Spice Girls: How Girl Power Changed Britain – a damning look at the music industry

In the first episode of Spice Girls: How Girl Power Changed Britain, we see father and son management team Bob and Chris Herbert holding auditions for “a girl version of Take That”. They have a rating system for the applicants, and Chris reads aloud the scorecard of one such hopeful: a 20-year-old Victoria Beckham. “Dancing – six; singing – five; looks – seven, not very good skin; personality – five.” It’s just one example of the patriarchal behaviour the group come up against…

Jennifer Hudson: ‘Playing Aretha Franklin was the scariest thing ever’

Jennifer Hudson was “blessed” to have been able to hang out a fair bit with Aretha Franklin before getting to play her in a film. She undertook the gargantuan task of embodying the late Queen of Soul for the upcoming biopic, Respect, but the fact that Franklin respected Hudson too went a long way. Franklin famously never allowed singers to open for her throughout her career. She was, however, particularly taken with Hudson after seeing her as a contestant on American Idol in 2004, so she made an exception...

Album reviews: Common – A Beautiful Revolution Pt 2

Veteran rapper Common breathes a sigh of relief after one of the darkest periods in America’s history. With a new president and galvanised communities post-Black Lives Matter protests, the artist-activist sounds buoyed, looking to the future with optimism. On several tracks, he raps about the power of community affecting change over upbeat funk, snatches of jazz and Afro-futurist themes. A soulful chorus from LA singer-songwriter PJ on “A Beautiful Chicago Kid” is an inspirational message of triumph, while...

ABBA announce album Voyage and release first new music in 40 years

Swedish pop icons Abba have announced their long-anticipated reunion today (September 2), after almost 40 years apart. Following the announcement this evening in London, the group – made up of Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, Agnetha Fälskog and Björn Ulvaeus also unveiled two new singles: “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down". Both songs will appear on their forthcoming, 10-track album, Voyage. The album, which will be the group’s first studio album since “The Visitors"....

‘Let It Go’ was about pressure on women: Frozen’s songwriters on redefining Disney

On its 2013 release, Disney’s Frozen was a box office phenomenon. As well as earning more than $1.3bn (£95m) in cinemas and overtaking Toy Story 3 as the highest-grossing animated film of all time, it redefined what it meant to be a Disney princess, tearing up age-old gender stereotypes with the character of Elsa – a feminist icon for our times. The film also won two Oscars: Best Animated Feature and Best Song for “Let It Go” – Disney’s first top 10 chart hit since 1995...

ABBA’s Voyage announcement - everything that happened

ABBA have announced that they are releasing their first new music in 40 years, as well as the launch of a “revolutionary” concert next year. Following the announcement this evening in London, the group – made up of Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, Agnetha Fälskog and Björn Ulvaeus also unveiled two new singles: “I Still Have Faith With You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”. Both songs will appear on their forthcoming, 10-track album, ‘Voyage’.

Graham Coxon interview: ‘I was drinking a lot because it knocked off the anxiety’

“I’m very different now to how I was then,” says Graham Coxon, singer-songwriter and guitarist in Blur, inhaling on his vape. He’s reflecting on the difficult Think Tank album sessions, which led to his departure from the band in 2001. “I should’ve been talking about what my difficulties were with myself, my anxiety, fitting in with the world, a lot earlier.” But he’s ready to speak up now? “Yes, well, I’ve been in therapy for well over a year nearly every day because of some recent events...

Album reviews: Maisie Peters – You Signed Up for This, and Chvrches – Screen Violence

The Scottish trio mark their 10th anniversary with Screen Violence: a gothic-tinged album exploring our difficult relationship with the screen – from video nasties to social media savagery on our phones. David Cronenberg’s 1983 sci-fi Videodrome is a thematic touchstone; as is Disintegration-era Cure. The Cure’s Robert Smith even makes an appearance on standout “How Not to Drown”, his voice a moody, quavering contrast to frontwoman Laura Mayberry’s soaring, sugary-pop vocals...

"The ending is special": what to expect from Nia DaCosta's terrifying 'Candyman' sequel

Released in the autumn of 1992, the original Candyman was an early favourite of one Jordan Peele, who was 13 when the film was released. The Get Out director was a huge horror fan, but up until Tony Todd’s casting as the titular bogeyman who appears after saying his name five times in the mirror, Peele had not seen a Black actor in a major horror role. “I was a horror fan as a kid, but we didn’t have a Black Freddy Krueger or a Black Jason Voorhees,” Peele said recently...

Big Red Machine – ‘How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?’: Taylor Swift-assisted melancholy

Back in 2008, The National’s Aaron Dessner was assembling material for a charity compilation named ‘Dark Was The Night’. He sent the sketch of a song called ‘Big Red Machine’ to Bon Iver, aka Justin Vernon, who turned the track into what Dessner has called an emotional “beating heart”: a song where understanding our own emotions and those of others was central. The two formed a songwriting duo, and their second album...

Deafheaven – ‘Infinite Granite’ review: a heartfelt love letter to '90s shoegaze

Ever since their 2011 debut, San Francisco’s Deafheaven have alternated between two opposing musical selves: the heady dreaminess of shoegaze and the emotive torment of black metal. Few bands have successfully combined the two as skilfully as Deafheaven, yet fifth album ‘Infinite Granite’ represents an about-turn, the five-piece opting for a singular stylistic path. On this love letter to ’90s shoegaze, the black metal menace of their earlier work is replaced by lush soundscapes and dreamy psychedelia...

Lisa Joy interview: ‘I thought about making my new film under a male pseudonym’

Little more than a decade ago, Lisa Joy was a high-flying Harvard graduate at the start of a career in corporate law. Now, she’s the co-creator, writer and part-director of HBO’s acclaimed sci-fi western Westworld (with husband and creative partner Jonathan Nolan, younger brother of Christopher), and she’s just finished writing, producing and directing her first feature film, Reminiscence…

Courtney Barnett interview: ‘I often feel I’m not smart enough to be part of the conversation’

Lush greenery bursts onto the screen as Courtney Barnett starts the video call. Her phone’s camera is pointing outwards towards rolling hills; birds squawk loudly in the background. The Australian musician is calling not from her Melbourne home but the idyllic Piha Beach near Auckland, New Zealand, where she’s nearing the end of a three-week tour. It’s her first live outing in more than 18 months and it’s clear she couldn’t be happier to be back onstage, playing new songs and seeing new places...

New Amy Winehouse film, Reclaiming Amy, is a harrowing account of a family’s grief – review

“My daughter Amy died when she was just 27 years old”, Janice Winehouse-Collins, mother of Amy Winehouse, quietly says at the start of an intimate new documentary to mark the tenth anniversary of the musician’s death from alcohol poisoning. Directed by Marina Parker, the film is primarily told through the voice of Janice, who wanted to record her memories of Winehouse on camera while she still had the chance: she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003 (the same year Winehouse released her debut album, Frank)…

Cola Boyy: “I want my music to encourage people to fight for change, to rebel”

Cola Boyy, aka Matthew Urango, has just finished his morning coffee at home in California when he greets NME on video call. He was up late, he says, preparing for an upcoming trip to Paris in just a few days time. His debut album, ‘Prosthetic Boombox’, may have only just been released, but he’s heading overseas to record a bunch of new songs in the same studio where part of his breakthrough EP, ‘Black Boogie Neon’, was made....

The New Wave: Hayley Squires Interview

HAYLEY SQUIRES’ BREAKOUT role in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake introduced us to what the actor does best: giving a powerful voice to those on the margins. Earning a Most Promising Newcomer BIFA in 2016 for her role as single parent Katie in Loach’s exploration of the UK’s punitive benefits system, Squires’ emotive portrayal brought humanity and truth to a story we rarely see beyond statistics in the news. Since then, she’s kept on searching for the kind of stories that are seldom told...

Interview with photographer, Steven M. Wiggins

With subjects as vast as childhood friends who have been involved with gang violence, Notting Hill carnival revellers, council estates, everyday characters you see on the street to leading grime and rap artists, his work culminates in a dark, gritty and unique look at modern life in London. His pictures for this project come from the grime and rap world, with all photographed on the streets where they’re from. “This project is a brilliant way of celebrating two elements that feed off of each other – music and the street,” he says, adding he hopes it inspires others on the streets too.

Interview with photographer, Denisha Anderson

“Every shoot is a space for experimenting and learning – bringing whatever I’ve learned from the previous into the next. In this shoot there were a lot of things I’d never done before. I’ve never worked with a stylist so closely, for example. Shooting on film is my go-to and very natural for me – however, in this instance, I used a lot more push processing to get something a little bit grittier, or a little bit creamier. I also experimented with flash on the shots and I like the way it’s come out. I’m very new to the flash game, man!”
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