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24K Magic: Album Review

24K Magic is Bruno Mars's Third Studio Album
24K Magic is Bruno Mars's Third Studio Album

24K Magic - Bruno Mars: Album Review

Hello, everybody! This is my first music review since Blackstar in January. That isn't to say I haven't listened to any 2016 albums since then: just that I haven't reviewed any. Which is why reviewing 24K Magic is me stepping out of my comfort zone of cinema and gaming to review something from the musical realm.

Before I begin reviewing the content of the album, I'd like to preface by saying I am not a Bruno Mars fan. He is talented, but generally refuses to push himself out of his comfort zone and create something great, which is why we've ended up with a lot of mediocre tracks like "Grenade", "The Lazy Song" and "Treasure."

With 24K Magic, Bruno Mars has set out to claim the Pop/RnB crown. Heads and shoulders above Doo-Woops and Hooligans, 24K is Bruno's best record yet. I hope Bruno gets the commercial success he deserves. But if he doesn't, I still enjoyed the album enough to be satisfied.

This album sets the perfect mood with an absolute banger as an opening track: 24K magic. I first heard this song when Mars released it as a single, and fell in love with it absolutely instantly. It was the only thing that made me excited for the album, as I'm not a Bruno Mars fan. The vocoder in the track's intro piques your interest, and Bruno Mars's vocals and synth infused production done by "Shampoo Press and Curl" will make you want to dance.

This single exists in the same album as "Versace on The Floor", a sex ballad. It's reminiscent of "If I was your man", if only slightly. But unlike that song, I don't despise Versace on The Floor. As a matter of fact, the sex-hungry and nasty lyrics sung in a falsetto by Bruno Mars make for one of the most memorable songs in the record, and certainly the most productive joint. Let's just kiss till we're naked. I can almost envision a slow dance just listening to this song.

Another excellent song on this album is "Chunky." I out of all people was worried that the best song would be the single, but "Chunky" proved me wrong. This is the best song the album has to offer. It is absolutely Michael Jackson influenced. I could hear this on Off The Wall or Thriller, and it was beautiful to hear.

The most wistful song on the record is "Too Good To Say Goodbye." As the title suggests, the album itself is too good for you to want to end. I mean, at 33 minutes length, the album is satisfying, yet leaves you craving more greatness. But boy, did Bruno do a great job in sending the album off. This song gets in your emotions. It's a very Bruno Mars song, but done a high standard. It's bittersweet in execution.

For the first time, I am recommending a Bruno Mars album. This isn't just a good RnB/soul album. It is great. It can be funky, it can be wistful. It can sound like an 8-bit song in production, or a page out of Off-The-Wall. It's beautiful keyboard notes soar, complimenting Bruno's vocals. Vocally, Bruno carried the entire album on his own. Literally. Yes, there are no features. And I can see why. Occasionally, Bruno employs additional or "backing vocals", but for all intents and purposes, this is a solo project. The only outlier on this record is "Perm.", a mixed bag, and for an album of this quality, a miss. The rest of the album is great.

Score: 8.6/10

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Game Review

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Game Review.

It's been a while since I've reviewed a game. As a matter of fact, it's been a while since I've reviewed anything at all ever since I changed my account for the umpteenth time. I still have a thirst for reviewing and decided to write about the latest Call of Duty game: Infinite Warfare. This game was almost universally hated before release. It quickly became the second most disliked YouTube video (just behind a Justin Bieber song), and most people, outside of Call of Duty devotees, expected this game to be the worst thing since Superman 64. As someone who hasn't loved a Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare II, I didn't care for this upcoming release. I didn't hate it nearly as much as most people, but I didn't expect it to be any better then the other Call of Duty games, all of which I didn't like enough to finish.

But since my brother is a Call of Duty game, I had the benefit of getting the game for free. Maybe I should pay him back, because surprisingly, I thought the game was GOOD.Yeah, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare genuinely surprised me. I enjoyed it more than any game that came out this year - although I expect it to be topped when I play Dishonored 2, and again with Final Fantasy XV. But the point is: I enjoyed Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. It held my attention, something I haven't felt in a while. I can't say how it stacks up against Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, but it gripped my attention, which is something not many games can do.

This is the most ambitious Call of Duty game in years. Setting the campaign mostly in space and other planets as opposed to the earthly setting of other Call of Duty games was questionable, but a referencing change in pace, something the franchise was in need of. The campaign's presentation is fantastic - visuals, graphics, environments and directions coming into full effect and barraging the player with set-piece after set-piece. This game doesn't waste time; it starts with an exhilarating action sequence and ends with a beautiful and emotional ending. It's an immensely entertaining 6 hours of gameplay that proposes challenges in an exciting and spectacular fashion. There are space battles (oh, the space battles), ship battles, races against time, and opportunities to just blow shit up.

It constantly alternates from a conventional Call of Duty game, to a Star Wars game, to Mass Effect and Call of Duty's lovechild.

The campaign was fun, but without a solid story, it wouldn't be able to hold my attention. The story is good. Pleasantly occupied by human and relatable characters, IW's campaign is a character-driven narrative. I cared for all three main characters by the end of the game. The only glaring, shortcoming in the game as a story is the villain. After his compelling first scene, Kit Harrington's character was reduced into a cardboard cut out who spends more time behind closed curtains and getting others to do the job for him. His lack of presence in the game isn't even mysterious enough to make him compelling, he's just... barely in the game.

The multiplayer itself is mediocre. Good, but compared to the exceptional campaign, the MP is a waste of potential. They could've done a lot with the space setting, but the multiplayer ended up feeling samey and just as good as any other Call of Duty multiplayer. In that respect, Battlefield 4 wins as the multiplayer is a lot better than the one proposed in Infinite Warfare. If the multiplayer battles were just as exhilarating as the zero-gravity space battles in the Campaign, I could've regularly lost hours playing it, but it isn't - it's just Call of Duty. Which is just OK.

Another area in which the game excels is the Zombies. Zombies in an Infinity Ward game, I thought would pale in comparison to Treyarch's addictive zombie modes. Again, I was proven wrong. It's a gentler, more welcoming Zombie mode than before, energised by a vivid 80s setting. It stacks up just fine against Activision's zombie modes. I can imagine this'll be the aspect of the game that compels me to pick it up time and again.

That sums up my thoughts on the game. It's inarguably an acquired taste: you'll either like it or you won't like. In my opinion, it's by far the best Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare 2, and that was 7 years ago! So I tip of my hat to Infinity Ward for doing that: especially for someone who hasn't been compelled by CoD at all in years. We're now 3 for 4 in the Warfare games. Damn you, MW3. The only major gripes I have with the game are the waste of potential in doing something special in the online multiplayer, and an uninteresting, villain. Otherwise, the campaign and zombies are fantastic. And it doesn't really glamorise war. This is a REALLY good game. I wouldn't recommend it to everybody, but I wouldn't write it off because it's a Call of Duty game. At least consider it.

I'm rating it a 7/10.

Thanks for reading.

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A Contextual Guide to Kanye West

If you wrote off Kanye West as an insufferable lunatic on the basis of his controversial statements and scene stealing (literally) VMA appearance, you're missing out on, IMO, the most talented rapper alive and one of the all time greats. When people think of Kanye, then tend to think of loud, abrasive, arrogant, or; loud, abrasive and arrogant music. When Kanye has produced some of the best & most consistent music of the decade. I'll let my "cheat sheet" speak for itself. Hopefully, if you're new to Kanye, you can pick whichever song description sounds best.

This could be buried, but I'm bored, I Love Kanye, and enjoyed writing this anyway:

  1. The one where he raps about the trappings of materialism and self-conciousness.
  2. The one where he raps about his faith in Jesus.
  3. The one where he thanks his grandparents for making his mother and him who they are.
  4. The one where Kanye rapped with his jaw wired shut.
  5. The one about how he would do anything for his family.
  6. "Money can solve some of your problems, but it doesn't make you a better person."
  7. The one where he raps about remaining loyal to your hometown.
  8. An anthem dedicated to his mother for everything she's done for him in life.
  9. The one about addiction.
  10. The one where he raps about blood diamonds in Africa.
  11. The nine-minute confession song. Kanye's best song.
  12. The one where he raps about depression
  13. The 8-minute breakup song.
  14. The one where he raps about the love of a parent being irreplaceable.
  15. The one about not worrying about shit.
  16. The 13-minute timeline song.
  17. The only one where he raps about his daughter from the perspective of his deceased mother.

Hopefully, you'll consider giving at least one of them a listen.

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Batman: The Killing Joke

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The Killing Joke is my favourite graphic novel: Alan Moore might consider his juxtaposition of Batman and The Joker his worst work, whilst I'd consider it some of my finest hours of comic book reading. I came into The Killing Joke with monumental expectations (duh). But to analyse a film like The Killing Joke, an adaptation nonetheless, you need to come to terms with the likelihood that the adaptation will not be better than the source material. This does not excuse a bad film, only that you need to refrain from using criticism like a flamethrower just because an adaptation isn't the second coming of Jesus.

So, The Killing Joke pleased me. I thought the movie was fine. I enjoyed it. It pleased me. Perhaps I don't have a critical eye or anything, but I don't see the stumbling. I see stumbling, but not the stumbling which fans and critics alike rained hundreds of arrows upon. I see a film, that, independently produced, consisted of wholly original content, could be something commendable.

Hang with me. The Killing Joke is an adaptation of award winning material. A lot of the material is lifted from a comic and translated into this, & it is pretty great material. And we commend adaptations in on themselves, we praise aspects of a film lifted straight from a source material. For example, To Kill A Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck, is an adaptation of an American literary classic of a same name. That is where the film's monologue, social commentary and narrative came from. The delivery and performance elevate the source material, but the material to make something great generated from Harper Lee, not Robert Mulligan.

Similarly, Batman: The Killing Joke is sourced from superb material: the monologues, themes and motifs still exist, and like Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird, Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy masterfully deliver career-defining performances that bring the source material to life beautifully.

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To reaffirm my argument, this does not dictate that a film's flaws be close to none, but that a film can be praised for the material that it lifted fro the book. In this instance, people praising Mark Hamill's monologue and the meeting between The Caped Crusader and The Clown Prince of Crime are once in a blue moon, whilst people praising Gregory Peck's final sentencing in To Kill A Mockingbird are dime a dozen.

Inevitably, viewers will argue that a scene is only as good as the context it fits into, which is why Peck's monologue is acclaimed as it belongs in a great film, and Hamill's belongs in a mediocre one, but the scenes in The Killing Joke as a whole aren't delivered in less context than they were delivered by Alan Moore in 1988. Of course, the adaptation will always cease to have the impact of the source material, but close to nothing here undermines the impact of the great scenes.

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The Killing Joke is far from a perfect film. Arguments can be made for thematic relevance of the haphazardly tacked on prologue segment, but without robbing these arguments of their merit, there comes a time where you stop analysing and view a film straight. When I watch the earlier segments of the Killing Joke, I see a lazily written angsty romance written by a writer who, here, seems to believe you can only establish a relationship between two adults other than sex, which is lazy writing.

But like a friend once said:

I don't take marks off for what I believe are flaws if a movie gives me other things I like. Sometimes I love a movie more for its flaws. I prefer a movie with one scene I love than ten I like. I feel over-analyzing a film takes the enjoyment out of it for me, I rather go with my gut.

If in your opinion, the main shortcoming of this film is the 30-minute prologue: your biggest problem with the movie is something I can ignore and I'm left with the 45 minutes of seeing my favourite graphic novel beautifully brought to life.

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