Once is a new Broadway musical hit that won eight Tony awards, including Best Musical. I’m sure some of you knew that in the back of your minds. But what you probably didn’t know was that it was based on a movie, which I recently got the chance to watch.
Once is a story about a young(ish) Irish man who works in his father’s vacuum cleaner repair shop and plays his guitar on the street for cash in his free time. He enjoys composing in the evenings when he’s not outside. It’s on his street corner where he meets a fairly young woman from Eastern Europewho also has a love for music. They strike up a friendship and the man becomes motivated to chase after his dreams: becoming a musician in London.
The reason I didn’t give any names here is because their names are never said in the movie. Even on the IMDB page they are listed as ‘guy’ and ‘girl.’ I think that adds a lot to the story now that I think about it. In a sense, it makes the story more relatable; anyone could be this guy and any girl could be that girl.
Now this isn’t the type of musical with over the top theatrics. There’s no song and dance. No gigantic chorus. Just some guy and some girl with a guitar and a piano (that the girl plays in the music store because she can’t afford her own) playing some tunes. And they’re beautiful. I think I’m in a ever-shrinking minority when I say I love simpler music more than complicated things. I don’t like my music auto-tuned to the nines; I don’t need seventy-six trombones in my orchestra. And the songs in this movie were just that, simple music, with simple and pretty lyrics, and beautifully sung.
I didn’t know what this movie was about going in, and it honestly surprises me that it was turned into a stage production. It’s not a lot of story; the entire plot takes place over the course of a seemingly short week. But what the story lacks in over-the-top theatrics it makes up for in honest charm.
Hopefully I can see Once some time soon when the cheap tickets come out of the woodwork. Until then, I’m just going to have to keep myself content with YouTube clips like the one below.
The other day, I got the song below randomly stuck in my head and then decided it would be a good idea to blog about them, simply because they’re ridiculous.
Flight of the Conchords is the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand. They used to be New Zealand’s 4th most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo, but they’ve made their way up (a smidge). They had programs on both HBO and BBC for a while several years ago, and have thrown around ideas such as a reunion tour and a movie.
I love these guys. I love how witty they are and how they make it seem so effortless. They’re singing songs about the annhililation of the entire human race and I’m still laughing about it. They have a real knack for taking things that shouldn’t really be funny, and making people laugh about them anyway. I think what they’re best at is presentation. Some (very lucky/talented) people can say almost anything and have it be funny. These guys are a great example.
It also doesn’t hurt their cause that I’m a huge fan of parody music and folk music. So here’s another video below and I hope you guys enjoy listening to them!
We all have those video games whose soundtrack we can never get out of our heads. Whether it be the captivating wind instruments from the lost woods in Ocarina of Time or the simple 8-bit earworm that never dies from Tetris I think that it can be agreed on that music has the capacity to not only set video games on different levels of greatness, but to make a game truly timeless. Today’s Web Crush explores the true impact of these memorable tunes on this generation’s composers.
I actually stumbled upon this site a very, very long time ago while looking for remixes of the ‘Serenade of Water’ from Ocarina of Time. Although my tastes in music have shifted from that time—I’m all about the Gerudo Valley these days—I’m still continuously impressed by the quantity and quality of tracks that find their way onto Overclocked Remix (shorthand: OC Remix). In fact, the rate that it has expanded in my nearing eight years of knowing of its existence is somewhere between startling and inspiring.
In terms of ‘startling’, I’m scolding myself for even thinking that. Looking at some of the more popular acts within the video game community, there’s a very strong group that utilize these games if not in name, but in samples and riffs within their own tracks. A good example of this is The Protomen, whose name is not only based on a character from the Mega Man series of games, and whose music takes cues from the plot of the games as well. Also, it seems now more than ever we have a large group of gamers that are endlessly yearning for satiation to their hunger for nostalgia. We have shirts in Hot Topic that feature 8-bit characters, at cons there are tournaments for older games like Pokémon Stadium and Goldeneye—although to consider the N64 era as nostalgic as say, the SNES, makes me feel really old—so to think that music wouldn’t also try to cash in on these trends is rather shortsighted of myself.
Luckily, at OC Remix you won’t have to “cash in” on anything as all the music is free for download. All of their music is neatly organized and easy to find. While you may not find a track for every game you’re looking for—I was a touch disappointed to find they didn’t have any Ganbare Goemon remixes—they’ll no doubt have at least one track that catches your eye. Or ear, rather.
Well, well, well, look which light of my vocal life finds herself near the top of MNet charts again this week.
You may remember this soulful songstress from another review I did four months ago of her song ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ and I have to say, these months apart have been a good teacher to the young Hi Lee (and also the people that direct her videos). I love that in ‘It’s Over’ it’s more than clear that she’s been encouraged to keep her bluesy vocals and I still believe that they’re the major thing that will separate her from her female vocalist peers. So far, it seems like the Kpop music scene agrees with me. Continue reading →
I mentioned while reviewing The Devil’s Carnival, I thought that nothing could beat Grease for being one of the most sexist musicals ever. Now, despite The Devil’s Carnival taking Grease‘s place at number one, I still hate Grease with such a rage-filled passion that it is almost ridiculous.
He was going to! But then you let him change everything about you! What are you doing!?
This is a musical that almost always gets a pass because of its excellent soundtrack. All the dancing, singing, and pretty costumes distract you from the horrible, terrible, no good, very sexist plot! But it’s not just the main plot—every little side story or comment is sexist, too. And don’t give me the excuse that this musical was written during “a different time”. It was written in the 70s, well after the Women’s Liberation movement began; it should at least be a little better than the musicals written in the late 50s and early 60s. And the argument that Grease is accurately portraying the sexism of the 1950s is also not true. Grease portrays the 50s about as accurately as Disney portrays Chinese culture in Mulan. And even if you could prove to me that this portrayal is accurate, it still doesn’t change anything. Shows like Mad Men portray the sexism and racism of the generation they’re depicting, but they never glorify it or shy away from how terrible it is. Grease doesn’t do that.
Grease is a musical that looks nostalgically back on this time period along with its attitudes and way of life. Grease‘s message is very clearly, “wouldn’t it be great if the world was still like this.” A world where men utterly shame, control, and abuse women? No, thanks! Grease, your catchy songs don’t fool me! I see you for what you are!
This is not the song I expected to see at the top of the charts this week.
While it’s hardly contestable that Valentine’s Day in America has become an overblown marketing scam for Hallmark and Hershey’s, its basic significance has not been lost on the rest of the world. From dramas and anime alone (and probably from a culture lesson in Japanese class if you’ve been able to take one) it’s clear that Japan has its own traditions concerning the holiday and it’s largely the same in Korea. The pattern is Valentine’s Day on the fourteenth of February, White Day, a female oriented Valentine’s Day, a month later and, perhaps a Korea-specific holiday, Black Day (bemoaning one’s single-ness) a month after that. So, it’s strange to me to see that, while this kind of holiday is clearly celebrated and holds importance in a romantic sense, during the week of this love-love holiday a song about a break-up shot up five spots on the Mnet chart.
Usually when I discuss K-pop and J-pop, it’s all about the music, but today there’s something a little more serious that has come to light. Being an idol in Korea or Japan is all about the image, no matter if you’re male or female, and every aspect of an idol’s life is strictly regimented to uphold that image. When that illusion of perfection is tarnished, however, the repercussions can be severe, and in this case that’s blowing up the internet gossip sites and fansites alike, the consequences almost seem akin to the abusive hazing rituals that we’ve come to know in America.
In the final days of January, Minami Minegishi, one of the members of Japanese super group AKB48, was caught leaving the home of another male pop star (Alan Shirahama of GENERATION) after spending the night with him despite the strict ‘no dating’ rule within the group. After being exposed, Minami was demoted to the position of kenkyuusei (trainee) despite being one of the longest participating members, being part of AKB48 since it first started in 2005. Not only that, out of a desire to show how truly sorry she was, she shaved her head and issued an apology on YouTube.
It seems that I only ever see movies these days at the behest of my friends. I should honestly be thankful for that, since otherwise I’d be hideously out of the loop (er… more out of the loop) of what sorts of trends in characters Hollywood was attempting to pull over on us. Of course, then I get saddled with an unsuitable urge to write a review on the movie du jour. Oh, woe and misery onto me.
Honestly, when I started up Pitch Perfect I really wasn’t expecting much of anything; despite being released in September of last year, it no doubt had that ‘summer movie’ vibe going for it. You know the one, too early to even try for any type of award so the plot and ending are able to be surmised from the trailer and all the characters are the clichés we’ve come to love/hate. The only reason people watch such a type of movie is to clear their head of any worries that had previously been rolling around in there and just veg out for an hour or two, which there’s nothing wrong with. In fact, that’s what I was doing and I have to say that my expectations were met: Pitch Perfect is nothing new, but there is one thing that sets it apart from most of the other summer movies I’ve seen.
Do you ever get frustrated with women in the mainstream music world? I do! I remember a couple years ago I tried to sit down and list some of my favorite female musicians/singers and was dismayed to realize that there were surprisingly few. I further noticed that almost every song was about love, break ups, or “angry women songs,” as I like to call them. “Angry women songs” are usually my favorite because it’s all about the ladies being pissed off and finally standing up for themselves. However, though there are exceptions, many of these angry women songs were very romance centered. The theme seemed to be “my man was an asshole so I left him and now I’m awesome and empowered. Fuck yeah!” Now there isn’t anything wrong with these types of songs, but every so often I’d like to listen to music, made by women, that reflects my life and the life of other women a little more realistically.
Not too long ago I said that The Devil’s Carnival was the worst, most sexist musical I have ever seen. I was surprised by this because I actually really like Repo! The Genetic Opera, which I see as a much more feminist tale.
The premise of Repo! The Genetic Opera is that in the future, organ failures become a major problem, eventually causing the rise of a company known as GeneCo. GeneCo provides organ transplants and cosmetic surgeries, but if someone defaults on a payment a Repoman will come and remove the organ from you.
The musical centers on Repoman Nathan, played by Anthony Stewart Head, and his daughter Shilo, who I see as our main feminist heroine in this musical. However, there are several other female characters that support these feminist themes. There is Blind Mag, a formerly blond opera singer and now the voice of GeneCo, who is played by Sarah Brightman (best known for playing Christine in Phantom of the Opera), Amber Sweet, the wealthy heiress of GeneCo, played by Paris Hilton, and finally Marni, Nathan’s dead wife.
In my mind, feminism at its core is about choice—to choose what type of person you want to be without fear of judgement or prejudice. In Repo! The Genetic Opera each woman struggles to have a choice over how they live their lives.