Monday, November 30, 2009

The Best of 2009 starts tomorrow!

It's December and aside from Christmas being just around the corner, it's also year-end countdown time! *clap clap clap*

I finally made it to the end of the year and after everything that's happened over the course of 11/12 months, it's time for some serious business - the best songs of 2009. No seriously, this year I used a spreadsheet, spent days just looking for the songs and even longer writing everything down.

Year-end countdowns for me are both a chore and heaps of fun. It's a chore scouring through hundreds/thousands of songs looking for the ones that stood out this year and it's an even bigger chore trying to organize them all into a neat summary. However once I get that out of the way, the writing is the best part - looking back at all the songs I used to listen to earlier this year and how my taste in music was. I think this year I did a pretty good job with the list, can't wait to hear what you guys think!

The list consists of songs I think are in one way or another musically outstanding and nothing else. I like all these songs but just because I like a song doesn't mean it goes on the list - I didn't include a lot of my personal favorites this year because I didn't find them musically proficient enough.

The criteria this year is an updated version of last years’ rules so if you read those, it’s pretty much the same theory with just a few edits.

THE RULES
(NO EXEMPTIONS this year - all the songs follow these rules.)

1. The song must be on an album, single or EP released in 2009 but it could also have been a standalone song - a one off, as long as it was released in 2009. It may have been on an album released before 2009 but was featured on a single or EP in 2009.
2. One entry per artist. This is to keep fair competition among all the entries. If for example an artist is a member of a band, that band releases a single that qualifies and then he/she releases a solo single or features on a song then both songs qualify. Ex: Kim Jaejoong is a member of DBSK who released their third Japanese studio album The Secret Code this year and he then released a single with bandmate Park Yoochun - songs from both releases qualify.
3. There is no limit to time, genre or nationality - it can be any length, any sound from anywhere in the world.
4. The selection will be a little broader than 2008's best of but it will still be an extremely narrow snapshot of the music industry - it’s not in any way a definitive list.
5. Remixes released this year of songs released before 2009 are eligible.
6. If an album released prior was given a re-release in 2009, only the singles released for and after the re-release PLUS the added tracks will be eligible. Tracks that were on the previous album released before 2009 are not eligible.
7. Live performances are eligible only if they are featured on an album officially released by the record company or can be bought via iTunes or other digital music stores.
8. Songs from compilations are also eligible but the one entry per artist rule still applies.
9. Cover versions are allowed, as long as the cover was released this year.
10. Songs posted on social networking sites or anywhere in the internet but not necessarily given official releases are now ELIGIBLE. More and more artists are being launched via the internet now so I think it's valid to allow them on the chart.
11. Also, songs that reached #1 on my weekly top 20 AND that follow all the above rules will automatically be added to the list. The only exception is if an artist takes #1 twice (The Sats and SHINee) or if I find a better song.

But WAIT, the way I’m gonna present the songs this year is a bit different. Read on:

THE FORMAT

Instead of just randomly posting a few songs a day for 31 days this December, I’m gonna be doing the countdown BY MONTH. The songs will be presented in the order I put them into my iTunes library so, the first song featured will be the songs released in 2008 but were made into singles this year followed by January, February and the list goes on all the way until December. Why? So we can all see how my taste in music shifted or changed by the month and so it’s cool (LOL).

Also, the songs from each of the 12 months will be ranked and I will chose my favorite song from each month. Just to clarify, I WILL POST SONGS BY MONTH. It's easier for me to one - change songs on the list while everything's running (because something might sprout out and all of that stuff), two - have enough time to update the one for December since it's only starting (the December part of the list is obviously empty) and three - RANK THE SONGS. Yes, I've figured out the impossible - how to rank 100+ songs in a few weeks with my laziness and the amount of other work I have to do. Hurrah!

That's how the posting will go - a few songs from one month per day (unless it's the spill-overs from 2008 because there are only 2 songs so yeah). By the end of the month I'll put all the songs I named as the best of the months together and have my top 20+ songs of the year. I'll post the entire list with rankings and color-codings and all at the end. Sounds complicated? It's not. Actually, it's made my life a lot easier this year! Hahah.

We start tomorrow. Yay!

Oak is Keeping – Animal Style

Throughout mythology, there have always been bizarre creations, amalgamations of disparate elements that should never be able to exist together. The part-man, part-bull Minotaur; the part human, part horse Centaur; the complete mishmash of animal parts that is the Griffin. Compelling for their juxtaposition of animal parts, these creatures have captured man’s imagination. In music, rarely does such an incongruous hydra come about, fusing completely disparate elements into one living, breathing, beautiful creature.

Oak is Keeping is one such hydra.

With a body sturdily composed of riff-heavy, bass massive Black Sabbath, a brain derived from the harmonious melodies of the Beatles, and two thunderous paws, one crafted from Seattle grunge a la Alice in Chains, the other bearing the beefy imprint of swirling psychedelia, and a tail composed of the best distillation of post punk indy rock, Oak is Keeping is a band to capture the imagination.

And once they've captured you, they hang onto for dear life, ensnaring you into their drooling maw and carrying you off into a mythical sky of fierce, chugging, yet infinitely melodic and listenable rock and roll. Anyone who calls this stoner rock is stoned. Go beyond the power of the Sabbath riffs, lose yourself on the magic carpet ride that is the melody, sing along to the sweetness of the harmony vocals, marvel into the Alice-drops-down-the-rabbit hole psychedelic madness, that swirls and dances, yet never loses itself in its own madness. Melodic Psych? The Black Beatles? Who cares what you call it, labels are for small minds, and this music is all about expanding minds, erasing boundaries, exploding dimensions.. In the end, it’s just rock and roll and it’s simply marvelous.

“SiNk,” feedbacks and thunders it’s way into your consciousness before dropping into the mother of all Alice in Chains riffs, just as quickly to mutate into a snarling, beastly ugly Sabbath thud. Heavy? Hell yes, but it’s not metal. No way. Listen to the vocals as they come on, incredibly smooth, yet still impassioned. And what’s that he’s singing? By God, it’s a true melody, deep and, dare I say it, lovely. A melody that could easily grace one of the latter Beatles albums, married to the density of a Sabbath plodding footstep. Stuttering guitars, layered harmony vocals. Damn, what is this. It’s not prog, but it’s complex. It’s not metal, but it’s ominous and heavy. It’s not pop, but I’m singing along, joyfully, my soul rising with the soaring chorus. It’s a bowl-full of contradictions all thrown together, and I got me a spoon and I’m digging right in.

If “SiNk” didn’t fully ensnare me in the Oak is Keeping lair, “No Kiss,” completed the capture. Big, choppy riffs, stop and start like the thundering step of a mythological creature. Stepping heavy, plodding closer. Alice in Chains sounds heavier here, in the use of harmony vocals, the rising crescendo of the vocal bridge, the tone of angst as they sing, “They say that animals need their space/inside we’re cannibals/the human race/cut off our nose to spite our face.” But then that chorus comes along, as sweet and addictive as pop. Vocals soaring to higher registers, smoothly, melodically. The Oak is Keeping Griffin lives, many different parts all living together in perfect harmony.

Then “How We Treat Girls,” swings into gear throwing me for another, glorious, swirling ride into unexpected territory. The guitar tone here is pure indy rock, perhaps like the tone that we’d always hope The Killers would one day find. Sabbath is gone, instead the guitars shimmer and shine, the bass runs high up the neck, the vocals ride an intense melody highlighted by a hook destined to reside for years in my brain. The chorus is another masterwork of melody, a stark contradiction to the lyrics that spit and snarl with sarcasm and snot. More than any other, this song runs back to the past, like Spirit or Love, or some other psychedelic pop band that captured lighting in a bottle.

Getting the picture. This beast shouldn’t live, it shouldn’t exist, and it definitely shouldn’t be so compelling. Check out the knock em dead chorus of “Tell Me These Things,” with it’s choppy “Stab me in the front/don’t stab me in the back/stab me in the front/use a dull blade,” lyric. Not something you expect to find yourself singing out loud at two in the morning, but there it is. Arm it with an ugly Sabbath riff that mutates into a near Lizzy guitar attack, ending in a swirling maelstrom of double-fisted piano and you’ve got another winner. “Tempt,” then takes all this mythological fusing of elements and creates a beast that will forever exist in it’s own universe. Charging harmony guitar launches things forward into a neo Alice in Chains riff . . . but it’s not. The guitars swirl too much, like who? Early Cult maybe? I don’t know, but I do know that it moves quickly into a grungy chorus, before the whole thing builds and builds to . . a total drop out of all that is heavy. Suddenly the guitars are gone, piano trods delicately, the vocals floating into a psychedelic Beatles melody, for two measures before the guitars roar back, heavier than before. If this is an acid trip it’s one for the ages. Harmonics sing and dance. Counter vocals leak from separate earphone channels. Guitars swirl. Where is reality? Where is my desk? Who am I? Oh, yeah, I’m Racer, and I’m listening to some seriously intense, fantastically wild stuff. And the ride in this animal style is just beginning.

Come join me.

--Racer

www.myspace.com/oakiskeeping



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Top 20


Alesha Dixon takes her second week at the top of my chart but the girls of After School are proving to be tough competition - Because of You is straight in at #2. See the rest of this week's chart after the jump.


20. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
19. Hwayobi and Sleepy from Untouchable - Kiss Kiss Kiss
18. f(x) - Lachata
17. 2PM - Tired of Waiting
16. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Bolero
15. The Saturdays - Ego
14. Leona Lewis - Denial
13. Amy Pearson - Butterfingers
12. SHINee - Ring Ding Dong
11. Westlife - Sound of a Broken Heart (NE)
10. Taeyang - Wedding Dress
9. BEAST - Bad Girl
8. Big Bang - Let Me Hear Your Voice
7. Super Junior - It's You
6. BoA - On December 27th (NE)
5. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
4. Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart (vid)
3. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Survivor
2. After School - Because Of You (NE)
1. Alesha Dixon - To Love Again (2 Weeks)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Westlife - Sound of a Broken Heart

I said recently that I've given up on Westlife and really, I'm not the big fan I used to be - What About Now was the last straw after waiting for years only to get a cover as a comeback single and I don't take back any of the words I said about it. However, there is at least one outstanding, mind-blowing song on Where We Are - a song that reminds me exactly why I was a die-hard Westlife fan for 2 long years of my life. ONE SONG.

This new album was supposed to be a new direction for Westlife - it's not, it's the same Westlife you heard on Back Home. The album as a whole isn't actually that bad, it was actually better than I expected it to be, but as I told Paul on Twitter, I expected crap.

The one song I hail the best out of this pot of new songs from Westlife (What About Now NOT included.) is Sound of a Broken Heart. It's epic in the Westlife way but it's epic in the "current" way as well. As I said a while ago, it's songs like this that made me a fan and it's songs like this that I want from Westlife. I don't expect them to lose who they are as a band, I just want them to have the guts to try and modify what they already have.

The piano part is just gorgeous but you guys know that I absolutely fall at my feet for a stunning string section. I got it on this song. I don't like 'cheap' string parts (believe me, there are a ton of them), I like string sections that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and make the song epic. I want them beautiful and haunting with conviction, not any other way.

But the reason why I decided to write about a Westlife song in the first place after I declared that part of my live over was the fact that this song made me sub-consciously smile. No explanations needed - if a song makes me smile it's all over.

5/5

For a review of the entire album, I hand you over to Paul.

IT'S COMINGGGGGGGGGG!!!!

DBSK may have ruined by day because of the three rules that SM gave them (3 guys who filed the lawsuit can't talk to the other two, are not allowed to answer interview questions and must be under surveillance the whole time. When I first found out I was furious, now I depressed.) but dammit I go into the record store today and what do I find out? THE LIVE ALBUM'S COMING! AAAHHHH!Stupid salesladies don't know when it's gonna be released though. Heck, they don't even know who DBSK is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The state of DBSK from a musical standpoint.

I know I've posted a ton about this DBSK thing but this is my only place to rant to my heart's content and not get shot by a billion people for stating an opinion.I've said my piece numerous times and I've said it with facts and assumptions and opinions but I've never said it with the music as proof because there were no performances to judge. Well now there's one and what's the verdict? Watch the video first after the jump


OK. What you'll first notice are the weaker than usual vocals. Yeah sure high notes are nailed and the chorus is pretty much OK but you listen to the verses and bleh. Jaejoong's usually fantastic live vocals are horrid, Yunho sounds even worse than he already does live and Changmin sounds like he's either out of air or wants to hurry the hell up and get the thing done. That's what's on the surface. You listen well to their individual vocals (just the vocals, not their faces or anything) and the only one really trying to put emotion into the song is Yoochun but even he falters a bit.

These guys better thank their lucky stars that this performance only had a very short part where all 5 of them sang at the same time but God, what the crap was that? It's like they forgot how to sing together. It shows when a group is fighting and their vocals are the biggest giveaway. There's a difference between 5 voices singing at the same time and 5 voices singing together - today it was 5 voices singing at the same time.

Now their gestures. It's a ballad so no dancing but usually when they sing this they move around, they tap their feet and whatever else you can do while singing this. On that performance there was none. Just hold the mic to your mouth and sing it. Except maybe for Yoochun and Junsu when they belted a few high notes but that's it.

NOW, you look at their faces - expressionless and flat. Yunho looks like he wants to say "Ugh, can we get this over now please?" and Changmin's like "Do I HAVE to be here?". Jaejoong looks colder than usual, Yoochun's hair covers his eyes and Junsu's emotionless. When Yunho, Changmin and Junsu "harmonize" (can't hear any harmonies) Yunho and Changmin look like they absolutely hate what they're doing.

It is truly Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu vs. Yunho and Changmin. I don't care what you say, I'm a fan as well, but that's what I see and that's what I think.

I hate this. I hate the fact that their letting stupid business crap get in the way of music, I HATE IT. I now realize that my anger before is nothing like what it is now because back then I hadn't heard it spread over to their music but with this performance, I'm angrier than ever. No seriously, this isn't SM's fault anymore, IT'S THEIRS. I don't care what you say, it's personal now. I'm a fan, a huge one yes, but I know how to separate adoration from what I actually see - I'm not blinded by my fandom.

Whatever they do and however their faces look when they step on that stage is their responsibility, not SM's. They're letting something as stupid as this lawsuit affect something that should have NOTHING TO DO WITH BUSINESS. How many times do I have to say that BUSINESS CANNOT TAKE OVER MUSIC?!??!?! I'm sick and tired of hearing these things and I'm sick and tired of witnessing this every single day. I thought they were different, I thought these guys knew what music is but now I realize that they don't. If they did they'd know that even just for the sake of the music they'd be on good terms with each other.

SIX+ YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP AND BEING A MUSICAL GROUP, SIX EFFIN' YEARS.

Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

Ever since If I Ain't Got You, Alicia Keys has been a staple in my music library - I vividly remember the day I bought The Diary of Alicia Keys along with JoJo's eponymous debut in 4th grade and the times I'd blast No One out of my (at the time) brand-new music phone while walking along the corridors in 7th grade. Needless to say, Alicia Keys was just a big a part of my childhood as JoJo and she was the very reason why I came to love pop music.

Unlike JoJo though, Alicia Keys has actually gotten a new single out in the form of Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart and it's DAMN GOOD. No really, I absolutely adore the song. She manages to make it sound like something that'd fit perfectly into top 40 songs but at the same time make a song that's musically and technically outstanding. Like hell.

I love the emphasis on the piano at the end (her signature element, I've come to notice) and the song as a whole just glides along. It plays and you know it's playing, it doesn't go right through you but you just notice that the song's done.

Like I said a while ago, Alicia Keys is one of those artists who can actually make good music but still manage to have it fit into whatever trends there are. Add that to a stunning voice and you have the recipe for a musical legend. If there's anyone who deserves the praise and the awards left and right, it's her. Better than Lady GaGa or a Disney clone or some random rapper who uses too much processing - Alicia Keys is a musician and it shows.

5/5

Late, I know - this has been out for ages now. You know the drill, I've been waaaaaaay too busy. School, omgkpop, school, school, extracurricular stuff, school, school and SCHOOL. Apologies.

Monday, November 23, 2009

After School - Because of You

Relatively short review.

I'll admit that I've never been the biggest After School fan - when I was first getting into kpop they were one of the names I'd constantly come across but I've never really heard enough good material that I actually liked to properly find out about them.

All I know is that they're under Pledis Entertainment (Son Dam Bi), one member just left and was replaced by 2 newbies and that they covered a Morning Musume song. (my best friend is a closet fan, go figure)

This time though, I decided to listen to the new single because it wouldn't hurt, right?

It's not that bad, if I may say so.

Albeit the heavy processing (Brave Sound is notorious for it so yeah), the melody is simple enough for people to remember and the instrumental is generic enough to not steal the spotlight of the hook. Speaking of the HOOK it's actually a hook and not just a random line repeated over and over again - it sticks to your head and after you listen to the entire thing, that's the part you remember.

However it's a good song. The vocals are also surprisingly good - these girls can sing. Lose the processing and live this will sound absolutely brilliant. They're not outstanding but I do think a larger percentage of the band can sing if you compare them to SNSD or something.

Because of You is one of those songs that I'll love now, possibly love in a few months but won't really, REALLY consider a part of my childhood once I get old or something unlike the Genies and Since You've Been Gones of the world.


4/5

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Top 20


Alesha Dixon zooms in out of nowhere and takes the top spot, preventing DBSK's Survivor from moving and toppling B2ST's Bad Girl down to the third spot. New entries from Alicia Keys, Taeyang and of course Alesha Dixon this week and as usual, a lot of movement. Check it out.

20. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
19. Hwayobi and Sleepy from Untouchable - Kiss Kiss Kiss
18. Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart (NE)
17. 2PM - Tired of Waiting
16. f(x) - Lachata
15. SM Town Winter 2006 - Snow Dream
14. Taeyang - Wedding Dress (NE)
13. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Bolero
12. The Saturdays - Denial
11. The Saturdays - Ego
10. IU - 기차를 타고
9. Big Bang - Let Me Hear Your Voice
8. Amy Pearson - Butterfingers
7. SHINee - Ring Ding Dong
6. Leona Lewis - Denial
5. Super Junior - It's You
4. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
3. BEAST - Bad Girl
2. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Survivor
1. Alesha Dixon - To Love Again (NE, 1 Week)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm furious.

Need to rant. Of course I can't do that over at the kpop site because people are gonna clobber me.

FOR CRAP'S SAKE WHAT IN THE WORLD IS SM DOING?!?!? I wanna cry now - I cannot believe people can be this STUPID AND DISRESPECTFUL.

A few days ago it was announced that the 3 DBSK members involved in the lawsuit would be attending this year's Mnet Asian Music Awards that would be one of the biggest events of the year. The problem was that SM, their talent company, was boycotting those awards - none of their acts could go. But the 3 would be there, as an open defiance of SM.

Then just yesterday I think (was it yesterday or Friday? whatever.), someone from SM said that the MAMAs were part of the 'solo activities' of the three and that they would not be attending as DBSK nor performing. Their contracts with SM didn't extend to what they did outside of DBSK so them going to the MAMAs were OK, contractually.

So the 3 were there at the awards, they accepted something like Best Asian Artist and Jaejoong was almost crying when he mentioned the other 2 members - all was good and well last night. THEN when I woke up this morning and was reading over the news, SM said this:

"The trio had no right to receive the award on behalf of TVXQ. The awards organizer should give the award to a liason on behalf of SM Entertainment instead. This is unacceptable since they had only invited the 3 members."


EXCUSE ME. Those three are members of DBSK, no matter what you say about them attending as individuals and not a group, what do you expect them to do when their name gets called and they win an award, just sit there and clap? REALLY. SM doesn't control them, THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO. They're a part of a band that makes music, if they win something THEY'RE the ones that deserve it, NOT WHATEVER STUPID TALENT COMPANY THAT CONTROLS THEM. It's their award, they should accept it if they're there and celebrate but NOOOOOOOOO, SM keeps on being stupid.

I don't care what SM says about them "making DBSK" or them being responsible for their success. Yeah sure maybe they promoted them like crazy, gave them vocal coaches and choreographers BUT WHO WERE THE ONES WITH THE ACTUAL TALENT? These people just NEVER have any respect for anything. Lee Soo Man is a frustrated pop star, you think he knows what it's like to be in the limelight as much as DBSK do? I highly doubt it.

The three were crying backstage (Jaejoong looked like he was about to burst out crying when he gave his speech) but what made me even more furious was the next thing I found out. The three were supposedly attending as part of their individual activities but apparently when they were crying backstage, THEY HAD NO STAFF. No one managed what they were doing, where they were going and they could only leave the venue once fans had cleared the way. SM, I know you hate their guts but don't you want them alive to torture them? You're not supposed to but what can I do if you're stupid. So anyway, what if fans clobber them and something happens to them, huh? WHAT THE CRAP ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

Things WON'T be OK, I can't just keep on thinking that everything will go back to normal after some time because with what's happening right now (this MAMA thing is just a fraction of the entire issue), it won't. Sure they might go on with the music but the thing I hate the most about this industry is the fact that once the business side of things goes down the drain, so does the music. STUPID PEOPLE.

DBSK will split up, yes, EVERYONE DOES but I can't let them split up over some stupid lawsuit or business - THEY HAVE TO SPLIT UP WITH A LITTLE DIGNITY.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's been going on???

I've been super, SUPER MIA these past few days because as most of you know, I'm also a writer for a kpop news site and I had a little crisis with my grades this week (don't ask.) which all lead to me not being able to do any blogging here. That 'elements of a perfect Christmas song' might not go on as at the moment, I have no time to post anything during school days. It's hard enough trying to write one article a day over where I'm writing news, what more if I add in PRN. Apologies and I assure you, by mid-December at the latest everything will be back to normal.

So what the crap has been happening since I last did some writing? A LOT. Ugh. Here's a quick sum-up of everything I think is worth writing about. It'll be super, SUPER opinionated because over at omgkpop I have to remove all opinions and just do facts - I have to let everything out! I seriously miss being able to write like this. Hahah.
  • Lady GaGa's Fame Monster was leaked and everyone freaked out. Well, almost everyone. I listened over to the album because everyone seemed to be adoring it thinking it would work like how Leona's Echo did but it didn't - I'm one of those few that thinks opposite the rest of the blogging world. (I believe I'm in this together with Paul!) I just don't find her music interesting. Yeah sure her clothes, her image and everything about her that doesn't have to do with music is a gigantic spectacle to the eyes but I don't care one bit about image - I don't like the songs, they just don't appeal to me.
  • A few days ago I tweeted about Glee covering Jennifer Paige's Crush (I cannot stand people who only think Crush is by David Archuleta. PLEASE.) and although I'm not falling over my feet for the version, it's good seeing the song covered because it's so damn good! No really, as a kid I constantly heard it and a few years ago when I was re-acquainting myself with 90's pop I came across her again - brilliant song.
  • Nick Jonas (credited as Nick Jonas and the Administration) has a new album slated for release and he's performing at the Grammy Nominations Concert. I should care because? Hahah.
  • JoJo. There are tracks leaking almost every day and I'm sick and tired of seeing them - JUST GET THE DAMN ALBUM OUT ALREADY! Hahah.
  • Is the Adam Lambert album any good? I mean, will I like it? Because I'm still debating on whether or not to spend time listening to it. Oh, and any new albums that you think are worth my time?
  • There's a new Agnes track called You Rain from a repackaged version (is it the US one?) of Dance Love Pop and dammit, it's gorgeous. No really, absolutely stunning. I may have to change Agnes' entry on my year-end countdown - dammit, another round of organizing and UGH. Hahah.
  • EDIT: I like the new Alicia Keys song. Hahah.
  • The world of kpop has been very interesting lately. Start it off by the state of my beloved DBSK and you already have an entire roller coaster to deal with. Three of them got sued for fraud and are openly defying their talent company who also forged their signatures. They also have a Japanese single out January next year. Interesting? My article on that is here. Fans are at their toes trying to figure out what'll happen next - we thought things were gonna be OK when they released a clip of their upcoming Japanese single but apparently, they're not. Dammit.
  • The big year-end awards show, The Mnet Asian Music Awards, although without SM artists (Super Junior, f(x), SNSD, 2 of DBSK) and Korea's Britney (Lee Hyori), are looking promising. No one knows for certain if this repackaging of the MKMF will work but yeah. Hahah.
  • Anything else I missed that you think I should know about? I've been so out of the loop lately - apologies.
This weekend I start writing and scheduling the posts for my year-end countdown and it starts on December 1 with the rules and format of this year's countdown. Haven't compiled the November songs yet but yeah.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Top 20


Picking up where we left off with the last non-'special' top 20, here's this week's chart! Yay. B2ST take the top spot. Why? Because the song might not be the best in the world and they might not have drop-dead gorgeous vocals but dammit, the performances are outstanding for a band of this caliber. So yeah. Hahah.

20. 2PM - Tired of Waiting (NE)
19. JLS - Everybody In Love
18. Big Bang - Let Me Hear Your Voice
17. f(x) - Lachata
16. Hwayobi and Sleepy from Untouchable - Kiss Kiss Kiss
15. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~
14. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
13. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Bolero (NE)
12. Simon Curtis - Delusional
11. The Saturdays - Ego
10. IU - 기차를 타고 (NE)
9. SM Town Winter 2006 - Snow Dream (NE)
8. SHINee - Ring Ding Dong
7. The Saturdays - Denial
6. Amy Pearson - Butterfingers
5. Super Junior - It's You
4. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
3. Leona Lewis - Denial (NE)
2. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Survivor
1. BEAST - Bad Girl (1 Week)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The perfect pop Christmas song: 1. Bells

You can't go wrong with bells. Christmas = Church = Bells. If you take history as an example, we were told that when the Spanish took over the Philippines they used religion - you're identified to a city if you can hear the church bells from your house. Thus, Christmas = Bells. In a good Christmas song you have to have bells somewhere in between all the other things and it has to be heard. Why? Because bells are one of the few things that one, sound like Christmas and two, you can actually put into a song because different bells make different notes and different sounds.

No matter how much pop elements you have in a song - computerized drums, generic beats, guitars and PROCESSING, you cannot have a Christmas song without the bells. A Christmas song without bells is like an acoustic-y song without a guitar part - wherever you are in the world, it just doesn't happen and no one over thinks of a song without it. Bells are one of the main reasons why Christmas songs are Christmas songs! Heck, you can put some bells into any random song and it would most probably sound a little like the season.

Here's exactly how you turn a song Christmas-y by simply adding bells. The chords and melody are identical and the arrangement is pretty much the same - the only different are the lyrics and the fact that one is for Christmas and one isn't but they're not basic musical elements so yeah.

The bells are heard the most during the chorus of the 2nd song and that's the main, MAIN thing that actually makes it Christmas-y.

The original song
(not very Christmas-y but I don't know why one of the dancers has a Santa hat on. Whatever - it sounds less Christmas-y than the second video):
The Christmas-ized song:

What makes the perfect pop Christmas song????

It's almost December. December means Christmas in most parts of the world - time to cash in on the holiday. Or not.

Last year I just put a bunch of random Christmas songs together and called it my playlist for that year. This year I'm older with a lot more brains to think of what to do, I think. What has this mind of mine come up with?

The elements of a perfect pop Christmas song.

Every year pop acts make special Christmas EPs and/or albums just to cash in on the season but what's in all of them and why do they sound like Christmas even if they're a bunch of studio-produced tracks? It can't be just how it 'feels', there have to be at least a few elements that make it what it is. That's what I tried to find out and I think I did a pretty good job.

The vocal commentary special will be put on hold until January next year - I'm doing WAY too much to even think of sitting down for an entire afternoon and just watching videos, listening to tracks and writing ONE post. So that'll have to wait but I promise I'll finish it. Hahah. So over the next few days starting tomorrow, in short until December comes along and I have to start counting down the best songs of the year, I'll be enumerating what I think makes the perfect pop Christmas song. Hahah.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One of the many reasons why I cannot stand stupid people.

(watch before you read, just so you know what I'll be talking about)
This is the new single from IU, one of the kpop artists I featured during the special months back.

WHAT THE EFFIN' CRAP DID HER STUPID TALENT AGENCY DO TO HER?!?! Boo was bad enough and You Know was a small step towards going somewhere far away from cutesy but really, this girl has a much, MUCH more outstanding and competent voice than this song is reflecting - see this:
I featured it back during the kpop special and I said that that was the reason why I liked this girl so much - she sounds her age. She doesn't sound like she's 40 and she wasn't made to sing crappy songs, she was treated like every other female solo singer but she had a voice her age - a voice that will grow with time and eventually become beautiful.

In come the stupid executives at her talent agency and ruin everything I ever liked about this girl. The first video is horrid, the song doesn't even deserve to be called music and this crap cannot be released - it's a disgrace.

Really, IU has a voice - she's PRETTY DAMN GOOD. But all these stupid people see in a girl with a voice that's actually her age is the cutesy side of it. She was doing well with Missing Child but apparently, it didn't sell. SNSD can get away with the cutesy thing because they're not exactly known for strong vocals but this girl deserves artistic dignity and A DAMN GOOD SONG. She cannot be stuck with stupid capitalist-made crap that 'sell'.

Relatively short - just had to let this out! And if you've been reading me on omgkpop (am writing as nikki_), how do I fare? Hahah.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top 20: Special.

This is a special top 20, mainly because just last week (can't believe it's only been a week - it's like so much time passed!) I was freaking out of DBSK and the possibility of them splitting is still high. I and everyone else who has ever liked a DBSK song hope that they don't dissolve into history like dust but something has to happen at the end of this and it's better to be ready to face the truth than be blind to what MIGHT happen. I'm not saying they're split but as of now it's 50-50 - either they split or they don't and either one can happen.

Even if I wasn't a gigantic fan I'd still be doing this because what's happening to the guys now is a reflection of what and where the pop music industry is now - it's run by stupid people who nothing about music and has to be saved before these stupid people do anything even more harmful than what we're already seeing.

EDIT the night before this got published: That was written before the announcement that SM would be revising their contracts. No one knows if they were telling the truth and if this is really a win for DBSK but either way - this special chart still stands with the same purpose! Hahah. AND this was certainly written way before the announcement that DBSK would be pursuing solo activities that one, had nothing to do with DBSK and two, nothing to do with SM. Oh dear.

ANYWAY. Here's the (special) top 20 for this week - time to reveal why exactly I think DBSK are brilliant.

20. The Way You Are

19. Whatever They Say

18. One

17. Rising Sun

16. You're My Melody

15. COLORS ~Melody and Harmony~ (Jaejoong and Yoochun)

14. Flower Lady

13. Crazy Love

12. 9095

11. Choosey Lover

10. Sky

9. O Jung Ban Hap

8. Purple Line

7. 忘れないで

6. Step By Step

5. Tonight

4. Mirotic

3. Love in the Ice

2. Proud

1. Survivor

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Interview: Agnes Carlsson

Yes, I know what you must be thinking - HOW THE CRAP DID I GET AN INTERVIEW LIKE THIS? Thank a close online friend of mine, beE (we go WAY back to my pirate blogger days - she was my cover art maker back then) - she runs Pop Nation. It was sort of her 'birthday gift' to me that I could send in questions for Agnes along with the ones made by another close online friend of mine, Mel, who does all the interviews for Pop Nation. And I am thinking OH YEAHHHHHHHH!!!!! Because this is damn big. What kind of 15 year-old gets to interview someone like AGNES!??! This is so cool.
I won't beat around the bush anymore because you all know who Agnes is - I still can't believe it! This is like, the best week of my life. Note that this is my half of the interview, to read the rest go to Pop Nation, and that the answers were really in capital letters when it was sent - no edits were made.

1. What makes your career and music so brilliant are the songs you put out. You have an impressive back catalogue of what I class as some of the best pop songs in the world - what was your choosing process for them like and how do you yourself spot a hit?
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WORDS. WITH THE LAST ALBUM I WORKED VERY CLOSE TO ANDERS HANSSON AND RELEASE ME IS MY, SO FAR, BIGGEST HIT. WE WROTE IT TOGETHER WITH SHARON. A HIT ACCORDING TO ME IS A SONG THAT AFFECTS ME AND THAT I FEEL I CAN MAKE IT MY OWN.

2. As many people know, you won Swedish Idol back in 2005. What does the 'Idol Label', the fact that you broke into the industry by winning a reality show, mean to you and how did/does it affect your career?
FOR ME IDOL WAS A GREAT SCHOOL. I PERFORMED IN FRONT OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE EVERY WEEK AND THAT WAS A REALLY GOOD START FOR ME.

3. Why did you choose that song Release Me as a British single and what was your initial reaction to the success of the single in the UK?
THERE WAS A RECORD COMPANY IN THE UK THAT CHOSE THE SONG AS THE FIRST SINGLE. I AM REALLY HAPPY ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT HAS HAPPEND IN THE CHARTS AROUND THE WORLD.

4. What's the reason for your departure from Sony BMG and why did you choose Roxy records after you left?
SONY MUSIC WAS NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ME AND I WANTED TO WORK WITH PEOPLE I CONNECTED WITH. I MET UP WITH ROXY AND WE CONNECTED

5. Your album credits state that you co-wrote a few songs on 'Dance Love Pop' and 'Stronger'. Would you like to further explore songwriting and possibly even record production in the near or distant future?
I WRITE SONGS CONSTANTLY AND THIS IS SOMETHING I WILL KEEP ON DOING

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Here begins a new chapter of my blogging life..

OK, NO I'm not closing PRN down. What gave you that idea? Oh, right - the title. ANYWAY.

Just yesterday I applied for a writing position at omgkpop, one of the really popular kpop sites (.com domain - it's big!), and today I got told that they liked PRN (yay!) and that I would be a 'trial' writer for a week. I've gotten pretty warm responses, the other writers liked my writing and things have been going well - so far. This means that one, I'll now be writing for two different blogs and two, I'll have to do a pretty good job of juggling them. It doesn't mean I won't blog as much as I do though.

Now you might be asking, why the crap did I apply for that when I have PRN? Because I'm gonna be up for this big award in the near future and it's asking for a lot of affiliations, lots of extracurricular activities. I have the family choir and I'm gonna be the oldest member in a few weeks and I have my clubs but I need more. If I run my own blog in my own little world with a circle of blogger friends and no 'official' thing, that doesn't count as much as if I write for a big site. PRN is one, my listing/'news editor position' on Babelpop is one more and my Philippine Blog Awards thing is another, but to go against these seniors from other schools when I'm just a junior I need an extremely impressive track record. Writing for this major site will give me another affiliation AND boost my chances of actually winning and you guys know how much I want to win something big for once in my life.

PRN will still be my focus - but maybe while I'm still new on the site I'm gonna put a lot of my effort into making a good impression on the other editors. The stuff I'll be writing there will be a lot less opinionated, mainly because it's a news site and I don't want to come off as snobby and arrogant when I just started this. By December when school pretty much stops being the biggest pain ever, things will go back to normal. For now, expect around 1 - 2 reviews a week + the top 20 on Mondays at the very least.

So there. Just to let you guys know why there's a link to 'omgkpop' on the nav bar. Hahah. Also, my first post on the site is up!!!!

Leona Lewis - Echo

If you know me and my taste in music really, REALLY well, you'll know that Leona is not someone I like and she's not someone I jump up and down over. However I gave Echo a shot because I'd heard a lot of fellow bloggers comment on it and I was curious. Very, VERY surprisingly - I have good things to say about the album.

For me the ultimate test of a pop song is if it can catch my attention when I'm doing something other than listen to the song. I rarely listen to albums like this because most of the time I don't notice them and end up re-listening to the album anyway but I did this with the Leona album (you could say it was to give the album a hard time but it wasn't intentional) and dammit, it caught my ear. I was in the middle of shopping and then BAM I heard the tracks and was like "Oh dear, this is good."

So I like the album as a whole but my one complaint is that this album is how every other pop album is with me - crappy singles, great album tracks. I don't like Happy, I never will and if I hadn't seen the reviews and just based the whole thing on Happy I would've still been really annoyed with Leona.

Echo as a whole in one word is heavy. The melodies are serious, instrumentations sound epic and Leona's vocals are very, very heavy to the ear. I honestly haven't heard an album like this in quite a while because I'm not a fan of albums that don't have any 'breather songs' or those songs that just give you a break. To a certain extent this was what I was expecting from Leona but I didn't expect the heaviness to be done pretty damn well. The reason why I don't enjoy a lot of these really serious and 'heavy' songs is because they're not done well and leave me with the headache after. The stuff on Echo aren't like that. I'm not saying that the entire album is musically the best thing since anything - it's not - I'm just saying that the execution of the songs (not the vocals) is really good for what they are.

My one problem with Leona is a problem I've had for a long time now - I don't like her voice. It's not that she's not good or that she can't sing, if you've read my vocal commentaries you would've noticed that I don't necessarily favor big, excessive voices. It's a personal preference that I don't like voices like this but I don't know, if the album had been sung by a person with a predominantly smooth voice and a nice timbre, I would've literally fell at it's feet.

Here's a quick rundown of the songs I haven't talked about yet. I've already said my piece on Happy, right? OK.

I Got You was the first song that made me stop what I was doing, turn up the volume and just listen. The feel of the entire thing reminds me of something straight out of a Paula Cole album - the guitar and keyboard sections in the instrumentation, the arrangement and the actual melody of the chorus all point towards a certain singer named Paula Cole. I think that's why it caught my attention in the first place.

Can't Breathe is one of those songs that if done the wrong way can sound very resonant to the ear, mostly on the melody side. I'm glad to say it was done right. The song seems to me like a show-off song - one that's meant to rub it in our faces that Leona can go that high that many times. I'm not impressed though - so what if she can hit high notes like that? But I gotta hand it to her, the verses sound phenomenal.

At the start Brave sounded like a song I wouldn't particularly enjoy and it takes time to turn into a brilliant song - you have this Indian-y thing going in before the melody of the chorus just makes you melt. The whole song has an Indian-ish vibe and I'm not feeling the verses but the chorus is pretty good. Outta My Head is a little resonant to my ears but the more techno-ish arrangement and the hook will stick. I wouldn't listen to it over and over again though.

My Hands is the obligatory simple-turned-epic ballad. The start is a little iff-y but the chorus onwards is beautiful - I can imagine her singing this on an X Factor Results Show. Am I right or am I right? Love Letter is a little out of place on the album with the heavy electric guitar part and the stomping beat during the bridge. The chorus is a little anti-climatic but the melody is pretty good. Nothing to gush about though.

Broken is the 'girl trapped in a castle playing the piano running around in a big, black gown' song - that's basically what the music video will look like if the record executives had their way which they do. Big, epic, has a piano part and heavy drums. What more do you need for a castle in the music video? Naked was the only track I listened to twice while I was out - it's fresh, the guitar part at the start sets the mood and the chorus just explodes. Love the melody, love the arrangement and the girl can take on Taylor Swift's Picture to Burn any day with the chorus of this song. Brilliant.

Now the Oasis song. It's epic, it's beautiful and it builds up slowly - it's not my type though. Musically it's very, very good but if I were to just base it on my personal preferences, this is a NO. It's beautiful though. Don't Let Me Down is my favorite of the ballads like this on the album - epic, gorgeous melody and Leona's best vocals are on this track in particular. Once again, brilliant. Alive is another ballad, it's gorgeous and the start reminds me of a Coldplay song. if you put it beside Don't Let Me Down though, it pales in comparison. ALTHOUGH, it's a lot more rock-based so it's not really a valid comparison. And lastly, the OneRepublic song is a OneRepublic song. Enough said.

So, to sum up the album:
Best Track: Don't Let Me Down
Better Tracks: I Got You, Naked, My Hands
My Least Favorite Track: Personally? Lost Then Found. Mainly because it's more OneRepublic than Leona.
THE RATING: 4.6/5

Friday, November 6, 2009

JLS - JLS

I've pretty much given up on Westlife at this point so my only hope of a solid boyband album this year is JLS' debut offering. If there's one thing I'm thankful for it's that Louis Walsh didn't give the guys a Westlife-esque repertoire because I swear if they got a bunch of Westlife ballads for album tracks I would've totally given up on Louis Walsh as a whole.

Before I talk about the album itself, I'm a little disappointed by how the singles were treated. If they were really the new Westlife by now they would've had their third single out and a fourth for Christmas with the fifth single following early next year. Why? To break a record. Now that I'm not the biggest Westlife fan in the world, I'd love to have that 4 singles at #1 in a year record broken and I think JLS are a pretty decent replacement. But no, they've only had their second single at #1 at the moment.

What sets them apart from Westlife though is the fact that all four of them sing and actually get solo parts on the album. Some are stronger than others but at least we get to hear them all on the record.

As a whole their debut album is actually a bit boring, the songs just go on and on and on and a few minutes later I realize that it's halfway done - most of the songs sound like recycled album tracks from failed R&B acts in the US.

My one problem for the entire release is that the choruses don't explode - I want them to and they have to. Their vocals (apart from Ashtons') most of the time sound boring and uninterested. There has to be at least half the album's worth of songs that just explode and leave an impression on my brain. Come on guys, I've been complaining like hell how much K-pop songwriters don't know how to make songs when apparently you guys don't either.

ALTHOUGH, this album is a very, very, VERY good example of how to properly use processing. Not too much, not to obvious all the time and most of all, TASTEFULLY done. If there's one reason why you have to listen to this album from start to finish it's to realize that all the processing they've been doing on other acts sucks really bad.

So I listened over to the album and here are the tracks that are actually worth your time - in short, most of the latter half of the album. Don't wanna waste my energy writing about the crappy songs only to get angry again.

My opinions on Beat Again and Everybody in Love still stand - they're the better tracks off the album. Only Tonight is one of those songs that make for a great last single - slow, sweet and it actually explodes even just a bit. The song has dynamics, it has feeling at it has the most gorgeous melody ever. This is the way they should be making songs and I swear if no one notices this...

One Shot, formerly called Love On The Line is very Everybody in Love-ish and I love it. Doesn't really, really explode but the melody catches your ear and the arrangement is cohesive but separates each element of the song clearly. Private is more of catchy than musically proficient but it works as a pop song. I can imagine the video - if that's the case then it's a good single choice as well. It's very current and I think very apt of the US. If they ever think of breaking the US this is the single to use. Or the next track. Don't Go has it's good points but other than the hook, it's pretty boring - the song stays on the same level throughout. Good hook though. Tightrope is the obligatory slow but happy song on the album. I find it gorgeous. Really, if you're in the mood for a gorgeous song this is it.

Kickstart sounds like a rip-off of BSB's Straight Through My Heart. Enough said.

So, to sum up the album:
Best Track: Private
Better Tracks: One Shot, Only Tonight, Don't Go, Tightrope, Beat Again, Everybody In Love
My Least Favorite Track: Kickstart - mainly because it's the biggest rip-off ever. There are more boring and bad tracks but I absolutely cannot take a rip-off.
THE RATING: 3.5/5 I'm sorry, I tried but there aren't enough insanely brilliant songs to pull the score up to a 4.

It's a sad, sad day for music today.

I've accepted processing (or auto-tune as everyone else calls it - my dad says it's not actually autotuning but whatever.) on songs for a long time now because one, it's what everyone does now and two, I've had no choice in the matter. For a few months now the trend wherever you go is processing - it's done in the US, in the UK, in Korea. There's literally no escape but I think it's gone way too far now. This post applies to everywhere (the US, the UK, etc.) but my examples are from Korea.

It has come to the point where they're not just processing it like Sorry Sorry or Ring Ding Dong, they're strangling the vocals by putting it through what people in production call 'vocorders' and they end up sounding so padded and multi-tracked that it kills. I'd seen it coming with Chocolate Love so bastardized that I refused to even accept the fact that people actually sang it. I mean really, TIFFANY SOUNDS LIKE CRAP ON THE SONG - who does that to a voice like hers? It's catchy, yeah sure but substance without form is just as bad as form without substance. If they can't even get the vocals to actually sound like vocals, these guys need a gazillion-year course on music and what the crap it is. For your reference, here's Chocolate Love:

Now the second song that signaled this bastardization of vocals is f(x)'s new single Chu. When I first heard the song I was so angry because once again, I couldn't recognize 2 of the 5 voices when I could on Lachata. And like the treatment Tiffany got on Chocolate Love, LUNA'S VOICE WAS BASTARDIZED. You can't do this much multi-tracking and processing to a group with this much vocal strength. You can do it to most of Super Junior and SNSD because they need it but to f(x)??!!?!? I call that stupidity. What makes me even more angry is the fact that the song sounds absolutely brilliant live and I mean BRILLIANT. The vocals live are really, really strong and the song sounds cohesive. These people at SM have to start thinking like musicians and do it fast.

The track that drove me to insanity over this though is the new single from a less-famous band, UKiss. I came across them during my K-pop special but didn't think they were good enough to feature and I still think I'm right. The band is weak vocally, they don't have the songs or the backing of a company like SM or YG to make up for their flaws in the talent department. What made me really angry though was this performance:
Did you guys notice something? During the hook they drop their mics and just mouth the lyrics while dancing - that hook is processed and double-tracked and put through whatever else it was like hell. Can they sing that or not? Because if they can't then they can't sing for me. They sing the verses, yeah sure but what is a verse compared to a hook in pop music? PRETTY DAMN IMPORTANT. It's not how it should be but that's the way it is and we all have to learn to accept that. What part of the song sticks to your head when you first hear the song? The hook - that's why it's called what it is. If they can't sing the one part that attracts their listeners, what kind of band is that? Really.

Everyone has to stop depending on processing and studio tricks - it won't work in real life and to a trained ear. Yeah sure they can fool 60% of their listeners but I know a lot of people who know the difference between live and heavily processed, we're here and we're not oblivious.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My 'kicking and screaming' opinion on all this DBSK crap.

This is mainly for my personal use, just so I don't lose what I've tweeted about during the height of it all. If you'd like to read all my kicking and screaming in one convenient post, be my guest! Hahah.

The evening #tvxqhwaiting was trending on Twitter:

SH*T. SH*T. SH*T. SH*T. RT @allkpop BREAKING NEWS: TVXQ not allowed to continue group activities! http://bit.ly/1ed8Ky
This crap surrounding DBSK has to stop. LSM has to learn to respect music and get them compensated for their work.
And LSM has absolutely no right to destroy the boys like he did with Shinhwa if ever they leave. HOW DARE HE EVEN TRY.

I'm gonna write a long, long rant about this DBSK crap when I get home. Dammit.
I'm having a mental breakdown.

*cries* DBSK CANNOT BREAK UP. THEY CANNOT. Dammit. This is not from a fangirl POV - they're one of the most vocally strong bands EVER.

Dammit Soo Man, DO YOU NOW KNOW TALENT WHEN YOU SEE IT?!?! If you even have a small brain, you'd want to hold on to your cash cows

LSM still has power around the company - if he really thought they deserved something he would've lobbied for it.

RT @DBSKnights “Even if 1 year passes or 10 years pass by, we will not break up. If that does happen, kill us by throwing rocks at us.” -YH
RT @DBSKnights Our friendship is stronger than al else because we're breathing the sme air, speaking the sme thoughts & living 1 dream- JJ
You guys GOTTA see this! RT @omgkpop LOL EPIC LEE SO MAN PICTURE! http://bit.ly/2tEcei
RT @DBSKnights Didn't I say before, we only believe in one thing, and that is the 5 of us will stay as DBSK till the end.-JJ #TVXQHWAITING
AMEN! RT @onetvxqforums SM, go find other pawns to be in your game. Otherwise, G. T. F. O! #TVXQHWAITING

THIS DBSK CRAP HAS TO STOP. NOW. FOR THE SAKE OF THE MUSIC. Read: http://bit.ly/4GlJX9 #tvxqhwaiting

You people at SM ent. are stupid, money-hungry bastards with absolutely NO RESPECT for music. LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE! #TVXQHWAITING
P*tang ina niyo, SM. Tignan natin kung anong mangyayari kung wala ang DBSK, TIGNAN LANG NATIN. #tvxqhwaiting
Things have to end, yes, BUT NOT OVER STUPID THINGS. #tvxqhwaiting

@purplelykthat Hahah. This is a time when no one can afford to be intellectual or calm anymore. #TVXQHWAITING
AMEN. RT @onetvxqforums #theworst creature that ever walked this earth is SM Entertainment :/ #TVXQHWAITING

Do these guys at sm ent. even know the slightest thing about music? #tvxqhwaiting
Ugh. This is stressing me out big time. Dammit.
This crap has to stop, it really does. #tvxqhwaiting

OH YEAH!!! Amen. Rt @dbsknights rt @mrckdexter SME, we gonna take you down. You can't run. You can't hide.

I think I'm gonna cry right now. #tvxqhwaiting

This is good. #smentgodiaf OH YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahah.
#SMEntgoDIAF Dammit, you're stupid AND disrespectful! SM Entertainment should also rot in hell after dying in that fire.

Have a bowl of steaming hot ramen beside me right now. I need comfort food after all this crap #TVXQHWAITING

Because they're HUMANS. RT @Fayoosu DBSK IS NOT A PIECE OF PAPER, AFTER USING, JUST THROW IT. DBSK IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD. #TVXQHWAITING
RT @onetvxqforums #TVXQHWAITING Keep the excuses coming, SM... Keep 'em coming. #SMEntgoDIAF
May I suggest that SME ALSO burn in hell for sins against music? #TVXQhwaiting
I love how this was phrased. Hahah. RT @joongiebabyy Let's beat that Google thingy! #tvxqhwaiting

That was good. Hahah. RT @dreamideoyo [NEWS] Giant rats found in SME Building!! No wait.. it's just SME CEOs...XD #TVXQHWAITING

SM Entertainment has to get some brains & actually use them. I don't care if it's capitalist or musical brains, JUST GET SOME. #TVXQHWAITING

AMEN! RT @sosarcastic DBSK made me realize that guys like taylor lautner and rob pattinson are friggin ugly lmao #TVXQHWAITING

Listening to 'Love In the Ice'. This song makes me tear up. Maybe I should listen to 'Proud'. Para humahagulgol na ako. Hahah. #TVXQHWAITING
Can I start crying now? #TVXQHWAITING

Listening to 'Proud'. I gotta get ready to burst out crying. #TVXQHWAITING
Oh dear, here it comes. I'm gonna cry now. DAMN YOU SM ENTERTAINMENT! #TVXQHWAITING

DBSK will end, that's the way things go, BUT they cannot end under circumstances like this. They're fueling SM Ent. this way. #tvxqhwaiting
Exactly my point. RT @purplelykthat TVXQ's time is not up yet. they've still got so much to accomplish & a legacy to leave. #TVXQHWAITING

I HAVE A PROJECT TO DO! But I don't care - DBSK deserve to be treated like musicians & RESPECTED. That's why I'm tweeting. #TVXQHWAITING

Said this to a friend just now. All SM's acts can live without them but they can't live without their acts. #TVXQHWAITING

AMEN. RT @purplelykthat TVXQ = noun; guys who are awesomely epic that can bring you to ur knees with their vocals. #TVXQHWAITING
That's what I'm talking about! RT @purplelykthat Jaejoong=noun; a gorgeous etheral being that looks like one of Gawd's angels. #TVXQHWAITING
RT @purplelykthat Jaejoong = noun; a rising god of the east that can sing his heart out like there is no tomorrow. #TVXQHWAITING

WHY ARE WE LOOSING TO HALL-OWEEN?!?!? #TVXQHWAITING
Dammit, we're going down the trending topics list. ALWAYS KEEP THE FAITH! #TVXQHWAITING

AMEN. RT @mpritprita #tvxqhwaiting fight against the capitalism of SME!!!
This DBSK crap has to stop. It really does. #tvxqhwaiting

@purplelykthat I think it should be " Changmin - DBSK's lead scream-er." Hahah. #TVXQHWAITING
AMEN!!! RT @purplelykthat SME = adjective or noun (depending on how you look at it); boogey man, suck a**, lying cesspit. #TVXQHWAITING

Sounds like a plan! RT @onetvxqforums Unless we SEE Homin and their parents talking about it, we don't believe it! #tvxqhwaiting

Will wear something red tomorrow. What exactly, I don't know. Hahah. #TVXQHWAITING

I'm literally on the BRINK of having an emotional breakdown. #TVXQHWAITING

Making a new banner for PRN with DBSK. ALWAYS KEEP THE FAITH! #TVXQHWAITING
Coincidentally, the color I used on the new banner was red. Completely forgot that it was Cassie's color when I was making it! #tvxqhwaiting

This stupidity in the music industry makes me want to teach these executives a lesson and whip the industry into shape myself. #tvxqhwaiting
People need to understand that music MUST be respected-a PERSON made it. Disrespecting it and bastardizing it is intolerable. #tvxqhwaiting
The irony of it all. RT @onetvxqforums Chun only updated his cyworld yesterday and he seemed so happy! #tvxqhwaiting

Watching that live performance of 'Proud' where they were all emotional wrecks by the end of the song. #tvxqhwaiting

Yes, I'm thankful to SM that DBSK was formed but I wanna clobber the company for doing what they've done. #tvxqhwaiting

I hate this industry, I really do. It's disrespectful, it's nonsense, the people running it are stupid & it deceives people. #tvxqhwaiting
It has no sense of artistic credibility, it looks like money and it destroys lives. Artists get lured in only to suffer. #tvxqhwaiting
THIS IS WHY I SO BADLY WANT TO CHANGE IT. This DBSK crap makes me want to become an executive even more, to fix this mess. #tvxqhwaiting
Someone has to tech these stupid record label executives a lesson. I wanna be one of them. Gosh, I wanna cry now. #tvxqhwaiting

Since when did things become about the money? Does SM not see the MUSIC in MUSIC INDUSTRY?!?! Jaejoong's VOCALS = GOD. #tvxqhwaiting

ALWAYS KEEP THE FAITH. The music industry may be stupid but if there are enough of us, they can actually learn something. #tvxqhwaiting

Twitterrific gave up on me for the third time since all this DBSK crap started but I don't effin' care! Hahah. #tvxqhwaiting

Listening to 'Flower Girl', the first song I liked off 'Mirotic'. #tvxqhwaiting

Now they're still SM Puppets. RT @aanjali Let's see what SHINee will say in few years when it's be their turn to be enslaved #tvxqhwaiting

Everyone has to stop thinking about contracts and money and start thinking about the music again. http://bit.ly/4GlJX9 #tvxqhwaiting
The DBSK rant (http://bit.ly/4GlJX9) is my 500th post. A meaningful 500th, to say the least. #tvxqhwaiting

I've been waiting for someone to say that since this whole thing started! RT @Rachiehearts_JJ SM = NAZI's OF KPOP
If there are enough of us we can all take down SM ent. together! Hahah. #tvxqhwaiting
ALWAYS, ALWAYS KEEP THE FAITH. It's the one thing we can do to fight these stupid executives. #tvxqhwaiting

All this tweeting is tiring! Listening to 'Rising Sun'. Oh, those days. #tvxqhwaiting

AGREED! RT @Rachiehearts_JJ #tvxqhwaiting I think SME has forgotten that they work for US the fans & we say we wont stand for this anymore!

Jaejoong's voice is the best in SM Ent, without a shadow of a doubt. And I'm not just saying that 'coz he has super abs. Haha. #tvxqhwaiting

Praying that when I wake up tomorrow morning #TVXQhwaiting is still a trending topic.

The things we do for DBSK RT @joongiebabyy just realised I didn't eat anything today ... #tvxqhwaiting

Listening to 'One'. #tvxqhwaiting

The next morning after less than 3 hours of sleep:

Thank God Safari takes screenshots of history. Looking over what we were doing last night and damn, that was amazing. #tvxqhwaiting

Hindi na 'to "oh, I hate the industry, I wanna change it, la la la.", Ano na "HOW DARE YOU EVEN TRY DOING WHAT YOU DO. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT."
DBSK have to end, yes, but they deserve to end gracefully, not this way. ALWAYS KEEP THE FAITH. #tvxqhwaiting
SM's flat-out STUPIDITY is something I can't just sit here and take. Dammit SM - ROT IN HELL FOR ALL I CARE. #tvxqhwaiting

Listening to 'One' again. I'm afraid I might burst out crying if I listen to 'Proud' right now. #tvxqhwaiting
Listening to 'Whatever they Say'. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! *cries* #tvxqhwaiting
I need a red bracelet. Why don't I have anything red when I actually need it???!! #tvxqhwaiting

The afternoon of the morning after:

Caught up on the DBSK news. Gosh this is confusing as hell.

I hardly got any sleep last night but as long as it's for some of the most talented guys in pop, I don't care one damn bit. #tvxqhwaiting

How dare SM even think of attempting to do what they did to DBSK. HOW DARE THEY. #tvxqhwaiting
SM, I know Yoo Young Jin knows how to write a good pop song and your artists know how to sing them but really, you executives are stupid.

I'm going to watch a DBSK concert and no one is gonna stop me. Hahah.

Next week's top 20 on Pop Reviews Now is gonna be special. Just wait. #TVXQhwaiting #alwayskeepthefaith
RT @onetvxqforums #alwayskeepthefaith We believe in ALL 5!, not three and not two but ALL 5!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Big Bang's Vocal Prowess

Well, well - I finally got myself to write another vocal commentary!

I think you guys know that I had a little problem including Big Bang in this special, mainly because 2 of the 5 members are predominantly rappers and to be completely honest with you guys I know nothing about rap and I most probably will never learn anything because it's not something I particularly enjoy listening to. I tried asking around what made a good rapper but the problem with asking someone else is that I won't be able to form my own opinions and my own concept of beauty - it'll be just me 'emulating' someone else's opinion and that's not the reason why I blog. I prefer forming my own opinions on things before asking people what they think.

So I've solved this problem - I will only comment on the three vocalists. G Dragon sang on his debut album but it was so damn auto-tuned that I can't properly 'analyze' his voice. Therefore, I will comment on Taeyang, Seungri and Daesung only.

Big Bang are Korea's R&B/Hip Hop/Rapping boyband so it's only natural that they don't have pop voices but those that the hip hop experts find good and suitable for the songs they perform. These guys aren't big ballad singers, they're R&B slow song singers and they're not rock singers, they're hip-hop uptempo singers. Their voices weren't made to sing songs like DBSK's Rising Sun or stuff like that, they were made to sing songs like Usher's Burn. Therefore, the way I look at their voices varies a bit from the pop bands - because even if they still do make pop music, it's a different side of the genre.

Together these three guys are strong and individually they're good but one voice really just stands out for me. We'll get to that later. Below is a slow song recorded and live and an uptempo recorded and live. Feast your ears on their vocals:

The slow song: A Fool's Only Tears (2006)


The uptempo: Sunset Glow (2008)


Taeyang
This guy has a voice that I would class as stereotypical and always present in a more hip-hop band in Korea. It's nasal, it's on the thin side and it sounds insanely good auto-tuned. In short, it's a stupid record producer's dream come true to be able to process this guy's voice because it comes out insanely good. He has his strengths, the guy can sing and it sounds good to some but I personally don't like his voice because it's too nasal live and he only sounds good autotuned. However for the uptempos his voice does well and he makes the group very distinctly hip hop. Without him Big Bang would not be hip hop vocally so you gotta commend the guy. He also sounds good when you combine him with the other two so as long as he helps make the band as a whole, doesn't matter if he doesn't appeal to me individually - he's in a band and he should be able to blend with everyone else, not overpower them or stick out like a sore thumb.


Seungri
Seungri is like a less nasal and deeper version with Taeyang with a much nicer timbre. It's still nasal and ideal for the songs they're doing though. If I were to chose between this guy and Taeyang, I'd chose this guy. I personally think he has the right mix of the nasal voice hip-hop people want and an over-all nice timbre. Thus, he is the guy with the nice timbre in the band. His voice may not be predominantly smooth and it may not be right next to the Key and Tiffanys of the world but the timbre is enough to carry him as a singer. He does the uptempos well, he does the ballads well - he's probably in between Taeyang and Daesung.






Daesung
Oh dear, here I go again with another insanely smooth voice. Daesung Big Bang is right beside Taemin SHINee and Jaejoong DBSK in terms of smoothness - the guy's voice is so damn smooth that I was falling at my feet just hearing 3 - 4 lines from him in an entire song. For someone with a predominantly smooth voice, he surprisingly also has a nice timbre. It's not exceptionally nice like Key SHINee but it's unusual for someone with a smooth voice like his to have a timbre on the deeper side. He's flexible as well - he sounds pretty decent autotuned, sounds great when he hits high notes and can sing trot (Korean traditional music mixed with pop. Very big market in Korea.) although not my type. His main role in the band is to smoothen out Taeyang's nasal voice and Seungri's deep one. I think you already know by now but I'll say it anyway - Daesung is my favorite voice in Big Bang.

I knew he had that kind of voice since the very start of my acquaintance with Big Bang but it took me this song so really be blown away with it. He takes the lead in choruses at 0:48 - 1:02, 1:49 - 2:05 and 3:11 - 3:26, solos at 2:22 - 2:30, 2:33 - 2:43 (that's the high note) and an ad lib from 3:30 - 3:35.


Thoughts? Agree or disagree? Put everything in the comments section! Hahah.