Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back at 2009

(Can't believe that's a year's worth of logos. In order.)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Where I am it's officially 12:00 MN January 1, 2010 and right now I am most probably partying with my family. Yes, this is a scheduled post, as are everything until January 5. lol. ANYWAY. Time to look back on 2009 and see what the crap I got done this year.

At the start of the year, I told myself it was gonna be my year - no one was gonna get in my way. What I meant was that I'd keep blogging, keep listening to a ton of British and American music and generally stay in the same situation I was in the previous month. Little did I know that the year had much, much more in store for me and the blog.

2009 for me was a roller coaster going from one extreme to another - a ton of brilliant, amazing and downright stunning things happened but around me things weren't exactly the best. There were typhoons that swept the country, deaths of loved ones and financial crises happening all over the world. lol. But those aside, I'm thankful for all the opportunities I got this year and they were all because of this little blog.

January came and I started the boyband special. Everything I knew about boybands past and present at the time, I wrote about. I did a ton of research, watched videos left and right and I learned a heck of a lot from it. Although reading back now, I don't think I wrote that well back then. lol.

In February I unofficially wrapped up the boyband special (the last boyband-themed post was in February), discovered the wonders of Soulshock and Karlin and predicted the return of 'fun' to pop this year but other than that and all the reviews, there was nothing ground-breaking.

March was the month with the least number of posts, mainly because I was busy with school - the last month of sophomore year - and it was undeniably the best time of my high school life. I attempted American Idol commentaries on the Top 13 and Top 11 but didn't follow the series religiously this time around - it's gotten boring.

April. April will go down as one of the months I'll remember for ages - both in a good and a bad way. I had been doing PRN for a year already - it was a milestone that I had never reached back when I was a pirate blogger (one part of my life I don't regret but don't want to remember. lol.). This was also the month when I spent literally an entire week in the funeral parlor because my uncle died, got addicted to Fashion Wars on Facebook AND Rascal Flatts at the same time and April was the month I began my foray into the world of Kpop via Rain. Every time I listen to Rain's Rainism (the album) of even look at promo pictures from that era, the first thing that pops into my mind is my uncle and the funeral - not a very good experience.

May has become a historic month for me as it marked my shift from just Rain to kpop in general and it all started with SNSD's Gee. I kicked off the second special of the year centered around none other than Kpop and began doing my research, watching videos and getting a hold of essential albums. I know very little now but I think you guys will agree with me when I say I knew even less before.

But while I was getting addicted to kpop, a couple of things were happening in the West - The Saturdays announced Work as the final single from Chasing Lights (it unfortunately flopped.) and Agnes Carlsson hit the UK top 3. Big things were happening in pop.

June saw me freaking out over JoJo, twice, and ending the one-month long kpop special that had one post a day (which was a record). I also got a DMCA Takedown notification. To this day I'm pissed and annoyed and I can't understand why the crap Blogger did that, dammit.

July was the start of me living post-kpop special when all I blogged about was kpop - I had to learn how to juggle two industries now and it was hard. Blake Lewis leaked some material, I freaked out, and everything was normal. BUT, July was one of the my biggest months as I conducted my very first interview. yay!

I got more interviews in August but I also had an experience I'll most probably never, EVER forget - I EFFIN' GOT TO MEET THE EFFIN' SATURDAYS. Well, 4 of them - no Frankie. Even if I didn't see them live, the poster and album they signed plus the fact that I got to TALK TO THEM made my entire month, or even year.

September was my birth month and this was when all the super, super, SUPER gigantic things started happening for me - starting with an interview with the Sugababes 3.0. Jaebeom left 2PM, Super Junior M released a Sorry Sorry clone in China, Pixie Lott FINALLY released an album, I got a featured article on Babelpop and my DBSK addiction was slowly coming out.

But there were 2 big, big blows to me that month - one good, one bad. Let's start with the bad one. Typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines exactly TWO DAYS before my 15th birthday - I vividly remember that day. It wrecked houses, streets and took lives in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon - things were in horrid condition. Classes were suspended for a week, people were stuck out in the rain without food, clothes or communication and the streets were wrecked even after the floods subsided. Needless to say, Metro Manila was in crap condition. I'm extremely thankful that my family and close friends weren't badly hit by the storm but even up to now people are still slowly recovering.

But enough of the bad stuff, on to the good. I'll make this short and just say it - Pop Reviews Now was chosen as a finalist for the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards. It was by far the biggest thing that has ever happened to me EVER and even if I didn't win, the fact that I was a finalist and being surrounded by people years older than me at that awards show made me feel special. When PRN was flashed on the screen I got goosebumps - it was one of the best moments ever. A lot of people helped make PRN in every possible way and getting that recognition was sort of a thank you to them. You know who you are.

Straight off my Philippine Blog Awards stint (the awards show was in October but I obviously didn't win so yeah.), October was a big month as well as I think I started thinking deeper and writing with more sophisticated ideas(lol.). My DBSK vocal commentary started a whole series of posts dedicated to me writing down everything I thought about popular bands and their singing ability. And of course, who can forget the attack of the fan girls.

I posted a rather negative review of SS501's Rebirth and I still think that some of those fans took it way too far. I review things on this blog - that's what I do. They said I was stupid, that I knew nothing and cursed me for not liking their beloved boyband. It's OK that they like it and I don't but what they did was just out of line and I, being me, didn't take it. I ranted in both English and my native tongue, let everything out and met some of the nicer fans. The ones who insulted me haven't apologized yet, I don't think they ever will, but the nice fans were very composed and civilized.

November was relatively quiet, apart from a full-length interview with effin' Agnes Carlsson, things were slowly falling back to a routine. But I did have a few mental breakdowns due to DBSK and SM's stupidity. See: Mental Breakdown #1, Kicking and Screaming (and cursing) Mental Breakdown, Mental Breakdown #2 and Mental Breakdown #3 - all written in November.

My best songs of 2009 started with new rules and a new format to kick off December. One post a day, except for the times when I just HAD to say what I said. I listed the 9 best albums of 2009 and crowned DBSK's The Secret Code as the best of the damn brilliant. December also saw PRN going for a completely different look and a pretty new layout. An interview with Kate Miller-Heidke, my buying DBSK's Mirotic Live Album and screaming my head off, DBSK leaking their new Japanese single Break Out and this year's Christmas playlist topped everything off.

A few more milestones/random things that happened to me this year:

Earlier this year I was quoted on the BBC Chart Blog. Just when I thought that was the biggest thing to ever happen to me, the Philippine Blog Awards came in and tied. Still, I CAN'T BELIEVE BBC KNOWS I EXIST.

In September Mike of Pop Trash Addicts asked me to be on his Pop Panel one week along with Poster Girl. To say I was surprised would be an understatement - I SCREAMED WHEN I SAW HIS E-MAIL. lol. And I had a lot of fun.

As you all most probably know, Kpop posts on PRN are listed on Babelpop - probably the biggest kpop blog/new site directory out there. But that's not the end of it, not only was I listed, two articles of mine were also featured on the front page! Yay!

I know not a lot of you guys particularly like Britt Nicole but you can't do anything - I keep on blogging about her. That apparently has paid off, as her record label has quoted ME on her OFFICIAL bio. OH MY EFFIN GAWD.

And of course, I joined the omgkpop writing team. Here're most of my articles - I didn't get everything into this montage but it should give you an idea as to what exactly I've been writing there:

Friends. PRN has given me the chance to talk to (most likely via Twitter or the comments section) the people behind the best music blogs out there - Mel, Paul, Poster Girl, Ken, J Mensah, Jennifer, Aaron, Mike, JessicaAdem, The Chemistry Is Dead, D'Luv, xolondon, rcLoy, NyshaAA-Chan, Babelpop/Babelhead, all my fellow writers at OMGKPOP and a TON MORE have made this year brilliant with all the conversations. If I missed anyone clobber me and tell me who.

And of course, my beloved kpop CDs + my signed copy of Chasing Lights. I bought a ton of other albums this year but I'm far too lazy to get them out of the shelves so this'll have to do. LOL.
But before we wrap things up, here're the 29 songs I played the most this year. Notice the abundance of kpop? lol.

Well that's it for 2009, FINALLY. It's the first day of 2010 today and tomorrow we 'discuss' what I'm gonna do and what you guys are gonna be reading for the rest of the year. Sounds good? Sounds good.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best Album of 2009

Excited? Excited? lol. It's been a long year for me and it marked the start of my kpop addiction. Is the best album of 2009 Korean or not Korean?

I'm taunting you guys, aren't I? SO ANYWAY. Drumroll please.... *drumroll*


One of the reasons why I moved over to DBSK from Westlife is that unlike the latter, the former actually has material out on a regular basis whether it be Korean or Japanese. Heck, even now that they're in this lawsuit crap they're bringing out a (very brilliant) Japanese single in January next year - now that's what I want from my favorite boyband. LOL.

Everybody thought DBSK in Japan reached the height of their career with their previous album T when Purple Line hit #1 but with The Secret Code they just got bigger. No really, FOUR Japanese #1s and one top 3 hit ended up with a #2 finish on the Oricon Weekly Album charts. For crap's sake these guys are GIGANTIC.

There are a few songs in particular I need to talk about, mainly because these are the ones that really carry the album.

どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? is beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, mind-blowing and a ton of other things. It doesn't hit you over the head with anything but it doesn't make you fall asleep either - it's the right balance of smooth and peaceful and intense and serious. Brilliant.

There are a few songs that really prove my point that these 5 are more talented than the usual singer/dancer/idol group members - they're the songs that the members themselves write. Not just the lyrics but the melodies and the harmonies and the songs as songs and 忘れないで and 9095 are two of those. Both by Jaejoong (Gorgeous voice AND a musical brain. I like.), they're totally different but not different at all - you get me, right? Right.

忘れないで has a similar feel to どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? but I gotta say, I like this melody better and that string section is just gorgeous. DBSK are one of those acts that they process in the right way - think the vocal treatment to Industry's Burn and you have the vocal treatment of this song. Gorgeous, no? YES. Hahah.

9095 is totally different - it's one of those 'sophisticated' songs. It's not trying to be sophisticated, it is sophisticated. The guitar part mixed with the synths and the TASTEFUL electro-ish things and what I think is a piano part (I think.) just makes it sound like something they'd play at a super upscale store or something. It's another of those 'lay low' songs - just when you think it'll explode it doesn't and just stays there - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Either way it's a gorgeous song.

Now Bolero - I remember when I got addicted to this song it became my new 'listen to when I'm depressed' anthem. What I like about this ballad in particular is that it sounds so Japanese. The production, the treatment of the vocals - everything sounds so clean and sanitized but it has so much soul and emotion. For the longest time I've been trying to figure out what makes Japanese production sound so different from American, European or even Korean production and I still haven't figured it out. I know it sounds very clean and the harmonies are very tight but there's one more thing that I can't quite grasp because there are Western songs that are clean and have tight harmonies - why are these Japanese songs different? It's safe to say that if I ever figure out what the crap that is, it'll be with the help of Bolero.

If there's one thing to commend the Japanese on when it comes to their music, it's the fact that their remixes aren't just a capella tracks slapped on top random eurocrap loops that don't go anywhere - the REMIX- of Take Your Hands is solid proof of that. I love what they did to the song, I love the real drums and I ADORE how different the song sounds - how much more dynamics it has now.

For the longest time, my favorite song from this album was constantly changing - first it was どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? then it was Bolero then it was 9095 then it was 忘れないで but I think now I've settled on the best song.

How many times do I have to stress that Survivor is like the most brilliant pop song ever? NO really, I think I made a mistake when I put Mirotic on the best songs of 2009 but what's done is done - I'll just make up for it here. I love the instrumental, I really do, and is it just me or does the start remind you of Super Junior's It's You and 2PM's Tired of Waiting? LOL. Survivor is like the uptempo version of It's You - it's epic, it sounds fantastic at high volumes and DBSK's vocals just give the song a whole different dimension. And the song just explodes when you hit the chorus - I LOVE it. It's one of those songs I never get sick of, no matter how much I play it. The Japanese get all the good stuff.

This is everything an album should be - it's cohesive, the songs are very strong and it's established a very distinct sound for the band. You don't have that in Korea because the industry isn't entirely focused on the music yet. BUT, this is what Japan does best and this is what they have to do to succeed there - thank heavens they did it DAMN GOOD.

The Best: Everything.
The Bad: Nothing.
The Rating: 1000000000000000000/5 (UR) Get my point? Hahah.

Well, that's it for me this year - 12 MN January 1, 2010 I look back at 2009 with a special post! Watch out for it.

The Best Ripple Albums of 2009

As the year draws to an end, as we're naturally prone to do, it's time to come up with our views on the albums that left the greatest impressions on our psyches. And just like last year, we're thrilled to be joining an ever-growing, impressive collection of like-minded music writers, who've all banded together to share their thoughts.

At the end of this post, please check out the links to these other great sites and see their thoughts. Argue with us, agree with us, it's all intended to stimulate conversation.

As for our list . . . well, it's a bit different this year. First of all, we cover more than metal at the Ripple Effect, so only creating a Top 10 List of our favorite Heavy Albums seemed a bit too limiting. Also, with Woody writing for us all year, he plunged on into the heavy stuff, so Racer spent a little more time in other territories. With all that said, below we hope you'll find an eclectic collection of what passed through the Ripple this year and what we just couldn't forget.

Woody's List

The Accüsed - The Curse of Martha Splatterhead
Dozer – Beyond Colossal
Firebird – Grand Union
Kylesa – Static Tensions
Mastodon – Crack The Skye
Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire
Slayer – World Painted Blood
Stone Axe – S/T
The Stooges – Live 1971, You Want My Action
Sun Gods In Exile - Black Light, White Lines

Pope's List

1. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
2. The Atlas Moth – A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky
3. Sarkh – Vorunah
4. 1349 – Revelations of the Black Flame
5. A Backward Glance on a Travel Road – S/T (free download)
6. Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire
7. Tripdavon – Sketches From Silence
8. Hacride – Lazarus
9. We Insist! – The Babel Inside Was Terrible
10.Katatonia – Night is the New Day

Racer's List

Kamchatka - Volume III
Mammut -Karkari
Stone Axe - S/T
Oak is for Keeping - Animal Style
Black Bone Child - S/T
Robbers - Flesh E.P.
Rammstein - Leibe Ist Fur Alle Da
The Estranged - Singles
Grand Atlantic - How We Survive
Amadou and Miriam - The Magic Couple

*** Honorable Mention ***

Mountain Mirrors – the Immortal Deadbeats EP
Old Californio- Westering Again

Best Reissues

Siena Root - A New Day Dawning
Poobah - Steamroller
AC/DC - Backtracks
Sly & The Family Stone - The Woodstock Experience
Johnny Winter - The Woodstock Experience
James Brown - Live At The Garden
Motorhead - No Sleep Til Hammersmith
Santana - The Woodstock Experience
David Bowie -
Space Oddity (40th Anniversary Edition)

Don't forget to check out these sites and their Top 10 list of 2009
All Metal Resource --
Hair Metal Mansion --
Hard Rock Hideout --
Heavy Metal Addiction --
Heavy Metal Time Machine --
Metal Excess --