Belwood Music Awards 2020

It’s time to celebrate not only the blog’s 6th birthday, but also the chance to say a wholehearted “fuck you!” as we finally leave 2020 behind. It’s been a deeply challenging year, and the road ahead is still rough and uncertain, but if there’s anything we can take away from our time in quarantine, it is learning to better appreciate the little things in life. Even a music industry left battered by the impact of Covid and incompetent governments has still been able to produce some incredible releases for us to cling on to. Before we put this crazy year in the rear view mirror, let’s take one last look back at the music that helped us through it all. Continue reading

Top Ten EPs of 2020

The medium of choice for rising stars, an invaluable tool for up and coming artists, EPs are the oft overlooked lifeblood of the music industry. It’s always been our most hotly contested list as the wealth of great EPs often represents the very best and brightest new acts on the scene. In a music industry decimated by Covid-19 however, these artists are amongst those hardest hit. So as we reel off our favourite EPs from our least favourite year, if you stumble across a release that resonates with you, we ask that you do your bit to support the artists in whatever way you can. Continue reading

Spotlight!: Cristina Hart

The perfect person doesn’t exist, no matter what the media may say otherwise. We’re all constantly being bombarded with these manufactured little pockets of perfection that set impossibly high standards for ourselves and others, but beneath it all there’s always another side to the story. For every flawless portrait there’s a dishevelled mess stumbling out of bed that morning. For every budding romance there are the scars of rejection and heartbreak. For every golden success story there’s someone picking themselves up after they fell at yet another hurdle. Rather than shy away from the little moments of humanity that we’re all too keen to hide, Belwood favourite Cristina Hart makes sure to put them square in the spotlight. Her long awaited debut EP Sell a Dream plays like a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. An empowering pop powerhouse to remind you that your imperfections are part of who you are, and to embrace them unapologetically. 

On ‘I’m A Mess’ Cristina pokes fun at her own flaws, as well as at our eagerness to pretend that we’ve all got our shit together, when in reality no one has a clue. Learning to love yourself is no easy task, but ‘Bad Girlfriend’ addresses the even more daunting prospect of letting your guard down for someone you love, and trusting them to accept you – baggage and all. The fiery ‘Vanilla’ meanwhile sees her come out fighting, taking a defiant stand against those who would have her be someone she’s not. Each stunning single is packed to the brim with the kind of euphoric pop production and infectious earworm melodies that make you want to cast all inhibitions aside and dance your worries away. Cristina saves the best till last though, with the beautiful balladry of ‘Will You’. It’s here that all the finery is stripped away, and against the elegant piano arrangement we get the chance to bask in her truly breath-taking vocals. Cristina’s stunning range, as well as her relatable lyricism and unwavering positive energy, put her in a class all her own. And while there may be no such thing as perfection, there’s still not a thing I would change about this brilliant debut. 

Fans of Ariana Grande, Maisie Peters and Lauren Aquilina should check out Cristina’s debut EP Sell a Dream out now.

Top Tracks: Cristina Hart – Bad Girlfriend

Belwood favourite Cristina Hart is back with another brilliantly addictive hit of polished pop taken from her forthcoming debut EP. While her last stunning single ‘I’m A Mess‘ talked about how we try to flaunt some flawless facade to the world and hide all our struggles away, her latest liberating bop ‘Bad Girlfriend’ takes the idea a step further. At no point do we try harder to pretend that we’re perfect than at the start of a relationship. The stakes are never higher than when you have someone new in your life that you’re keen to impress, and so you strain to hide away all your flaws as you fear any one of them could tip the scales and scare them away. At times you may even find yourself dwelling on how past relationships fell apart, and end up focusing more on stopping history from repeating itself than on the new love that’s blooming right in front of you. Cristina shows wisdom beyond her years in embracing the honest, open and unapologetic approach to love; recognising that if it’s meant to be then they won’t run from emotional baggage, but rather help carry the weight. If you’re busy hiding away who you really are then they’ll never love the real you, and when you truly love someone you do so faults and all.

Top Tracks: Cristina Hart – I’m a Mess

Everyone cherry picks the best moments to show the world. All the moments of triumph, all the accomplishments you’re most proud of, all the blissful holidays and the days when you look your best. No one wants to broadcast the days when you’re an absolute shambles. All the times when you’re ill, or anxious, or clumsy. All the days when it feels like nothing is working out the way you wanted. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re the only ones who have bad days and buy into everyone’s facade, and sometimes we get so used to forcing a smile that even those close to us can’t see when we’re struggling. It takes real courage to let the glamour fall away and show the world that you’re just as flawed and imperfect as anyone, that no one has their life together the way they pretend to. Belwood favourite Cristina Hart does just that with her sparkling new single ‘I’m a Mess’. With its earworm melodies and immaculate production this dazzling self-deprecating pop powerhouse is a relatable reminder that you don’t always need to be on your A game, and to take a moment every now and then to celebrate all the little quirks that make you who you are. No need to force a smile anymore, as you won’t be able to keep from smiling with this gorgeous bop to brighten your day.

Top Tracks: Cristina Hart – No Regrets

Though Cristina’s first single ‘House Of Tears’ became one of my favourite songs of the year thanks to its lush and expansive sound, I find myself loving ‘No Regrets’ for doing just the opposite. One of the biggest pitfalls of pop music is overproduction. It doesn’t matter how pretty the veneer is unless it has a strong foundation first and foremost. Often, with a truly great song, you can strip everything away down to the bare essentials and it still works. While the instrumentation on ‘No Regrets’ is superb, with its driving acoustic rhythm and bright synths, it knows when to hold back. Instead what carries the song is its infectious hooks, Cristina’s golden vocals, and its empowering message, about taking the brave step to leave a toxic relationship and holding your head up high. Whether she’s building up her songs layer by layer like an oil painting, or remaining restrained and purposeful like a sketch drawing, Cristina’s music is always a work of art to be admired.

Top Tracks: Cristina Hart – House Of Tears

Every now and then you come across a song that seems all-encompassing. Listening to it feels like being immersed in a vast and vibrant tropical ocean; you don’t hear it so much as feel it with every fibre of your being. Cristina Hart has captured that all too rare feeling with this, her debut single, so Lord knows what incredible feats she could achieve with future releases. The soulful R&B of ‘House Of Tears’ begins with simple piano balladry and soon builds into an expansive and elegant soundscape, although it is never enough to draw attention away from the most important instrument. Not even the world’s finest orchestra could distract from Cristina’s astounding vocals. Her voice is truly one in a million, the kind that speaks to your very soul, making this an early front-runner for song of the year.