Friday, July 31, 2009

DOUBLE INTERVIEW: Jennings + Trina Elle

Yes people, it's time for another interview! This time I've spiced things up though and asked two artists the same set of questions.Jennings in my humble opinion sounds like she was Swing Out Sister in The Corrs. Add two pop giants from different decades together and you have brilliance - something I never expected. With a voice that will make you swoon and melodies that make you smile every time, her songs will cheer you up and give you a reason to love music even more. At least they did for me.
The string section of Trina Elle's People can take on major label artists' platinum-selling singles any day - her voice can make them all hide under rocks and her songs will make them stay under the said rocks. Need I say more?

Two ladies in pop music, two different yet creative minds, two beautiful voices, and two artists - Trina Elle and Jennings. I gave them the exact same questions to answer and how did they do? You be the judge of that. (note that both interviews were copy/past-ed DIRECTLY from my e-mail. No edits on grammar, style, usage and punctuation were done.)

1. The first time I heard your songs they honestly made me smile - what do you want your music to do to people and how do you want them to react when they hear your songs?

Jennings: I love your reaction! I want people to smile and get into the music. I just hope that each listener can take something away from it and apply it to their own lives. I want people to be able to relate to it.

Trina Elle: I must say i want them to be able to relate to my music, even find comfort in my songs. Whether it makes them laugh, smile, or even cry, any feeling is a good reaction.

2. Do you make it a point for all your songs you write or choose to have one distinct element in them that makes them 'you' or do you just write whatever comes to mind, whenever whatever inspiration strikes? Why and how?

Jennings: I think I would say that it is both. I definitely just write what comes to mind and inspires me at the time. I don't try to limit myself by having elements that make it me. However, I think I am always going to have certain elements that float through every song because it is just how I write. It isn't purposeful, it's just me.

Trina Elle: Basically alot of times, its how im feeling or something that im going through, and just as often anything that comes to mind. Usually i like to make a point in my songs, writing about things that matter.

3. In terms of the music industry as an industry, what do you think of it? Do you like it, hate it, want to be signed to a major label or what? Why?

Jennings: I think it is a great time in the music industry to be an independent artist. We have so many resources at our disposal with the internet and such that we can "make it" without a label. We can get managers, publicists, publishing deals, etc without having to have a record deal. I still, however, think that if you get the right deal, being with a label would be great and could take an indie artist to the next level. I would love to have a record or publishing deal, indie or major, but it has to be the right deal.

Trina Elle: I think it's ok, i mean there is a lot of drama that could be done without, i mean I feel if you are a gorunded person you should cope well. As for being signed with a label i wouldnt mind it, it makes it much easier to get your music career ahead, but again you always have to search for that 'right' contract.

4. I love beautiful voices - they're one of the qualities I look for in an artist. How do you use/control your voice to your advantage as a musician and as a singer?

Jennings: I have been singing since I could make noise, so it has been something I have just learned to do over the years. I am now going to a vocal coach for maintenance of my voice because I would never want to lose it. As far as using it to my advantage...I think I just try to use it in such a way that makes the words I am saying more colorful and meaningful.

Trina Elle: I have a very soulful voice so i useit to my advantage in the ballads, and also belt it out when i need to get that powerfull effect. I have a vocal coach who is still working me to perfect my techniques.

5. What is artistic integrity and credibility for you? What does it mean to you or how does having it affect the music you make?

Jennings: It sounds silly but I just want to be true to myself. I write what I want to write and if everyone else likes it then I think that's awesome! I don't think I would ever be able to put out music that I don't like, regardless of how popular it might make me.

Trina Elle: For me, it's quite important, my whole album is about real experiences that ive been through, hence my album titled 'My Reality'.

6. What sets you apart from other female pop solo artists I and many other bloggers feature? Why do you think my readers should take notice of you?

Jennings: Well I think there are some amazing female artists out there. I think that we all have our elements that make us shine. For me I would say it's the person as well as the music. I am an honest person. I write music about things that I know and don't try to make things too complicated in my writing. Also, who you see on stage is who you will meet after the show. I want people to come to a Jennings show and feel like they see the musician and the person as one in the same. I think that is what will help so many people connect with an artist.

Trina Elle: Im not fake, im not dishonest, i just want people to take the time to listen because im sure u will enjoy it. I just wanted to make people hear what my story is all about, that we all go through good and rough times, it's life, and it makes u stronger.

7. If you were offered a major label contract with the promise of wealth beyond words and extensive (sometimes excessive) promotion of your music in exchange for completely changing your musical identity, would you take it? Why or why not?

Jennings: It would be awfully tempting for sure, but if it went against what I believe in or who I genuinely am, then no. Their isn't enough money in the world for me to lose the identity that I have worked so hard to accept and love. I feel that if I did that, at the end of the day I would still be a sad person. I would rather be broke and know who I am then have a fortune and lose myself.

Trina Elle: Nope, i would not. The whole point of my album is to write my truth, life's twists and turns, changing my musical identity would be the opposite that im trying to do. Besides i don't need the money...again that is not the main goal.

8. Right now, what's your main goal as an artist and musician?

Jennings: I would just love to make a living with my craft. If I could travel the country (and even outside of the country) and hit every major city, bringing out about 200-300 people to each show then I think that would be a huge success! I don't need my face all over MTV to be happy (although that would be nice too. ). I just want to be able to make it a stable living.

Trina Elle: Right now, i just want to be heard, if i could hear my music on the radio i would be more that satisfied even if thats the furthest it would go. Of coarse eventually hopefully people will like it enough to keep it alive but right now i just want to take one day at a time.

9. When in your career will you be able to confidently say that you're successful?

Jennings: I can say right now that my career has been successful. So many people have sent me messages or told me that my music has changed their lives for the better. That is an amazing feeling. That right there is success. Anything after that is just icing on the cake.

Trina Elle: I think right now id be happy with just making a few hit singles that just explode all over! Then id be happy!

10. How do your influences affect your music and creativity as a whole?

Jennings: I am influenced by so much music. I listen to it all of the time and I would say that all of my influences spark me to be more creative! They make me want to write better songs and work on my craft. It can help bring out ideas to make music evolve.

Trina Elle: U see it depends, alot of my influences they all have their own style so u'll take that and see if u can incorporate it in your music to give it that little twist... ex.starting off with a chorus instead of a verse, how certain words are said, or even certain different instruments or microphones u use to get a certain sound...there are so many things that u can get influenced by.

11. Do you want people or do you mean for them to listen and actually think long and hard about your music or do you intend for it to be 'background music'? Why or why not?

Jennings: I would prefer that they listen to the words and really think about what I am saying. If I really wanted it to be background music then I would probably not spend the time crafting and putting together the words. I understand if people have it on in the background because that is enjoyable too, but I want each listener to take something away from my music and lyrics and if it is just background music then they can't really do that.

Trina Elle: I definately want people to think when they hear my music.... simply because i want people to relate to what im saying, i want to be heard.

12. And finally, a question I now ask to everyone I interview - what do you want to be remembered for in the next 10 or 20 years?

Jennings: I want to be remembered not only as a great musician and songwriter but as a genuinely nice and good person. I want people to feel that they have not only connected with the music, but with me as well. Music will change, come and go, and shift, but being a good person I think is universally appreciated.

Trina Elle: Great person who made some great music.

Find them online!



Need new music? It's the Friday night post!

I'm lazy, tired and I have an extremely tiring day tomorrow - will be engineering the recording of like 6 poems. OK. These past few days have been extremely stressful for me but I got through it - time to post some new music! Relatively short tonight, I'm going to write and go to bed!

The Sugababes' new video is out. I've come to be able to bear the song, it's not that bad but I'd not good either. Oh well, I just hope the album's a lot better. If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is:
No Angels have only previously made one song I actually like and would love to listen to over and over again and for the longest time that one song was the only one. I've found another song worthy of my praise though - One Life.

It's new, and we haven't heard it in HQ yet(the version I have doesn't sound very nice..) but I do love it heaps.

The Korean representative this week is Kara. Yes, another girl group but no, they're not like 2NE1 or SNSD - they're the extremely cutesy girl group. It can be good sometimes but most often their voices are crap on the recordings because some stupid corporate dude tells the producer to make their voices really cutesy/baby-like. UGH.
It's their new single. Not bad, actually - if they lost the crap voices I'd actually like it a heck of a lot. Am getting the album as we speak so if it's good I'll review it in the coming days.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Top 20

What's new this week? Well, I've found my current favorite J-Pop artist - Namie Amuro and she's number one this week. Pop/R&B done the right way - you can never go wrong. I put some links to videos as well so watch them and enjoy the great music this week! hahah.

20. BoA - My Boy
19. BoA - Etude
18. Ola - Sky's The Limit
17. SHINee - Love's Way
16. ST Day - Afraid (NE)
15. Brown Eyed Girls - Abracadabra (NE)
14. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Boyfriend
13. Big Bang - Gara Gara Go!
12. Ju-Taun - Let Me In
11. The Saturdays - Unofficial
10. Blake Lewis - Sad Song (NE)
9. Kristinia DeBarge - Speak Up (NE)
8. Jordin Sparks - Was I The Only One
7. Brown Eyed Girls - I'll Do Well (NE)
6. Shinhwa - Once In A Lifetime (NE)
5. BSB - Straight Through My Heart (Soldier Down) (NE)
4. Girls' Generation/SNSD -
Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
3. Jordin Sparks -
No Parade
2. Kim Joon -
Be OK (Link is to the first performance of the song.)
1. Namie Amuro - Girl Talk (NE, 1 Week)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Friday Night post.

I'm exhausted but I don't know why - I always want to write about a ton of stuff on Friday night. Maybe I should make this an every week thing. Sounds interesting. hahah.

So first thing's first - Kristinia DeBarge. I don't know - something about the songs make me uninspired to write about the album. There are good songs, don't get me wrong, Speak Up and Somebody are the best of the good but the album as a whole sounds like various stuff we've all heard before - most of the melodies haven't moved me to the point of no return either.I'd give the album a 4/5 at the moment.

My beloved Brown Eyed Girls have released their new album(which is extremely confused but has three of the most brilliant ballads ever sung) and the lead single is so Eurotrash-y it could pass for crap. OK, maybe I'm being a little mean but seriously, the song is way too auto-tuned and techo-ized that I have a hard time imagining how the heck they're gonna sing this live.

I've noticed this with quite a number of girl groups. For some strange reason, the best singers are the ones who get the most auto-tuning, cutesy-fying and crappy-fying of all the members - that's like the worst thing you can do, make a girl who can sing sound like a baby or a crap singer. For BEG, Narsha gets like 3 short lines asa bridge and it's auto-tuned to the point where you can't even decipher if it's her - heck, she hardly even sings.

Oh, and the video is possibly going to be banned in Korea because it's VERY controversial and the girls' entertainment company refuses to edit it. Kudos to them for standing by their creation - even if it's not my taste at all.

BSB's new single has left me speechless. The fact that they can make a melody that sounds like it came straight out of the year 2000 and slap it onto a very 2008/2009 arrangement is beyond me. THIS is why they're Gods in the boyband world - enough said.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The guy who made the music that defined my freshman year.

I remember when American Idol 6 was on - I was in sixth grade. At that time I had a best friend who was the biggest Idol fan, next to me of course, and we were both rooting for Blake Lewis. The guy was by far the most creative contestant in the competition and yes, his forte was beatboxing but he could also sing like hell - he was brilliant and extremely talented. So obviously I'd be extremely disappointed and annoyed when Jordin won (although now that her second album's out, I realize that she deserved to win, even just a bit.) and Blake would forever be labeled as the guy who didn't win Idol.

His album came out, I fell in love with the songs but it wasn't until the latter and extremely depressing part of my freshman year that the album really meant something to me. Brilliant songs, insane melodies and the songs I fell in love with didn't have my favorite beatboxing Blake. Oh well, tough luck.

Well he's back.

I don't know why but his pronunciation on Sad Song is SO BRIT. I'm not complaining or anything but I'm just not used to it. Overlooking the pronunciation, the song has some of those moments when I want to strangle the guy for making something as brilliant as the song. When I first heard it I was a little iff-y about it and thought it was sub-par compared to his other songs but now that I listen to it a lot more, THIS SONG SHOULD BE A HIT. I'm not saying it will, it may or may not but I'm saying that if I were to choose, everyone in the world has to listen to it twice - I now find the song one of the best this year, so far.

I don't think the first verse does justice to the song until it's very close to the chorus which is insanely brilliant. I can imagine people singing the hook all over the place - don't know if it'll happen though. The second verse is much better, maybe because of the instrumentals and the middle 8 is auto-tune heaven and yet I find it appealing - there's something about it. Although it's obviously not hit you on the head auto-tune which is why I like it to a certain extent.

5/5. As if I'd give it any other rating.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Top 20

The first ever Korean number one! YAY! The most unexpected person making the most brilliant song. No recap this week - I'm far too lazy. I might even scrap that idea altogether - me and my laziness.

20. Stephanie Carache - Mr. Playa
19. SHINee - Romantic
18. Jesse McCartney - Because You Live
17. JoJo - 25 to Life
16. Jennings - Falling Higher-Full
15. BoA - My Boy
14. Big Bang - Gara Gara Go
13. Britt Nicole - The Lost Get Found
12. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Boyfriend
11. BoA - Etude
10. JLS - Beat Again
9. Demi Lovato - Gift of a Friend
8. Ola - Sky's The Limit
7. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
6. The Saturdays - Unofficial
5. Jordin Sparks - No Parade
4. SHINee - Love's Way
3. Jordin Sparks - Was I The Only One
2. Ju-Taun - Let Me In
1. Kim Joon - Be OK (1 Week)

INTERVIEW: Stephanie Carache

Interview number THREE! And the girl in question makes damn good music.
For those of you who absolutely adore Pixie Lott's Mama Do and how retro-ish but modern it is or adore the girl's powerhouse vocals - better drop whatever you were doing before this and READ THIS NOW. I'm not kidding in any way - you will LOVE this girl once you hear the song that made me want to interview her.

The first time I saw Stephanie Carache's name and the genre she's under on that PR database I've told you about before, I got curious and downloaded Mr. Playa but I wasn't excited to the point of fainting in fact I even saved the listen for the weekend. Needless to say, I was wrong to keep it in my computer without listening because when I finally did, I was amazed.

Now I love Pixie Lott and Mama Do deserved to be a number one single even if it was just for a week but if Pixie can achieve that much success with a song like that then why hasn't Stephanie? The music-buying public can be confusing on numerous occasions.

With a powerhouse voice and an insanely brilliant song, there's no doubt that Stephanie Carache deserves to be a household name or noticed by hundreds of thousands at the very least. I pick her brains in a short interview I got the chance to conduct so read on to find out a bit about why I think she's brilliant.

1. Why make the kind of music you’re making? There are tons of other styles and genres to embrace, why this one in particular?

Ever since I was little, I've grown up around all different genres of music. But POP always stood out to me because of the many different directions you can go with it. A part from singing this type of music, I love dancing and performing. Pop music gives me the opportunity to showcase that as well.

2. As an artist, do you think you should have influences and take from them to create something you personally like or do you like the freedom to create your own music - music that you think represents yourself?

I believe everyone has been influenced in some shape or form by someone in their lives. You take the influence and make it your own.

3. At what point in your career will you call yourself successful and say 'OK, I've made it'?

I'm sure there will be instances in my career where I'll think to myself "Wow, I've really made it". For example, when I'm headlining and selling out my own world tour, but knowing me, I probably won't ever be satisfied. (Laughs) I will always strive to top what I've already accomplished. Stars' the limit!

4. What's pop music to you? What does it sound like, how do you think it works and is it still alive?

Pop music is the most general genre of them all. It has many different sounds, which is why people will always love pop music and why it will always stay alive.

5. This has been asked a million times but who are you as an artist?

That's a difficult question to answer. I'm the same person as an artist that I am on a daily basis. I'm just another person trying to make their mark in the world.

6. How do you make your music and give the people who are interested it a chance to actually listen to it? Will you make them pay and sue them if they don't or will you try to get as many people as possible to hear your music?

Of course at the end of the day, money is important. This is my career. But what's most important for me is that my music reaches as many people around the world as possible. I don't care how they get to hear my music, as long as long as they support my music, I'm very happy. (smiles)

7. How did you choose which producers to work with? Did you choose them just because they were superstars or because you think they could capture where you wanted to go with your music? Why?

Experience is a plus, but when I choose who I work with, there has to be a vibe and they must capture my vision.

8. What do you want to be remembered for in the next 10 or 20 years?

The obvious would be to be remembered by my talent, my distinct voice and my music. But that's not enough for me. I want to be remembered by people across the world not only as an incredible artist, but as a philanthropist and caring considerate human being as well. The kind of artist that displays nothing but positive energy. The kind of artist worthy enough to serve as a role model.

Find her online:
Official Website

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jordin Sparks - Battlefield

Of the few lucky Idol alumni who've gotten past the formulaic and most times crappy first album stage, Jordin Sparks was the one I least expected to convince me she's good. I didn't notice her on Idol because Blake Lewis was and always will be tied with David Cook as one of the most creative and outstanding Idol contestants ever but that's another matter. Jordin's first album came and went - I liked three songs including One Step At A Time which eventually became a single. Promotions were done and over with for this album and I forgot about the girl. When Battlefield came out I was unimpressed but Walking on Snow changed my opinion on this album - SOS tied up any other doubts I had and It Takes More got me hyperventilating at the thought of having an album possibly full to the brim with amazing songs.

Needless to say, even if the only really major, prestigious award Jordin has won is an AMA (although that's good enough.) and Carrie and Kelly have won a ton of Grammies after their first albums, the girl has her own niche in the pop industry. I mean, she's not pop to the last note but she's not hardcore enough to be R&B - there are a few of them in that part of the industry but Jordin's clearly leading the pack.

My one observation of the album as a whole is the fact that Jordin has managed to show us 12 (14 if you have the deluxe edition) songs that are epic in completely different ways. Whether it be the happy and/or epic when you want it to be Walking On Snow or the cry-worthy epic-ness of Was I The Only One, these songs make sense. The fact that they're all epic in some way, shape or form makes the album cohesive for me - there's something that ties everything together neatly and nicely.

I've said what I think of Walking on Snow and SOS - my reviews on them still stand, They're both brilliant, WOS being epic yet happy and SOS being epic in itself - no need for further discussion, I think. I still think Battlefield is boring and only ever so slightly worth my time and my review on it 1-2 months ago still stands as well.

So let's focus on the brilliant songs I've never talked about. Like, duh.

Don't Let It Go To Your Head made an impact when the second line started and the instrumentals came in - it sounds like something straight out of her first album but it's different. It's like a less epic SOS mixed with a teensy bit of the beauty that Was I The Only One (we'll get to that song later, I promise) and a bit of Battlefield thrown in for good measure.

I first heard It Takes More a few days ago when it had just leaked and I was taken aback by how beautifully strung together the parts of the song were. It's not that they're all on the same level and it's like there's no difference between the chorus and the verse - you know which part is which but it's just that the 'transitions' sound so effortless that it's like they were meant to be on the song no matter what. That and the fact that the hook is another insanely brilliant Oriental-ish melody. Add Jordin's voice and you have a fabulous combination.

One masterpiece after the other - Watch You Go has these bigger, more processed bongo-like drums in the background that practically make the whole song along with the above-excellent melody. The drums give the song an island-y feel but the beautiful melody will bring your right back to where we all are and make you faint at the same time. The elements of the song don't seem like a perfect match - you'd imagine a spoken piece or a rap for the text but the vocals and instrumentals really work well with each other. Kudos to Jordin, without a question.

No Parade is brilliant. It's very much like a ballad from artists like her - beautiful melody, piano start with an eventual processed drum loop coming in. The only difference is that this is the song that showed me that Jordin's voice has really changed from her first album - it's grown an awful lot and it's a lot deeper with more color to it. This is the song that showed me that Jordin can sing, very well. The hook will make you faint for a second time so brace yourself for that.

Let It Rain is one of the few sub-par songs on the album for me. Put this right between Battlefield and the rest of the album though and it's a very good combination - makes a cohesive album through and though. Not a big fan of Emergency either - heard it days ago and wasn't impressed at all. Still, the song makes sense but I personally don't hear anything moving, sorry.

I like Faith - it's cute and cool. From the start the piano tells you that the song will escalate into this Aretha Franklin/soul-ish number and her vocal technique later makes you think it'll happen even more. What's most surprising about the song is that it doesn't escalate as much as the start says it will - bit by bit, yes but we were expecting grander than grand! Surprising, Sparks, surprising.

I've heard something like The Cure before - it's just one of the songs I can't pinpoint right now. I like the song heaps though, strong mid-tempo. The full version of Papercut didn't impress me as much as Postcard did but maybe that's because I've listened to the clip waaaay too many times for me to not be surprised. Postcard is a very descriptive ending for the album - it sort of sums up everything the album is and ever will. But I deliberately skipped one song.

Get your tissues ready and lie down on a bed or flat surface before you even think of listening to Was I The Only One, trust me. The violin section on this song makes up something that sounds like every other string section of a pop song at the start but add Jordin's insanely different from her usual vocals THEN listen to the melody and the first part will bring you to tears. When the characteristic R&B elements come in after the first chorus its brilliance will blind you and the minute she goes up before the chorus you will faint. The second chorus has such a different feel from the first part but by the near end of it when everything dies down again you hear this humming and suddenly - BOOM. The song explodes and literally blows you off the face of the earth. The song ends as it starts - Jordin's vocals, a violin and a guitar. I'm even more speechless than I've ever been.

Idol or no Idol, I always say that the hardest shift or change an artist can go through in his/her career is the one from his/her first album to the second album - there are a ton of possibilities that will tell your listeners whether or not you were yourself when you made your first album. I may not like a few of the songs on the album but it's undeniable that Jordin has attempted to make that shift and she's done it effin' amazingly while giving us some of the best songs of the year - there's no 'I think' or 'it's safe to say' in my statement, I'm sure of it.

So, to sum up the album:
Best Track: Was I The Only One
Better Tracks: Everything else
My Least Favorite Track: Like I said, Let It Rain and Emergency didn't make an impact.


Since I'm really submerged in schoolwork and unless the album blows me away beyond proportion, the review will come sometime this weekend.
I'm trying to breathe myself.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Top 20

EDITED! The first version was WRONG.

This week's top 20! A summary of numbers twenty to one:

Jennings opens up the top 20 with Falling Higher-Full, Kristinia DeBarge sinks to number 19 and Jordin Sparks makes her first entry in this week's top 20 at number 18 with It Takes More. KSM re-enter the top 20 at 17 and JoJo goes further down the top 20 at number 16 this week. BSB sink to number 15 this week while BoA's first entry, My Boy finishes at 14. Like JoJo, Britt Nicole sinks further down to 13 this week while last week's number 2 lowers to number 12.

Jordin Sparks' two debuts close the top 20 - 11 and open up the top 10 - SOS is at 11 and Walking On Snow at 10. SNSD's Boyfriend sinks to 9 but Genie makes a big leap to the number 4 spot - it's about time. 2NE1's I Don't Care makes its debut at number 8 this week while BoA's second top 20 entry, Etude finishes inside the top 10 at 7. Ola sinks to number six while Demi Lovato jumps to the number 5 spot after last week's debut. Last week's number one, The Saturdays take the number three spot and this week's highest new entry goes to Kim Joon at number two. Ju-Taun, whose interview fueled me to listen to them intensely has Let Me In at number one this week!

Below is the top 20 in full:

20. Jennings - Falling Higher-Full
19. Kristinia DeBarge - Future Love
18. Jordin Sparks - It Takes More
17. KSM - Read Between the Lines
16. JoJo - 25 to Life
15. Backstreet Boys - Bye Bye Love
14. BoA - My Boy
13. Britt Nicole - The Lost Get Found
12. Big Bang - Gara Gara Go
11. Jordin Sparks - SOS
10. Jordin Sparks - Walking On Snow
9. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Boyfriend
8. 2NE1 - I Don't Care
7. BoA - Etude
6. Ola - Sky's The Limit
5. Demi Lovato - Gift of a Friend
4. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
3. The Saturdays - Unofficial
2. Kim Joon - Be OK
1. Ju-Taun - Let Me In (1 Week)


No, it's not because JLS are NUMBER ONE in the UK mid-weeks(WOOHOO!) but because I have just found the most amazing k-pop R&B-ish song by a guy/bunch of guys. The guy in question is from the highly-publicized and highly-crappy Korean version of F4 - Boys Over Flowers.
Let me correct myself - the guy singing the song is the one who doesn't talk at all in the highly crappy Korean version of F4. I honestly didn't know he could hold a melody! OK, the guy is sub-par in the vocal department but we have auto-tune in the 21st century - he like many others who can't sing, will survive. Well at least the guy can dance! Not like Rain (NO ONE will ever be like the guy..) but good enough. Give me a good song and I'll bear with your voice and kind of like your dancing, thankfully.

If I were to recommend you one good song from each genre and artist type in Korea - this would be the song I'd give your for the solo/group male R&B-ish but not stuff. The song as a whole is great - why? Read on! (one of my crazy attempts to keep you reading my reviews. hahah!)

The song actually starts out very ordinary and the verses are sub-par - it's worth your time but not a lot of it. The guy basically overlooks the verses because if you've seen the teaser of the song you know very well that the best is yet to come.

Before I start raving about the brilliance of the rest of the song, let me take a moment to commend whoever thought of the dynamics on this damn song. You hear that every time the song goes into another part, there's always an indicator that's loud and clear enough for us to notice. In short, as the amazing-ness of the song escalates, the dynamics change and the result is a very cool instrumental - I'd imagine if you strip the vocals and just keep the instrumentals it'll be very cool and posh with a bit of groove.

The bridge is a notch more amazing from the first verse. At least I think it's the bridge - after the first dynamic 'indicator', the one with 'sarang' and a word that sounds like 'motel' without the L in the lyrics. That's it. The chorus (with the 'tell me why' in the lyrics..) is drool-worthy to the point when the whole floor will most probably filled with your saliva. It's that good.

One thing I noticed while writing this review and actually putting the parts of the song to words is that it actually has like 3 different hooks (won't call them choruses or verses of bridges or whatever 'coz they're not..) that don't come in the standard verse-bridge-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus-middle 8 and/or rap part-dance break-last chorus form. It's like OK - one minute you think this is the hook/chorus and then the next minute it's gone and was replaced by a completely different part with a different melodic structure and everything. Dammit.

All three (could be four, not so sure but I think it's 3..) hooks are obviously different but they all just happen to be amazingly brilliant. It's like I can fathom the rap part of this song 'coz it comes in between two of the most amazing melodies I've ever heard or I think I've heard - the hooks make that much of an impact. Like hell. I love the part right after the rap part - it's a lot more processed but a lot less 'heavy'-ish. It makes sense, in short.

Actually, even with the strange structure and brilliantly (sometimes overpowering) thought of and executed dynamics - this song makes all the sense in the world. I love it - that's the bottom line.
The video + full song. WATCH IT A MILLION TIMES, LIKE HELL.
5/5. Phew - that was LOOOOOOONG.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


You've seen them on my weekly top 20 and have heard me rave about them on Twitter so why exactly have I been doing those things? Because my friends, I bring you my second indie interview.
The first time I ever heard Ju-Taun I was in awe of the impeccably executed vocals, the swoon-worthy harmonies and everything else that draws me to vocal groups - be it a boy band, girl group or whatever. I thought musically they were one of the best groups I'd heard in the past three years and believe me, I've heard a ton of them so yeah - I adored them from the first note I heard come out of their mouths. Let Me In is a staggering 7 minutes-long but you know what? The time just flew by while I was listening to it - those seven minutes didn't and will never seem like 7 minutes because I lose track of time when I listen to their music.

The first time I heard Let Me In I was using crappy bass-less and flat to the point of tin can-y earphones so right now as I listen to the song with a brand new pair of earphones with the best bass and sound quality ever, the brilliance I first heard now sounds life-changing. Their other songs are equally brilliant as well and I think Es Amor is just below Let Me In when it comes to the quality of the songs. Oh dear, have I become a fan girl? No problem there!

Just the music made me desperately want to interview the band so I prepared the questions as critically and close to home as possible and sent them in before waiting a few days. Apart from the quick response I got, while reading the interview for the first time as a whole just before I started doing this write-up, their answers made me smile so much.

I don't know if they knew I believed in the same things I do but I saw answers that practically took a page out of my principles that have to do with music. It's rare that I find artists who read my mind this precisely and this is the first time I've heard someone say them directly to me - I'm dumbfounded. They've given me a reason to fight harder for what I believe in - knowing that a band has the same principles and ideals as me and is fighting for the same things I am really inspires me.

So, please do take the time to read their answers to nine of the questions that were brewing in my head and really get to know the band - what they said here means a lot to me and for that I now genuinely respect them as artists. You do realize if you don't know already that my artistic/creative respect is something I don't give to just anyone.

1. In theory I see you as somewhat a boyband - you sing songs, don't play your own instruments and you're vocal harmony-based. To you yourselves, what are you? Are you what I said you were or do you have another term for yourselves?

There's such a stigma and preconceived notion that comes to mind when the term "boyband" is used. Maybe "Vocal Group" would be better. But then again that term didn't really come to the pop culture forefront until BSB and NSync got so big that they began to get backlash from their immense popularity. Groups like Boyz II Men, All 4 One and Take 6 don't recieve that label. I think nowadays that term is better used for groups that were put together. We've been together since our early high school days so there's nothing fabricated here. We taught ourselves (with the help of one of our fathers) how to produce our own records and eventually found our own sound. Everything you hear on this album is us. Everything from the backing tracks and lyrics to the vocal production and mixing we did ourselves. So no we wouldn't label ourselves as such but we'll let the public and the media come up with their own labels. Our goal is to make the best and most heartfelt music possible.

2. Being indie artists(I assume..), do you want a major label contract or are you happy with what you have at the moment?

Honestly when we first started we were so determined to get signed to just about whatever came our way. We thought it would be easy but we were in for a rude awakening. But as we continued down this road of independence we learned that maybe that road isn't for us. We have so much freedom to make the music we feel needs to be heard. Signing to a label without making them come to us would just cause us to have to compromise our sound. So I guess the answer to that answer is Yes. So far we truly feel we're fulfilling our destiny.

3. Over the years after getting to know a lot of vocal groups, watching how they debut, get famous then split up as well as being in a group myself, I've noticed that there's a certain dynamic needed between the members to properly last over a certain time period - to exceed the shelf life of a vocal group/boyband. Your bio says that you've been together since 2000 - what's the secret to the group lasting this long?

It's really all about Love. It's the reason our album title is "Love Changes Things". You treat people differently because you want the best for yourself and others. We can tell each other about each others faults and shortcomings without the fear that what we say might rub the other the wrong way. Not only do we have a brotherhood, but we also know that whenever we approach one another respectfully with a suggestion or complaint it's out of us wanting the best for each other.

4. Is music first priority for you? Above trying to break the industry, making tons and tons of money or having hoards of screaming girls running after you wherever you go - do you always want to make music that moves people and has the ability to cross generations? Why?

Definitely, you hit it right on the head. We've been approached by big name producers and labels with the lure of riches at their side but in order to play the game we had to play it their way. We were fortunate enough to find our way and make a decision to not send the wrong message through our music before they came knocking. From the very beginning music was about how it made you feel. Even in this commercialized industry artists like Robin Thicke and John Mayer still gain noteriety and success while still maintaining their integrity. We plan to do the same and stay true to the music that comes from our hearts.

5. You've opened for The Temptations, I've heard. What part of the group - their career, vocals, music, the respect people have for them or whatever, do you want for yourselves?

To even attain a fraction of their success or to be mentioned in the same sentence would be a blessing within itself. If we would have to choose it would be the respect they achieved from their peers. Whether competition or label mates (though we're sure that's the same category since Motown had a reputation for their in-house competitive spirit) they we're always respected for their body of work, and their work ethic. Their vocal delivery was impeccable, their songs we're memorable and they laid the blueprint for many groups that came after them.

6. One of the things I look at in a boyband/vocal group, apart from amazing songs is their ability to do brilliant a capella work. Powerful vocals that fit together like puzzle pieces - the reason why I adore my favorite boyband is because they can nail a five-part harmony like no other. Can you guys nail a four-part harmony that'll make me faint?

We pride ourselves in knowing that we can always be better as musicians, vocalists, producers and people. So we're not one to toot our own horn, but in our own humble opionion we can throw in some ninths and sustains with some dynamics that were pretty sure can get us kudos from the most seasoned musician.

7. Why do you want to make music?

Our parents all loved music so maybe we had no choice! lol...But we truly enjoy singing together and making music. We even enjoy working towards perfecting our harmonies, dance steps and vocal delivery at our rehearsals. This honestly feels like what we were supposed to do. Some people never find out what they truly want to do with their lives, we're just happy and blessed that we did.

8. How does your song selection process work? Do you write most of your material or do you work with other people and around how many songs did you consider to put on the album?

At one point we had 15. If you count all the songs that could have possibly been placed on this album the number rises past twenty. Like we said we write and produce all our own music. Although it was something we didn't plan, we really had no choice. We haven't really met many writers or producers that had an energy about them that just clicked with ours. Chemistry is so important. It's something we have now after years of working with each other. With us song selection is just a feeling we all get. We usually know by the time we get to writing the Hook/Chorus whether it's a good song or not and we're usually all in agreement. The best compositions are the ones that just come together so quickly that we're dumbfounded. We're just vessels for the music. The songs we picked for this album all represent how love can change things in one persons life in one form or the other. They all fall in line with the motto we live and operate by.

9. What do you want to be remembered for in the next 10 or 20 years?

We want to be remembered as the group that never gave up. The group that persevered and continued to fight an industry that makes you pay if you want to play. The group that tore down walls and built new ones. The group that reminded listeners that we're just like everybody else. Four regular guys with just a dream. The group that reminded everybody that the right kind of love can allow us to do anything we wish to do in our lifetimes.
Find them online:

Friday, July 10, 2009

2NE1 + Jordin Sparks + The Sugababes = This Week's Friday Night Post

It's been one heck of a week for me but it's by far been the best since school started back in June. I'm way more comfortable with the going to school routine and I'm not sick anymore, the main thing but I also happened to ACE a geometry test about a lesson I enjoyed every bit of - I kinda sort of like studying now. I've also loved every second of my elective this semester and plan to ace this again like I did last year. Music-wise a lot as happened and I have two interviews ready to be published in the next two weeks so watch out for them, OK?

A diverse selection tonight - there's a song I think sucks, a good song and an outright brilliant one. Read away, alright? Alright.

The first matter of this post is from the world of K-pop. I'm sorry for the people who read this because of the Western pop but I'm afraid I've fallen trap waaaaay too deep - there's no turning back and I feature everything I like. Done deal.

For the longest time I've despised 2NE1 or at least found Fire extremely annoying and a waste of my time. Add that to the fact that Sandara Park tried to have a career here and for a while she was big but at the height of her popularity she went back to Korea. Now we know why - BECAUSE SHE'D BECOME THE CRAPPIEST MEMBER IN A GIRL GROUP SURROUNDED BY THREE OTHER VOCALLY CAPABLE GIRLS. Great, just great.
I'm dead serious. The rapper in 2NE1 can hold a melody properly and competently, the oldest member has the most critically beautiful voice - it 'just' has beautiful timbre on the surface but dig deeper and it has the ability to change your life, sort of. Then we have the youngest girl and she reminds me and a lot of other people of my favorite Big Bang member - DAESUNG!!!! Mainly because I think she has an amazing voice that grabs your attention the minute you hear it - it will make you swoon. Like hell.

OK. So they have a new single - I Don't Care. When it first came out I was unimpressed and bored but when I saw the video last night, my jaw literally dropped to the floor. OK maybe it didn't but you get the point, right? Right. It just to happens that My favorite is the 'star' on this song with three solos that aren't the chorus. Oh dear. Of course Sandara's crappiness right after my favorite member's solo completely destroys the whole thing but I've learned to live with it - the song is near-epic. The melodic parts (even Dara's.) are surprisingly gorgeous from a band that brought us the annoying Lollipop and waste-of-time Fire but this is probably the only song on their mini album that makes that much of an impact. Bittersweet.

From what I quickly skimmed through and glanced at, SOS is Jordin Sparks' second single from Battlefield. Countless artists have coined SOS as a song title and the songs have been enjoyable at the very least but Jordin's is above enjoyable. Everything about this song says that I SHOULDN'T like it - that it's way too this or that for my taste but I LOVE IT. There are elements in the chorus that remind me of a bygone era - whether 70's or 80's I'm not sure but it's one of either. The verses are exactly my taste though - beautiful vocals and an insanely epic melody.

If I was to gauge how epic the song is I'd seriously give up before I succeed. The epic-ness of the whole thing spreads throughout the song but the instrumental break before the last chorus redefines the word epic. What makes it better is the fact that the more I listen to the song, the more I fall for it and the more brilliance I find. For lack of words to describe the brilliance of this song even further - just listen to the damn thing.
The rest of Battlefield is looking very, very amazing and the record as a whole including the songs I don't like sounds very cohesive so far. I honestly can't wait for it now - there's bound to be at least one more great song we can milk off the girl. YESSSS.


I adore the Sugababes - I honestly do but the minute they make a song wherein I only find three lines worth my time but aren't even that good, my adoration will slowly wane. I'm sorry to say but their new single is just that.

Ever since Get Sexy was released and all my fellow bloggers talked about what they thought of it on Twitter it seems like I'm seriously the only one who's disappointed to the point of angered by the song. The intro before they start singing is scary, when they start singing it's not exactly enjoyable, the disjointed chorus without a melody is indulgent in all the wrong ways and the only decent part is when Heidi sings like 2 or 3 lines - that's it.

The song doesn't sound effortless and it isn't epic so it's obviously not beautiful to me. It sounds disjointed, unmelodic and annoying - so un-like them.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jordin Sparks - Walking On Snow

There are songs that help me relax and clam nerves but there are songs that go the extra mile for me - they make me smile no matter how crappy I'm feeling. I don't come across those kinds of songs very often though and if I do some of those songs get way too overplayed and don't have the element that keeps me interested. I never expected Jordin Sparks to have a song that did that to me. Too bad though - she does.

The first time I heard Walking On Snow was back in February when a clip of an early version of it was released. I was slightly regretfully way too preoccupied with Paper Cut's brilliance (which I think I'll never be able to hear in full) but I thought Walking On Snow was amazing at the very least. Now that we have it in full (and in pretty decent quality..) though, it has really, truly blown me away.

The song's epic yet happy - it has the ability to make you think it's the most brilliant and amazing song in the world when it wants you to and then completely change your opinion to make you smile the other half of the time. The verses build up to epic-ness of the instrumentals and the happy-ish-ness of the melody during the chorus that makes you the good kind of confused as to what the song actually is. The middle 8, oh dear. It dignifies the phrase 'short but sweet' - those four lines seem so short yet are enough to leave you amazed.

The one thing I'm afraid of is the fact that after a few days or weeks or months there's a high possibility that it will lose its impact on me and only come back after I stop listening to it for months at a time. I honestly think that after a few days I won't be gushing over it anymore and it'll sound boring. For that reason, I won't give the song a perfect score.


Sunday, July 5, 2009


OK. So over the past few weeks I've been arranging a number of interviews with some amazingly promising indie artists who deserve major label deals RIGHT NOW. Some of them were brought to my attention by a PR firm I recently got access to but the guy I'm featuring today first e-mailed me to review his songs months back. If you remember, I wrote about him here.

The guy's a genius songwriter so I picked his brains a few hours ago and here's what conspired:

1. What made you want to do music at an age where a lot of kids/people are still struggling with their identities and finding out who they are?

I've always wanted to do music, I've always been doing music. It's just at this point I'm taking it to the next level.

2. As far as influences go, who are they and why are these people the ones you look up to or listen to?

Ryan Leslie is a genius in my eyes and highly underrated. I love Frankmusik, Sam Sparro, La Roux, Whitney Houston - my mum is a huge fan, so when I was young I'd be used to listening to a lot of I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Saving All My Love For You. Xenomania, Calvin Harris, Blake Lewis. Just a lot of pop music.

3. If you were given a major label deal right now, what would be your reaction, will you accept it and what will you do once you have it?

ATM, I'm not really looking for a record deal. I've signed a publishing deal with EMI so now I'm a professional writer and producer, but I'm holding off on the artist thing.

4. So I know kids like us can't do certain things when it comes to music or writing because of our age or because of school but what do you do to further yourself and your music? How important is getting your music out?

Extremely important. There's no point making it if it's not gonna get out there IMO. If you love what you do, I don't feel anything should really get in the way, because it's your dream, it's your life.

5. How do you react to criticism?

Better than I did a few years ago. Now I know there's a difference between constructive criticism and criticism on its own. Constructive would be, "You suck, but here's how you can improve". While criticism on its own is just basically "You suck."

6. What makes a good song for you? Do your songs have all those elements?

A good song TO ME, is a song that is catchy and non-filler. Something in which not only the chorus captures, but the melody, the verses, the instrumentation, everything. I think all my songs have those elements. I like making songs that are great, but will get annoying after, lol!

7. Is school important to you? As in even if you're given the chance to break the industry, will you still make time to finish studying?

I genuinely despise school, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I, ironically, don't believe in being taught music in school. Being told to play this, like this and like that, that's not music. Music is one of those things where you can only go where your heart takes you, not where your teacher takes you.

8. If it's the only choice, will you join a reality show to get into the industry? Why or why not?

I wouldn't. I reckon reality TV shortens the chances of the artist having a long and fruitful career, with a few exceptions (Leona Lewis, Kelly Clarkson). And plus the label makes them who they want them to be which isn't cool.

9. At the moment, what's the 'ultimate dream' so to say? What do you think you want to do for the rest of your life?

The ultimate dream...I would say being a musician for the rest of my life. Being a RESPECTED musician.

Find him online:

Top 20

Super Junior and Industry come in at 20 and 19 respectively while BoA's My Boy and Queensberry's Flow both debut in the next two spots. Natalie Bassingthwaighte's new single, Not For You debuts at number 16 while Girls Can't Catch rise one place to number 14. BSB and Jessica Mauboy both fall out of the top ten, finishing at 13 and 15 respectively. Agnes Carlsson is safely at 12 for another week while Kristinia DeBarge just narrowly misses the top 10, debuting at number 11.

Brit Nicole sinks 4 places to the number 10 spot but JoJo isn't doing any better - she's at number 9 this week. SNSD's Genie is slowly working it's way up, finishing at number 8 this week while Ju-Taun make an impressive 13-place leap from 20 to 7. BoA's Etude and Demi Lovato's Gift of a Friend rise to numbers 6 and 5 respectively. The debut of new songs from Ola and Big Bang at number three and two respectively push SNSD's Boyfriend down to number four but The Saturdays are still the queens of the chart this week - Unofficial stays at number one for the second week in a row.

The top 20 in full:

20. Industry - My Baby's Waiting
19. Super Junior - It's You
18. Queensberry - Flow
17. BoA - My Boy
16. Natalie Bassingthwaighte - Not For You
15. Jessica Mauboy - Do It Again
14. Girls Can't Catch - Keep Your Head Up
13. Backstreet Boys - Bye Bye Love
12. Agnes Carlsson - Release Me
11. Kristinia DeBarge - Future Love
10. Britt Nicole - The Lost Get Found
9. JoJo - 25 to Life
8. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
7. Ju-Taun - Let Me In
6. BoA - Etude
5. Demi Lovato - Gift of a Friend
4. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Boyfriend
3. Ola - Sky's The Limit
2. Big Bang - Gara Gara Go
1. The Saturdays - Unofficial (2 Weeks)

Friday, July 3, 2009

New Music!

A lot has been happening and I haven't had the time to properly digest everything since I got sick. I'm feeling a lot better now - better than yesterday but I'm stuck at home for the next three days.
  • For those of you who loved the severe pop-y-ness of BoA's Milky Way during the KPOP special and Etude - the song I featured a few days ago, there's another song in that category. My Boy is honestly like a mix between Milky Way AND Etude so do check it out.
  • So Kristinia DeBarge has covered Varsity Fanclub's Future Love. I was surprised, to say the least but I do love the version now - it's so, her. The girl is continuing to impress me as I hear more of her stuff - I just hope she gets some attention at the very least.
  • Since yesterday Leona Lewis songs have been leaking like crazy - three full songs and one clip but I haven't heard the first Ryan Tedder song that leaked (mainly because Mediafire is being a pain..). Perfect Stranger's not my type, Brave's nothing special but I Got U has the potential to blow me away. It hasn't done the job yet but I think once we get the whole song I'll start going crazy. The melody reminds me something songwriters here would give a band, surprisingly - let's see where the song will go.
  • OLA! I adore the guy - reminds me so much of a male Agnes Carlsson. Sky's The Limit is armed with lyrics that can make your cringe but don't because the song is just so pop-y that you don't mind. That's what I call pop music.
  • There's a new Brown Eyed Girls teaser out and even if they made a song with the most brilliant bridge ever, I'm not impressed. Will have to wait for the whole song, then.
  • Daughtry has covered Poker Face. Haven't heard it and I don't have any intentions to - unless someone tells me it's any good.
  • Whitney Houston has a new song out? Haven't heard it either but I think I'll give it a shot later - it's bound to be decent at the very least.
What to expect in the near future:
  • I've set up a few interviews with some indie artists so that should come through most probably in the next month or so. YAY!
  • Apparently it's new single season in Korea and US and UK artists are slowly leaking new stuff so that should keep me preoccupied.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

SNSD - Genie + Natalie Bassingthwaighte - Not For You (video)

The song is slowly gaining momentum as a single and is poised to be a gigantic hit over the next few weeks. When I first heard the song I wasn't impressed - it didn't make me tick but after a few more listens it suddenly seemed like the most brilliant thing since anything(which it's obviously not but close enough!).

A few days ago I said a few more listens and I'd get sick of it - that's partially true. The only reason why I bothered to even listen to the song again was because of alleged plagiarism. Everyone started freaking out when they found out that Genie sounds exactly the same as a Uzbekistani popstar's single a few months ago. Everything was cleared when SM Entertainment(the girls' talent company) said that they bought the exclusive rights to use the song however they wanted to and somehow the demo leaked and the popstar got it. So everything's fine in K-pop land. Here's the SNSD song and below that is the 'rip-off'.

So I got informed via Twitter that Natalie Bassingthwaighte - Australian pop queen (am I right to call her that?) has a new video out. For a song I absolutely adored the first time I heard it. Here's what I said back in February when I first reviewed the album:

Not For You sounds like something Everlife or Superchic[k] would sing for a Disney live-action movie soundtrack. I love every part of the song, these kinds of songs are usually the ones that I'll listen to a lot when I first get them, get sick of them and I'll forget about it for two months then when I'm so bored, I'll remember the song, listen to it and just smile at brilliance.

Did it happen? Hell yeah.

I came back from a miserable and painful doctor's appointment(Which is probably too graphic to describe.) to find what? THE EFFIN' VIDEO PREMIERE. I'm like - FREAKING OUTTTTT! I honestly predicted both of the girls' post-album singles. YAY.