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Archive for the 'Features' Category

Backstreet’s back…again.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Backstreet Boys

The Backstreet Boys.

Haha. I gotta admit I got caught in the boyband craze, and I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise. But now they’re back, albeit missing one member, and their music is just as solid.

But what does this era hold in store for them? We never really noticed how or when it happened exactly, but the boyband era is over. Back then, you could sell albums just for being a boyband.

Although there are a handful of BSB songs that I am not ashamed to say I still like now (like Set Adrift On Memory Bliss), it just seems that the music scene won’t be as accepting as it used to be. Or a boyband, that is.

I heard their new song “Inconsolable”.

It’s like the music that doesn’t offend you, but you don’t really go out of your way to listen to. An “okay” song. That filler song on your iPod shuffle. You get the idea. But kudos to them for still being around.

Technorati tags: backstreet boys, boybands

Black Music Month

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

I just found out that thus month is “Black Music Month” on Yahoo. Meaning, they are paying special tribute to the black musicians and singers for the whole of June. An interesting reaction came from the discussion on their forums, and on other blogs I’ve seen:

Why is there no “White Music Month”?

They were�saying that if�they�were to start celebrating a White Music Month, they’d be called racist. That if the music industry truly were promoting equality, then there should be no highlighhting of any race. According to them, music is music, and there should be enough recognition from either side.

This is my stand on the matter: They’ve got it all wrong.

The reason why I think there should be a Black Music Month is because they managed to make advances in music DESPITE the oppression. And those advances have been so influencial to the rest of the music scene, that in fact, I think their influences are most felt among any. The point of Black Music Month isn’t to�say that they’re better than white musicians, but to celebrate how their music survived, thrived, and conquered. All this, despite the opinions that continue to think they have no right to celebrate their music, which truly is special.

What exactly is this “White Music” that they want to celebrate anyway? Rock music (which seems predominantly white) had its roots from early African American R&B artists. Even pop music has been influenced so much by Black music nowadays. That influence in itself should be reason enough to dedicate this month to them.

They say that they’ll be called racist for making a White Music Month, and they should not wonder why, if they are so adamant about it. This is not about individual talent, because that would be something that doesn’t concern race. If you claim to defend music and the anti-racist stance, you’ll understand why there has to be a Black Music Month.

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Paper Walls out 7/17!

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Yellowcard will be coming out with a new album on July 17! They’ve released some sample music already, and so far I really like the songs. I’ve just been recently introduced to their music by a friend (who happens to have everything of theirs including liver stuff haha), but I gotta say they’re really good. I like the arrangements too, and when I say that that means I really really like their music. Haha.

Well to be honest, I used to be sorta biased against songs that are labeled as “emo”, because there are some songs that I’ve heard that aren’t really all that good, just very expressive heheh. But I gave this (and some other bands) a shot like a good citizen, and whaddaya know, I came to like these guys.

These guys seem to have a really massive fanbase. They call themselves the Underdogs, but I think their fanbase is awesome, you can really feel the love and support. And for good reason. Anyways because I wanna spread this said love, here’s one from the upcoming album. Enjoy!

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Stop Ya Music?

Monday, June 4th, 2007

I read news that a Korean rapper who goes by the name 60row wrote a song (rap) against some famous Korean pop groups: SG Wannabe, DBSK, and Big Bang. It’s called “Stop Ya Music”. Actually the first two were simply mentioned, it was Big Bang who was really on the hot seat in the song. He was ranting about how the Korean music industry is going on looks and popularity instead of talent. While I do believe he has a point regarding the music industry in general, I don’t believe he’s right. There’s a difference.

I don’t listen to SG Wannabe and DBSK stuff (just never got to, not that I’m against them), but I do listen to Big Bang. In fact I like their music, but not because of who they are. If they were all ugly 50-year-olds singing those songs, I’d still listen to their stuff. 60row was going on about how their music is bad, how they have “nonstop popularity” and that they should stop singing those songs that are no good anyways. Sounds like your typical stuff, and it is, but in a different sense.

Typical, because this type of thing has been going on for such a long time. There’s always hostility, especially concerning “boy bands” or one genre to another. In this case it was probably because Big Bang raps as well, and he probably felt it was his responsibility to protect rap music from “wannabes”.

Sounds pretty noble, but my take on it is different. He’s probably one of those purist people—those who think that to be hiphop you cannot listen to rock music, and vice versa. I’m not saying he’s a faker, all I’m saying is that his claims are baseless. He’s talking about talent, when the boys clearly have that. He’s talking about bad songs, when there is nothing wrong with those songs except that maybe he personally isn’t into them. A rocker could say the same of his music, just because they don’t take the time to consider what makes the song good. Basically he probably feels that if it doesn’t fit in his playlist, it isn’t good at all.

In my opinion, that’s as narrow as the mind gets, and rather disappointing coming from anyone who claims to love music. He claims that these groups only go for popularity and good looks, but honestly, anyone who’s followed Big Bang knows that they’ve worked hard, they write their own music, and even pros will say that they really have talent. Should they be hated by the purists because they have good voices and want to sing R&B? Btw, you don’t see anyone talking against Usher and the likes. Should they he hated because they happen to have good looks? Say their companies DID get them for their looks, should their talents be ignored already? So what if they’re popular? To repeat, I’d listen to their songs even if they were ugly 50-year-olds. If 60row can give an argument beyond personally disliking their music, I might listen to what he has to say. But until then, it just sounds like whining to me.

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OK Go On Treadmills

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

I uploaded this video on Dream Studio, because I think it’s really cool. This is the song “Here It Goes Again” by “OK Go”. Can you imagine doing this in real life? Haha I bet it would be really fun. If you can’t see the video up there, you can CLICK HERE. The song is nice, but if you haven’t heard this yet, you’ll probably not really notice the music because of all that good treadmill action. Haha, enjoy~

You have an iPod don’t you?

Monday, March 12th, 2007

apple.com

If your answer is yes, then why? For some people it’s a status symbol, for others a useful gadget, others just got it as a gift, but for others it redefines their passion for music, for life, and for living each moment. Just how much of ourselves is reflected by the music we listen to? Or are we actually defined by the music we put in our playlists?

Why are we willing to pay so much for such a small thing? If you ask people, they will have their own definition of what music is to them, and how the iPod fits in to all that. From the days of the first portable mp3 players, music lovers have been going for these devices, hardly caring about how they look, or what else they can do, only that they can play music. As for me, my iPod’s LCD got busted around a month ago, but it’s still enough for me to know what’s going on. It’s old, it’s scratched, but it’s working. And when I’m riding down busy streets at night listening to some good music, I know that that’s enough for me.

Taylor Hicks: The Problem Child

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Taylor Hicks

From the beginning, Simon Cowell didn’t like this one. What was it with this silver-haired, dancing, harmonica-playing guy that made people doubt and believe all at once? Well I, for one, liked him the moment he opened his mouth in the auditions. But even if I did, I was skeptic of his ability to really stick it out till the end. I certainly couldn’t imagine him actually winning back then. He proved me, and probably almost all of America, wrong.

What’s up with him now? Well he, unlike the other AI winners, seems to have a clear, iron-clad vision of what he wants to do with this  opportunity. In fact, he says that even if he didn’t join the show, he probably would have still “made it” as big, eventually that is. Before American Idol, he was already aggressively pushing his musical career forward, taking “every gig I could possibly take.”

Prior to his self-titled major debut (from winning AI), which by the way hit platinum just this January, he had already released two albums. Since he wasn’t under any contracts for them, he was still allowed to join the competition. So why the term “problem child” if he’s so naturally talented and driven? Actually, it’s because he’s so driven that he’s gotten away with breaking the rules.

I’m talking about the unspoken rules of debuting in the mainstream. Usually (or always, until Hicks), the winners of AI don’t get much say in their debut. But for Taylor’s album, he got to write 4 of the songs, and only worked with one producer. The songs have a genuine Taylor Hicks flavor. In other words, he was able to keep a great amount of control over his album.

I guess that’s ideal. In the end, I guess even if the media leaves him, he will still get the support of the fans who voted for him till the end, and who’ve grown to love the soulful music of the Silver Fox.

American Idol

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Amazing how out of thousands and thousands of people who joined the auditions, only over a hundred (forgot exactly how many) got into Hollywood. Though it’s obvious that some of them just wanted to get their 30 seconds of fame, many of them go there armed with full confidence in their singing abilities. But this confidence doesn’t always come with the actual skill, and this is the reason the judges often come out as the bad guys.

Well, while I do agree that there are comments that they’d do better not to say, I don’t agree with how some contestants react, saying things like how Simon isn’t even American, how Randy doesn’t really know anything because he’s in the background, and how Paula isn’t good at all because her career went down or something. Seriously. They were the ones who were given the opportunity, and those judges were put there for a reason. Contestants should only react to what they say, not keep dissing them for who they are.

That aside, I think that American Idol is one of the rare few reality TV shows that won’t fade out so easily. Talent is easy to sell, and when someone wins, that’s instant platinum (at least) for that singer. People seem to love seeing talent more than drama, in fact the drama of normal reality TV seems to be the one thing people have grown tired of in the genre.

Simon said something like “I don’t know what we’re doing here anymore,” some time during this season’s auditions. And it’s true for me too. On one hand, it’s amazing (in a bad way) how many people would go there just to do something weird (like dance in a chicken suit), but on the other hand, if they didn’t go there, the show would be less interesting.

It’s encouraging for those aspiring that every year, you hear Simon say something like “Absolutely brilliant”, so that means that every year there will always be a fresh supply of talent, either they just didn’t come out before or they just got that good at that point. With that in mind, I really can’t see American Idol stopping anytime soon, after all it’s six seasons strong.

The Korean Music Wave

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Hello again everyone. Today, instead of featuring an artist, I decided to write about the Korean music scene.

KPop, short for Korean pop, almost seems synonymous to “Korean music”, because people hardly ever hear or read “KRock” or K(insert genre here). While most mainstream artists shift between genres often while still remaining in the “pop” genre, it is still true that when many foreigners think of Korean music, they think of either ballads or catchy songs with matching dance steps.

But just how diverse is the (South) Korean music scene? In the 70s and 80s, there was a small movement of rock music, mostly motivated by political and social awareness. By then they already had a fairly established pop scene, which was actually influenced by the Western “foxtrot”. This kind of pop music (called Teuroteu from the Korean pronunciation of ”trot” ) slowly faded away, as influences from other Western artists lead to the soft rock-type ballad.

In 1992, one group revolutionized the Korean music scene, and its name was Seo Taiji and Boys. They mixed other elements from Western music, such as rap, rock and techno, incorporating dance routines into their performances. Since then, rock music has been slowly making its way into the mainstream, with bands such as Cherry Filter, Nell, and The TRAX, though the latter is more popular in Japan as rock is more accepted in the country’s mainstream.

Though rock music and hiphop still have their marks in Korean pop culture, society more readily embraces themes such as love, life and having fun. So socially and politically-motivated songs mostly remain in the underground, regardless of whether they are good or not.

An example of such is The Movement Crew, a group of Korean rappers consisting of artists like Drunken Tiger and Epik High. DT was founded because of supposed racism against Koreans in the US, and even the rest of the crew focuses on themes relating (or retaliating) to ideas like this.

Korean pop music is primarily commercial. Pop groups forming and disbanding in a matter of a few years is common, and many artists have switched companies for better contracts. To many people in and out of South Korea, this is the main problem of the music industry there, because for many it is not about talent or the quality of the music, but about looks and marketing.

Still, this is not to deny that there are many very good groups and solo artists from Korea. For this reason, among others, the “Hallyu” is born. This literally means “Korean Wave”, and refers to the rising world interest in Korean pop culture. Aside from Korean dramas taking the world (especially Asia) by storm, the wave brings with it the interest in Korean acts, not only for their image but for the talent the world is starting to see in Korean acts.

There are many Korean artists that are currently trying to penetrate the US market. Unfortunately, the US does not seem to be ready for this, and regards most of these acts as merely “asian artists”. The underground scene may never take part in this wave (which is also mainly commercial). Despite these setbacks, there may come a day when Korean music will be readily accepted in the world’s mainstream music industry.