Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I think I must have one of the only blogs, anywhere, ever, that hasn't made comment on the turmoil the world of celebrity has experienced recently with the death of Michael Jackson. What can I say, I guess I'm just a bit slow. Unbelievably it has nearly been two weeks since the 'King of Pop' died, and I think the event probably will be one of those where you remember what you were doing when you heard the news. I was in bed, vaguely considering dragging myself downstairs, when my sister thundered up to tell my mum and I what had happened - 'Michael Jackson died.' I had to ask her to repeat this several times, I didn't think I'd heard her properly - Michael Jackson was one of those people, so far away from 'normal' that surely he would be around forever, he was too different, too famous to die like the rest of us. But, unfortunately he did.

While I have always been a fan of 'MJ', I am not one of these people who are only realising now that buying his greatest hits might be a good idea, he was not a huge part of my childhood - I just remember trying, and failing, to learn the various dances he does in his videos - particularly 'Thriller', to this day I still find that video absolutely amazing! To me, especially recently, he was more of a source of intrigue and pity, if I'm honest. That good looking little boy from the Jackon 5 had grown up and cracked under the pressure of Hollywood. I watched the documentary with Martin Bashir and the inconceivable ramifications that followed it, leaving the nagging question in everyone's head - did he or didn't he? In my opinion, no, he didn't. Not that it counts for much, or has any evidence to back it up, but then neither did the tabloids who pretty much labelled him a paedophile from then on. This is one of the things that has got me about Jackson's death - alive = child abuser, freak but death = legend - like the former never happened. Why has this man had to die for the media to stop bullying him? And not only stop, but to make such great tributes to him - have the journalists actually found a conscience?

Obviously not everyone sees Michael Jackson's death as a tragedy, or really any big deal - when I logged on to Facebook the day after it happened it was littered with both positive and negative comments - the bad press had managed to permanently sway some people. And then there was those incredibly witty minds who decided that making jokes out of someone's death just hours after it had happened was a good thing to do - even just a day's grace would have been nice. And, let's be honest, just because you put the term 'kiddie fiddler' into a joke, it doesn't make it funny.

Hopefully Jackson's memorial service yesterday would have silenced all of those cynics out there - love him or hate him, there was no getting away from the fact that Michael Jackson was an amazing, legendary performer who has left a huge legacy behind him, and the fact that he was just a man. A man who was a son, a brother, and a father. If people cannot have respect for that, then hopefully they can at least find some for his daughter, the brave young girl who stood in front of all those people to tell them that out of the ridiculous celebrity bubble, he was 'the best father'. No one can argue with that.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Karima Francis 'The Author'

I first came across Karima Francis as her single 'Again' was featured as iTunes Single of the Week, and therefore free to download - well worth checking out, by the way, as it is always brand spanking new music, and is a good way of finding some real gems! Anyway, I added it to my collection on my iPod, and a few weeks later it came on shuffle as I was walking to a lecture in the sun. Well, I listened to it once, and had to repeat it several times just to try and take it all in, I loved this amazing new voice and wanted more. By chance, my sister bought the album a couple of weeks later after seeing Francis as a supporting act at a gig - I sort of had to 'borrow' it right away. This was all a couple of months ago, and I'm still hooked. 'Again' is probably one of the more commercial, upbeat songs on the album. The majority of the album takes on a slower, more soulful feel where Francis showcases her amazing voice that can change in a second from sweet and ethereal to gutsy and full of emotion. Her lyrics match her voice perfectly, both of which are particularly heartbreaking in the song 'Remember Your Name', in which Francis seems to be desperately trying to connect with an alcoholic mother - I must point out I don't know if this song is autobiographical, if not, then she can add an amazing capacity for empathy and imagination to her melting pot of talent.
At only 21 years old, Birmingham-based Francis has been on an 18 date tour, some of which was spent supporting the likes of James Morrisson, and the Daily Mail has already tipped her as 'The Next Big Thing'. Whether other singles from her album are going to be marketed more aggressively, or she is simply going to take the music industry by storm with album number two, I think Francis is sat on the precipice of a hugely successful career. She will be joining a very busy market of alternative female solo artists, but unlike many, Francis does not try to make herself noticed with an impressive array of costumes and awards outfits. She is very unassuming. While a huge, theatrical stage presence is great, there is certainly something endearing and refreshing about Francis' concern with just keeping it about the music - no sequins, feathers or latex needed. Thank goodness.
I would really recommend giving this amazing voice some ear-time, you won't regret it.