A Beginner’s Guide to Travel in Canada

After finishing my first year in Uni and thankfully living at home with my parents, I had saved up some student finance to join my friend travelling across Canada. Here are some well needed travel tips to surviving across the waters for the first time.

#1 Hostels 101

Always try to stay in Hostels or somewhere social especially if you are travelling in limited numbers. This is where you will find the best tips from the locals or others who know the area well. Hostels are also a great place to make new friends and discovering the best things to do either in the area or other places in the country. Most hostels we stayed in provided multiple tours of the cities and parks for a very small price, following these will give you a more in depth experience and let you in on the free or cheaper things to do while you’re there.

Tips

  • Bring a padlock to lock your storage space that should be provided.
  • Pack flip flops for the showers.
  • Take a free map of the city from reception.

LINKS TO THE HOSTELS I STAYED IN AND WOULD RECOMMEND…

 
 
 
 
#2 Money

Like travelling to any country you must familiarise yourself with the local currency. Canada uses Canadian Dollars and unlike the USA their money has the Queen’s head on it like ours due to being members of the Commonwealth. But shopping and paying in Canada is surprisingly slightly different to home. Make sure you have a travel card that has the local currency on it this will save you being charged extra for using your bank card from home. Also it seems obvious but carry the appropriate currency. Tax is not pre added and it differs from province to province. So the price you see on that Anastasia Beverly Hills palette will not be the price at the checkout so be aware.

Tips

  • Paying by card is for some reason an absolute nightmare. You will get hit with what feels like a million questions about your card before inserting it in the machine so be prepared.
  • Tipping is compulsory so always leave a tip of 15-20%.
  • They call their £1 and £2, Loonies and Toonies respectively, I hope I am not the only one to giggle at that.

#3 Street problems

Surprisingly walking about Canada especially in the Cities is a lot more difficult than you would think, and it’s not just because they drive on the other side of the road! If it wasn’t for my friend already living in Vancouver for a month before me I reckon we would have been walking around in circles or nearly ran over because North America rules of the roads are very different to home.

Tips

  • The street sign facing you directly is the name of the street you are on…not the street on the left or right as we would think.
  • Crossing the road can be scary because drivers still can turn right on a red light. And while the white man (their green man is glowing white instead) is there to seemingly give you right of way, still be careful crossing at any lights.
  • Download an offline map of the area you are in. This one is probably my number one tip, it is difficult not having access to that lifesaving 4G.

#4 General advice for packing

This is all-round basic advice for packing for any long haul travelling. Some tips I figured out the hard way like lugging around full bottles of Shampoo and Conditioner for a month when I only wash my hair every week to 10 days. You really do not need as much toiletries as you think! Especially when they end up taking up room for shopping. Also pack as light as possible because you will end up messing up directions and pulling a 30Kg suitcase across a City that is at least 3 times the size of Belfast is never fun for anyone.

Tips

  • Portable chargers will be your new best friend. Make sure you have one and it is always nearly fully charged.
  • Having a pack of cards on you will always keep you entertained no matter how old you are.
  • All the shops are more or less the same in every City. So save yourself the room in your luggage and buy all your shopping near the end of your trip. It will save you the stress of everything not fitting in your suitcase when it came to repacking every time.

#5 Random tips for surviving Canada

  • They have two national languages so brush up on your French. You will be surprised at how little English some Canadians speak especially in the province of Quebec. I found this out the hard way, by attempting to place a McDonald’s order in a language I’ve never studied whilst hungover – an experience I don’t want to relive again! Also finding out that the saver menu is a UK thing was added heartbreak.
  • You need two pieces of ID to buy alcohol or get into anywhere selling alcohol. I still am unsure whether this is because my ID was foreign and they needed to see backup or it is a general rule especially in Vancouver, BC. So be prepared because they can turn you away on one piece of valid ID. And yes the legal drinking age is 18/19 depending on the province you are in – this may or may not have been the first thing I googled before deciding to go.
  • Another fun fact is that weed has recently been made legal, according to my friend Canada’s Cities smell worse that Amsterdam.

I hope these tips help if you ever decide to travel through Canada. I would highly recommend a visit to this beautiful country. It is also incredibly safe, you should find everyone kind and helpful, Canadians are almost as friendly as the Irish!

Niamh McMordie is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @niamh_mcm99 and Instagram – @niamhmcm_

A Brief Enquiry into Gun Violence and Media Relationships

Roll that 90’s VHS Tape… were our early counter arguments in the 1990’s the exact same thing, ‘it’s not our fault, it’s just a game.?’ Or is it time to look beyond this ‘he said they cause violence, she said they’re just games’ style of argument this conversation has been mired in for decades.

We need to get down to the real story, the scientific fact;

Does video game violence make people more violent?

First and foremost, the intention of my second blog post for the Ulster PR Student Blog is to talk about a relevant conversation that is taking place in today’s society, my goal is in no way to propose some sort of solution, I am in no way qualified to make such a call . Do video games make the users who play them more violent and is there a connection between video games and the ‘issue’ of gun violence in the United States of America.

 De-constructing the links between video games and crime.

In order to correctly investigate this topic, let’s begin at the start. With platforms like the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 rocketing to popularity in the mid-nineties, one of the first ‘big release’ titles to take place at the dawn of the gaming era was Mortal Kombat (1992) followed by Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and Doom (1993). These pioneers’ titles have gone on to cause an explosion of popularity in the 2000’s, turning a nerdy pastime into a pivotal experience in popular culture. The interest of gaming has also inspired negative feedback in the direction of the ‘big bad’ gaming studios that have created the modern releases of Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Battlefield titles.

 

FS1Source: Medium – The Incomplete History of Video Game Sales

Wouldn’t it be plausible to state that if the release of these titles in the mid-nineties and the early – mid noughties have been influencing youth culture to commit violent/ in humane acts that this would show on a registered crime statistics chart?

I beg to differ; in fact, the science proves that there is no visible correlation.

 

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Source: Fivethirtyeight – The U.S rate is up still far below it’s 1980 peak.

I believe the ideals ofconstitution of the United States in Americain which it’s citizens have the oppurtunity to buy firearms, in order to protect themselves as one of their basic human rights began well in principle.. that is, for the legal owners of registered firearms.

 

But the line is not so black and white anymore, we live in a society where violence occurs everyday, but can we blame really blame video games for the astronomical numbers of school shootings taking place in the U.S?  In my opinion, that’s a cop out and a distorted view of a much larger picture.

It’s very difficult for myself as an Irish person or a person from any other culture to critique or to talk about another country, the counter – argument would be that ‘you don’t have a right to speak about a society you haven’t grown up in.’ But as an objective earthling, it easy to acknowledge the criticism’s American society faces, that being instituionalised racism and guns.

They’re there and they are so heavily engraved in American society.

It is interesting to take note that as a society we have become more aware of the dangers of social media. But there are no guidelines from reputable bodies advising on how to properly manage your social media intake. This is an fascinating comparison in the conversation of gun violence because once you introduce a tool that becomes such an integral part of society be it guns or social media, you cannot take it away, you can’t immediately remove the source. The change must occur from within, from the individual, but this is highly unlikely to happen because there is so much to lose…money, which in this situation is more valuable than human life.

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Francis Sherry is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Instagram: frankoosherry

 

 

2020 School of Communication & Media Formal

Some photos from our School Formal last week:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did I get here and where do I go next?

Hi, my name is Jamie Doran. I am a final year communication management and public relations student and any fifty shades of grey jokes will not be tolerated.

In all honesty, I’ve struggleJD5d to settle on something to talk about. I’ve read a good few blogs now with topic’s varying, which have been written by students in my year. I’ve decided to talk about some of my experiences before and during university and discuss where I want to go from here. In all honestly, I’m only writing this blog because I am required to, I’m a more keep myself to myself kind of guy. I know that the whole point of a blog is that people read it however, the thought that my peers may read my post sends my anxiety levels sky high. If you haven’t worked it out by now I’ll tell you the obvious, I have never written a blog. Taking this into account, please have patience as I try to write a post that makes sense and doesn’t waffle about nothing for the next six to seven hundred words.

Having completed art and design, religious education and travel and tourism for my A-Levels I didn’t really expect to be in the final year of this degree. Infact, when I left school in 2015 I thought I was the new Seth MacFarlane or Matt Groening and began an animation degree in Ulster University Belfast campus beforeswitching to communication management and public relations the following year.I have always been very keen to demonstrate creativity in whatever job I find myself in, animation seemed like a good idea at the time but after spending a full semester on this course I realised I am tremendously average at drawing, (I have included a drawing below so that you can judge yourself).JD4This sudden realisation was a slap in the face, I had always seen myself designing and creating and I believed at the time that this was the only route to follow. I decided to reapply through UCAS to Ulster University in January 2016, on this occasion I decided that artistic creativity may not be the best choice and I searched for another platform from which I could develop my own ideas and plans, CMPR was by the the best option.

My first two years in Communication management and public relations don’t count towards my final grade which I cannot be more thankful for as the most valuable piece of information I picked up over this time was tuck your wing mirrors in when parking in the Holylands… Ok so that’s not entirely true, I have learned so much in my first two years in CMPR which I plan to put to use throughout final year and of course carry these new skills on into my JD3future career. When I say my career though, I have no idea what I’m talking about, in my own head I still feel like a first year, I still have no clue what I want to do with my life and I don’t feel like I’m getting any closer to an answer. At this point I can’t see myself jumping straight into a graduate job. I still have relatively no idea what the world is really like outside this Northern Irish bubble, therefore I do not want to commit myself to staying here whenever I have no idea what the rest of the world has to offer.

I’m not scared of maturing so don’t let the last paragraph fool you. I didn’t complete work experience between second year and final year; however, I have had several positions within large organisations. In the past number of years, during my breaks from university I have had full time positions working for RBS bank, Vodafone, Cisco, the Library board and the Northern Ireland Civil Service. These experiences have proved to be extremely valuable because this semester I am completing a module called ‘organisational communication’. Having experienced working life in so many organisations, I have been able to closely examine how they operate internally – using this module alongside my experiences should prove very effective when completing my coursework. All of the positions that I have mentioned have required me to speak to both customers and other members of staff throughout my shifts, helping to educate me in how to correctly present myself in a professional workplace.

Without taking up too much more of your day, I’ll just let you know what I plan to do in order to find the correct career path for me. Personally, I believe that travJD1eling the world for a few months or years would be as much of a benefit to me as a work placement is for others. My hope is that I will be able to find that one ‘life calling’ and using the skills that I have picked throughout my years in Ulster University, base a career around it.

Some people want a good career for the money, others want it for the lifestyle, I want my career to be fulfilling and fun.

5 days a week for the next 52 years is a long time to not enjoy something, so I’m going to make sure I pick the correct path and take my time in doing so!

Jamie Doran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram – @jamiedoran96

Placement Year Vs Final Year- Should you stay or should you go?

Having just returned to final year after a year out of education, the month of September had me reminiscing on the previous year I spent on placement and the adjustment I needed to get back into the swing of lectures, coursework and the dreaded dissertation!

As mid-September came around, I was struck by the ‘change curve’ mindset which went as follows:

  • shock and denial that my endless days of summer and freedom to do as much or as little as possible were coming to an end
  • anger at the thought of assignments, early mornings and long days
  • bargaining with myself that I would still have lots of free time if I did assignments as soon as they came in
  • acceptance that this was only one more year of hard work before I’ve finished education forever
  • problem solving in the form of a 2019-2020 diary to plan my life for the next 8 months

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This mindset got me thinking about my second year of university when I was considering whether a placement year was for me. There’s a lot to consider such as the type of placement you want, where you’re willing to go for a placement year, be it Northern Ireland or overseas and finally, the commitment a yearlong placement requires.

I decided I wanted to go ahead with a placement year because of how many post graduate job applications I saw that asked for some type of industry experience or training and while this isn’t the case for every job opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself to try something different and pick up skills that would help me face final year and life after university.

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These are some steps to consider if you think a placement year is for you and what to expect:

  1. Apply Early!

You’ll hear this from all of your lecturers, students before you and everyone around you but you can’t prepare early enough. Each placement you apply for will require a different cover letter tailored to their specific requirements and some have applications to fill out all of which is time consuming. The earlier you start applying and creating your CV and cover letter template the better chance you have of securing the placement you want.

  1. Preparation is KEY

From the very first interview you’re offered, the more preparation you do the better. When I was applying for placements, a few of the interviews took place on the same week, meaning I had to divide my time between two different roles and learning about two different organisations. The more you know about the role you’re applying for and the organisation, the better so starting to research early is important.

  1. Keep Calm

This is most definitely easier said than done but when you’re going for interviews, it’s important to stay calm and try not to panic otherwise all the preparation you’ve done will go to waste. It’s important to remember the organisations you apply to want you to be professional however they know you’re still a student so DON’T WORRY– they don’t expect you to have the same level of knowledge they have. You’re there to learn – remember that and don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

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  1. Diary of a Placement Student…

Once you’re offered a placement, buy yourself a good diary or planner because without one, I’m not sure how I would have survived placement year. With many different tasks to do depending on the nature of your placement, it’s unrealistic to remember everything, especially between phone calls and emails, so a diary will be essential to keep track of your day and to ensure your using your time effectively.

  1. Stay professional

The transition from university student to placement student can be difficult at the beginning as you begin to learn things like how to speak to clients and email etiquette- abbreviating your words or sending memes isn’t always appropriate! This is important because you represent your organisation every time you speak to or send an email out to a client so being professional and approachable is a must.

  1. Don’t forget to have a life!

If your placement is a particularly busy or stressful environment, it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking work home with you to get ahead the next day, or to overthink a working situation at home but it’s important to remember you can’t just live and breathe work- take time to have a social life or some time to yourself and get the right work/social life balance.

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  1. Make the most of your year

Placement is a unique experience in that it’s essentially a learning curve as well as work experience so take every opportunity you can and experience as many areas as your organisation can offer you as this can help you decide on what industry you’d like to work in and your strengths and weaknesses in a business setting as well as being a great addition onto your CV!

Overall, having just returned from my year out on placement, I would recommenced this because it gives you an insight into the industry you could potentially want to work in as well as preparing you for life after university including writing a CV, job interviews and it enables you to start forming your career path with some experience in mind.

Eimear McGrane is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found at:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eimearmcgrane/
LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/eimear-mcgrane-54a46a156

The 2010s: A Pop Music Countdown

How is it 2020 already?!? It seems like yesterday we were all running about the place listening to Tik Tok – which currently has a WHOLE new meaning in 2020 –  by Ke$ha on our iPods (remember those?). So with a new decade in full swing I thought I’d attempt to count down the songs and albums that shaped my 2010s.

Bearing in mind that 95% of my saved songs on Spotify are Glee covers, I’ll try to be as diverse as possible with the music I choose. So basically no artist can have more than one song or album in any list – which for me means that I unfortunately cannot have Katy Perry occupy every possible spot on my top ten lists.

Let’s start off by counting down the top ten pop songs that shaped my 2010s…

 

Top 10 Songs of the 2010s –

1. Teenage Dream – Katy Perry (July 2010)

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A sing at the top of your lungs chorus and an expertly crafted bubblegum pop beat. A song that transports you back to summer as a teenager with not a care in the world. I challenge anyone to listen to the first 3 seconds of this song and not feel a wave of nostalgia flow through them. A song that is the blueprint for perfect pop and an indicator of the kind of pop songs we’d be listening to throughout the 2010s.

 

2. Dancing On My Own – Robyn (June 2010)

A4

Robyn’s ‘Dancing on my own’ is the original “do I cry or dance to this?” pop banger. It’s lyrics are thoughtful and romantic enough for on repeat listening, but it also has a pop sensibility that makes you want to head out in search of a dance floor. This is one of those songs that never gets old, listening to it now it still sounds as fresh as ever; even if the lyrics hit a lot differently in comparison to my 13 year old self listening to it.

 

  1. Gypsy – Lady Gaga (November 2013)

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The most criminally underrated Gaga song from her most criminally underrated album – Artpop. It has a slow and steady build up with a retro 80s beat but once it reaches the chorus it showcases Gaga at her best – belting out lyrics that you can’t help but sing a long to – “I don’t wanna be alone forever, but I can be tonight.” It is an instant classic that was made to be performed in arenas across the world and it     provides listeners with an epic narrative about fame and loneliness.

 

  1. Delicate – Taylor Swift (November 2017)

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It’s crazy to think that Taylor Swift has completely transformed herself from a guitar wielding, country song – crooner to a pop superstar. ‘Delicate’ is the perfect example of her talents at creating an excellent pop song. With vulnerable and insightful lyrics backed by progressive synths and whispering vocals. Also the way her vocals are distorted by a vocoder in the first 20 seconds is just a whole lot of yes!

 

  1. Turning Tables – Adele (January 2011)

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On ‘Turning Tables’, Adele effortlessly executes all the low and high notes of the song – showing off her incredible vocal range. Aside from the vocals, the lyrics provide us with the story of a scorned lover and we all know Adele is at her best when she is her most heartbroken. In my opinion it is one of the most overlooked songs in her discography as it gives us everything that is quintessential Adele, impeccable vocals, sentimental lyrics and a good old cry. Also the Gwyneth Paltrow cover on Season 2 of Glee is fab!

 

  1. Ribs – Lorde (January 2013)

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Everyone dreads getting old and with ‘Ribs’ Lorde truly captures the emotions and fears that accompany growing up. The song starts off slow (no vocals are present for the first 50 seconds) and as Lorde begins to sing she starts to sound more frantic and panicked after every note as she sings “it feels so scary getting old”. By the end of the song you find yourself reminiscing about good times you’ve had with your friends, trying so desperately to hold onto your youth just as Lorde is throughout the song.

 

  1. Super Bass – Nicki Minaj (April 2011)

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Nicki was the one that introduced me to the world of rap. Obviously I heard all those m*n on the radio but whenever Nicki burst onto the scene she was so exciting and different, integrating her signature hip-hop sound with elements of pop. Super Bass is the classic Nicki song that everyone knows the words to and it always finds its way on during a reminiscent pre drinks.

 

  1. Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna (November 2010)

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Throughout the decade Rihanna ruled the radio and the charts, and rightfully so. With sure fire classics like ‘Only Girl’, Rihanna was able to ensure complete dance floor domination. A feel good EDM-pop song that gets everyone on their feet. It’s not necessarily the best song in her discography but it perfectly captures the sound that she used to cement her superstar status. Now Rih, how about that album hmm?

 

  1. Countdown – Beyoncé (June 2011)

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A song unlike anything in Beyoncé’s most recent discography but a welcome addition all the same. It is impossible to resist the eccentric nature of the beat and Beyoncé’s nearly rap like vocals. With the ‘Countdown’ esque chorus that is so simple yet effective, a perfect R&B/Pop banger is born.  The Audrey Hepburn influenced music video is also an instant classic and the Snuggie version on YouTube is a must watch for a few laughs!

 

  1. Run Away With Me – Carly Rae Jepsen (September 2015)

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I couldn’t round out my top 10 pop songs of the decade and not include Miss Pop Princess – Carly Rae Jepsen!! Everyone knows her for the irresistibly catchy ‘Call Me Maybe’ but I respect her for everything she has released since her catapult to stardom in 2012. It is reminiscent of the number 1 song on this list as it creates the picture of a teenage love story coupled with an anthenmic, summery chorus. It is an underrated pop music gem that sets the scene for one of the best pop albums (ever?!) but more on that later…

 

 

Honourable Mentions –

  1. High Horse – Kacey Musgraves (March 2018)

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Country meets pop in the best way – Taylor Swift is shaking.

 

2. Your Love Is My Drug – Ke$ha (January 2010)

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Is there anything more 2010 than this song? Miss you Ke$ha.

 

3. Commander – Kelly Rowland featuring David Guetta (November 2010)
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Invented by the Waltzer in Bundoran? If you know, you know.

 

Next up we have the pop albums that defined my 2010s…

 

Top 10 Albums of the 2010s –

 

  1. Pure Heroine – Lorde (September 2013)

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Whenever I listen to “Pure Heroine” it still amazes me that Lorde was only 16 when she wrote the album. Not only are her lyrics thought provoking but her vocals are striking against the heavy bass and programmed beats of the albums 10 tracks. Lorde explores themes of growing up, cynicism and friendship; all of which I identified with listening to this album as a jaded teenager. It was the soundtrack of my transition from teenager to ‘adult’ and I don’t think another album deserved the #1 spot more.

Certified Banger: Glory and Gore

A Sad Song to make you sadder: Ribs

 

2. Emotion – Carly Rae Jepsen (June 2015)

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At the start of the decade if someone had told me that Carly Rae Jepsen would be challenging the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry for the crown of “pop queen” I would have been like “emmm who?!?”. She burst onto the scene with the pop anthem that no one could get out of their heads – “Call Me Maybe”, but it was her 2015 album “Emotion” that truly cemented her status as a pop perfectionist. With tracks backed by an array of drums, synths and 80s callbacks its a dream album for any pop enthusiast.

Certified Banger: Making The Most Of The Night

A Sad Song to make you sadder: Your Type

 

3. Teenage Dream – Katy Perry (August 2010)

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Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” era is one of the most successful pop eras of all time. With over 7 million albums and close to 50 million singles sold worldwide as well as 7 Grammy nominations; Perry was able to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with in music. She also tied Michael Jackson’s US chart record by having 5 songs from one album hit #1 on the charts. It’s not hard to see why this album was so successful as each track exudes pop excellence with irresistibly catchy hooks, playful lyrics and sing along choruses. Listening to this album brings me back to the simpler days of teenage discos when your only stress was choosing what grossly coloured Hollister top you’d pair with your “skin tight jeans”.

Certified Banger: Hummingbird Heartbeat

A Sad Song to make you sadder: Not Like The Movies

 

4. Reputation – Taylor Swift (November 2017)

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I’ll be taking absolutely no ‘Reputation’ slander, this album is great! Although ‘1989’ is a real contender for best pop album ever, ‘Reputation’ just hits differently. The production is excellent and even though Miss Taylor isn’t known for the best vocals she knows how to lay down a track through various EDM, pop and synth-pop styles. It is a big, brash album that is backed by some extremely weaponised lyrics – long gone is the sweet little girl singing ‘Love Story’. I mean ‘Lover’ was cute but ‘Reputation 2.0’ next T-Swift thank yew!!

Certified Banger: I Did Something Bad

A Sad Song to make you sadder: New Year’s Day

 

5. Artpop – Lady Gaga (November 2013)

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As I said previously, ‘Artpop’ is a criminally underrated album. I wish people would just forget about what they wanted Gaga’s  fourth album to be and just enjoy it for what it is. There are definitely some not so great songs *cough Jewels N’ Drugs cough* but there are so many gems. Throughout the album Gaga belts her way through EDM and disco fuelled songs that are encouraging you to have fun and forget your worries on the dance floor. There is no denying Gaga knows how to craft a pop song and this album showcases it, even if people were too bitter to realise. #JusticeforArtpop

Certified Banger: Fashion

A Sad Song to make you sadder: Dope

 

6. Ctrl – SZA (June 2017)

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I had to seriously argue with myself about putting this album on the list. This b*tch cancelled her concert THE DAY I was going to see her so we fell out for a while and this album was swiftly deleted(!) from my Spotify and SZA was banished from my life. However, a couple of years have passed and I recently purchased the album on Vinyl and fell in love again. It is an album with no heavy production or big vocals its just stripped back to perfection highlighting the unique tone of her voice and the relatable, vulnerable lyrics. The perfect album to listen to on a long train ride or just when you want to wind down. Still hate her though.

Certified Banger: Prom

A Sad Song to make you sadder: 20 Something

 

7. 4 – Beyoncé (June 2011)

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The album that invented the “fourth-album curse.” Just like Lady Gaga’s ‘Artpop’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Witness’, ‘4’ by Beyoncé is seriously underrated. Obviously ‘Beyoncé’ and ‘Lemonade’ are phenomenal, timeless albums but it was ‘4’ that really ignited my love for Queen Bey. It is an album that celebrates love and revels in heartbreak. As usual Beyoncé showcases her stellar vocal prowess (stream 1+1) and her immense versatility as she traverses through pop, R&B, soul and funk effortlessly.

Certified Banger: Schoolin’ Life

A Sad Song to make you sadder: I Was Here (Watch the UN performance on YouTube… Whew!)

 

8. Yours Truly – Ariana Grande (September 2013)

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The pop superstar of the future’s first album is still her best – I’m sorry I know my exquisite taste is too much sometimes! Showcasing her powerful vocals and her penchant for Pop-R&B this album provides us with a simple, yet effective journey through Grande’s early loves and life. Her most recent music has evolved and so has she but there is something so sweet and innocent about this album, a theme I happily relate to the early 2010s.

Certified Banger: Better Left Unsaid

A Sad Song to make you sadder: Almost is Never Enough

 

9. Loud – Rihanna (November 2010)

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Brandishing her signature red hair, Rihanna could do no wrong. ‘Loud’ is filled with banger after banger, Rih clearly just wanted us to live on the dance floor. It is reminiscent of her early dance-pop classics like ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ and returned her to the top of pop after her stint on the dark side with ‘Rated R’ (another underrated 4th album HELLO the curse is real). So all that’s left to say is, Fenty Beauty is sickening but throw the god damn makeup in the bin and GIVE! US! THE! ALBUM!

Certified Banger: S&M

A Sad Song to make you sadder: California King Bed

 

10. Pink Friday – Nicki Minaj (November 2010)

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The last spot on the top 10 album list belongs to none other than Queen of the Barbs – Miss Nicki Minaj. With a perfect balance of hip-hop, pop and R&B Nicki was able to create a masterful debut album. With countless memorable hooks and an insight into her versatility through the lens of her various rap personas she cemented herself as the next big thing in music.

Certified Banger: Blazin

A Sad Song to make you sadder: Save Me

 

Honourable Mentions –

 

1. Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves (March 2018)

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While listening to this excellent album am I:

  • Sad?
  • Happy?
  • Both?

 

2. Self-Titled Album – Paramore (April 2013)

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My 14 year old emo self would be so sad if I did not include a Paramore album..

 

3. 21 – Adele (January 2011)

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Gear up guys, Adele and her husband split up; album of the decade incoming!! See you on next decade’s list sis..

 

If you have made it to the end of my ramblings on pop music over the last decade you’re a real one! Thank you and I hope you enjoyed what you read, and if not maybe I at least inspired your Spotify streaming for a little while… Deuces!

 

Gareth Donnelly is a Final Year BSc Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at http://linkedin.com/in/gareth-donnelly-1a6161196 , Twitter – @GarethDonnelly4 and Instagram – @garethd__

 

 

 

 

The Fashion Slowdown

A couple of years back if anyone had mentioned a night, a concert or any occasion I could get dressed up, I would be straight onto misguided, pretty little thing and boohoo in the search for a new outfit which would cost next to nothing for the occasion- and just that occasion. Id buy a cheap dress for a night out then throw it straight to the back of my wardrobe with no intention of wearing it again.

Funnily enough it wasn’t until I started working in retail and my job became selling clothes that I started to really think about; where all this material comes from? How is it made? Where does all this go if people don’t buy it? What happens to it when people do buy it? I would have to push people to buy 2 pairs of jeans when they only needed and wanted one (if even), and they would rarely turn it down as the saving they’d be making was hard to resist.

I had reservations about writing on this topic in the fears I would come across as a complete hypocrite, I love shopping I love fashion and I still work in fashion retail; it’s still my job to persuade people to purchase clothing. However, I am making steps to shop in a more sustainable way, and if everyone took a couple of small steps it would make a massive difference.

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, which is a charity registered in the UK, which aims to inspire a generation to re-think, re-design & build a positive future through the framework of a circular economy the production of textiles produces 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas every year. The United Nations also estimates that 10 percent of total global emissions come from the fashion industry. Now think of the amount of online clothing retailers you see selling dresses for a fiver, bikinis for a pound and hosting sample sales where you could get several new outfits for a tenner. These companies are still making profit off this , so just imagine the amount of stock they’re producing, and how cheaply they are making it What I’m trying to get across here is not that we should all stop buying clothes and just wear the same things we’ve been wearing for years, are worn out, don’t fit any more or we simply don’t like anymore. That’s OK – Three in five of our garments still end up in landfills or incinerators within a year. That’s not OK. Why do we spend our money on clothes to throw them in the bin after having them not even a year? Probably because we didn’t spend a lot of money on it and we probably didn’t spend a lot of money on it because we didn’t like it that much. Can you see where im going with this?

You can shop more sustainably and still have fun with fashion. If you really want something that’s slightly more expensive, save up and get it. You’ll get your money’s’ worth if you really like it, and chances are if it’s a little more expensive, it’ll be better quality, so you’ll have it much longer and it won’t end up in the bin. If you really need to buy an outfit you’re only going to wear a couple of times, try eBay or Depop, borrow off a friend. If you do want to clear out some of your old clothes sell it online, it’s a great way to make extra money and it means less clothes going to landfill but failing this simply recycling your old items is every bit as easy as throwing them in the bin but much less damaging. There are clothes banks everywhere nowadays and a lot of local councils now have ways to recycle textiles from your home in weekly collections.

I just think it’s important that everyone becomes a little more aware of this issue. Be more mindful of what you’re buying, where you’re getting it from and if you’re going to actually use it. I recently listened to a very interesting podcast on this on BBC sounds app, it’s called Fashion Fix with Charli Howard. She talks about sustainable fashion along with other relevant issues in the fashion world. It opened my eyes even more, if everyone makes a few small changes it will lead to a really great change.

 

Anna Tilley is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @annatilley_, Instagram – @annatilleyx and Linked In: Anna Tilley