Song of the Day: I Will Show You (by Ailee)


Ailee - I Will Show you

Ailee is the sort of K-Pop artist that would be more at home in the US with the type of music she performs. Sure she dabbles in the dance pop genre that K-Pop is famous for. What she seems to not do is what K-Pop fans would be calling bubble or candy pop. Not cutesy concepts or vocals from this artist.

Ailee’s sound is heavily influenced by Western R&B and late 70’s disco. While those two seem like an odd match, with her powerful voice and vocal range she makes it a match in heaven.

As part of her debut album, the song “I Will Show You” does a great job of letting the listener in at her vocal talent and that she’s not one to be an early flash in the pan success. It would remiss of me to say that her success has been mostly because of her looks. Ailee is one K-Pop artist who has it all. She’s not just beautiful, but her talented voice puts her in the same league as her Western counterparts in the R&B and pop music scene.

As for the video which accompanied “I Will Show You.” It’s an energetic music video which tells the oft-times told tale of the ugly duckling blossoming into the beautiful swan to the surprise of those who ignored her due to her earlier looks. While an entertaining music video, it also has its detractors due to how the video ends with the very man who ignores her when she was in her “ugly duckling” phase suddenly realizing his mistake and tries to woo her.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but the video goes the “happy ending” route with Ailee taking back the very man who dumped her in the beginning but now that she’s the swan it’s all better. Again, some have liked the video while others see’s the ending as being problematic.

Song of the Day: Paradise Lost (by Gain)


ga-in paradise lost

The latest Song of the Day: K-Pop Edition is not just borderline NSFW, but should also piss off the very religious. From the video’s dark and very sexual imagery and choreography to it’s reinterpretation of some long-standing Biblical storytelling, Brown Eyed Girls’ member known as Gain released the song “Paradise Lost” from her 2015 solo album.

The song’s release had the usual fanfare but also reconfirmed her as one of K-Pop’s longstanding artist who pushed the boundaries of the very rigid and structured K-Pop industry where talent is trained and honed and controlled by untold numbers of corporate handlers.

“Paradise Lost” is a 4 minute-plus tour de force of a video that presents Gain in the role of Eve both while in the Garden of Eden and also after her expulsion from “paradise.” Whether it’s the elaborate satin and lace white wedding dress that obscures and hints at Eve’s repressed sexuality down to the black and white sequence where Gain is not just Even after her expulsion, but moving like the snake who tempted her and Adam to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

While some will just focus on Gain’s sultry and smoldering beauty and the video’s sinuous and sexualized choreography, when the lyrics of the song and Gain’s powerful and emotionally devastating performance gets factored in the song and video become one of K-Pop’s great masterpieces that even the Western music world hasn’t seen since the days when Madonna experimented and explored her sexuality through her music and her videos in the early 1990’s.

So, come and take a seat and watch for the taboo thrill of the NSFW video, but stay for the message in the song and learn why sometimes it’s the non-believers who truly understands the true meaning behind the things we consider Biblical and sacred.

Song of the Day: Décalcomanie (by Mamamoo)


Mamamoo Decalcomanie

The latest Song of the Day: K-Pop Edition comes from the 4-girl group Mamamoo. They first debut in June 19, 2014 with their official first single “Mr Ambiguous” from their debut EP Hello.

Mamamoo burst onto the K-Pop scene with a mature sound and style that even makes their more typical K-pop songs (happy, cheery and quirky) stand-out from the very crowded K-Pop releases. Their music videos showcases this group’s unique style which runs the gamut from playful to glam to femme fatale.

Their 2016 single “Décalcomanie,” from their EP Memory, is a blend of dance with early 90’s R&B pop. The song starts off at a slow simmer and the music video for the track showcases the song’s evershifting tempo and mood.

It’s a video that has the four members of Mamamoo (Solar, Moonbyul, Wheein and Hwasa) dressed to the nines like femme fatales out of a classic noir tale. Even the set location speaks to an era of detectives, glamorous damsels and fierce femme fatales.

When the song’s music video was first released, there was a controversy involving a sequence in the video that some in South Korea (and many fans worldwide) saw as being borderline sexual assault (some even calling it as one outright). the video was quickly taken down with the controversial sequence removed with some clever editing.

Either way, the controversy doesn’t change the fact that “Décalcomanie” is a great addition to the group’s growing work. It’s a very good showcase to the group’s strong vocal talent and visual appeal. The choreography I not as energized as most K-pop videos, but the tone and theme of the video itself doesn’t need for high-energy dancing and movements. The movements and mood of the video speaks more to themes of danger and sensuality. These are themes well-established with noir stories and art.

If there was a song and video to introduce a newcomer to Mamamoo, “Décalcomanie” is more than deserving to be an introduction to the group.

Song of the Day: Reunited (by Peaches & Herb)


peaches-and-herb-reunited

There’s been many a voice out in the virtual world that has been disappointed with the first half of The Walking Dead in it’s seventh season. It had a season premiere that was nihilistic and emotionally-draining. The follow-up episodes have been a mixed bag with some calling the 4th episode one of the worst of the season.

Tonight saw the mid-season finale as the chess pieces that had been moving since that season premiere starts to take form. Yet, for all the doom and gloom of lower ratings and subpar episodes the show continues to be the most-watched show on cable. Part of that could be due to many viewers so fully invested in the show that they have hope the series will right itself and have a better second-half. The other part seems to come from the very people who have been proclaiming that the show has worn out it’s welcome yet continue to watch as a sort of schadenfreude. They want to see the show crash and burn and wait for the moment when it loses everyone.

Well, tonight probably won’t be it since it finally tied together the first-half of the season and got Rick to stop moping around and get thangs done. It also saw the reuniting of the show’s bromance as Daryl and Rick finally reunited in the end.

Which brings us to the latest “Song of the Day” courtesy of R&B stalwarts Peaches & Herb and their biggest hit, “Reunited.”

Reunited

I was a fool to ever leave your side
Me minus you is such a lonely ride
The breakup we had
Has made me lonesome and sad
I realize I love you ’cause I want you bad, hey, hey

I spent the evening with the radio
Regret the moment that I let you go
Our quarrel was such
A way of learning so much
I know now that I love you ’cause I need your touch, hey, hey

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
‘Cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

I sat here staring at the same old wall
Came back to life just when I got your call
I wished I could climb
Right through the telephone line
And give you what you want so you will still be mine, hey, hey

I can’t go cheating, honey, I can’t play
I found it very hard to stay away
As we reminisce
On precious moments like this
I’m glad we’re back together, ’cause I missed your kiss, hey, hey

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
‘Cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Baby

Oh, lover, lover, this is solid love
And you’re exactly what I’m dreaming of
All through the day
And all through the night
I’ll give you all the love I have with all my might, hey, hey

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
‘Cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

Ooh, listen baby
I won’t ever make you cry
I won’t let one day go by
Without holding you
Without kissing you
Without loving you
Reunited

You’re my everything
Only you know how to free
All the love there is in me
I wanna let you know
I won’t let you go
I wanna let you know
I won’t let you go
Reunited

Ooh, feels so good

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
‘Cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

Neon Dream #4: Hong Kong Express – 浪漫的夢想


I am not sure whether my recent discovery of vaporwave was a coincidence or not. When people check out my Last.fm profile, I always return the serve, and I happened to be listening to a lot of other music that will be featured in this series when I got a new visitor. This person’s profile was filled with really odd artist names, mostly consisting of katakana followed by a seemingly random English word in all caps. Click click.

This was vaporwave, as it turned out, and vaporwave was pretty odd. I guess the genre emerged beginning in 2011 as electronic and dance artists, partly in jest and partly as a sort of social commentary, began to resurrect trash audio from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The background sounds of shopping malls and elevator shafts twisted in conformity to dance beats and reemerged packaged with bad 90s digital imagery. The artist titles are a nod to those used in Asian markets to sell western hits without having to pay royalties. The genre title, too, was a hoax, referring to vaporware–products which are heavily marketed but never actually released or cancelled. (Remember when Duke Nukem Forever gained so much fame after 14 years “in development” that Gearbox slapped together a garbage FPS under the title?) Some of the early artists in the scene suggested that their music was not intended to be enjoyed for any intrinsically pleasing qualities. Rather, they were taking music that was trashy in spirit and making it trashy in sound, degrading it to a state where its shallow capitalist origins could shine while, as a possibly unintended consequence, infusing it with actual conceptual value.

The earlier artists I sampled were, as you might expect from the description, entertaining but not particularly pleasant to listen to. In 2014, a label called Dream Catalogue launched and helped to really redirect the genre. Taking the same technical approach of restructuring muzak, smooth jazz, funk, lounge, new age, and R&B into electronic and dance tracks, Dream Catalogue artists showed a generally keener eye towards making the music aesthetically pleasing in its own right. The result was a sound that’s simultaneously modern and nostalgic, and a collection of albums that show a lot more individual character and vision.

Hong Kong Express, the Dream Catalogue founder’s personal project, presents a consistent vision of dreamy nighttime travels in a modern city. In describing his first release, 浪漫的夢想, the label’s website concludes that “This dream, ultimately, is a mysterious and romantic trip through the neon haze of a night in Hong Kong – a journey of subway carriages and fast cars, a love both lost and found, and a connection between souls.” I can definitely hear that. The pitched, echoing pop and jazz samples generate the sense that you aren’t fully taking in your surroundings. You drift through a landscape of glowing billboards and signs, recognizing the products subliminally while reflecting on the light itself, becoming lost in a vibrant capitalist world. What could be more appropriate for the theme of this series?

Check out the rest of the Dream Catalogue catalogue on Bandcamp.

Song of the Day: That’s the Way Love Goes (by Janet Jackson)


janet_jackson_-_janet_(1993)-front

A late Happy Valentine’s for those who celebrate it and for those who do not, well the day is almost over.

What better way to close out another Valentine’s than to go back many years to one of the classic ballads to come out of the early 90’s. This one comes courtesy of one Ms. Janet Jackson. It was the lead single in her 5th full-length album and became a signature song for her.

Whenever people my age say that they don’t make music like they used to back in our days then I can honestly say that this song, “That’s the Way Love Goes”, is a prime example of a song done right back in my days.

That’s the Way Love Goes

Like a moth to a flame
Burned by the fire
My love is blind
Can’t you see my desire?
That’s the way love goes
Like a moth to a flame
Burned by the fire
My love is blind
Can’t you see my desire?

Like a moth to a flame
Burned by the fire
My love is blind
Can’t you see my desire
That’s the way love goes
Like a moth to a flame
Burned by the fire
That’s the way love goes
My love is blind
Can’t you see my desire?

Come with me
Don’t you worry
I’m gonna make you crazy
I’ll give you the time of your life

I’m gonna take you places
You’ve never been before and
You’ll be so happy that you came

Oooooh, I’m gonna take you there
Oo-ooh hoo-ooh oo-ooh
That’s the way love goes
Hoo
That’s the way love goes
That’s the way love goes
That’s the way love goes

Don’t mind if I light candles
I like to watch us play and
Baby, I’ve got on what you like

Come closer
Baby closer
Reach out and feel my body
I’m gonna give you all my love
Ooh sugar don’t you hurry
You’ve got me here all night
Just close your eyes and hold on tight

Ooh baby
Don’t stop, don’t stop
Go deeper
Baby deeper
You feel so good I’m gonna cry

Oooooh I’m gonna take you there
Oo-ooh hoo-ooh oo-ooh
That’s the way love goes
Hoo
That’s the way love goes
That’s the way love goes it goes it goes
Oooh that’s the way love goes
Reach out and feel my body
That’s the way love goes
Dontcha know
That’s the way
Like a moth to a flame
Burned by the fire
My love is blind
Can’t you see my desire
Like a moth to a flame
Burned by the fire My love is blind
Can’t you see my desire?
That’s the way love goes

 

27 Days of Old School: #27 “The Sweetest Days” (by Vanessa Williams)


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“So we whisper a dream here in the darkness
Watching the stars til they’re gone
And when even the memories have all faded away
These days go on and on”

We’ve finally reached the end of 27 Days of Old School and I think it appropriate that I choose a heartwarming and life-affirming song from 1994 by the incomparable Vanessa Williams.

While Madonna courted controversy on the other side of the ledger was the classic beauty and soulful talent that was Vanessa Williams. She may not have had the mega-success that Madonna had in the music business, but she still left quite a mark on her own terms.

She’s been on top of the charts as an R&B and pop singer. She really hit her stride with her second full-length album which includes the memorable ballad “Save The Best For Last”. She would follow this ballad with “The Sweetest Days” which is also the name of her third album.

While she hasn’t been making music these past years she has branched out into becoming a successful actress both on the big and small screen and even doing some time on Broadway.

So, for those who feel down and out and who think the world is crashing down around and on them I recommend they sit down, relax and listen to this song. It might just help lift things up even if just a bit.

27 Days of Old School

  1. “Billie Jean” (by Michael Jackson)
  2. “Word Up!” (by Cameo)
  3. “Tell It To My Heart” (by Taylor Dayne)
  4. “You Got It All” (by The Jets)
  5. “Welcome to the Jungle” (by Guns ‘N Roses)
  6. “Hip to Be Square” (by huey Lewis and the News)
  7. “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” (by Information Society)
  8. “Rio” (by Duran Duran)
  9. “I Got It Made” (by Special Ed)
  10. “Jackin’ for Beats” (by Ice Cube)
  11. “Seasons Change (by Exposé)
  12. “If Wishes Came True” (by Sweet Sensation)
  13. “Alone” (by Heart)
  14. “The Trooper” (by Iron Maiden)
  15. “You Shook Me All Night Long” (by AC/DC)
  16. “Gimme All Your Lovin” (by ZZ Top)
  17. “Take On Me” (by A-ha)
  18. Take A Bow” (by Madonna)
  19. “You’ll See” (by Madonna)
  20. “Whip Appeal” (by Babyface)
  21. “One” (by Metallica)
  22. “Here I Go Again” (by Whitesnake)
  23. “Mama Said Knock You Out” (by LL Cool J)
  24. “Here and Now” (by Luther Vandross)
  25. “Voodoo Child” (by Stevie Ray Vaughan)
  26. “I’m Still In Love With You” (by New Edition)