Category Archives: Features

MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 67: LITTLE BIG TOWN

Sometimes I wonder why it often takes something drastic around the world to make us all look more inward, appreciating things like family and friends, especially during such a difficult time in 2020 around the world because of COVID-19. I mean, to put it in a blunt way, why did it have to take a global pandemic like COVID-19 to make us all ponder, think and wonder, to better our relationships with our family, to realise that we don’t need as much as we think we do, to understand the importance of friendships, to entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t be as involved with technology as maybe we were prior? I know, very blunt and crude in my own assumptions, that such a pandemic like COVID-19 makes us realise things about ourselves and others that maybe we just haven’t realised before…but I’ve realised that that indeed is very much true. I know for me, during this time of quarantining and isolation, of having a break from work and using the time to connect more with people around me, I’ve realised a few things. That over these last few months, it is often things like TV shows, music and movies, that often get us through difficult times and struggles, be it in the form of an escapist TV show, a movie about superheroes, or even a favourite album from a favourite artist that speaks to you, both when the album was recorded and released, and even now. Music I reckon, has the power to change lives from the drop of a hat- you hear a song that just hits your soul, and from then on, you’re not really the same. A song that challenges your preconceptions and misunderstandings about this and that. It is in these songs, and the artists that sing them where I’ve started to write about. Not necessarily the most popular artists (the ones that have so many accolades, but alas, songs that don’t necessarily tug at the soul, but rather just give us a cool beat), but it is the influential ones, that artists that may be popular, but also could be under-the-radar as well, that have really challenged my own views of society as a whole, especially during this COVID-19 2020 year.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 66: CARLY RAE JEPSEN

Never in my life did I actually think that I’d write a blog like this. There. I said it. Frankly, it wasn’t even until a few weeks ago did I actually ponder about my blog series as a whole. Was I actually writing about these artists for a year and a half because they were actually influential, both in my very own life and the life of others, or was it on the basis that it was assumed to be influential, even without me listening to the artist? Because more often than not, a lot of these blogs that I wrote throughout this year, were about artists where I’d listen to them almost the very week of. Yeah, poor planning I know, but one thing struck out to me as something I should think and ponder about…was there an unseen assumption that certain artists are influential and certain artists are popular, and was I playing into that assumption? I’ve written 65 blogs so far in this series, and as I glance through who I’ve written about (and who I haven’t), there’s one big striking omission (be it intentional or not, I’m not entirely sure), that I can’t ignore- the absence of female-driven pop. I mean sure, there’s pop in a sense that it is pop-rock or pop-country or just pop-_____ (fill in the blank) on my list: see artists like Delta Goodrem, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Amy Grant, Mandy Moore, Natalie Imbruglia, Vanessa Amorosi and Colbie Caillat, and you can see that there isn’t necessarily a lack of females on my list investing their music within the pop sonic space, but there is a lack of female representatives in pop in the sense of the dance-pop variety. And herein lies the point. I used to think that pop in the very sense of the word- the 1D pop that is flooding the airwaves since…well, ever; shouldn’t really have a place on my list, whatsoever.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 32: Maddie & Tae

It’s been about 6 months since the start of COVID-19. So let’s just let that sink in for a little bit. No. No, that’s not right. Let me backtrack. COVID-19 has been around a whole lot longer than since March 2020. It’s just that that was when the effects of the virus and the impact it had on a global scale was much more significant, magnified, and prevalent. The past while till now has been a journey, albeit an unrelenting and a hard-hitting one, but nevertheless a journey. And in that journey- throughout the whole entire time that I have been at home, at work, talking to people at work, friends over Zoom, just generally to my family, and as I’ve been watching the news and checking out my social media; the one thing that is common that I have heard is the people want to get back to ‘normal’. As if it is something to aspire to be, to travel towards. Like ‘oh, hey we’ve caught the last of COVID-19, there’s none of it anymore’, then everyone rejoices and then life goes on like it did in 2019. I think that’s how some of us romanticise the end of COVID-19 (which may or may not eventuate that way!); yet I firmly believe that by hoping that the virus goes away (which theoretically can only happen when there is a working vaccine available to the general worldwide population at an affordable price!) we are in fact wishing away our life. in a blunt, crude term, that’s what we’re doing.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 65: JOHN FARNHAM

Longevity is hard to come by, especially in music. I dunno if you’ve seen a pattern, but what I’ve seen is this- for an average career in music, you’d get pretty much a decade. A decade of radio hits, of albums that hit a niche market…mind you, it’d be less if you’re only ‘ok’ and then if you’re competing in a digital space and medium where there’s heightened competition, or more if you’re really, really good and your music actually speaks for itself. And in the context of Australia, artists have either come and gone, or they’ve stayed for quite some time, delivering great songs to people over the years. And usually it’s pretty hard to know from the get-go if this artist is going to make it big or not. Nevertheless, even though as a whole, Australian artists don’t necessarily get as much exposure to the international market compared to artists from other countries; there is still a big pool to choose from if you’re looking for Australian artists to listen to and want to branch out into music from artists not from the U S of A. Artists like Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, The McClymonts, Missy Higgins, Daryl Braithwaite, Jessica Mauboy, Kasey Chambers, Slim Dusty, Ricki-Lee Coulter, Natalie Imbruglia, Tina Arena, Marcia Hines, Newsboys, for KING AND COUNTRY, Rebecca St. James and Kylie Minogue, are just some of the many artists from Australia that have had varying degrees of success over the years. And while a lot of music at the moment is very much America-based, we must not forget that music can still be good and not be from America…shudder to think, right? Because honestly, if we get most of our movies and TV shows from America, then surely the music from America is the best, right? Not necessarily.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 31: Cassadee Pope

I have a confession to make. This blog, while the music and songs have been enjoyable and impacting and inspirational, has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write. Not because I don’t have anything to say. Not in the slightest. Because country singer Cassadee Pope has had an interesting road to stardom. The lead singer of her rock band Hey Monday, as well as competing on the Voice and winning in 2012, then becoming a solo artist (country/pop- way, way, different to what she was doing before!)- there is so much to write about and convey to you all. However, whether consciously or subconsciously, I’ve tried to come up with a ‘perfect’ introduction for this blog. I’m not sure why- the other blogs I’ve written about before, I’ve just typed, and out comes a story or an anecdote. Usually the brief short pearl or pearls of wisdom ties into the artist’s life or their belief or maybe a line in one of my favourite songs of said artists. Writing an introduction for many previous artists I’ve written about, wasn’t tedious, strenuous and tiresome. Yet for this blog about Cassadee Pope– maybe I has reached saturation point in terms of blogs. Perhaps I was just tired in terms of how I was feeling on the day. But this blog introduction, was something that I had been trying to figure out in my head for some time- I just couldn’t work out how to start this blog. You know how they say that first impressions is key. Well I feared that my first impression on Cassadee Pope wouldn’t be adequate and wouldn’t justify her inclusion on my list of ‘up-and-coming influential artists of the next 5-10 years’!

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 64: JASON GRAY

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve realised that at most times in my life, that it is the weaker, lesser things that I often try to hide that God often uses to bring people towards Himself, and to shine a light on the fact that being vulnerable and admitting to your own faults, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something that will be used by our Father in heaven, to either bring about healing and wholeness in the hearts of people, or just bringing about a better sense of honesty, transparency and authenticity in how I live, and in turn, how other people live when they see me being real with the life I live and lead. For I know that there are things that I often label in my own life as things I know I need to work on- being able to let go of control and to not stress and worry when things don’t go my way, is a very big thing that I’ve struggled with all my life; but when I’ve learnt to understand that it is indeed what I go through (that can be seen by myself as a fault or an impediment that I need to overcome) that allows God to work in others and myself, that I can truly be free from this notion that what I have needs ‘fixing’- that in spite of all the things that I need to improve upon, that God will still use me in my weakness to bring about His strength in all situations I find myself in. God uses the weak and lowly, as well as the well-to-do. It is at times in our suffering that we know we can find God sufficient, and that in what we may often consider to be dark times in our overarching story, that God says to us that it is these moments we try to lock away, that He can turn around and impact and affect a lot of people, reminding ourselves that we don’t have to be ashamed because of what we’ve gone through, been through, what we think about ourselves, or what we deem this thing to be the most despicable (and disposable) about ourselves. Because in and amongst all of that, God is here, God is working, and God is using everything, for the renewal and the revitalisation of ourselves and of humanity as a whole. Nothing is wasted, and I truly mean nothing. And it is in this listening of this artist that I’m about to unpack this week, that I’ve come to realise this very fact, this very sobering moment. That no matter what you look on the outside, no matter what the world can perceive you as, that God can still use even the unlikeliest of people for His purposes here on earth. And that is certainly true of this next artist I’m to delve into today, Jason Gray.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 63: JEWEL

Sometimes artists have the ability to sneak up on you with their music. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that is unexpected and from left field. One minute in your life, you wouldn’t even consider listening to them, or in some cases, may not have even heard of them. And then in the next, you’re listening to their music, enjoying it, and realising that the style of music you are indeed hearing, is such that maybe, you need at that particular moment. For artists do come and go within the music industry- they often start off with a bang, release a solid debut album, and then maybe fizzle off into the ether, for one reason or another. Then there are artists that keep going and going, creating albums that impact the mind and challenge our very souls, year after year after year. There are artists we may not have heard of before, and then there are artists that we hear constantly on the radio. And both these artists- the overplayed and the unassuming, are valid and needed in society, they each provide a service and fill a void, creating music for people, in different situations, circumstances and purposes. And here in these blog posts that I’ve been undertaking for a year and a half, most of them are such where their music haven’t been at the forefront of my own mind until the time that I have discussed them…and then later, I realise that the artist and the music I have just listened to, shouldn’t have been as foreign and unknown as it was for me. I have since realised that because of my CCM bubble that I grew up in during my primary school years (and well into my teens and young adult (Y.A.) years), I missed out on some good quality music, music that God has used in people’s lives, just the same as CCM. And now in this year and a half, I’ve lifted the lid and realised this one very thing- that whether someone likes CCM or mainstream music, isn’t really the matter to God. He will use whatever He wants to, to connect people towards Himself. What does matter are people’s hearts, and sometimes in the unlikeliest of circumstances, it can be the unassuming artists that come along, and tug at our very hearts, and really challenge what it truly means to love God and love people well in this life.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 30: The New Respects

If I had the ability to go back in time by about a year, to tell you what would be in store for you in 2020, and to tell you that the world has gone to bits, has been turned upside down in the most unimaginable way possible, but that you would have a break and that you would be using that time alone to reconnect on a soul level with those around you whom you deem important and with those you love; would you believe me? If I were to travel back in time to tell you that there’d be no more concert, live sports games, movies, TV shows and social gatherings more than 10 or 20 people in the foreseeable future; would you believe me? If I were to tell the you of 2019, that the world right now as we know it has completely changed, and will forever be changed even in 10, 20 years; would you believe me? Would you call me crazy and just laugh me off? Or would you take what I’ve said to heart and cherish the present moment- simply because you don’t know when it will be ripped away from you in an instant without you knowing? Would the you of the past tell the me of the present (your future) that I’m mistaken about the state of the world and that I’m wrong and that you know better than someone who has actually experienced a greater multitude of things that you might have possibly experienced? As you ponder the answer this this question and all of life’s questions- let me show you this video which was recommended to be from YouTube that sums up everything COVID-19 related quite nicely!

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 29: Mandy Harvey

There once was a man who walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. After the tightrope had been fixed in place, he started gathering a crowd to watch his daring and dangerous feat. “Come one! Come all!” he shouted into his bullhorn. “Watch me walk above Niagara Falls, balancing on nothing more than this little rope!”

As people started gathering, he passed around a sample of the rope so people could see how small it was. “One little slip, and I will tumble to my death in the waters below!” he shouted. “You never know when I might fall. The rope is getting wet from the misting water. A wind is coming up the gorge. I don’t want to die, but today could be the day!”

As the crowd swelled even more, he shouted to those who had gathered, “Who believes I can walk across the falls and back without falling to my death below?”

Most of the crowd shouted that they believed he could do it. Many of them cheered him on to try it. So he climbed up onto the rope, and balanced his way across Niagara Falls. When he reached the far side, he turned around and came back. He didn’t slip. He didn’t fall. In fact, he barely wobbled or wavered. So when he returned to the safety of the shore, he motioned with his hands for the cheering crowd to quiet down.

“That was too easy!” he yelled. “That wasn’t a challenge for me at all! Let’s make it more difficult! Who believes I can do again, but this time, while pushing a wheelbarrow? If my hands are on the wheelbarrow, I will not be able to use them to balance on the rope. Shall I give it a try? Do you believe I can do it?” He motioned to a nearby wheelbarrow, which he had brought for this very purpose.

The crowd cheered their approval, which caused the number of gathering people to swell even further. So with the help of two nearby men, he lifted a wheelbarrow up onto the rope, and then started pushing it across the Falls. He went more slowly this time, and even had a few wobbles, which caused the crowd to gasp and cry out with fear, but he made it to the other side and back without any great problem. The crowd went wild.

“That was too easy!” he yelled. “Who believes I can do it again, but this time, with another person inside the wheelbarrow?” The crowd roared their approval. “I would not only be risking my own life, but also the life of the person in the wheelbarrow,” the man shouted to the crowd. “With a show of hands, let me see how many of you believe I can do this!” Almost every person in the large crowd raised their hand. It was nearly unanimous.

“Wonderful! I am so glad to see that you have such faith in me! I think I will give it a shot!” the man yelled. “Now … among all of you who raised your hand, do I have a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow?” Every hand in the large crowd went down. “What?” said the man. “You’ve seen me walk across Niagara Falls twice without any problems, once while pushing this wheelbarrow! And most of you believe I can do it with someone else in the wheelbarrow with me! But when I ask which of you wants to get into the wheelbarrow, none of you volunteer? Do you believe I can do it or not?”

But there were no takers, so the crowd did not see him push someone across Niagara Falls in a wheelbarrow that day.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 62: SARAH MCLACHLAN

What are some of the fondest memories of your childhood? The moments in time, when you were younger, where all the things that mattered in that moment, was enjoying what was in front of you, where you didn’t care about anything except for the enjoyable moment that you were in? Everyone has times in their life, where they look back and think ‘yes, this was a time in my life where things were simpler. Where I didn’t worry or care about the responsibilities that I have now, or when I just enjoyed life and the simpler moments, just because’. I know there have been moments in my own life where that has happened. In a nutshell, it was when I was watching movies…Disney in particular. And while right now Disney has become a massive conglomerate- with its own television channel (Disney +), once upon a time, Disney and its movies shaped a generation of people growing up, like no other. For me I was born the late 1980s; and grew up in the 1990s. I can remember my parents saying that for every day during my formative years (let’s say I was around 3 – 4), I’d want to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, every day. Maybe that did happen like I may have wanted it back then, maybe my mum didn’t cave, and I only watched the movie once every few days. Nevertheless, Disney was a big part of my childhood growing up. Movies like The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Oliver and Company, The Fox and the Hound, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dumbo, Robin Hood, Tarzan, A Goofy Movie and The Sword in the Stone, have all been watched by myself and my family at various points during my primary school years, some movies maybe more than once. I am reminded even now much of a positive impact Disney and its movies has had on myself as I was growing up, but I guess through all of those aforementioned movies above, I guess the one category of Disney movies that have been my favourite, and will still be my favourite as the years continue to progress, would be movies under the umbrella of Disney/Pixar. A partnership between the Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios, movies started to flourish from 1995 onward. Starting off its catalogue with the highly successful (and now highly nostalgic) Toy Story (starring heavyweight actors like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen), the Disney-Pixar brand has continued to be a reckoning force even now in 2020. One such movie that stood out to me during the 1990s from Disney Pixar was in fact the 1999 movie Toy Story 2- a sequel to the 1995 classic movie Toy Story. Not that the storyline to the 1999 movie was memorable at all- in fact, in 2020, I can’t really recall what happened in the 1999 film, only the basic plot that Woody was stolen from a yard sale by a greedy toy collector, learning about his own origins as being a main character in a fictitious 1950s TV show, all the while, the other toys (Buzz, Rex, Hamm, Slinky etc.) try to rescue Woody from being sold to a Japanese museum. While the plot itself is a little convoluted for kids to even follow, what stood out for me, years later even in 2020, was the original song written for the movie.

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