Monday, September 28, 2009

I need a break. Seriously.

As many of you guys may already know, the strongest typhoon (you call it a hurricane in the West) in Philippine history hit Metro Manila last Saturday. I live in Metro Manila.

My immediate and extended family is OK, we're all safe and accounted for but close friends, classmates, teachers and family friends of mine are not. A lot of them got hit really badly by the storm and even 3 days later parts of the Metro are still flooded - there's no way out.

Even if I wasn't hit, I'm in a pretty bad state right now just thinking about what a lot of people I know have been through. If I was just in bad shape I wouldn't stop blogging because it's therapy. So why am I taking a break?

I feel bad. I feel bad that while people I know and care about are suffering, I'm sitting here in front of my computer and bashing some crappy artist or trying to be emotionally stable. To me it's as a sign on respect to the people still stuck on top of their houses with no clothes, food and common necessities.

To be completely honest, blogging is a luxury - it's a privilege. I simply can't avail of this while the rest of the Philippines is in complete disarray, even if it makes me happy. I'm not supposed to be happy, this damn typhoon has even KILLED people I know. It's not right.

So if you guys will let me, I'd like to take a step back from blogging for a week or so until my country gets sorted out. I just can't do this.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Top 20

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! But let's get to business. Super Junior M weren't supposed to take the top spot for this week (DBSK were.) BUT then something called the KOREAN version of the song came along and dammit, it made me hallucinate again. 3 new entires this week and one re-entry. Enjoy! hahah.

20. The Saturdays - Unofficial
19. Britt Nicole - Like A Star
18. G-Dragon - Breathe (RE)
17. Industry - Burn
16. Jewelry - Vari2ty
15. Britt Nicole - Have Your Way
14. BSB - This Is Us
13. JoJo - Keep Forgetting (To Forget About You) (NE)
12. JLS - Everybody In Love
11. Jordin Sparks - No Parade
10. CSJH - Girlfriend (NE)
9. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
8. f(x) - Lachata
7. Super Junior - It's You
6. Pixie Lott - Gravity
5. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Rising Sun (NE)
4. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
3. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~
2. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Love In The Ice
1. Super Junior M - Super Girl (2 Weeks)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Two new and horrid Korean 'Idol' groups..

Now's the time for me to introduce you guys to the HORRID and SCARILY CRAPPY side of K-pop, in my humble opinion. Please be advised that you are about to hear two singles that are this close to being as bad as the Eoghan Quigg album - don't say I didn't warn you.

Idol groups in Korea are what we call vocal groups in the West - same thing. I'm not being hard on these bands just because they aren't from the 'Holy Trinity' of talent companies (SM - DBSK/Super Junior/SNSD/SHINee/f(x)/BoA, YG - Big Bang/Se7en/2NE1 and JYP - Wonder Girls/2PM/2AM/Previously Rain) but because they really suck. Heck, if SM released something like this I'd explode like how I am right now.
I've known about SHU-I for a while now and I believe they're under DSP Entertainment (I forgot where I saw it and I haven't seen any more info on them so correct me if I'm wrong.) - the makers of SS501, Kara and the crappy A'ST1 who came and disappeared.

Let's talk about the name first. SHU-I apparently stands for 'So Hot Union of Idols'. Now I understand that they're trying to be cool so they wanna be 'hot' but really guys, SHU-I is not a good name and it will never be. Big Bang, 2PM, Dong Bang Shin Ki and Super Junior are good names but SHU-I?!?! Do they sell shoes on the side or what?

The song isn't any better. They're trying way too hard to be G-Dragon solo + Big Bang but end up sounding like SS501 and Super Junior's bad points put together. And the vocals. I know they'll never be in the league of gorgeous voices like Jaejoong DBSK, Daesung Big Bang, Donghae Super Junior, Key SHINee or Wooyoung 2PM but they could at least try to sound like Yunho DBSK or the rest of Big Bang who have respectable voices!

The treatment of the vocals doesn't do them any favors either. You don't know if the auto tune during the verses was supposed to be 'not auto tuned but autotuned' or 'AUTO TUNED' because it's not obvious enough to be AUTOTUNED but it's not well done enough to not be called 'on purpose'. That is what I call bad production. Their talent company must be poor or they must not think they're any good - which they aren't. Obviously.

Now onto the laughing stock of me and my friends - HAM. There are way too many things wrong with this band - let's go over them one by one.
Before anyone knew what kind of music they were gonna give us, the first thing we heard was their name. And once again, names make a big impression - HAM is probably a gabillion (gazillion + billion? hahah.) times worse than SHU-I albeit easier to pronounce and type. Seriously, WHO'D NAME A GIRLGROUP AFTER FOOD? That's a crime to society.

Now the first time I watched their performance was very traumatic. Hahah. Hearing the first verse I was like "OK, these girls are rock, eh?" but then out of nowhere this SNSD-ish chorus pops out and a little while later their choreography is similar to the Brown Eyed Girls' Abracadabra. What the crap? The individual elements of this song are already crappy as it is but really, whoever composed this song shout be shot. It's confused, crappy and either these girls really can't sing or the song doesn't match their voices. It's a debut single - it's supposed to show us that these girls have talent and/or potential. You give them a song with absolutely no thought process and they're ruined. Listeners aren't as stupid as these stupid talent companies think we are.

The vocals. Oh dear. These girls CANNOT sing together live - they just can't. Everything's a disaster and their voices sound so resonant my ear drums are begging me to put on some CSJH to diffuse all this crappy-ness. Once these girls stop screaming and get some more badly needed professional lessons (they trained, right? or is their talent company too poor to pay for vocal lessons?) they should really start working on singing together. No really, what kind of girl group can't sing together?

Well there you have it. I hope your ears are still alive because mine are on the verge of giving up - gotta go listen to some DBSK now to ease the pain.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A (little) announcement/celebratory post.

THIS BLOG IS A FINALIST FOR THE 2009 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS. Not just a nominee anymore - A FINALIST. You guys don't know how damn excited and honored I am.

I've said a million times that in my entire life, I have never won a single big thing by myself and that the Palanca awards meant the world to me but you know what, this blog awards thing seems bigger than what my Palanca dreams will ever be. I love blogging, I do it without fear or insecurity so to be recognized for something I love doing by peers who know what they're talking about makes this even sweeter.

Then there's the fact that I'm just a few days to 15 years old while some of the other finalists have been alive and blogging for longer than I have but there I am - right beside them. Whether I win or not, just being put with people a heck of a lot older than me is an honor in itself and makes me feel like I actually am somewhat good at this blogging thing.

The complete list of nominees is here:

This has just made my birthday the best one ever. My 15th birthday will be brilliant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rant: Why Miming is such a big issue for me.

Put aside the Sugababes issue for a moment - there's something I have to talk about.

In the UK, lip-syncing is something artists do because of the lack of equipment to sing live. When you go on GMTV performances are ALWAYS mimed because the TV studio doesn't have the right mics and stuff to let them sing 100% live. That's understandable - but not completely. I mean, these guys know there's a ton of singers killing to get on the show and they STILL don't get the equipment to accommodate them? Annoying.

However that situation isn't as bad as the one in Korea. In K-pop, artists lip-sync because of 'complicated dance routines'. Yeah, sure no human can do some of those routines while singing but hello people - THIS IS A MUSIC INDUSTRY, NOT A DANCE INDUSTRY. These guys are famous because they sing, not because they dance and their talent companies should start understanding that.

The minute you mime that means you can't perform that song while doing that dance routine. I mean yeah, dance is an art but music should always, ALWAYS be the focus - it's a song and it should be above the rest. Performing that song means singing it well first before dancing 'brilliantly' to it, these people should know that. It's disrespect to talent and music to not put it above the rest. Dammit.

The equipment is there - there are other artists who sing 100% live on these music shows so why couldn't bands like DBSK and SuJu do it before? You look for live performances of Rising Sun or even O and the only ones you'll find are mimed. If I wanted to see them dance and hear the recorded song, why would I watch the 'live' performances when there are music videos with carefully thought-of camera angles and perfect dance routines? It's practically the same thing.

The point of a live performance is to show us the artists' over-all performing skills without studio tricks and take 2s. They have one shot to get the damn routine and song right and the mistakes will prove to us that they're actually people - they make mistakes. If they don't actually sing, how are we supposed to be sure that their recordings are actually them and that they can actually sing?

Yeah, sure they sound great on recordings but those have been recorded over and over again before being put through processing, mixing, mastering and all sorts of effects to make them better than they actually are. Live performances show us how much of those recorded tracks are actually them and how much processing was put into their vocals.

Just had to let that out after not finding a single performance of DBSK's Rising Sun in Korean that's 100% live AND has all five members. So annoying. Below is a performance THREE YEARS LATER and it's STILL MIMED.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Top 20

Three new entries this week and they're all from boybands! The number one spot goes to Super Junior M's Super Girl!! Sorry f(x), Super Junior M has given me a reason to live and Lachata is so 3 weeks ago.

20. BSB - Don't Try This At Home
19. Jewelry - Vari2ty
18. The Saturdays - Forever is Over
17. SM Town Winter 2007 - Only Love
16. BSB - This Is Us
15. The Saturdays - Unofficial
14. JLS - Everybody In Love (NE)
13. Glee Cast - Don't Stop Believing
12. Industry - Burn
11. Britt Nicole - Like A Star
10. Jordin Sparks - No Parade
9. Britt Nicole - Have Your Way
8. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
7. f(x) - Lachata
6. Pixie Lott - Gravity
5. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Love In The Ice (NE)
4. Super Junior - It's You
3. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
2. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~
1. Super Junior M - Super Girl (NE, 1 Week)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

DBSK - Rising Sun

If you like your fill of BSB, NSYNC, Westlife, Blue and 98 Degrees you might want to read on.
For the longest time, my impression of DBSK was the Asian, dancing version of Westlife - the number of members hits left and right with the longevity of legends. Musically though I thought they had nothing in common with big British boybands come and gone, specifically Blue and Westlife. They seemed way too K-pop-y for me to say that they were like WL, Blue or BSB. However when I finally got a hold of their Korean discography, the only songs I was listening to were the ones I'd heard previously - I only got those albums for certain songs.

Out of curiosity and lack of a better choice to listen to while I was out a while ago, I put on DBSK's sophomore album, Rising Sun. What I heard shocked me and gave me a blast of enlightenment.

Just by listening to the first damn song of the album I came to a conclusion - they're more like Westlife and Blue than I originally thought they were. In fact, they're really like a cross between the two. They have the amount of hits and possible longevity that Westlife have always have but their early albums were like a cross between Blue and BSB. What they've become now is a lot more logical than what those two Western bands have.

In simple words, DBSK right now are what Blue could've and Westlife should've been at this point of their careers. Yes, I'm a Westlife fan first and foremost and I dedicated over two years of my life entirely to following their every move but if something's not right I will criticize - they're not perfect and they never will be. Westlife were really close to getting their music to where DBSK's is right now - Turnaround was solid proof that they could do something other than ballads and (damn good but still too early 2000's-ish) Savan Kotecha songs. But NO, the following year we got a Rat-pack album and it was ballads all the way for them.

You listen to this album and then you listen to Mirotic (released 3 years later) - that's exactly where Westlife should be right now. Heck, even slave-driving Lee Soo Man gives the guys freedom to write their own songs that get on their damn albums! What does a band who's sold over 50 Million albums and has FOURTEEN UK number one singles get? Simon Cowell choosing the lamest, corniest and most boring ballads ever, not letting them write their own songs for fear of not earning any money and Louis Walsh sucking up to him because he wants more money and airtime on The X Factor AND ignoring them because his beloved JLS had a number one single and suddenly they're his first priority. No harsh feelings towards JLS though - love their songs.

What still stumps me though is how they could have these Western boyband song-sounding stuff AND K-pop signatures in the same album, promote the unmistakably K-pop ones and still have a cohesive record that sounds good right now. That's one question I still can't answer.

Because I've already said way too much, I won't go through all the tracks - the stuff here are the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ones on the album.

Rising Sun is one of those distinctly K-pop songs to my ears. The emphasis on dance, rap and the way the song was put together say it's most probably Korean. It's also very, very different from the previous two songs arrangement wise - everything's big, epic and processed. The melody during the parts where there actually is one (when I first heard this song I was put off by the amount of rap parts, long instrumental intro and strange dance break but I'll get to that later.) are very good - I'd love to hear them re-arrange this with a much simpler backing track. The dance break is strange and a complete opposite of the song itself - sounds like a cross between Indian and stereotypical island-y and it has rap and a bit of singing. However, the hook is infectious and the instrumental epic enough to sound like the world domination song it was.

Love Is All I Need was the song that made me curious about the rest of the album because it sounds so much like a 98 Degrees song mixed with bits NSYNC's Music of My Heart sung in Korean. SERIOUSLY! The treatment/production of this song is so American boyband as well - the instrumental at the start with the synths and sparkly stuff, how they mixed and mastered the vocals to make it sound like a lot of voices together not one voice on lead and the rest following like they do now and the break down towards the end. Also the fact that the chorus doesn't have all these high notes is very boyband-y because I know some boybands did that because they can't sing but I highly doubt that's the case with DBSK. See for yourself below:

Beautiful Life sounds generic at the start but it got to the bridge and I was like Why does this sound like a BSB song?. Once the chorus hit I was jumping up and down - it does really sound like an American boyband song. It was when I listened to this song that I was convinced they actually qualify success and music-wise to be the gigantic early 2000's boyband representative of Asia. The actual song in the video below starts at about 1:33 and the first part is this strange gimmick - skip that and go straight to the song.

Tonight was the reason I got this album in the first place - it just screams brilliance. The song is purely to show off these guy's voices and ranges and nothing else but it's a very good thing, actually. The whistle (c/o damn brilliant voiced Jaejoong) and infinite ad-libs with high notes being thrown out left and right towards the end are gigantic giveaways. The melody has a certain level of difficulty and the notes aren't for your average guy because dammit - you have Junsu whose voice sounds the same singing high and mid-range notes then you have Jaejoong who just hits those high notes like they're nothing. But of course you have Changmin who's the official scream-er in the band just literally screaming his head off. Good song.

One of the other reasons why I call DBSK the Westlife of Asia is because of their impeccable to the point of brilliant a capella work. Always There is an example of one of their hands-down most brilliant a capella work ever. There's a ton of live clips floating around YouTube but this recorded version is just jaw-dropping - it will really leave you speechless. I do wish they'd get rid of that snapping though and show me just how good they are with tempo because that's one of the main points of a capella work - not depending on instruments other than your voice to sing together and apart!

The rest of the album is good but these songs are, in my humble opinion, the reasons why DBSK deserve to be the early 2000's boyband representative of Asia and why they're so damn good at what they do.

No sum-up because I didn't feature all the songs or even half the album. As a whole, 4.6/5 but if I were to score these songs alone, it would be a 4.999999999/5!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another side of the story

How I manage to blog amidst all this schoolwork still baffles even me.

I always passionately voice out my hatred for the always LATE and IGNORANT Philippine music industry but I thought it would be nice to present the side of our country's 'Premiere music channel' - Myx. I had a coincidental Twitter conversation with someone from the channel and needless to say, it was interesting at the very least.

I've been doing these Twitter-centered posts a lot recently - I don't know why.

The one I conversed with was nice and I get their side but that still doesn't change my stand. It's one I will always, always believe in and no offense but no one can completely change that because it's mine.

Myx: also in the myx daily top ten today: SJ has a new entry while JB is back!
Me: NEW ENTRY? A SUPER JUNIOR SONG THAT'S MONTHS OLD IS NOT NEW. UG RT @MYXphilippines also in the myx daily top ten today: SJ has a new entry..
Myx: it's new in the countdown, not our fault if the fans are voting for it just now
Me: And it's the record companies and fans who don't do their research who I blame. My dad's a record producer(eheads) , hahah.
Me (again): Pwede ba, I know my stuff - don't treat me like I know nothing. I'm not an ignorant, hit in the US-centric listener because I DO MY RESEARCH (Trans: Please)
Myx: sorry, must have caught you in a bad mood
Me: Yes, you have in fact have. Because of stupid record companies & because of school. I'm not a pleasant person when I'm mad.
Myx: but we never said anything about you not doing research though
Me: It's just a frustration I have in life, how a ton of people like someone but don't know a thing about them musically.
Myx: not arguing here, but some fans don't have the same resources. it's up to the enlighted ones like you to share what you know.
Me: Exactly why I have a music blog! But seriously, even the ones with resources don't know how. Like a lot of my schoolmates.
Myx: oh well, fans have different reasons for being "fans". good luck on your solo! hello to sir robin :)

They're nice, look what they said when I asked if I could publish this!

Me: Say, can I re-publish our 'conversation' on my blog sometime this week? I just got a blast of enlightenment.
Myx: it's your blog. you can write anything. will it be bad?
Me: OK. No - not at all! Just a sign of courtesy, some people don't like stuff re-published. But thanks anyway!
Myx: send us the link when it's already online

So there you go - a view from the other side of the equation. It was enlightening - seriously.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Super Junior M - Super Girl

As you all know, I live for a good pop song. It's not something serious, formally educated musicians around me will call 'good' but it's a guilty pleasure and something to help me learn musical elements (hahah.).

A good/outstanding pop song for me has an immensely catchy hook, an easy to pick up melody and repetitive elements but must be well-executed. The vocals outstanding, instrumental strong and arrangement tight - you don't find these kinds of songs every day. Most of the time they're pathetic attempts to create a hit or lazy, uncreative and recycled versions of good pop songs passed. If you're gonna take influences from something, you better take them creatively.(to people who know who SuJu M are, you can skip this part as it's just an intro the the group.) Which brings me to this song by Super Junior M. You've heard about Super Junior and how they're so big it took me nearly 4 months to memorize all their names and put them to face but they're also so big that their talent company split them up into what we call 'sub-groups'. Super Junior M is the sub-group for China - they, along with two Chinese members release material in Mandarin. As far as I know this is their first original China-only release because their previous singles were Chinese versions of Super Junior's Korean hits. Correct me if I'm wrong.

It's in Chinese. Yes. But I don't care - IT'S A SONG and IT'S DAMN GOOD.

In line with Sorry Sorry, Super Junior's Korean hit earlier this year, Super Girl is extremely catchy and insanely addictive - don't say I didn't warn you. There are a lot of techno/Eurocrap elements in the instrumental and although I hear a cheap loop somewhere there, it's almost completely covered up by the rest of the instrumental and the insanely addicted 'Oh Oh' 's throughout the song.

Now I said a good pop song must have a tight arrangement - this is what I'm talking about. The sections smoothly and cohesively transition from one to the other and there's practically no dead air throughout the song. The vocals are just - WOW. Donghae (the guy who starts the second verse) and Kyuhyun's (the guy who sings second in the first verse) voices are literally God's gifts to Super Junior.

An optional characteristic of a good pop song - it should sound extremely good at high volume(s). If you're gonna play it at parties or in public places it's got to be loud for a big space to hear it. So if it sounds even better REALLY LOUD then that's a plus point!

Actually, the tempo of the melody isn't that fast but the Eurocrap loop at the back makes it SEEM fast-paced. I always say that I hate songs with generic Eurocrap loops but that's because they weren't used properly - they were just slapped onto some random melody with absolutely no though process involved. Like anything else, if you correctly and creatively use something that almost always sounds cheap it will sound good and work wonders.

I'd hate to say this after all his slave-driving and the lawsuit with DBSK but what the heck - LEE SOO MAN CAN DAMN WELL WRITE/CHOOSE A POP SONG.

Listen to the song - IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Hahah. Possibly.
15/5!!!!! for being a heck of a lot better than some of the other songs I gave 5/5s to.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Top 20

Well, well. f(x) have sustained my attention and adoration for another week - will Genie get to number one next week, or will another song zoom right in and take the top spot? OR will f(x) claim a third week at the top? Do you guesswork all this week because even I don't know!

For now, check out this week's chart with new entries from the Glee cast (Watched the pilot months back and LOVED it. Now that it's back - I'm obsessed.), DBSK and . YAY.

20. BSB - This Is Us (NE)
19. Jewelry - Vari2ty
18. SM Town Winter 2007 - Only Love
17. Taio Cruz - Break Your Heart
16. The Saturdays - Forever is Over
15. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - How Did I Fall In Love With You?
14. Britt Nicole - Like A Star
13. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - The Way You Are (NE)
12. BSB - Don't Try This At Home
11. The Saturdays - Unofficial
10. Jordin Sparks - No Parade
9. Industry - Burn
8. Glee Cast - Don't Stop Believing (NE)
7. Britt Nicole - Have Your Way
6. Pixie Lott - Gravity (NE)
5. Super Junior - It's You
4. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
3. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~
2. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
1. f(x) - Lachata (2 Weeks)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pixie Lott - Turn It Up Post-review notes

It's been almost half a day since my first listen/review of Pixie's album and after listening to it again a couple of times, I have a few changes of opinion on the album as a whole. My reviews of the songs as songs stand as they are.
  • The even-ness of the quality of songs doesn't seem like a very good thing anymore. The album doesn't work like a story - there's practically no climax and they're all at the same level. As a whole Turn It Up doesn't take me through a story of some sort.
  • However, her vocals are still top-quality. The girl can sing damn well but I don't know - for some reason it's JUST the vocals that carry the album. If you give the songs to someone else some of them would sound dated or just not right. And I personally think that pop music is meant to be re-done - people generations after should be able to sing a good pop song during their time and not have it sound strange. But right now, I think Pixie gets the vintage and pop sides of her music.
  • Come to think of it, what Ken said in his review of the album is to a certain extent right (for me) - the album isn't as cohesive as it can be. Yeah sure, the individual songs are good as they are and some of them really link but after a few more listens it does sound a bit disjointed.
For any other notes I may have in the near future, CHECK MY TWITTER ACCOUNT.

Pixie Lott - Turn It Up

So it's NOT coming tomorrow morning - I spent an hour tonight writing this and I'm way too excited! hahah.Note: I'm trying a different approach in my review this time - during my first listen I review the song(s) as is. Second thoughts are reserved for my tweets or a compilation of post-review notes.

I first come to know Pixie Lott as a pop singer late last year (as in a day before new year's eve, I think) before most people knew of her existence but then I realized that I knew her long before I heard her recordings. She was the girl who lost out to the lead role on the brilliant flop of a show that was Britannia High last year and was heavily featured during the behind the scenes episodes but overshadowed by the girl who eventually got the part (she's got a brilliant voice as well). In a way I'm thankful she got rejected because now we have a young Brit pop singer with one (possibly 2) number one singles and a brilliant album!

Pixie Lott is one of those young girl pop singers and to me she's one of the better ones. Yes, her voice is 'soulful', full and mature for her age if you listen without properly thinking but the minute you pay close attention, you hear that juvenile side of her voice - it's not as full and mature as it can be because she's still 18.

Like JoJo and Christina, Pixie's now mature voice will mature even more - it will get more control, fullness and she'll learn how to use it the right way. At the moment she's still a bit confused but it's natural - the start of Band Aid is a bit too airy, give her two years and that song will sound brilliant.

One word of advice when listening to the album - in my opinion the entire thing is best listened to at near-max volume in damn good CD quality to properly hear all the loops and jumping through hoops and fire which means one, you have to get a good copy and two, GET GOOD AUDIO! No equalizers, everything set at normal and DAMN GOOD SOUNDING AUDIO. The album's brilliance is lost when you listen to it at bad quality to start with, on a horridly pitiful sound system/pair of earphones.

The album opens with Mama Do - the tap your feet, clap your hands song. It's catchy - it has the ability to stick on a mind and not go away but it's not annoying. It's a good introduction to Pixie Lott - representative of her vocals, image and musical direction.

Cry Me Out is sweet - sounds like a nice summer day. The chorus is gorgeous - the perfectly executed high notes in the melody make the song REALLY EPIC yet relaxed but then the drums and xylophone/bells in the background keep the air of sweetness. The middle 8 made me faint from the first listen - if this song is the only good one on the album I wouldn't be annoyed because DAMMIT it's good. Sounds like something straight out of the 40's/50's/60's, in a great way.

I talked of Band Aid a while ago and how the verses are vocally airy and immature but that's the appeal of the song - it sounds like the ending theme song for a Disney princess movie/chick flick. The melody is gorgeous and the middle 8 equals the one in Cry Me Out for a different reason - the island-y feel of the arrangement by the part just before the last set of choruses. It's a nice touch but doesn't seem out of place - the end repeats that feel and it's like, really cool.

May I just say how much I love the transition from Band Aid to Turn it Up? Hahah. It's literally cohesive.

Turn It Up (The Fall when I first heard it) was the very first Pixie Lott song I heard - it was the song that made me fall at this girl's feet. The pop-y-ness of the song makes me want to explode, the melody drives me insane to the point of no return and the middle 8 just kills me every single time. Hearing this song after what seems like (most likely it isn't) months of not hearing this makes me remember the very first time I heard it and how all I wanted to do after was write about the girl and get everyone's attention. It's one of those songs that have become my musical time stamps - takes me back to the very end of 2008 and beginning of 2009.

Boys and Girls has that big band twist and yet it still sounds like the modern pop song that it is. The computerized drums, almost monotonous chorus and heavily processed but not severely auto-tuned vocals compliment the trumpet parts and echoes throughout the song. That and the middle 8 sounds like the most brilliant thing ever. Dammit Pixie, WHY? How many good songs can you make in one album?

Gravity sounds like something by Ryan Tedder (if I'm right, tell me - that was a smart guess) and it sounds like the polar opposite of Boys and Girls. Pixie's vocals are processed at a lot of parts, the piano part + fake drum part is the focal point of the instrumental, the melody is melodic (redundant, I know but I can't find another term!) and we even get violins during the middle 8 which is not bad but could be better. It's one of those vocal show-off songs when sung live without all the processing. I wonder how this'll sound with a live band - brilliant, I hope.

At first listen, My Love is like a cross between Mama Do and Gravity - the instrumental sounds like it could fit the melody of Mama Do and the melody is flowy, show-off-y and gorgeous. But the chorus sounds like it's in a league of it's own when it comes to epic-ness and the verses sound funkily R&B-ish. This girl sure knows how to choose songs.

Jack sounds like it's straight of a Sara Bareilles album - the piano, drum beat, gimmick-y lyrics all attribute to the appeal of the song. ALTHOUGH, the last few lines of the chorus when the string section comes in sounds SO BRILLIANT. It's not something I'll jump off a really tall building for but it's a good song and a nice listen. Recommended for the Sara Bareilles fans.

Nothing Compares is the definitive ballad and it's not the stereotypical one - the melody during the verses isn't completely overshadowed by the epic chorus because it's got it's own flair and the song doesn't live entirely for the chorus. The middle 8 is so-so, not my type. The chorus is gigantic and epic in every way imaginable but what makes this song a lot different from all the other ballads these days is that it just ends - after the last chorus it's done. No instrumentals and extra ad-libs (which are good sometimes but not every time).

We've pretty much all heard Here We Go Again but it sounds so much better in retail CD quality. I will say nothing more.

The Way The World Works is the required 'encouraging mid-tempo verging on ballad'. The verses remind me a lot of Man In The Mirror (but it doesn't sound like it, really) mixed with John Meyer's Waiting On The World To Change and the chorus is just - WOW. Pixie's brilliant middle 8 tally is now up to 5 because the one on this one is DAMN GOOD. It keeps the song going and I like middle 8's that do that. The album ends with Hold Me In Your Arms - an R&B-esque number that now sounds like the closing theme song for a sweet love story movie. Am I right? Am I? hahah. The vocals show that she has the potential to get control without softening her voice but for now it's not sounding that mature yet. hahah.

This is how cohesive this album is - at first listen I like all the songs on the same level for different reasons that I don't have just one 'YOU WILL DIE HEARING THIS' song. Each one is different but once again, each is the same - this girl knows how to make a cohesive album.

So, to sum up the album:
Best Track: It's between Gravity and Turn It Up
Better Tracks: Everything else
My Least Favorite Track: NONE OF THEM.
THE RATING: 5/5 Have I been way too nice with album ratings recently?


Oh dear. Oh dear. *HYPERVENTILATES*
Review to come tomorrow morning (Philippine time) - give me time to write everything down!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sugababes - About A Girl

I still haven't given in to Get Sexy and I highly doubt I ever will but this new song is giving me a tiny bit of hope that the girls still know what singing a melody means. However, I still have a ton of complaints about this song - there's no escaping my wrath, really.I've said time and time again (most recently on the Pop Panel) that I cannot stand generic and cheap dance/Eurocrap loops. I don't care if the melody is great and the arrangement is not bad - FOR CRAP'S SAKE WILL YOU PEOPLE GET SOME ORIGINALITY?! If I hear another cheap trance loop from some God forsaken European producer in Germany or Belgium whatever on a pop song I'm going to explode. There are a ton of other loops in the world and some of them are actually good, why stick with the cheap ones?

Sure, they sell *ahem* Lady Gaga *ahem* but there's more to music than selling. (I better stop here before I start ranting about the industry again.)

The melody at first listen is nothing special - when I first heard it I only liked the start before the verses started (and there's hardly any melody there) and hated the bridge with a passion. Now that I listen to it more though, it's a lot better than I thought it was. The breakdown during middle 8 is hands-down the best part of the song, they lost the annoying loop for a few seconds and the melody is remotely brilliant.

I forgot who but I think it was Paul who said this - Get Sexy only sounds good played real loud in a club. Add About a Girl to that statement and I'll agree 100%.

Honestly, I don't like the direction the Sugababes are going - it's genericly European and it's been done too much before and now. For crap's sake, I miss About You Now!
2.7/5 At least it's better than the Cheryl Cole single! hahah.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rant: Thoughts on Jaebeom's Quitting 2PM - Twitter style.

Since I'm way too lazy to rewrite what I think and everyone who's anyone has written this really long opinion on the matter - here's what I said on Twitter all of tonight for your convenience and amusement.My own tweets starting at around 6:40 PM-ish.
2. I'm deeply sorry for cursing but f***** HELL. WHY JAEBOM? WHY? I'm not an avid 2PM fan but seriously, fans are taking this WAY TOO FAR.
3. About 80% of the time (all over the world), if one member leaves pop band - it's over for everyone. Will 2PM be Westlife or the Spice Girls?
4. Once again - holy crap. JAEBOM LEFT 2PM. I hate to think about this but as I said, once one member leaves, it's downhill all the way.

Some conversations with K-pop fan friends:

The first conversation - with a school friend. This is in my native tongue so translations of the italicized parts follow for those who can't understand. hahah.
Friend 1: whyyyy jaebum whyyyy?? DDDD:
Me: Yun nga eh. Nagmura nga ako dita kanina eh! hahah. (translation: Exactly. I was even cursing here a while ago!)
Friend 1: nakakainis. srsly, minsan lang 'to pero naiyak ako konti! iba na kasi eh -_- (Trans: Annoying. Seriously, this doesn't happen very often but I feel like crying a bit! It's different now.)
Me: AS IN. Super lapit ko na talagang umiyak nung nabasa ko. This is taking a mistake in the past WAY TOO FAR - suicide petition? (AS IN. I was literally on the verge of crying when I read it. And you can understand the rest.. hahah.)
Friend 1: gawin natin suicide petition sa antis T^T (Trans: Let's make a suicide petition for the antis)
Me: TARA! OO nga - I tried understanding their depression when they start dating pero talagang DISRESPECT na 'to. (COME ON! Yeah - [start again after dating] but this is really DISRESPECT now.)
Friend 1: SOOBRAAAA> grabe eh. :| nakakainis, mas nanankit sila ng ibang tao eh (REALLYYYY. It's so annoying - they start hurting other people in the process.)
Me: OO nga eh. I understand that they have their own opinions and all pero exactly - nananakit sila at naninira ng pangarap. DEEP (Yeah. I understand that they have their own opinions but exactly - they're hurting people and destroying dreams.)
Friend 1: tama~! grabe na eh -_- ang babaw ng problema tsaka ang bata pa ni jay nun eh :| (RIGHT. It's really bad - the problem's really shallow and he was really young then.)

Then in the middle of the conversation above - I got into another one. This was in English. hahah.
Friend 2: OMG. I can't believe this. I just got back home too ><>.<>.<>.<
Me: I have to read this insanely deep Filipino novel! It's so annoying.

The third one with another school friend.
Friend 3: fck sht jaebooooooooooooom :(((((((((((
Me: *cries* JOIN THE CLUB.
Friend 3: :(((((((((((((((
Me: KAINIIIIIIIIIIIIIS. (Trans: Annoying.)

There you have it. hahah.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The new Cheryl Cole single? zzzzzzzzzzzz.

In lieu of new pop masterpieces from GA this year, we get some new stuff from Cheryl Cole.

What's the song like in one word? GENERIC. Or BORING.

We've heard this all before - the cheesy-ish 'R&B' influenced melody with the generic, uncreative instrumental and arrangement that goes with it. Her vocals aren't any better - give me solo stuff from Nicola and I'd prefer that the world over.

This song is like the Eurocrap with the cheesy, cheap, generic dance loop of the US. Can we please get something different for once?

Taking originality out of consideration though, the melody is competent. It's nothing new or special but it's there and with a little tweaking here and there can be remotely good.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Top 20

20. The Saturdays - Unofficial
19. G-Dragon - Breathe
18. Jesse McCartney - Crash and Burn
17. Super Junior - It's You
16. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~ (NE)
15. Super Junior - Carnival
14. Jordin Sparks - No Parade
13. SM Town Winter 2007 - Only Love
12. The Saturdays - Forever is Over
11. Jewelry - Vari2ty
10. Namie Amuro - Girl Talk (RE)
9. Industry - Burn
8. Taio Cruz - Break Your Heart (NE)
7. Britt Nicole - Like A Star
6. Britt Nicole - Have Your Way
5. BSB - Don't Try This At Home (NE)
4. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
3. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - How Did I Fall In Love With You? (NE)
2. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
1. f(x) - Lachata (NE, 1 Week)

UPDATED 9/6/09: Super Junior - Sorry, Sorry

(the edit on September 6, 2009 is at the end of the post.)

I haven't reviewed any full-length albums since I started the special so now's the time to start, I think - with this album in particular.I'm starting to really, really like this boy band not just because of the songs(although that's the main reason) but because of the choice of members. All over the Korean pop circles, I've seen people complain about the fat guy in Super Junior. I wouldn't call him fat, chubby maybe and I actually like the fact that he's there and isn't a marginalized member which is easy to become because of how big the band is. He gives the band a new dimension for me and proves to everyone in other countries killing themselves to get thin just so they can do what they want to do that you don't have turn into what the industry dictates you to be. Of course you'll get a lot of slack from it like I said but at the end of the day, Super Junior has had two number one albums and has sold over half a million records in Korea alone over the span of three albums - people learn to accept him.

I honestly really, really respect this boy band for that. Heck, they even make me feel a bit better about myself.

I'm really, really relieved that I found a few insanely brilliant Korean songs without rap parts - it makes this special even better. When I first heard Sorry, Sorry it was live without the processing and everything else a recorded song has and I wasn't impressed at all, I thought 2PM's Again and Again was better. So a few days passed and I couldn't get the hook out of my mind - 'Sorry, sorry, sorry' was threatening to take over my brain. So I dug up the video, listened to the whole song and by the end of it my jaw dropped open - it was more amazing than I first thought it was. The chorus/hook is monotonous and repetitive, I think that's what makes it stick in your mind. The words are repeated three or four times to a chorus that only has one note and the melody is only varied a bit during the second verse - it's main mission in life(excuse the pun) is to annoy an amaze us. I'm not a gigantic fan of songs like this but as I always say, if it's done the right way and becomes a convincing package of a song - it has the potential to blow me away.
The next track, Why I Like You is as brilliant if not better than Sorry, Sorry. I can't really clearly compare it to a certain song but it sounds remotely like Moments that Matter mixed with the seriousness of Battlefield, the smoothness of Alesha Dixon's Colors of the Rainbow and a heap of the unmistakability of Korean pop - I could be wrong though. Again, what wins on this song is the chorus, you can't get it out of your mind but the most gorgeous and musically strong part are the verses. The verses are everything you could ever ask for, the instrumentals are subdued and they really let the melody get noticed. They. Will. Blow. You. Away.

Let's Not.. is a sweet ballad but like all the other sub-par ballads I've heard over the past few weeks, it's a little resonant on my ears. It's not as bad as some other songs and the melody is nice but I have my favorite Kpop ballad that set my standards really high - this is nothing like it. There are some good parts though. Angela is a bit perkier and it sounds like something that could easily fit into a Korean drama - it's happy but held back. The melody though is insane - it sounds so much like something a Western boyband could sing but it's so effin' Korean that the idea becomes impossible. These are the songs that I learn a lot about Kpop from and that I'm happy to hear because not only do I find out what Kpop is, it means that they know who they are musically and aren't afraid to show it. That's something my country doesn't do very often.

Reset is Usher-like at the start, that loop reminds me a heck of a lot of the guy. When the melody starts though, it turns into a completely different song. The verses are effortlessly gorgeous and the chorus turns Reset into lighter Usher-esque song. Monster reminds me of some of the later tracks on Rain's Rainism - the heavy R&B mixed with club-ish elements that sounds remotely Korean. What If is a pretty ballad, albeit still not good enough for me - nice try, guys.

The next two tracks don't interest me that much so let's move on. When you first hear the song, the start of Happy Together doesn't give the impression that the song is even remotely good but the chorus is so light and smooth that in it's own little way - it will blow your mind. Like a lot of other amazing songs, it doesn't hit you on the head(a big difference from Sorry, Sorry) and there's an appeal to songs like this - the second time you listen to it the verses suddenly make all the sense in the world.

It takes ten tracks, two of them ballads for Super Junior to give me a ballad worth listening to and even Dead At Heart isn't the best I've heard. It's still worth every second though - I love the contrast of the mild verses and the slightly sharp choruses. The album closes off with Shining Star, a sweet mid-tempo verging on ballad. It's another of those 'slap me on a Korean drama and I'll make the girls scream' songs - they can't seem to get enough of these types. Still, a nice way to close everything off - simple and light although I do think Angela's a better song.


Late last week (I think. yeah.) I saw the poster for Sorry Sorry at my local (crappy) record store and I freaked. I rushed into the store and interrogated the first girl I saw - the album wasn't there yet but it would be within the month. I waited patiently and today I sauntered in, not hoping for anything and look what the crap I saw!Distributed by Universal Philippines, I assume the album's available in the major record bars (SM, M1, Oddesey, Astro Plus) and has been for a few days now. Priced at Php 355 (in M1 at least), the album comes with a free poster as well.

So now for the obligatory 'photoshoot'. I got a poster and the 'photo diary' thingy. YAY!

I've edited the sum-up as well to include the tracks from Version C! Edits are in bold and the rating is up! hahah.

So, to sum up the album:
Best Track: It's between Sorry, Sorry, Why I Like You and It's You
Better Tracks: Angela, Reset, Happy Together, Love Disease, Love U More
Least Favorite Track: The songs I didn't write about - Heartbreak and Club No. 1 didn't make an impact.
THE RATING: 4.6/5!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

f(x) - Lachata

I'm back with reviews! Sorry for the lack of British pop and the abundance of K-pop these past few weeks.

2009 seems to be the year of the girl groups in Korea and partially in the UK (new releases from the Sugababes and The Sats!) so with that comes a whole mob of new Korean ones.

Of the ones that have recently debuted and are about to debut, my frontrunners are 2NE1 (I Don't Care is fantastic) and this new SM girl group - f(x). With SNSD Jessica's sister, Rain's ex-co star and some real talents in the band, I have absolutely no doubt that they will eventually succeed one way or another.
f(x) has been dubbed the female SHINee for reasons I agree with - the number of members and their ages, emphasis on dancing (their leader starred in a Rain video as a dancer) and vocal strength. By this one video, there are girls in this group who can REALLY SING. Like other groups though, I've already spotted the token 'pretty face' (don't know her name but she's there.).

Lachata is a pop song - that's probably the best way to describe it. The song has a novel hook (Lachata doesn't actually mean anything), a repetitive but insanely addictive melody, smooth vocals and catches on easily - it's something that's easy to hum/sing along to. Towards the end of the song, the tomboy-ish member starts rapping but you know, I don't mind at all. It sounds tasteful and it complements the song - it doesn't take the spotlight off the music like a ton of other songs.

Speaking of the tomboy-ish member, my one frustration about this song is the fact that she isn't highlighted as a vocalist when SHE CAN DAMN SING. She gets one short and overlooked line towards the end but it's enough for me to say that the girl can sing - not as good as the best one (Luna, judging by this video) but better than the pretty face. And she has appeal - she was one of the first members I really paid attention to throughout the video.


The one thing that made my entire week.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that these past few days/weeks haven't been easy on me. Early this week I found out that I didn't win that literary award that meant the world to me but I had no time to 'properly' wallow in pain and hurt - there was a class competition we desperately needed to win. We didn't win - my whole class got depressed because our adviser had never seen a class of hers lose.

I don't know if it's plain luck or just a coincidence but an e-mail that arrived last night (you'll find out in a few days what it's about) and another one that came this morning were the only things on my mind today - they kept me alive through all the work and pain.

The message I got this morning had a video and some news I was eagerly awaiting.

I only briefly mentioned this on Twitter but a few weeks ago, an online PR company e-mailed me and asked me if I wanted to ask the Sugababes a question. Knowing myself, I freaked - it was a huge honor.

So my question was this:

What do you hope to achieve with the release of Get Sexy?

I got the answer today and believe me, I nearly jumped out of my seat when Heidi said 'Pop Reviews Now'. Like oh my gooooooooooshhhhhhhhh.