Raiin Monkey

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Thursday, 7 June 2018

The Blogger Tag

Hi lovelies! I haven't blogged for a week until now and I really can't explain what's gotten into me! I've just had literally no 'up and go', zero drive to do much of anything. It's felt like I've been zapped of energy, but not enough for it to have an impact on my insomnia apparently >.< HOW UNFAIR IS THAT! I'm thinking that the main culprit has been the glorious weather we've had, because my body doesn't let me enjoy nice things, ugh #fibroproblems. Despite everything, I have done quite a bit of reading over the last few days and I have been very much enjoying that! It feels good to finally have my passion for reading back & hopefully it's here to stay! I like having an escape from my overwhelming thoughts and it's been great getting lost in the wizarding world If you follow me over on Instagram, you'll probably know that I'm reading the Harry Potter books! After the first two books in the series, which I read when I was in primary school, the others are all new to me and it's been wonderful getting to read all of the details that the movies changed or left out completely. By Monday, I hope to be moving onto the 5th book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Have you ever read any of these books? I'd love to know which is your favourite! 

So today's post is a tag one! I'm such a fan of answering questions; I'm a sucker for surveys, online research questionnaires and trivia games! (I can just hear my best friend's voice in my head calling me a nerd right now XD haha). I was recently tagged to answer questions all about blogging by my awesome fellow-blogger friend. Thanks Nat! ^.^ You should all go check out her post here :) I hope you guys enjoy reading these kinds of posts, as much as I enjoy writing them! 

1. How long have you been blogging for and why did you start?

In September, I'll have been blogging for 3 years! I can't believe it, time has flown by!! I know I've not been the best blogger when it comes to keeping up with regular posts over the last two years, but I still love my little corner of the internet and I'm pretty proud of my work :) 

I started blogging when I first moved back home after completing my degree. At this point in my life, my mental health was at an all time low and I had really struggled to get through my degree because of how intense my anxiety had become. It had really started to affect my social life and my ability to leave the house, and I was feeling a big gap missing in my life. I was stuck at home for the majority of the time and I needed a creative outlet. I needed somewhere where I could express myself, as my mental illness just felt all-consuming and I thought it was important to remind myself that I was more than my bad thoughts. I don't even know if that makes much sense, but that's how I was feeling at the time. I also wanted somewhere that I could get away from my everyday situation, a place were I could write about all of the things that I enjoyed about life, and I hoped that I would find some kindred spirits who enjoyed the same things as me! I have met some wonderful people because of blogging, and I am super happy and grateful for that. You're awesome guys! 

2. Is this current blog your first blog?

Yep. Before blogging, throughout my teens, I had a couple of websites on Piczo. Does anyone else remember that? I loved playing around with HTML codes so I could have fancy, multi-coloured text, sparkly scroll bars and cute cursors. I had a dinosaur as a cursor at one point, because I was just that cool XD Other than that, I've had several tumblr blogs, one of them was dedicated mostly to animal science and wildlife photography, as I'm a big geek, haha! I'd been reading a couple of blogs throughout my time at uni, but I was too nervous to start my own because I seriously thought that no one would want to read it. I was convinced that I was boring and that my social anxiety would make people not wanna interact with me. I really wish that I'd have blogged now because it would been lovely to look back on all of the things I did and places I went and stuff. That's something I very much love about blogging... being able to scroll back through my life over the last few years and be reminded of good times I've had :) 

3. What would you categorise your blog as?

I would say that Raiin Monkey is a lifestyle & geek blog. I don't really concentrate much on the theme of my blog though, I just want to a space where I can write about whatever I want. I'm a person with many quirks and eclectic interests, and I want my blog to reflect that. Let me know if you think it does :) 

4. Is it still the same kind of blog as when you started?

When I first started blogging back in 2015, because of my insecurities that people wouldn't want to read it or enjoy my content, I was very conscious of the topics I'd write about. I would look at other blogs which I loved and I would feel bad about my own, and I would let them influence my thoughts on what I should and shouldn't write. It didn't take me too long though to change my outlook, and this was through reading more and more blogs that reflected my own interests and that I could really relate too. When people started reading my posts and wanting to get to know me, it definitely improved the way I thought about myself and my work. I can't say that I don't have those bad days when I look at my blog and harshly over-critique it (I think all bloggers have days like this, because blogging is damn hard sometimes!), but all in all, I mostly just blog about whatever the heck I want to :) 

5. Top 3 things about being a blogger?

All of the fabulous people that it's brought into my life!
Reading people's lovely comments on my posts and on social media.
Having a creative outlet, where I can talk about anything and feel supported and not alone.

6. What is your favourite kind of post to write? 

I love writing geeky posts, about my collections or figures or about my love for kawaii culture, etc. I really enjoy talking about these hobbies and interests of mine, and it's super fun to take photographs for these kinds of posts. I love sharing my love for these things with others who also enjoy the same hobbies/interests too. The same goes for subscription boxes and haul posts, they are great to write about! I also enjoy sharing posts about topics and issues that are important to me, stuff that I feel need talking about more to help end stigma or change opinions. I like being able to do my little bit to get people thinking/learning about new things. Oh, and I like sharing nature photography posts with others who appreciate them, it's nice :) 

7. What is the hardest post you have ever written and published?

There's quite a few posts that have been tough for me to share to be honest. Because of my social anxiety disorder, I get pretty nervous before I publish many of my posts, although I have gotten a lot better over these last two years. I just worry that they don't read well or something, and even though it is easier for me to blog about a lot of things now, whenever it's something personal, I still get anxious about what people will think of me after reading those kinds of posts. It's hard not to sometimes. The hardest posts that I've written where about my struggles with dermatillomania and this post about living with obsessive compulsive disorder. The sides of mental illness that are much less talked about in society are tough to talk about, but I am glad that I did because it was kinda cathartic and I hope that by blogging about topics like this, I've helped others not feel so alone in their own struggles.  

8. Tag 3 (more more) lovely bloggers! 

So we've reached the end of The Blogger Tag and I hope you've all enjoyed learning more about my blogging experience! I really enjoy blogging, and even though my health has made it a struggle for a while now, I still love sharing posts with you guys and I am determined to keep blogging for a long time :) Anyhow, I'm tagging Tasha, Eleanor & Stacey to do The Blogger Tag too. Everyone needs to go and have a read of their fantastic blogs :) 

Thankyou for reading!

I'm curious... what is your favourite thing about my blog? 

What makes you come back to keep reading my posts, and do you have a favourite post of mine?
I'd really appreciate your feedback guys! 

If you're a fan of tag posts, check out some of my previous ones:


Thursday, 31 May 2018

May 2018 Kawaii & Geeky Wishlist

Hey everyone! How is it the last day of May already? Why the heck is this year going by so fast!? The sunny weather isn't helping matters, not that I'm not enjoying it for the most part, but does anyone else feel like each day just seems to blend into one never-ending day when its hot? The months might be speeding by but at least it's getting closer and closer to my favourite events of the year! Early this month, I spotted an ad on facebook for The Rasmus' 2018 Tour and I was hit with so much nostalgic giddiness! I was super happy when my best friend said that she would go, and booked the tickets right away, even though I was supposed to be on a spending ban in the days leading up to my holiday (oops!). Who else was (and still are) a fan of this Finnish rock band? I have them to thank for bringing rock music into my life and igniting the alternative part of my personality when it comes to music and fashion! I was just entering that part of your life when you are starting to develop our own interests and quirks when I saw 'In The Shadows' on MTV (back when it was still dedicated to music, it feels ages since then!) and I was pretty captivated! Anyhow, before this post becomes an essay about the dawn of my alternative awakening (hahaha XD that sounds like a title of a novel written by an emo teen!), I need to get on with my monthly kawaii & geeky wishlist. It was actually pretty tough to put together this time round since most of what I'm lusting over right now are gig/show tickets! Enjoy! 

May 2018 Kawaii & Geeky Wishlist

1. Funko Star Wars Vulptex Pop Vinyl Figure I absolutely adore foxes and so when I was watching the new Star Wars movies and spotted these gorgeous intergalactic fox-like creatures, I fell in love! These crystal foxes remind me of Pokemon (which my regular readers will know I love!) and are magical-looking, like something I could imagine living in the forests of the Studio Ghibli movie Princess Mononoke. I would just really like to add this figure to my Pop collection! 

2. AMUSE Usadama Chan Touch Plushies HOW CUTE ARE THESE GUYS!!? I neeed one! I especially love the grey & white one because it reminds me of Malakai & Jacob, two of my own bunnies  Amuse is one of my favourite brands when it comes to plushies, they are always such fantastic quality and super squishy and soft! I have a lot of plushies from this Japanese company, of all sizes and species, but they keep bringing out more and more awesome designs including these bunnies. Usually Amuse rabbits have floppy ears, however these have pointed ears and I just have a mighty need! 

3. Sumikko Gurashi Desk Chest of Drawers One of my favourite things to do when I should be getting on with my to do list instead is to watch YouTube videos :D I very much enjoy watching people's bedroom tours and desk tours, and having a nosey at their stationery and homeware collections. I am always a little jealous whenever I see people's desks decorated with the lovely kawaii mini drawers. The Sanrio and San-x ones are really  nice, I want some! These Sumikko Gurashi desk drawers are so sweet and look like they could fit quite a bit of stationery inside the drawers. When my bedroom decorating is all complete and I have my new desk set up, they would look great on it!

4. Harry Potter Hedwig Enamel Pin I love magic & I love owls, so its no surprise that I love Hedwig the Snowy Owl from the Harry Potter books. I feel like in the books we get to see a lot more of Hedwig's cheeky personality, VS in the movies when we just get glimpses of Harry's owl delivering mail or sitting in her cage. She's adorable and I would be very happy to wear this pin out and about! 

5. Harry Potter Luna Lovegood Enamel Pin There's so many of these official chibi character pins available on the Grindstore website and to be honest, I want them all but for now, I'm just including my favourites. I can't believe they are only £4.99 each! Luna Lovegood (and Severus Snape) are my best characters from Harry Potter and even though I wish that Luna was dressed in her lion outfit VS this one, I still want it for my pin collection :) 

6. Harry Potter Hagrid Enamel Pin I don't see much merch of Hagrid and he's such a fabulous character! I can relate to him so much because I love animals too, especially the ones that other people tend to dislike. He's so sweet and caring, and I love how loyal he is to his friends and he also looks like he'd gives great hugs! Who else really wants to hug Hagrid? So yeah, I'd like some more Hagrid merch in my life and this pin is a good place to start. 

7. The Passage by Justin Cronin After reading the Hunger Games back in 2010, I discovered that I really like the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre and started to look for books in this category that were aimed at adults rather than children. Since then, I've read a few books that are set in a dystopian world with extreme regimes, governments and/environments, and I thorough enjoy them. Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale has not long started, and so I have this genre on the brain right now, which reminded me that I would like to read another popular book of this topic. A search of Amazon brought Justin Cronin's The Passage to my attention, and after I've finished reading the Harry Potter series, I'm hoping to move on to this book. It's even better that this book is the first of a trilogy so I will have several books to read. Have any of you guys read it before? I'd love to hear what you thought of it & whether you'd recommend it or not :) 

8. Pokemon Centre Kanto Pokemon Doll Plushies I had to put this entire collection of newly released plushies from The Pokemon Centre onto my wishlist this month, because I am really struggling to just choose one that I like the most! They are all so flippin' cute and even though Mew is one of my top 5 Pokémon, I just can't get over how sweet the expression on Squirtle's face is and I love the cheeky expression on Gengar's face too! Omg how do I even pick just one! How about you? Can you choose your favourite of the bunch? I really like the Pokemon doll style and there are so many that I would love to own. 

9. Pusheenosaurus Power Bank When I was in the airport going through the security area and I had to put all of my hand luggage content into the trays to go through the scanners, I just looked at my plain old portable chargers, and thought about how much I wanted a cool one fit for a nerd! Last week, I came across this super awesome Pusheen portable charger on Truffle Shuffle and it's perfect! What's not to love about a dinosaur cat!? The little mischievous look on the face of Pusheenosaurus makes it hard for me to resist wanting to buy it too! 

Thankyou for reading! 

What is your favourite item on my wishlist this month?

Are you lusting over some items right now? Let me know what in the comments! 

If you enjoy these wishlists, you might also like the posts:
| Tokyo Otaku Mode | Kawaii-eek Boutique | The Geeky Girl Tag


Friday, 25 May 2018

Old English Company*

Hi guys! Happy Friday! Is everyone excited for the weekend? Do you have anything planned? It's been quite a while since my last blog post; for me, May has just flown by so fast and it feels like lately I have been the busiest that I've been in a long time! If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I went to Portugal at the start of this month, to Lisbon for the Eurovision Song Contest. I spent eight days in this beautiful country, the weather was fabulous and I saw so many wonderful sights. I'll have some posts up all about my holiday very soon. I can't wait to tell you guys all about it! It's been just over a week now since I arrived back in England, and I decided it was best for me to take this week to relax and get myself back into the swing of things (I haven't used that saying in forever, haha!). That turned out to be the best decision, not only was I exhausted from my travels, but I also experience the post-holiday blues quite a bit! However, I feel ready to get back to blogging, and I'm very happy to finally have a new post to share with you all :) 

Recently, I was contacted by Old English Company* to ask if I wanted to review some of their products, and they very kindly gifted me the most lovely items I've been looking forward to showing you all these pretty products and telling you exactly what I think of them. So if you're a fan of home décor, stationery and pins, then keep reading! 

Old English Company

Old English Company is a business that creates a range of products in a gorgeous yet simplistic way. They produce giftware, wall décor, planners, all sorts! All of it really pretty and photogenic, especially perfect for bloggers! Their products are hand-lettered and have the loveliest 'fonts', as you can see from the print in my photograph above. If you're looking for present for your loved ones then I recommend checking out the Old English Company website, because there's something to suite the tastes of literally everyone. The website is very easy to navigate too, including various categories to help you find the right gift for your friends and family, which is great! They also cater for a range of budgets, with some gifts available for £5 and under! So anyhow, without further ado, I'll show you all the products that I chose :) 

Old English Company

How wonderful are these greetings cards!? I am such a fan of fancy cards! I love looking through the card sections in stores, taking my time to check out all of the pretty and/or humorous designs, probably to the annoyance of anyone I go shopping with, haha. But there's just something special about cards. They help to illustrate emotions that people might not be able to fully express in their own words, and everyone knows how nice it feels to receive a card that is well thought out and seems to have been tailored with just you in mind. I have lots of fabulous, quirky people in my life that deserve an equally fabulous, quirky card! And Old English Company have some perfect examples.

I chose the 'You are fantastically brilliant!' card because the wording makes me smile, and so does the stereotypically English gentleman accompanying it. It's something different from your typical Congratulations card, and I know lots of people who would love it! The gold lettering makes it so eye-catching too. It comes with a brown envelope and I'm not sure why, but brown envelopes to me make a card feel just that little bit more fancier! Who agrees? I knew I wanted to find a nice Birthday card, and this 'You Party Animal!' one just appealed to the animal lover in me! I love Toucans; they are such gorgeous birds and they don't get near enough appreciation compared to some other birds. I adore this cartoon Toucan wearing a party hat so much and to be honest it's going to be tough for me to give it away :D The yellow envelope goes so well with the colourful card, and it is sure to brighten up anyone's special day :) 

Old English Company

I chose the last card because it's iridescent colour scheme caught my eye right away. Iridescent things are super popular at the moment and I'm lovin' it as I have always liked colours like this! They will forever remind me of something magical, and take me back to my childhood when I was fascinated with spotting iridescent colours in nature. The design of this 'Love Heart' card is very simple and pretty, and is blank inside so can be used for any occasion. In fact, all of the cards I was sent are blank inside, which is what I prefer because I like to decorate my cards with doodles and stickers and such :) This card is much smaller than the others and this was great for me as I'm a penpal and also enjoy sending care packages to my loved ones, and a tiny card like this can be easily added as a notecard. Which is your favourite card of the three above and why? They are printed on fantastic quality card and I am certainly impressed! 

As promised, the next items that I'm going to show you all are pin badges! Those who have been following me for a while now will know that I am a pin collector! I have loved pins since I was in my early teens and would pick them up everywhere I visited on holiday. So when I discovered the wonderful world of online shopping (my bank account doesn't agree, haha!), I was delighted to find that there were so many wonderful pins available. Old English Company has brilliant pins, and I am so happy to have added some to my ever-growing collection!

Old English Company- Pumpkin Enamel Pin

Just look how flippin' adorable this pin in!! I am all about spoopy things, and will happily rock Halloween-esque accessories all year around, especially when they are this cute! I can't stop saying 'Awww!' every time I look at this Pumpkin Enamel Pin, and so I know that whenever I wear it, it's gonna put a smile on my face! I love how vibrant the orange is, and the combination of this orange with the gold outlining looks so awesome. Some people enjoy gifting their loved ones on all of the special holidays around the year, and so instead of giving them the usual sweeties/candy on Halloween, why not give them a seasonal pin? A lot of people also have to work on Halloween or don't get the opportunity to dress up in a costume, so they could wear this subtle little pin instead in celebration. Halloween is my favourite holiday, and so I'll definitely be wearing this wherever I go this October! 

Old English Company- The No Sleep Gang Pin

I really like pin badges that are relatable, that showcase something about my personality or my life that others can look at and think 'me too!'. I am a spoonie, which means I am someone who has a chronic illness. Some chronic illnesses are invisible and that means that just by looking at you, people wouldn't be able to tell that you're in pain all the time, or that you have difficulty communicating with strangers, or that you haven't had a decent night's sleep in years. Pins like this 'The No Sleep Gang' pin are a subtle way for me to express the struggles I face, and although this pin might not be directly referring to someone who has insomnia, it is still for me, my little way of reminding myself when I wear it that I am a warrior. That I am still doing things and going to places despite my health conditions. Something that makes my insomnia even more challenging is the fact that I am also naturally a night owl, so I find that I am more productive when the suns gone down. This pin speaks to me on a personal level and I like that it says 'gang' so it will help me feel not so alone if I have had a particular rough night.

Aside from what this pin means to me, I really like the shade of pink they've used. I wouldn't usually choose a pink pin because it's not one of my favourite colours, but I really like this one. The same goes for the gold outline, I'm not usually a fan of gold things, I always opt for silver jewellery for example, however I illuminates the words on the pin. I can't wait to wear it when I'm out and about in the sunshine :) 

Old English Company- Enamel Pins

Which pin do you prefer? I seriously cannot decide which is my favourite! I really like my new pins! Oh and I almost forgot to mention that these pins have rubber backs which is what I prefer because they don't rub on your skin through your clothes like traditional metal ones do. For only £7 each these pin badges are fantastic, the quality of them is great!

As promised, the next part of today's post is for my fellow stationery-obsessed people! I picked two stationery items from Old English Company, and it was so tough to decide which I wanted more because I was lusting over all of the gorgeous stationery that they have! 

Old English Company- Weekly Agenda Notepad

Old English Company- Weekly Agenda Notepad

I was over the moon when I opened my mail from Old English Company and spotted this weekly agenda pad! It's just so Instagram-worthy XD I feel like such a blogger saying that haha but it's true. This 'Brush Stroke Weekly Agenda Notepad' is lovely; it's almost too pretty to write on! But I will most definitely be using it soon because I write A LOT of to do lists. Organising helps relieve my anxiety and so I like to schedule and plan everything in my life. This is why I like structured notepads like this one, which have the days of the week printed on there. It's easy to keep track of what I have to do each day with a notepad like this, and I really love that the tick boxes are already on there for you! The lines are wide enough for it to accommodate most people's handwriting too. My favourite thing about this weekly agenda though is the design. I like how subtle it is, it's not too busy to distract away from whatever you write, but is still eye-catching. I like the different shades of grey used, it's just so aesthetically pleasing to look at, don't you think?

I always give my honest opinion about things I review, so I want to mention something that I would change about the item if I could. This might be down to personal preference, but I've never liked how a lot of weekly planners have just one box titled 'weekend' VS individual boxes for Saturday and Sunday. I know that this would mean that there would be less space for each weekday, but for me, I'd rather have at least the weekend box separated into two smaller boxes. It's not a big deal though and I still love the notepad as it is! I am happy with the thick paper that has been used for it, because it feels great quality and like I'll have no problem writing lists in fine-liner pins and felt tips, which is handy for when I want to categorise or colour-code my to do lists. The pad is A5 too so it can be easily carried around in your bag or can be tucked into a planner of the same size. 

Old English Company- Floral A6 Notepad

Old English Company- Stationery

I am a sucker for anything with a floral design, even more so when they include leaves!, so I couldn't not select this super cute A6 notepad! I know I've said this about almost every item I've mentioned but I'm such a fan of how simplistic the designs of these products are. As the Old English Company said on a sweet little notecard they added to my mail, 'there is beauty in simplicity' and they couldn't be more right! I really appreciate subtle designs, I think they look more delicate and when notepads are designed in this way, it makes me want to use my best handwriting everytime I write on it :) 

This notepad appeals to me for more reasons than it's lovely border; I love when the pages are mostly blank so that I can fill them with to do lists or notes for blog posts. Having lots more space to write on also makes these notepads great for writing letters to my penpals on. There's nothing more I can say about this notepad other than I love it! 

Old English Company- Art Prints

Okay, so trying to photograph my gorgeous new art print made me realise just how challenging it is to take a picture of something in a frame without also capturing the reflection of the entire room or yourself  with a camera for a face too! Haha! I finally managed to get a shot of the wallpaper on my bedroom's 'feature wall' to show you why I went for a baby blue print. When you order a print from Old English Company you can choose from a variety of colour options, and additionally with my print, I got to choose whether I wanted a white background with coloured lettering, or a 'reverse' option so that the background was a solid colour of my choice instead. I decided to have my print blue with white lettering so that it would match my damask wallpaper, and I'm very happy with how it looks up on the adjacent cream wall.

This art print was the first item that grabbed my attention has soon as browsed the Old English Company website, mostly because the quote has a special meaning to me. 'She believed she could so she did' became one of my favourite quotes when I was studying at university. In my final year, when my mental illnesses started to have a serious impact on my daily life, I thought that I would not be able to finish my degree that I had worked so hard to get through. I started looking for anything that would help me pull myself through each day as it came so that I would graduate, and one of the ways I did this was by starting a little journal. In it I wrote some inspirational quotes and I didn't think they would have any impact on how I felt to be honest but I jotted them down anyway. One time, when I'd had like my fourth breakdown of the day, I opened my journal and read this quote, and it was just the affirmation that I needed and somehow gave me the drive to work my very hardest to just make it to the end of an assignment I was working on. Finishing this assignment allowed me to believe that I could do it, that I could battle through what I was going through enough to complete my exams and pass my course. I graduated with a 2:1 in the end and I am still very proud of myself for that. Whenever I see this quote, it makes me think of graduation day and how much it meant to me, and the words just help me sometimes when I'm having a tough day so I think it's wonderful to finally have those words up on my wall where I can see them everyday. I have put the print up across from my bed so I see it every morning when I wake up :) 

Old English Company- Art Print

Before I get even more off topic, I'd better explain what I think about the print itself! It is another fantastic item in terms of quality, the card used is thick and sturdy, and the colour is bright. The hand-lettering is lovely and I like how it differentiates throughout the design, from curly joined-up handwriting to bold capital letters. I think the garland of leaves surrounding the quote is a nice touch too, it helps to draw your eyes to the words. The fact that the writing is in white makes it go perfectly with a white frame (which I picked up from B&M Bargains in a 3-pack for around a fiver). The Old English Company prints are available in 8x10'', A4 and A3, and I opted for an A4 size. If you're a fan of this quote too, there's not just a print available with it on, but also a coaster, a pin, a keyring and much more! It would be lovely gift for any of the ladies you know, and I personally think it would be great for a graduation present! 

Old English Company Review

So here's an overview of all of the excellent items that I was sent (except the print which was too big to fit into the shot, oops!). As you can see, they are all really pretty, with such vibrant and noticeable colouration and lettering! They were all of a brilliant quality and I was certainly impressed, so will be heading to the Old English Company website whenever I have a loved ones birthday coming up! I want to also say that I was very happy with how the items were packaged; they arrived in a big sturdy box and the company made sure that the pin badges were separated from the rest of the items so that there was so risk of them scratching the paper and card products, which I thought was a thoughtful thing to do. I hope you all enjoyed reading this post, and also Thankyou to Old English Company for working with me :) Have an awesome weekend guys! 

Thankyou for reading! 

What was your favourite item that I featured in this post?

Have I given you any inspiration on what to get your loved ones for an upcoming special occasion? 

(*) All posts/content marked with an asterisk signify that the item(s) featured have been gifted or sent to me for the purpose of review. I have kindly been sent the products featured in this post to review. See my full disclaimer here


Monday, 7 May 2018

Eurovision: First Impressions #4

Hey lovelies! I know that I said I would have this post up on Sunday, however I seriously underestimated how busy I would be yesterday... but YAYYY!! Today is Monday which means that there's only a day left until the first semi final of the Eurovision Song Contest! I am super duper excited to finally get the chance to see so many of the amazing artists that I've been following for months now performing live, with their new and improved Eurovision-finale-worthy staging and choreography! Even though I will be boarding a plane to Lisbon tomorrow, it still doesn't feel like it's really happening! And as ecstatic as I am now, I don't think I will have reached my full capacity on the excitement scale until I arrive in Lisboa and that Eurovision sign is there to greet me in the airport (there better be a sign, Portugal! There was one in Stockholm when I visited in 2016 so I'm counting on it!). Obviously the ESC is something that I love and thoroughly enjoy investing several months of my life into, but at this stage in the competition it gets kinda stressful too! This is because you know that some of the artists you love won't make it into the final... there are going to be tears guys; I'm an emotional wreck so I'm sure of it, haha!

If this is the first of my Eurovision impressions posts that you are reading or if you're not really all too familiar with this wonderful annual contest, let me explain a little of how it works :) This year there are forty-three countries participating, six of them automatically get a place in the final (because they are the host country or part of the group of countries that helps fund most of the Eurovision), which leaves thirty-seven countries to compete! There are only twenty places available (meaning there's twenty-six artists in the final) for the last show which will take place on Saturday 12th May, and the artists are separated into Semi final 1 or Semi final 2, with ten qualifying from each show. I hope I explained that well! So yeah, those semi finals are going to be both incredible and a nightmare to get though, and I'm crossing as many fingers as I can that my favourites all qualify! 

This post is the fourth and final one in a mini series I've written to share my opinions of each of the songs entered into the 2018 line-up. I've discussed my thoughts and feelings, and likes and dislikes, of ten songs in each post, in the order in which the songs were released/confirmed. I will leave some links to my three previous posts at the end of this for those of you who would like to read more on the subject. Today's post is going to include thirteen songs  though, since that's how many I have left to chat about. I hope that you all enjoy reading, and if you are a fan of the Eurovision, I hope that you all enjoy the show on Saturday night!! Let me know who you're favourite performer of the night was over on twitter too! 

Eurovision Song Contest 2018

31. Belgium- 'A Matter of Time' by Sennek

It's a shame that I have to start off today's review with a song that I'm not really keen on. It's not a bad song at all, it's just that it isn't to my personal tastes. I feel like this could be a popular song for the viewers at home though as it sounds very similar to the types of songs that do well in the UK charts; it has some definitely Paloma Faith vibes. But I don't listen to much of that style of music so I could be way off, haha :D The singer, Sennek (Laura Groeseneken) has a cool voice! However I feel like the song drags on a bit and this makes me a little bored. Because of this, A Matter of Time is placed towards the bottom half of my Top 43. 

32. Croatia- 'Crazy' by Franka

Oops, this is unfortunately going to be another review much like the one above! In fact, this is my least favourite entry in the whole of the 2018 line-up (sorry Croatia!). Franka Batelic is stunning and has a great voice, but the song just doesn't do her justice at all! The line 'I will remember, roses and horses in the rain' just makes me giggle because it's incredibly cliché, even for a love song! I'm really not a fan of the chorus either with the whole 'l-l-l-love', and to be the honest the entire song just doesn't have anything unique, exciting or catchy about it. What do you think of this song guys? 

33. Australia- 'We Got Love' by Jessica Mauboy

This song on the other hand is a fabulous entry! It's all about self love and not letting people make you feel like you have to change who you are, to never give up! A message to just spread love and get along with one another  This song is also powerful, especially with it representing Australia at Eurovision as in December 2017, the country finally passed the law to legalise gay marriage!! It feels like Jessica Mauboy is singing in celebration of this and that is fantastic, and makes the song even more special. I love singing along to We Got Love, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :D haha!

34. Austria- 'Nobody But You' by Cesar Sampson

This is a really good song, the lyrics are sweet and I like listening it before I go to bed, because it's chilled. Cesar has a lovely voice, and sounds even better performing live from the snippets I've seen (as hard as it is, I am avoiding watching the official rehearsal videos on YouTube because I want a surprise!). I think this song was a grower for my friends, but I loved it from the start. It makes me a little sad whenever I've listened to it over the last few days because the realisation hit that it's in Semi Final 1, with so many amazing songs and even though it's great, there's definitely ten better songs! T_T Why can't everyone make it to the finals!? 

35. Ireland- 'Together' by Ryan O'Shaughnessy 

This song is beautiful, and the first time I watched the video, I struggled to hold back tears (I'm way too emotional!). The lyrics just bring back old memories and feelings for me, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; it can be very cathartic to feel so moved by a song like that. Everyone loves having a good cry along to stuff, right? Ryan O'Shaughnessy voice is so nice! Some of you might remember him from when he was on Britain's Got Talent and The Voice Ireland. The video to this song is great, mostly because it features two male dancers, and it's very refreshing to see same-sex relationships represented in more mainstream media. It is a cute video for sure! If this song doesn't make it through Semi Final 1, I'm gonna be gutted!

36. Sweden- 'Dance You Off' by Benjamin Ingrosso

My best friends & I were so invested in the Swedish National Finals this year, watching all of the shows and even having a little get together for when the winner was announced. Honestly, Sweden's Eurovision selection shows, named the Melodifestivalen or Melfest for short, just revile those of any other country! They are amazing and extravagant and the hosts, David Lindgren and Fab Freddie, were incredible! Melfest is just like one big party (across six shows: four contests, a second chance round for some of the performers, and a finale) and even though I can't understand a word of what's being said, well other than Second Chance and Yes, haha!, it's still so fun to watch. I was super happy to see the artists Samir & Viktor come back again with another awesome song, called Shuffla, so I was kinda disappointed when they didn't win, however Benjamin Ingrosso was in my top 3 so that's not bad at all. There were so so many incredible songs in the Melfest this year, including In My Cabana by Margaret and A Bitter Lullaby by Martin Almgren. The winning song is one of those that's impossible not to want to dance along to, and the staging was something different and very visually appealing, but I'll say not more about that because spoilers! 

Eurovision Song Contest 2018

37. Norway- 'That's How You Write A Song' by Alexander Rybak 

As a Eurofan, it was impossible not to get excited about Norway's song as soon as we heard that it would be performed by Alexander Rybak. He was the winner of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, with an brilliant song called Fairytale. Back then, we all fell a little in love with his cheeky personality, his cute Peter Pan-esque look, and his fabulous violin playing! I was super intrigued to find out what his new song would be like, and how he would sound/look 9 years later! The first glimpse of his 2018 entry that I got was when the official music video was released, and my first impressions changed as soon as I saw a live performance a few weeks after that. That's How You Write A Song is certainly catchy, but after watching the official video, I also thought it was a little too cheesy (it reminds me somewhat of the song Chico Time, who else remembers that?) and when compared his 2009 winning song, it was just too different and I wasn't sure what I really thought of it. But eventually my faith was restored when I saw the stage performance of it, Alexander Rybak has a really great stage presence and his characteristics shrine though in the way he performs! Obviously, his violin playing is a huge bonus too! It's not my favourite song in the contest, but it's still a good one. Also Rybak doesn't look like he's aged at all :D 

38. Israel- 'TOY' by Netta 

Up until this point, there was none of those classic Eurovision songs, the kind that are extravagantly random and unusual, the type of songs that you can't help but love because they are so wacky and weird! They are one of the reasons that I got so into Eurovision, because you just don't hear them in many other places, and certainly not in a competition with such popularity and prestige (This is why Eurovision is truly amazing)! So, I felt until this song was released that we were missing something this year... but then we were all hit with this fabulous, quirky song!! It's brilliant and I loved it right away... Netta is absolutely amazing, she's energetic and fun and has one of those attitudes that I admire so much, she just doesn't care what people think and is loud and proud. Her social media is so entertaining and she's always bursting into random song, and getting others to sing along with her. It's also awesome to have a beautiful plus-size woman in the competition to represent! The song is not only filled with unique dance moves and lots of chicken sounds XD (yes, chicken sounds!), but it also has an awesome message! I have spontaneously sang 'I'M NOT YOUR TOY... YOU STUPID BOY' quite a lot lately! Me & my sister cannot resist getting up and imitating those dance moves everything we listen to the song too!  Omg and Netta also mentions Pikachu in her song so yeah she's my favourite person now :) Toy is the best song performing in Semi Final 1 for me, and I would really love to hear what everyone else thinks of this song, so please have a listen and let me know in the comments. 

39. Russia- 'I Won't Break' by Julia Samoylova

Julia Samoylova was an entrant of the Eurovision Song Contest for Russia last year, but she was banned from entering Ukraine (where the 2017 show was hosted) because of some confusing political rule that she broke by or when entering Crimea several years earlier. Crimea is a conflict zone but I don't know much more than that on the subject. I can't say that I was too disappointed about her not being allowed to enter the competition because I really didn't enjoy her song, but it's still a shame that in a competition that is supposed to be about unity and have no political involvement. I'm not sure what I think about her being banned from performing, I don't know enough about the situation or what she even apparently did to deserve being banned though so? Anyhow, with the show being hosted in Portugal this year, Julia Samoylova is back with another song and upon first hearing it, I was impressed by how much better it was from last years song Flame Is Burning. 2018's song has a touching theme and speaks to me on a personal level because of my own struggles with living with mental illness. It is good to sing along to as well. But then, I heard a very short clip of a live performance of the song and really didn't like it! She's had time though since then to perfect her vocals and staging, so it will be interesting to hear it live in Semi Final 2 on Thursday. 

40. FYR Macedonia- 'Lost And Found' by Eye Cue

Macedonia's entry was certainly a grower for me. When I initially heard it, it wasn't that I thought it was a bad song or anything, it's just that it didn't stand out to me and there were lots of other songs that I preferred. I felt, and still do despite me now liking the song a lot more, that Lost And Found sounded a little weird. By weird, I mean that it sounds like two different songs mashed together... basically the chorus and verses could almost be different songs with the way they sound! Originally, I wasn't too sure if they fit well together and couldn't stop thinking about it everytime I listened to the song, which was sort of distracting me from enjoying it. Nevertheless, I started to appreciate the song the more I listened to it, playing it loud in my friend's car and having a sing-along definitely helped! It has a great beat and instrumentals, and I can imagine it being played in nightclubs so I feel like younger viewers will enjoy it. I prefer the verses to the chorus but it's still overall a nice song. I'm looking forward to hearing it live, but it's in Semi Final 1 so I'm not sure how much of a chance Macedonia has of qualifying for the final this year.  

41. Lithuania- 'When We're Old' by Ieva Zasimauskaite 

I really like Lithuania's song! It was a nice change to have a song of this genre/sound after so many upbeat and energetic songs, and those with amazing high notes and full of strong emotion. This song is definitely not lacking in emotion though, it just illustrates it in a different way and is beautifully put together. The lyrics are meaningful and all about love, but not in a stereotypical way. The video is adorable too :) Ieva Zasimauskaite has a very unique voice, that is lovely to listen to and sets her apart from the other performers. Even though it's a calm and slow song, it is still lovely enough that it won't get lost amongst the crowd, and I've been told that it sounds fantastic live in the rehearsals so I feel like it has a very good chance of qualifying, despite it being in Semi Final 1.

42. Bulgaria- 'Bones' by EQUINOX

Bones is certainly different, and I've never heard a song quite like it in the ESC before. I recently discovered the music of a US a cappella group called Pentatonix and I'm lovin' this sort of music right now, which meant when I heard Bulgaria's entry for this year, I was very impressed! Although it's not an a cappella song, it reminds me of one because there's not too much instrumental input and the song relies mostly on the different vocal tones of the five singers, with a simplistic beat in the background. I just love it :) I really like how well the different singer's voices compliment each other, and I think it will be incredible to hear live... I can't wait! I love all of the space imagery, and the meaning behind the lyrics is nice too. I don't have much to say about this song other than I think it's epic and I am sure that it will quality!!

43. Georgia- 'For You' by Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao

The final song that was released, on Tuesday 13th March ,was from Georgia. I was super happy to discover that it was preformed in the Georgian language, bringing the number of songs sang in their native language to nine, which is fabulous. I want to see more in the future! For You is a nice song to listen to, very peaceful. I love the traditional feel of it with the ethnic sounds and instrumentals, it reminds me very much of something you might hear in a religious setting. I like how the song starts off calm with just one member of the band singing in the lead, and starts to change sound as the other members join in, adding their own unique tone to the harmony. My favourite part of the song though is two minutes in when it really picks up and the vocals get stronger, the song feels more powerful then and memorable. The seven guys that make up Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao have beautiful voices! The song will be performed in Semi Final 2, where most of my favourites from the 2018 line-up are also performing and even though Georgia's entry is lovely, I don't think it stands much of a chance when up against some of the other songs in this show. With it's unique twist on traditional music, I feel like it might not appeal to as many audiences.

So we have reached the end of my Eurovision Song Contest song reviews for 2018. There are a few songs this year that I am really not a fan of, but the majority of the songs that have been entered this time round have been great and so it has been super hard to choose which I prefer. Trying to sort my Top 10 was definitely a challenge!! These last few months have passed by so quickly, and tomorrow evening the ESC process officially begins with Semi Final 1. I still cannot believe that I will be there to witness it all. Wow! Eeeek it feels a little surreal that on Saturday we will find out who will win the entire contest; hopefully it's one of my favourites ;) I hope these posts have been a fun read for everyone, including those of my follows who don't watch the Eurovision. If I've helped you discover even one song that you enjoy, then I'm delighted :)

Thankyou for reading!

What is your favourite song that I've mentioned in this post? 
Have a listen & let me know :) 

If you watched the Eurovision finale last year, did you have a favourite song? 

As promised, here are the links to my other Eurovision 2018 song reviews: 

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