances, and in fact, the general public should be given a greater chance at anonymity. Ultimately, although cleared of all charges, Michael Le Vell will be considered a sex offender for the rest of his days, whereas the mother and daughter who put him through this atrocity can carry on as normal because no one knows who they are. If you want to talk about perversion; how about perversion of the course of justice?

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The Death of Music

Sell-out… Goulding’s earlier work is far more credible.

What is currently number-one in the UK? Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’. A dance-pop song that many will struggle to remember in a few years time. It’s not the same as the number ones of twenty or even ten years ago that are remembered now and identifiable after the first note is aired. No, now it will take a good 60 seconds of murmuring until you reach the chorus before you can be sure it’s ‘that song’ by ‘oh, what’s her name’.

It seems reaching the summit of any of the world’s major music charts has become easier and easier year on year, with that all too familiar formulaic drivel soaring to the top. And here is my handy guide on how to reach the top of any chart;

  • Make sure your song is of the ‘dance-pop’ genre.
  • Sing about the events of partying, drinking and/or having sex with strangers.
  • You must spend at least 30 seconds of the song making a generic noise such as ‘woah’, ‘la’ or ‘eh’.

Machine… Seriously, this woman never stops.

If we’re being honest, few artists around today will stand alongside the likes of Elvis, Michael and the Beatles as legends in music folklore. Most popular artists are now merely corporate hit-making monsters. For instance, Rihanna, who seems to drop a new album every time I blink, has accumulated seven number-one hits. This places her above Queen, but ‘RiRi’ will never have the impact on music that Freddie Mercury’s posse did because a number-one was harder to attain in their day. Equally, 18 Months, the latest album by Calvin Harris holds the record for the most top 10 hits from a single album. It is still unknown to me why the likes of Calvin Harris and David Guetta deem themselves better than other music producers and therefore need top billing on their work but that’s another story. The point is, these artists are determined to reel off throwaway hit after throwaway hit for one purpose – money. Let’s look at some of the songs that have topped the charts that meet the above criteria let’s say two years ago; Roll Deep – Good Times, JLS – The Club is Alive, Ke$ha – We R Who We R, Jason Derulo – Don’t Wanna Go Home. I bet there’s not many people listening to these songs now except maybe if you go out to a club. It’s like Beyoncé said in this year’s  V Festival programme, “People don’t make albums anymore. They just try to sell a bunch of really quick singles. People don’t ever listen to a body of work anymore.”

Aware… Beyoncé acknowledges that albums are mostly redundant.

In honesty, it’s near impossible to argue with Mrs. Carter. If we’re talking music that will be remembered it is the creators of works such as Adele’s ’21’, Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Fearless’ that will be remembered from this era of music not Iyaz’s Replay. Remember that? You should, it was number one worldwide just three years ago.

Still, the cogs of the corporate music machine keep turning without executives realising the biggest selling hits of the last few years haven’t necessarily been of the dance-pop genre and the best selling albums certainly haven’t been. With the likes of Eminem’s ‘Love The Way You Lie’ and Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ topping end of year singles charts in recent years.

Unfortunately, the big wigs of music have cottoned on that making five or six throwaway hits that reach the top ten makes more money than one track of musical brilliance that reaches the summit – not that that’s really an honour anymore. Unfortunately, the fed up among us will have to wait patiently for this tedious trend of monotonous dance-pop to bow out. I for one, cannot pretend to like the same barely altered songs  every other week, any longer.

My favourite things

This blog is completely pointless and narcissistic but I feel like I moan a lot in my posts so I thought I’d share the things I really like and give them a bit of praise.

TV Programmes

“Shut up, I win”… Modern Family is my all-time favourite TV programme

1. Modern Family
Okay, maybe I’ve praised this show enough but then again, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of gloating about just how good this programme is. Its brilliantly observed  social commentaries, combined with impeccable writing of various types of humour make it a refreshing change from the average US sitcom. It’s already a classic and easily my all-time favourite TV programme.

2. Friends
Given the fact, I’ve spent my entire life watching re-runs of this show on E4 and now Comedy Central, it would be unfair not to have this among my favourites. Unlike Modern Family, it is a typical US sitcom, it’s just a lot funnier than the others.

3. How I Met Your Mother
Funnily enough, I was sceptical of HIMYM when I first heard of it. I assumed it would be a less-funny ode to Friends. And in all honesty, Friends is funnier but HIMYM’s interesting spin on the plot of an average US sitcom and it’s brilliant gimmicks make it stand out from the rest.

4. Desperate Housewives
I don’t even know why I liked this programme so much. It’s just so interesting, a perfect blend of drama and comedy that’s oddly relatable to every day life. At times, it is completely over-the-top and unrealistic but that can be forgiven when you consider it at its best. If you only watch one season of this show, make sure it’s season one.

Films

The force is with Star Wars… my all-time favourite films

1. Star Wars saga
Being honest, I’m not a big film person. Obviously, there are loads of films that I like but few that really stand out. Other than White Chicks and the Lion King, I struggled to think of anything that could compete with this, so it stands alone. Regrettably, I haven’t seen many of cinema’s modern classics (something I intend on correcting every summer but never do). Anyway, Star Wars is the ultimate sci-fi saga. I spent a lot of my childhood being obsessed with this franchise, meaning I have something like 20 lightsabers stored underneath my bed. It really is a great film, and yes the original trilogy is far better. It still shocks me that some people have never seen these films… and I hate them for it.

Albums

“‘Cause this is Thriller. Thriller night!”

1. Thriller
This is simply put the best album ever made. Featuring so many of MJ’s classsics including Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, The Girl is Mine and Human Nature, you can see why it’s the biggest selling album of all-time and my favourite.

2. Aim & Ignite
Okay, Fun. burst on to the chart scene in Spring 2012, with their hit “We Are Young” taken from their second studio album, Some Nights. While, that album is superb and only just misses out on a spot in the top 5, Fun.’s lesser known predecessor is even better. It’s melodic from start to finish with brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics that really make you think. It’s a shame they didn’t get much recognition for this album too.

3. Fearless
I don’t really care about the stigma attached to picking a Taylor Swift album as one of your favourites. I have a quiet love for country music and she has a well-known talent for song writing. In all honesty, I could have selected either Speak Now or Red to join the top five too but this album is just about her best.

4. Songs About Jane
When you were young, every family had that one album that you played in the car non-stop, every journey. This was ours. It really is brilliant.

5. Rumours
Again, a worldwide recognised classic. My love for this album probably again stems back to my quiet love for country and guitar music. It features many of the bands classics and is hard not to like. Although, funnily enough when I first heard this album, I hated it.

It’s worth noting, these are also my five favourite artists. Honourable mention to S Club 7 for providing the soundtrack of my childhood and yes, I still have a cheeky  S Club party every now and then.

Holiday destinations

Bude-iful… My favourite holiday destination

1. Bude
Ideally, an average looking seaside town in Cornwall is not the place you want to go on holiday. It’s mostly for personal reasons that I’ve picked this as number-one. Nearly everyone has a holiday destination their family goes to often. Bude is that for my family.

2. Los Angeles
Most people say LA isn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. But it really is, the climate, the people and the sights are all incredible. It’s a place you simply have to visit.

3. San Francisco
San Fran is a great city of diversity, it has such a varied nature to it, there are rural areas, coastal areas, Skegness-esque areas and big city areas. Accompanied by the climate which is great too, it’s a must visit. In fact, if it weren’t for the USA’s gun crime problem, the San Andreas fault and its proximity to Yellowstone, I’d move to California in a heartbeat.

4. Canary Islands
Particularly Gran Canaria and Tenerife, these islands are wonderful, just off the coast of Africa, it is always hot and just a great place to be.

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