I’ve accidentally broken my own Tuesday tradition before the second post was done! I am of course referring to “Cover Version Contest Tuesday”. I didn’t get round to the second incarnation today, because I’ve been suffering from a bad bug the last few days. I am on the mend, and should have recovered in a day or two, but you’ll have to wait until next Tuesday for the next contest!


And so begins a new tradition!

I dub today, and every Tuesday hereafter, “Cover Version Contest Tuesday”. I had begun this contest on my journal, but I thought it better to make it more public so that anyone, anywhere, and anytime can feel free to take part! Although, not to perpetuate that hipster mentality, my music taste isn’t exactly the most popular, and there are a good few bands here most people won’t have heard of or like, but I think of it as a good way for all who stumble upon my humble blog to broaden their musical horizons, or simply to enjoy reading others’ opinions about your favorite songs, and offer your own thoughts too!

The basic premise of the game is that I have a list of all the songs in my library which are covers. Each Tuesday, I will post up the song in question, plus its original, and any other versions if applicable, with information about each, and all you have to do is listen to each one if you don’t already know them, and leave a comment saying (and explaining if you like) which one you prefer!

(I don’t expect many people to see this in the beginning, but ah well. I thought it would be fun anyway :D)

My list of songs is in alphabetical order, making the first incarnation of the Cover Version Contest a match between Sarah McLachlan’s “Adia” and Avril Lavigne’s cover of the same song. I will specify each week whether I also listen to the original – in this case I don’t – and I always give both songs a new listen through just to consolidate my decision. Have a listen to the songs yourselves, and tell me what you think!

Sarah McLachlan, a Canadian singer, released “Adia” in 1997, from the album Surfacing. Apparently she wrote it to a friend in apology for marrying the friend’s ex-boyfriend! Hear the song here:

Avril Lavigne is also a Canadian singer, and she covered the song on a live EP named “Control Room” in 2008.

They’re very similar in sound – that’s the first thing I always note. The song’s barely changed at all between the two versions. It’s a very cut-and-paste cover, and that’s okay, if a little uninteresting.

Avril does have the tendency to go off track vocally sometimes, but I think her voice sounds pretty in this song; considering that it’s a live performance, I can forgive the little wobbles I don’t like! She does give it feeling, but of course Sarah wrote it with real feeling about a real situation, and that shows in hers. I’m so used to Avril’s version (having heard it before Sarah’s, actually!), and because of that, I prefer hers – Sarah’s, traitorously enough, sounds like a weaker imitation to me simply because I heard the other version first! Weird, I know; stupid, definitely; but I’m giving my honest opinion. 🙂

A bit of a boring start, it’s true, but if you stay for the ride, subsequent Tuesdays will definitely be more thrilling than “female Canadian singer vs female Canadian singer with no changes to the song’s arrangement”! I definitely have some interesting gems waiting in the pipelines!

Are you a Sarah McLachlan fan already and view the cover as mediocre? Do you love Avril enough to prefer her version? Let me know what you think in the comments! 🙂

Until next Tuesday,


Harmless gossip or relentless bullying?

As anyone who is aware of my (insanely amateur) beauty/fashion YouTube channel, Dance of the Knights, will know, I am a fan of beauty gurus on YouTube. These girls, in some circles, have become figures of scrunity regarding their habits of downplaying certain company affiliations and sponsors, as well as their use of high-end, very expensive products. In that respect they have been mostly honest, if a little sneaky, and I don’t particularly blame them for not shouting about this deal and that sponsorship all the time – it’s a little humble as well as simply assuming their viewers have common sense, and they’re allowed to use whatever products they like, regardless of the fact that young girls who might not have money will watch these videos, eager to emulate the look; the “gurus”, which, by the way, isn’t usually a self-claimed title, often suggest ‘dupes’ or duplicate products which those with less money, or simply those who are too frugal to spend £50 on one foundation (!), can instead use to recreate a similar look.

Being a YouTuber puts you in a spotlight. You’re opening your identity and life up to strangers all over the world. I know this, despite my channel being very local in the sense that half of my viewers are friends. Those strangers may or may not like you and what you do, and that’s their prerogative, but there’s a line, and the object of my dislike, and quite honestly, pity, has crossed it.

There exists a website, which you may know, but I won’t name names, intended for discussion of these gurus, and I have to give credit where it’s due – they have the “Rate a Guru” section, where forum members can write everything they love about each guru, and many threads include helpful tips and recommendations, and there are social aspects to it too, with the non-guru sections focusing on getting to know each other and make friends.

Now, I would let their “Trash a Guru” section continue without a word from me, but their excuses of “constructive criticism” etc. just don’t cut it. They do have every right to discuss openly what they think about this girl and that girl, especially in a world where pre-teen girls want to be those gurus and fail to see the problems, the hard work, and the pretenses involved, as are involved in any job concerning any sort of “limelight” or media fame. But it’s my honest opinion that a lot of the content on there borders on bullying, if not outright bullying, and my question is ‘why?’

It’s true that I’m now spending time criticizing and judging the gossipers when I could simply let it go (especially since a new thing I’m really teaching myself these days is realizing that others’ paths can be acceptable even if I wouldn’t choose the same), but I don’t think it’s okay to allow these people to openly snark and criticize girls in a very juvenile manner, all the while accusing this guru and that guru of being childish, immature, and bitchy.

Even if that is an invalid argument, and I can guess that some people who read this will believe that (surely they’re allowed to voice their opinions publicly just like I am right now, good or bad?), the biggest thing I’ve noticed about those forums is that the gurus simply can’t win. Something is criticized, and then if someone else does the opposite, or even that same guru attempts the opposite, they’re criticized again. Case in point: I won’t name names, but one of the gurus receives a lot of stick for being too “childish” despite being 24, due to her love of cute animals, naming inanimate objects, and wearing dinosaur hoodies. I understand this argument, short of thinking “why can’t you let her live her life? She’s not harming you, is she?”, but recently she has received more flak for acting “too sensual” in a video, and trying too hard to be sexy and adult. Does this make sense to anyone?! Surely if you want this girl to stop being childish (and I think it’s unreasonable to seriously suggest to the point of forcing that someone changes their own personal style just because it doesn’t agree with your own), you can’t turn around and complain when she tries to be more grown-up?

I might be biased here: I love my stuffed animals. I name inanimate objects too (I’ve christened a lunch bag L.B. and refer to it as ‘he’, much like people do with their cars). I call things cute, act girly, and sometimes wear clothes that wouldn’t be amiss on a 13-year old girl. But I have a first-class degree from a prestigious university, constantly engage my brain for leisure, and enjoy having discussions about political, socio-political, and philosophical ideas. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.

The gossipers need to remember that they’re only seeing a snippet of someone’s life. That people change over years, and it should be accepted, however grudgingly, rather than you attempting to change this person back. That being on video does sometimes lead you to adopt a quasi-“persona” on film – where you’re not being completely ‘fake’, but you’re not exactly being the same ‘you’ who appears at a party or chilling out with friends. That you can be a beauty guru and still lounge about at home with yucky hair and pajamas. That you can’t claim that you’re not telling someone they need to lose weight but then go on to say that if you were a beauty guru, you’d “take better care of [your] body”. That the YouTube life is not black-and-white. That most of the gurus and personalities are probably very aware that this isn’t for life. < In fact, the gossipers did mention this last point recently: “oh, they need to get a grip and realize this won’t last forever.” If it’s so obviously fleeting, why are you so desperate for them to conform to what you want to see in them?

I understand the disappointment when someone changes for what you see as the worse, not the better. I understand that these gurus do have annoying habits sometimes, and do weird things like fake stupidity, downplay their PR deals, and only approve positive comments like a strict propagandist. But these people spend hours, days, months, years, on a website dedicated to bitching about these girls: anyone who dares answer a query in the ‘trash’ section without antagonizing the guru is declared a ‘minion’ (this doesn’t actually happen every time) and is advised to go to the ‘rave’ section instead. Things are criticized before the truth comes out (no, actually, if you’ve watched the video in full you’d know she actually used fabric paint, so maybe you shouldn’t come along here criticizing her for not doing so), and there’s a clear bias against the gurus to the point where anything and everything is slated regardless.

I could go on and on, because the place is full of hypocrisy and judgment and, dare I say it, bullying. Yes, the gurus could ignore the site (although there’s strong implications from them sometimes, and this I’ve seen and decided myself, that some of them do read the site), yes, I could ignore the site and get on with my life, but I pity those who spend so much time deluding themselves that they’re better than a girl who is able to splash out on Chanel and make lots of friends with other YouTubers and become a confident, swishy vlogger, whether you think that’s a faked ‘persona’ or not, when they’re content to spend their time bitching them out. The way the bias is so strong reeks of high school bullies, who, in my own experience, can latch onto anything, however absurd, as a way of antagonizing you. I don’t understand how they can complain about how much money the YouTubers make when they’re directly contributing to it by watching every video. I don’t understand how everyone is apparently supposed to act their way or no way.

Apparently if you’re on YouTube, by the way, you’ve to do videos directly related to your degree, tell the whole world who you are or aren’t dating, in fact, tell the whole world where and what you studied, and for how long, and you’re not allowed to change your mind about anything, ever. You’ve to tell them everything about your life despite the fact that they make assumptions about you anyway. You’ve got to be contradictory at every moment, never consistent, or you’ll end up the subject of juvenile insults about your weight or who you make friends with or how fake you apparently are in a public forum. Oh, wait, you’ll end up there anyway if you’re popular enough.

They could at least decide what they want these beauty gurus to be like, instead of flip-flopping on their ‘rules’. Or, you know, they could realize that people do change, and if you don’t like it, then you don’t have to be a part of it. You don’t have to hide behind “constructive criticism” (especially not when discussing a girl’s “sausage fingers” or greasy skin), or pretend you care about the younger viewers being “brainwashed”; your relentless efforts and petty jokes show that it’s more about you guys somehow being better than girls who’ve managed to make a name for themselves and reap the successes. I won’t use the ‘jealous’ word, because I think it’s absurd to assume someone who criticizes another is simply jealous of them, but I can’t understand why they do what they do to such an extent, especially since each forum member changes their own mind about what a guru should and shouldn’t do more quickly than the weather. Why invest time in that? Why continue to be a consumer of their world if you want them to fail? Why not succeed in something of your own? I can’t imagine they have much time to do anything else, based on how often they’re watching gurus’ videos and elaborately, but hypocritically, slagging them off for hours, the same boring, pathetic arguments and insults coming up time and time again.

This has probably lasted for a whole page now, so there you have my views on the topic.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

So, I love names. They’re one of my favorite things to talk about, which might sound weird, but I love to chat about what names people like/dislike/absolutely abhor. It gives me something of a peek into someone’s personality in an unusual way, and it’s always fascinating to me to realize how diverse we are as people when it comes to our interests. It never fails to astound or even amuse me that there are people out there who are completely enamored of the name Kaidyn, for example  – if you’re one of those people, I mean no offense! In fact, if you read this post, you’ll see that some of my favorite names are arguably 10x worse than that or Jayden or Starlight or Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, pronounced Albin. (Okay, maybe not that last name, which incidentally is a true example from Sweden. And maybe not Starlight either, but you get my point, I hope.)

Here in the UK we don’t have strict laws when it comes to baby names. In other countries such as France, Germany, and Iceland, there are lists of names that you simply cannot use for your child. Case in point: it’s illegal to name your son Tom in Portugal! Tomás is fine, but Tom isn’t. I think it’s wacky. I also read recently that Icelanders are not allowed to use gender-ambiguous names for their babies. I find this far too intrusive for a government – I won’t stop the banning of names such as Talula Does The Hula In Hawaii (another real example), but it seems a violation of rights not to allow parents to use the name Tom, as if it’s going to harm the child.

The UK does have limitations of course, although I’m not an authority on what those are. I know that when an adult changes their name by deed poll, they’re not allowed to use titles such as Lord or Lady, because that’s deceptive, but they’ve allowed names to pass such as Jellyfish McSaveloy (real example!), so we’re not all that strict about it, at least. While I feel like we shouldn’t allow anyone’s parents to choose the name Jellyfish McSaveloy for them, if a grown adult wants to choose it, I don’t see the problem, despite how seriously I can’t take it as a real name.

I’m sure there are countries who either ban or frown upon people using names from other languages/countries – certainly people don’t tend to embrace it with open arms. But if I want to name my daughter Hildegard, why can’t I? If I were in Germany/Austria/any German-speaking country, it wouldn’t be a problem, so the fact that I’m on British soil surrounded by British people shouldn’t make a difference. There’s a slough of English names that I detest, yet I wouldn’t and don’t object to their use. If I accept your Kodie and your Diamond and your Braydyn, even though I’m hating them in my mind, you’ll have to accept my Christoph and Constanze and Hildegard. (Incidentally, I’m not planning to call my daughter Hildegard – I’m saving it for my cat now!)

Names are so important to a person, yet completely insignificant, in my view at least. I always think of names as our main identity markers, and they are, and my color-grapheme synesthesia means that each person’s name gives them a sort of aura for me. But I think someone changing their name isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, if I could have a different name every year or two, I’d totally do it – I’ve always wanted to try experiencing the world as a Grace or an Elizabeth or even a Hildegard just to see what it’s like, hence the post title – a Sascha by any other name would smell as sweet (I hope!). Not even to observe people’s perceptions of me or anything, but just to see how it is. But of course, and I don’t blame them, people would not take kindly to having to keep up with such a thing, and I don’t fancy having to apply for new bank cards and passports every 20 months!

Anyway, I don’t have a specific point to make; I just wanted to ramble about names. If I have children, I think they’re going to end with multiple middle names so that I can fit in some favorites! And as much as I’m attached to certain names, my children have the right to choose to go by a different one if they don’t like what I’ve given them. Your name is your primary identity marker, and you should be able to have it be whatever you like. Just so long as you’re not desiring your legal name to be Farty Fucker, I suppose!

What inspired me to write this post was that a good friend of mine has recently set up a Twitter for an onomastics website (onomastics.co.uk). Onomastics is the study of names, as you might have guessed. Whenever I can afford to return to university to study another undergrad degree, I’d choose English Literature w/ English Language, and I’d lap up those onomastics/linguistics papers! Words fascinate me, frightfully so. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer. Probably.

Toodle-oo! (How does one spell that, anyway?)

Note: My friend doesn’t know that I wrote this blog post, by the way. I didn’t do it for advertising or anything like that!