House Of Cards

Spotify Running Playlists for House of Cards’ Frank Underwood, Claire Underwood and Doug Stamper

Ironically, nothing reminds you that you need to go out for a run more than binge viewing your way through another House of Cards season. Running plays a big part in the TV show and many are still trying to find out the hidden meaning behind the old woman telling Claire Underwood not to run in the cemetery in season one.

Have you ever wondered what Frank and Claire Underwood listen to on those infamous late night runs? Have you been tempted to purchase a North Face vest and live out your very own House of Card’s fantasy while running through the streets of your hometown? For those of you that bravely or nervously answered yes to both of the questions, Spotify has a treat in store for you.

Three running playlists appeared on the music streaming service as Season 5 hit Netflix. We are led to believe that the plalists were created by Claire Underwood, Frank Underwood and even the even the quiet, cold and calculating Doug Stamper gets his own playlist too. We are used to seeing our favorite antiheroes Frank and Claire Underwood wearing all black, putting on a pair of headphones, and heading out for a run before plotting their next dark and dastardly move. But, now you can hear what music they are supposedly listening to.

Sure we could dismiss Spotify’s actions as a stupid and cringeworthy PR stunt that went too far. But, if the motivation to get you away from the couch and out for a run is to pretend to be a character from your fave TV show, I don’t see any harm in that.

It’s fair to say that all three of the Spotify playlists contain an eclectic mix of tracks. Claire Underwood goes for girl power with the likes of Florence and the Machine, Beyonce, Tina Turner. Even though a bizarre appearance of We Are The World appears, it’s Foreigner’s, Cold As Ice that reveals more than she would like you to see.

Frank Underwood predictably opens up with Sinatra’s My Way. I cannot help but think that he is also very aware of the irony of including the often misunderstood protest song Born in the USA. Although I struggle to think of Frank singing Danger Zone from the top of his voice while running through a deserted graveyard.

However, once again a random mix of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osborne and Atlantic Starr will make for an entertaining run around the block.

One of the darkest and most complex characters from the show Doug Stamper has everything from AC/DC, Rise Against The Machine, Soundgarden to Boys II Men. But a theme of secrets and lies is prominent in his song choices.

You will not find any House of Cards season spoilers in this post. But as you binge your way through another 13 episodes of the superbly acted show, don’t rush your way through it. Some things shouldn’t be consumed in a few sittings like a trip to McDonald’s. Treat the series like a fine whiskey and savor every mouthwatering and jaw dropping scene.

Why not take a mid-season break, put on your North Face running vest, plug in your earphones and head out for a run while listening to one of the themed playlists. But, just promise me you won’t run in the graveyard.

Francis Underwood – A Larger Than Life Character

Kevin Spacey is far from shy is breaking the fourth wall with the character Francis Underwood in the hit Netflix show House of Cards, but this larger than life character seems to have broken out into the real world.

Francis Underwood appeared at the Emmys last year and somehow managed to manipulate the event into chaos and is a must watch for any fan of the show.

I guess that it was no surprise that Kevin Spacey arrived at the Oscars to present an honorary award and immediately channelled a ‘House of Cards’ Frank Underwood moment.  A quip to camera in Underwood’s distinctive South Carolina drawl: “And I sing because it’s so nice to be out of Washington and here with all my Hollywood friends.” Much to the delight of the A-List crowd prompting an over excited Jennifer Lawrence being caught on camera saying “OMG It’s Frank Underwood“.

However, a handful of lazy hacks complained that Spacey was using the platform to advertise his own show and the Netflix service. These journalists may just need to watch their step though, because Frank Underwood has a history with troublesome members of the press but would probably just dryly say “Insecurity bores me.”

Even if you haven’t finished binge-watching season 2 yet or curious at what the fuss is all about, check out this (spoiler free) compilation of the best advice Washington’s most cut-throat fictional politician has to offer impeccably acted by Kevin Spacey.

Everyone’s favourite character has been described as a manipulator, murderer, narcissist and  sociopath but I think the Independent described our favourite anti-hero best when they said he is a “menacing man, hiding his rage behind Southern charm and old-fashioned courtesy

With Breaking Bad and House of Cards, Netflix has changed the way everyone watches TV and there is definitely a wind of change in he air, where viewers are turning away from celebrity based quiz shows and reality programmes to soak up high quality drama which is starting to prove that the public are now much more sophisticated than the dumbed down TV Schedules that the traditional networks are spoon feeding the masses.

How Text Messaging in House of Cards Captures the Zeitgeist

Cable and Satellite subscriptions are feeling somewhat irrelevant in the modern world, why do we need to spend over £50 a month for 300 channels of mind numbing garbage when a £5.99 subscription to Netflix gives you access to binge view high quality TV shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards.

Speaking of House of Cards, the show made a much anticipated return this week as the entire second season landed on Netflix and even prompted President Barack Obama to Tweet “No House Of Cards Spoilers Please.”

Although the first season was somewhat of a slow burner that rewarded those that invested their time, the second season exploded in the opening episode, but don’t worry, there are no spoilers to be found here.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the show is how they include the use of text messages with an overlay. A few years ago it had been notoriously difficult to convey to the viewer what a character was reading on their phone and the audience were left squinting trying to read quickly from a dull and dimly lit phone, normally of the Nokia variety. However we are all used to multitasking now and in these days where innovation is paramount, it’s great to see how House of Cards handles this subtle problem by showing little pop up bubbles on screen in real time as the character sends and receives text messages.

This audio-visual storytelling method of illustrating human interaction with devices such as computers and phones feels incredibly innovative and shows just how our brains have progressed in processing information on screen now.

house of cards

In our own lives, most people effortlessly hold conversations with people whilst also tap away on their smartphones sending messages to someone else, and although this may have been seen before in shows like Sherlock, the way in which the relatively new method is used in House of Cards works perfectly.

I believe this overlaying technique can be traced back to David Fincher’s Fight Club back in 1999 where Ed Norton talks about his obsessive shopping and as he flips through an Ikea catalogue, product descriptions pop up next to the actual product in his apartment giving the viewer a better understanding of the films character.

BBC’s Sherlock employed something very similar, using an overlay to provide the audience with a glimpse of text messages that allowed the audience an extra insight into both the character and the scene.

shrlock

I see what you did there…

I suspect there are many film-makers making notes and we will probably see this technique imitated and overused in the near future and a quick look at the trailer for the new Liam Neeson film Non-Stop seems to confirm that the use of text message overlaying in scenes is rapidly becoming ubiquitous but right now it seems that Netflix are pushing all the right buttons and more importantly boundaries that have restricted so many shows in the past.

Non-Stop jumps on the bandwagon...

Non-Stop jumps on the bandwagon…

How we view entertainment is evolving and the ability to watch high quality shows like House of Cards when you want, where you want and whatever device you want for £5.99 a month will ensure that this viewer will be turning away from conventional TV with its weekly offerings of soaps, reality shows, adverts and obsessions with Z-list celebrities.

You don’t need focus groups to tell you that there are a growing number of people who feel the same so let’s hope that they pay close attention to the constantly evolving medium and that change or clinging to business models of yesteryear will no longer work.

House of Cards: NetFlix Binge Viewing Has Arrived…

House of Cards, will probably go down in history as being the first show that is not being shown on any television channel.

As of today, all 13 episodes of the first series are available on www.netflix.com. If you have £5.99 and 13 hours at your disposal, you could watch the whole series in one sitting. No adverts, no waiting, just a full season ready to go, is this the future of TV as we know it?

The New York Times recently stated “Television producers have turned bingeing, hoarding and overeating into successful prime-time shows for years, but now they are having to turn their attention to another example of overindulgence — TV watching.”

It seems after a little peer pressure from our friends about the latest must see show, we are all cramming in our TV shows via boxsets and streaming services. After enjoying marathon sessions of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. Are these shows simply modern novels for a visually oriented generation?

It will be interesting to see  how Sky, Virgin etc adapt to this kind of medium, because a £5.99 a month NetFlix subscription is now looking much better value than 200 channels of garbage for £40 a month, especially if you prefer quality entertainment over quantity.

It is an interesting experiment and who knows if it will work or not, the strange aspect to all this, is that  it does not look or feel like a TV shows, which is probably down to David Fincher which gives this show a dark moody atmosphere that would sit right at home on HBO.

As a fan of the comedy show Miranda, I find it hard to take Kevin Spacey seriously when he breaks the fourth wall by talking to the camera, it’s an interesting technique that works well but I must admit now and again I think of Miranda Hart, Harry Hill or the Gary Shandling show and I can’t help but let out a childish giggle.

If you don’t like political dramas littered with rich dialogue and monologues to the camera, then House of Cards won’t be for you, however if the idea of kicking back with a single-malt scotch whilst watching everything unfold slowly before your eyes without the need for explosions, just top quality acting, then give this a try.

A recent review summed the show up in saying “This is a series for the patient, and the more time you invest in it, the more it will reward you as danger thickens. .

The beauty of NetFlix is that you can watch the show on your TV, go to bed and watch a little more on your tablet, and then during your commute to work in the morning you can continue where you left off and each time it remembers exactly where you were up to each time, no matter what device you use.

The traditional TV set-up and their strict one box rule, rapidly need to up their game or they could end up going down the same road of High Street stores like HMV and GAME, who were blinded by their own arrogance until it was too late. Whether you like House of Cards or not, is not important but what is certain is that we are now witnessing the future direction of entertainment and how we access it.