Monday, December 31, 2012

Most Shocking/Disappointing/WTF Asian Music Moments of 2012

ALDIOUS' Vocalist Leaves
I've already given my praise to these awesome set of ladies, but it was sad hearing that Rami had to depart from the band. Of course, fans understandably accepted this news and wished the departed member well on her health. Fortunately, the band wasn't knocked down and picked up KERA model Re:No to fill in the position. I'm sure her vocal talents will take some getting used to, but the essence of ALDIOUS are not lost.

I know they formed two years ago, but they didn't debut their awesomeness until this year and it was definitely a "wtf" moment. Who would've thought that fusing cutesy girly jpop with metal was going to be so amazing. I know for a fact that this group confused some people and it's definitely a group that you'll either love or hate, but either way. Apparently, they have something in the works for 2013 and I am looking forward to it. Perhaps, there will be a battle between them and BiS. That might be pretty epic.

Pay money To my Pain's K's Mental Health
It was sad to hear that PTP's vocalist K had to put his musical activities on hold due to his mental health. I tried to look up some information on the situation and you'd be surprised how difficult that can be to find a truly credible source. From what I gathered from Tumblrdore, K has been battling his mental problems for quite some time and as of late it was time to check into a professional to prevent further problems from occurring. I hope he takes care of himself and doesn't rush the process to please fans.

VII-Sense Disbands
Probably less surprising for those familiar with Shaura's (Juka) track record, but still saddening to fans of the band. For me, the band seemed to be gaining momentum with each release and made me excited as time passed by. They had an interesting line up of having triple guitars and utilizing every aspect of that. Unlike Kisaki, Kamijo, and Hizaki, this is the end of Shaura/Juka's musical adventures. I wish him a lot of luck and I hope that Erina shows back up in a new band as well, because his skills are amazing.

DecoLa Hopping Disbands
Another less surprising bit of news that's still saddening to me and their fans. I knew they had been having direction issues, but somehow they carried on to make a couple more singles before officially announcing their disbandment. They have one more release and then it's all over in April of this coming new year. If you've never checked these guys out, they are definitely not what you would think they would be judging by appearance. I remember thinking it was going to be the typical oshare kei, but then Suiya began to growl and I was instantly in love. Nonetheless, I wish them all the best and I hope they continue their musical endeavors, especially Suiya, in new projects.

Chemical Pictures Disbands
The last of the disbandment news for me was hearing this bit of saddening news. In a way, it seemed expected as the band had been silent for a while and TenTen's bands don't last long from what I noticed. I'm hoping that TenTen shows up on the scene as he normally does and even the other members as well. They had a lot of potential and it's sad that they couldn't fully develop a little longer.

D'erlanger & Die's Performance
So, D'erlanger is probably my favorite legendary jrock band and I'm sure most of you know that I adore/love Die probably more than any person should. Hearing that the two shared a stage together and doing a BUCK-TICK cover made my heart explode. I know how much Die admires Cipher and, if you didn't know, they share the same tattoo. In short, it was the most amazing thing to see as a fan of both parties and reading Die fanboy over the experience warms my heart so much. I hope one day they do a collaboration in the near future. If you haven't seen it, watch it and brace yourself for epicness!

Seungri "Scandal"
South Korea continues to amuse me with their conservative ways and lack of sex education knowledge. Seungri decided to be the break out star of Big Bang in Japan, which I believe he fits in quite well. He has the personality, charisma, and a good grasp of the culture and humor. Apparently, he also has a way with the ladies of Japan as well to the point that he ended up in a Japanese tabloid. He was rumored to be in a hotel room with someone and had some kinky sex, then didn't offer to clean up the mess afterwards. Japan was unfazed, but South Korea caused an uproar over the "scandal". If you want to believe the highly unreliable AllKpop, G-Dragon voiced his disappointment toward Big Bang's charming maknae and fans inappropriately used the flimsy information for poster inspiration during their world tour. *sighs* I have lost what little respect I had for V.I.Ps this year. Thanks, guys~

Lolita23q Indefinite Hiatus
Hiatuses aren't too much to cry over, but when you slap the word "indefinite", it's acceptable to have some fears of no return. Having Soshi as their newest vocalist was a step up and their new musical direction was a positive move, so hearing that the band was taking an indefinite hiatus caused some panic. It's hard to accept improving bands taking such ambiguous breaks or even disbanding. I hope they will return in the near future to blow our socks off, but for now I shall be anticipating Ryosuke's solo project this coming year.

"Gangnam Style" Blowing Up Worldwide
Who would've thought that we would be plagued by a silly, yet catchy kpop song for the end half of the year? I already voiced my thoughts on the viral phenomenon and I had my first radio listen of the song driving back to university after Thanksgiving break. Yeah, I don't listen to the radio, obviously. Of course the success and kpop fan victory blew up in their faces when newbies who claimed to know about kpop through one song tried to jump in on the action with false claims and accusations that every kpop artists were ripping off PSY's global hit. Eventually, everyone got almost as annoyed as I was over the song and Americans started making PSY the butt of jokes before promptly turning their backs on him with his anti-American lyrics from his past. Have my thoughts changed on PSY opening doors for kpop to be accepted in America? Eh...not really. I don't think he's made that big of a deal for hallyu to swoop in like they have in Japan and even Japan is trying to kick them out.

Versailles Hiatus
I mentioned this the last time I had Versailles news that I am not a fan, still not, but this flooded my Tumblr feed. The ridiculousness, guys! With mistranslated blogs comes riots and people claiming the world is ending, but indeed this is purely a hiatus. At least, that's how I see it when glancing over the articles. Although this wasn't big news for me, I had to deal with the aftermath spamming on my feed of dramatic fans overblowing minor news. Bands need breaks to explore other musical outlets and improve future visions for their band. Even if they decided to break up, Kamijo and Hizaki are not the types to go silently in the visual kei industry.

SuG Abandon PS Company
I think I've seen more fans jumping for joy upon hearing this news. SuG has become larger than life and want to take charge of their own fate without PSC's slimy hands controlling them. I am totally looking forward to their debut under a new label and I'm crossing my fingers that a couple or so other bands will follow suit. If I could, I would trade Under Code's closing for PSC to close. I wouldn't want the bands to suffer, I just want them to be free from the torturous conditions they've been put under. I suppose I can save my ranting for my new video project as well. In short, I'm cheering for SuG and their band growth. I'm expecting very good things from this move.

T-ara Drama
Kim Kwang-Soo has been extra busy this year causing trouble for fans, especially T-ara's. Apparently, he caused so much trouble that I had to dedicate a whole post to his plot to destroy something further that wasn't broken. It seems like his reign of "good" decision making hasn't ceased, unfortunately. Expect the same old b.s. nonsense from him in the coming year. I'm not feeling confident about his choices with his money making group, T-ara, and his attempts to redeem success without Davichi and a potential poor reincarnation of SeeYa.

Under Code Productions Closing
Probably one of my favorite j-indies labels have decided to close its doors in March 2013 and the fans are deeply saddened by it all. Although the news isn't completely surprising to us all, we still feel the deep sinking feeling of our hearts when the news was announced. Perhaps Kisaki didn't manage his money very well after his tax evasion scandal. Along with this news was hearing Dali announce disbandment beforehand and lastly NEGA following suit. Dali may not be as surprising as they had gaps of silence between releases, but they were one of the last of not so well known UCP bands I enjoyed. As for NEGA, I'm hoping Asagi will recruit them to God Child and they continue to make incredible music under a new name or at least something similar. They had so much growth and uniqueness and I still want to see them live! I don't want to comment too much about the closing as my new video series will cover everything I want to say and how much I enjoyed the bands on UCP. I'm sure Kisaki won't stay out of the music scene for too long.

Gackt Scandal
I didn't touch too much on this in my v-log, but only because I merely skimmed over the posts on Aramatheydidn't on LiveJournal and Shattered Tranquility. It wasn't that I didn't care, I just didn't feel like reading it all, but now I have so I can properly comment on this list. If you want a scandal, Seungri, this is how you do it. The tax bureau of Japan decided to look into Gackt's taxes and found some interesting things with his finances as well as his secret love life. Not that it's anyone's business, but since Gackt is a prominent figure in the visual kei and jpop scenes, some people flip their sh*t over a potential secret mistress in Canada that he has been supporting as well as an illegitimate child she bared before moving out of the country. Whether this will taint Gackt's reputation or not, it's quite uncertain, but not many people are saying much about it lately.

Jin Akanishi and Meisa Kuroki's Real Life FanFiction
Jin is no stranger to the tabloid scene and Meisa is a little less of a stranger, but Aramatheydidnt as well as other Japanese pop culture sites and tabloids had a field day with the fanfiction life of these pop talents. It started with a rumor of the two having a relationship and it was soon revealed that they had a secret marriage that slipped Jin's mind and angered Papa Johnny. Audiences criticized and joked and even speculated that Meisa was possibly pregnant. Thus another rumor was proven true and Jin's career suffered all throughout the year. He spent most of his time hamming it up in America with our talentless artists, then lost countless acting opportunities and Japanese fans failed to sell his worthless albums. Meanwhile, Meisa was labelled as Jin's sugarmama as she held onto her endorsement deals, gained modelling opportunities, and planned out acting and music deals post-pregnancy. On a more amusing note was the fan reactions before people got annoyed with spam, some calling Meisa a slut and clinging onto their bad boy Mr. Akanishi and spreading rumors of her chasing after his friends beforehand and others saying Meisa could've done so much better. Nonetheless, Meisa continues to be flawless while Jin tries to recover what's left of his career while still being a bad ass.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Duckie and Miko Show Episode 1

The Duckie and Miko Show Episode 1 pt. 1 by mikosuzahiru18

Originally, I had a channel set up on YouTube for this, but it wasn't working out. So, I figured I'd utilizing my Dailymotion account for it and possibly my new video series. The show is split into two parts and I'm not sure if the second part will automatically start afterwards or link to it, but you should be able to find it easily if you click to my account. If it's too confusing, then I'll embed it here as well. Just let me know. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy it!

[EDIT:] Here's the second part, in case you guys didn't see it: Part 2

V-log: Silent Hill Epiphany

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Danger Zone ~to the unknown world~" by Domoto Koichi
I'm really starting to think this guy doesn't age, but anyway, that's not important. This is pretty cool. Sure, it almost sounds like something from KAT-TUN, but he still maintains his own coolness with his soft, subtle sensual alluring vocals. The choreography is intriguing and the set feels tangible but still fantastical. I'm looking forward to another solo album.

"Try" by P!NK
I don't know why I was semi-avoiding watching this, but I'm glad. The song is very good and has a lot of meaning behind it without it being extremely obvious in ways. The choreography is beyond anything America (and most countries) are doing lately. She brings her showmanship and athleticism from the stage to a music video which is extremely commendable. I've always liked P!NK and it's just nice to watch something so artistic and beautiful and compare it to her work back in the day when she was nearly a nobody with pink hair and an oversaturation of blonde pop singers. Keep on truckin', girl!

"Shijushichinogen" by Suicide Ali
I have no idea how to properly express how happy I am to see these guys making new music and PVs. Sometimes I worry that they're going to disband or Kiwamu will kick them off the label. Anyway, the song is simply amazing and holds that signature sound the band has that's a little odd while mixing something fresh and somewhat familiar in the visual kei scene together. The images are haunting and take from noticeable Japanese horrors while still showcasing the band putting their all into the music.

"Bloom" by Gain
Has this video been banned yet? I'm just waiting to hear the news that this is "too raunchy" for South Korea's audience. This video and song is giving women empowerment with their sexuality and something new to relationships through the female eye. Before all the big debates concerning femininity and sexual representation, I thought this video (and song) is quite daring for the industry and catchy. It reminds me of the simplicity and natural feel from Brown Eyed Girls' "A Midsummer Night's Dream" video. There's a lot of good things going on and I hope South Korea tries to embrace these ideas from this song. It's rather pointless and out of the way if I go on a tangent by joining everyone in comparing Gain's delivery to HyunA. I'll just let her comeback do that for me.

"I don't need a man" by miss A
Women of kpop are becoming fiercer lately and I love it. I was a little skeptical of this group's comeback, especially with the Destiny Child concept. We all know how they went for the Wonder Girls, but this is a pleasant surprise. This is definitely a great anthem for the ladies and I would totally blast this in my car while cruising down the block. I can honestly say I practically live out this motto for the most part. The song mixes modern trending sounds with some vintage R&B elements effortlessly. I enjoy the styling of these ladies and the playful and sassy chemistry/attitude. It's just great overall.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

V-log: Gangnam Miko Style

Once again, this ended up being longer than I expected. I guess being alone and thinking too much seems to contribute to these lengthy things. lol Anyway, I hope fans and non-fans of PSY or "Gangnam Style" understand my point of view. I'm open to reading people's thoughts on the viral phenomenon.

Friday, October 12, 2012

V-log: Sex, Fights, & Breaking Up

This was a much needed v-log for me. I've been wanting to do one for a while, so the topics might be a little outdated, I'm not sure nor care. Hopefully, I'll record another video about "Gangnam Style". I've been saving and gathering my thoughts on the whole phenomenon. Don't forget that I'm always open for suggestions, questions, and requests.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"SOLOWEEN" by Aural Vampire
It was a pleasant surprise to see this dynamic electronic duo bringing something for the Halloween season. This definitely gets me pumped for all the horror-a-thons I will be having as well as new music from them. It's still fresh, yet keeps their signature style that makes them lovable. I warn you that this song is very addicting and you won't be able to resist dancing to it.

"Push and Shove" by No Doubt feat. Busy Signal & Major Lazer
Upon the release of "Settle Down", I was spazzing all over the place when another one of my favorite 90's artists were coming back. It feels like they never took a break at all. It's a nice transition from their previous release. Not just the sound is familiar yet refreshing, but the chemistry among the members still reminds me of good times and that puts a huge grin on my face. I'm looking forward to delving into their comeback album.

"Play the Game Boy" by A*M*E
If you're not following me on Tumblrdore, then I'll repeat that I'd rather have this girl bridge the gap to kpop and international sounds than Chad Future. She brings something new to the table that has kpop influences and old school synth-pop without trying too hard or blending in too much to be a gimmick. She has the right attitude with charm, sweetness, and sass. I'm looking forward to a full length album.

"Your Body" by Christina Aguilera
Continuing with this vintage meets modern sounds, Christina returns with fierce vocals, a devilish seductive attitude, and an alluring style. I'm enjoying this way more than "I'm Not Myself Tonight" and that song was decent, although the video was a bit try too hard in some ways. The music isn't too in your face and simply highlights the vocals which is one of Christina's strongest points and the reason I chose her back in the day over all the blonde pop songstresses. The story is amusing and entertaining and I'm looking forward to more. Keep the momentum!

"Your Woman" by White Town
It's been forever since I've seen/heard this song and I was reminded by it through procrastination someone's video about the music that shaped him from a child to his adulthood. Overall, I kinda want to do a video like that, but all the details would be a little hazy. Anyway, I remember hearing this song on the radio during the late night when they would play dance and obscure-ish music. I never knew who sung it or anything. I was pretty young at the time, but it had a nice beat and the chorus was memorable. Seeing the video now makes me appreciate the song a little more. Don't be discourage because it's old or black and white. This is the beginnings of techno-pop, guys!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Miko vs. SuG

I was introduced to SuG by a former friend. They were new to the scene and introduced the world to "heavy positive rock". It took me a little time to adjust to the newbies of PS Company with their debut PV "Scheat". It was almost too cutesy for me, but, with the release of "Alterna." and "Love Scream Party", I adored their energy and charisma as well as their music.

Over time, I grew to love this energetic quintet that livened up PSC since Miyavi was evolving and moving on and Alice Nine. was losing their way. SuG was quick to go major with Pony Canyon and endured a member change. The music was so-so and growth didn't show as much. During the time Takeru gained interest with fashion, the band's music became clashes of noise and their PVs were overly visual. Some fans read this era as Takeru being selfish and only gaining attention with his fashion. The band tried to do new things by incorporating rapping and choreography which appeared out of place. For me, it came too close to LM.C's standards and made me slowly lose interest in the band.

I continued to hold onto the few things I enjoyed about SuG like their energy, personalities, and openness to try new things. "Umbilical" showed a different side to them and "Pastel Horror Yum Yum Show" almost hit the mark for me. It wasn't until their single release for the month that they finally found a balance between the old and new sounds while trying something different. "SweeToxic" gave me hope and somewhat rekindled my love for the group. I'm hoping one day that other PSC bands I enjoy will have the same rebirth soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sori's "You're Not My Style" vs. RaNia's "Style"

Upon seeing RaNia's latest music video for "Style", I was pleasantly surprised with this new direction and higher production value in the overall product. I really enjoyed this evolution and the YG team definitely put some care into these nearly forgotten rookies. Although, when I came across the translation, I was a little less impressed and thought of Sori, another forgotten talent.

The song is about Sori being tired of these men always hitting on her, especially when she has no interest in them. She doesn't care how competent, handsome, or whatever they are, they won't capture her heart that easily. I think this is a good confidence boost for women to have and show that they can have standards. Women don't have to settle for uninteresting men or change themselves either. It also shows that it's okay to follow your heart/gut feeling to find the man you want.

I remember hearing this around the release of the mini album and it flowed with her previous style. It's a nice blend of hip-hop and electro-pop elements. It's danceable, but has a strong attitude and subtle sex appeal to the melody that you can move your hips to or strut your stuff.

Visual Content
With South Korea's obsession with figures, I always thought Sori actually had some curves to her. She's a beautiful woman and she has a nice classy, but sexy style to her. Although, her last dance outfit I wasn't particularly fond of. The video is rather dark with little hints of whites and blues. There's a simple story to the song, so the transitions have some sense to them. The production isn't all that high, but the message is still effective visually.

The lyrics to the song play between fashion and men, which I think is clever. It's not completely straight forward. I guess the fashion items could be metaphors for men that don't fit their personal style. It's also used as a bribery or boast for the men to flirt with the ladies, but they're not interested in just wealthy, good looking men. This is also another confidence boost for women and not settling for the superficial.

Unlike Sori, this goes with the trend of electro-pop with a runway flare. It's classy, sleek, and easy to move to. In some ways, the sound can be refreshing, but still the same thing that's been heard before. I like the smooth music transitions from the soft voices and the chorus has a nice burst of energy to emphasis the lyrics.

Visual Content
Of course this is a step up in production from "Dr. Feel Good" and "Pop Pop Pop". Seeing this classy, sleek, and stylish transformation was quite refreshing from the controversial garbs of "Dr. Feel Good". There's no raunchy dancing either. The choreography is quite minimal and when it's highlighted, it's nothing extremely special. I think the main focus is the vocals and the mature transformation. The sets and metaphor set ups are quite impressive and effective to the lyrics. Thanks, YG, for your contribution.

Obviously, both of these songs have similar lyrical content. I think Sori executed it better than the ladies of RaNia. Their lyrics were repetitive and I was sad to find out that the first and second verses were exactly the same. Sure, it's easier to sing to the catchy tune, but I like progression. There was also an actual story going on in Sori's video as opposed to little scene gimmicks. Although, the production was way better in RaNia's video and their styling was overall better as well. Both musical styles are nice and different from each other. For now, I'm listening to more of "Style" than "You're Not My Style", but maybe because it's newer and the sound is what's trending right now. In the end, I believe Sori wins this round despite RaNia having almost the better video. What do you guys think? Did you enjoy Sori or RaNia?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

It's always exciting seeing new things from this band. They have been consistently awesome and growing. They try new things, but keep their roots in tact. I love Taama's voice and the fun energy the members bring to the video. It's a great summer track, even though summer is mostly over. I like the outdoor atmosphere since you don't see this kind of scenery in jrock videos. It reminds of me of Pay money To my Pain's "Out of my hands" when they did everything outside and interacted with the environment. This is how you utilize your scenery, kpop.

"IDOL is DEAD" by BiS
Looking at the name, all I could think of was the disbanded jrock band and totally forgot about these jpop girls. I think this video is a continuation of the earlier PV release of "IDOL". I was a little confused by it like BABYMETAL. The vocals aren't as fluid or comprehensive, but the whole concept is intriguing. I like the dark imagery, chaos, and aggressive vocals. I guess those old businessmen are enjoying these cutesy jpop girls using these heavy rock/electronic elements.

"Fashion Monster" by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Seeing a new PV from her was exciting, especially since she got some exposure on Kids React. I think she got back her catchiness that she was lacking in her last single, but I enjoy her overall body of work. Anyway, this was another clusterfuck of a PV like "PONPONPON". Sometimes it seemed like too much with the dancers, but I got used to it. I must admit though, I kept thinking of Tommy heavenly6 watching this PV, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment. Looking forward to the new release!

"Stop Girl" by U-KISS
It's kinda hard to get Supernova's version with the similar song title out of my head, but these guys did an awesome job too. I like this classy, sleek look they've been doing. The music is very deep and refreshing for the guys. They seem a little more relaxed in this video and I really appreciate the maturity of their appearance and the content of this song. Although, I'm kinda tired of the awkward one sided hair thing. I hope they continue in this direction and include female dancers. Miss you, AJ~

"Take on Me" by Seo In Guk
A classic song from the iconic A-ha and a very good cover at that. I don't know how I missed this one, since I admire this guy's voice and charm. This definitely displayed both of those elements in this video. It doesn't lose the original idea from A-ha's version, but still brings something new to the table by making it more modern. Not many people can pull this song off this well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: G-Dragon's "One of a Kind"

G-Dragon - One of a Kind (2012, South Korea) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: MISSING YOU, Light It Up

Since the summer was a bit of bust for my creativity, I wanted to make it up by reviewing G-Dragon's latest creation for the year. I'm sure a lot of fans were looking forward to the follow up to Heartbreaker, which I can understand. Lately, it seems like the boys' solo projects are stronger than their group work. What's going on, guys? Anyway, I wanted to follow a similar format as Big Bang's Alive album review for this one, which means that I will be adding some brief commentary on the music videos. It seems like some VIPs want to read the three videos as some deep, philosophical thing when it really isn't. Let's get to it!

I remember hearing that G-Dragon wanted to take a new direction with his music and try to be controversial. Did he succeed with his mission? Well, his first track (and also first promotional video) was "ONE OF A KIND" which kinda brought something new to kpop. I was a little confused by the sounds I was hearing from my speakers because it really sounded like almost everything I dislike about American hip-hop music, but somehow it was a little entertaining. There's not much of a melody. The flow is clearly through his voice and everything is muted, bass, and minimal produced sounds. For once, the music matched the imagery very well. It felt like a huge parody of what rappers want to be. They brag about what they have (or don't have) and have this cocky attitude. Honestly, the first time I watched this video I thought, "Definitely a Lil' Wayne parody". There's so many elements that could pointed to him, even though I'm sure there are Korean rappers that act the same way. This isn't a video I watch repeatedly. The only parts I really enjoyed were GD's split personality scene and the female dancers. Everything else was either annoying, silly, or embarrassing. *coughs*Taeyang*coughs*

I heard "CRAYON" before the music video was released and honestly, I really liked this song in the beginning. It carries on a similar rap cocky attitude over with his delivery and the music. Strangely, I was kinda feeling the music. It seemed familiar with what's popular here to an extent except it was missing an obnoxious female rapper, then it switched to this electronic party music. It threw me for a loop and I was disappointed, but listening to the track a little more, I've grown to like it a little again. After reading the lyrics to this, like the previous track, everything made sense and I understood the purpose of it all. This is another rap parody video! From the opening lines and matching scene is parodying Soulja Boy. Can you see it? But overall, it's just a fun song with no deep meaning like everyone's trying dig out. It's amusing that just now VIPs are realizing that the message is just be yourself and "go crazy!" or as young people these days say, "Get your cray on". Get it now? How hard was it to figure that out? Seriously.

"Eventually" features one of the girls from the mystery new girl group that YG is hiding from us. It's a slower song and the music isn't that bad either. They have some emotion behind them, but it's very minimal sound until the chorus, which works perfectly. G-Dragon's voice isn't that bad, although I think this song would've been a hundred times better without the autotune for both his and the girl's voices. It ruins the song and it's really a nice song too.

I must admit that interpreted "That XX" wrong and I appreciate it a little more. I saw the video first and I really didn't like it that much. Since it followed the release of "ONE OF A KIND", I was really concerned with the direction of this mini. I'm not a big ballad fan and you should all know this by now. The video isn't that bad, it was mostly the stupid filters or whatever they used to sharpen the objects that made me turn my nose up. Reading the lyrics saved the song for me, instead completely hating it. At first, I thought it was a jealousy thing which I thought was amusing, but then thinking of it as this bastard as being the same person is kinda different. I don't think anyone's used that concept before, especially with a curse.

"MISSING YOU" sounded like this was going to fall under the same category as "어쩌란 말이냐?" from the T.O.P collaboration mini. It has a different sound as well and looking back at everything, the tracks are different from the previous, but takes a little piece from it to the next track. It's a relaxing track and I really enjoyed the guest vocals and the guitar. I don't think I could listen to this all the time, but it isn't too bad or too crazy either.

"TODAY" takes the drums from the previous track and runs with this slightly modern Beatles feel good sound. Yeah, I'll pass. This is definitely not my type of track. I'll give him points for trying something new again, but the high vocals are a little irritating and just the overall vibe doesn't appeal to me. It does sound like a couple recent Big Bang songs that get on my nerves like "Somebody to Love" and "Hands Up". Maybe that's why I can't enjoy this track.

"Light It Up" was a track I was really looking forward to because the sample sounded nuts and featured Tablo and Dok2. The music definitely has a fun vibe to it that's a little different from "CRAYON". I guess I expected "CRAYON" to stay on this hip-hop vibe like this song does. I'm sure this isn't the best these guys can do lyrically, but I'll accept it as this mini didn't blow me away one way or another. It's probably my favorite track on here and I can easily dance around my room to it, feel the vibrations from the bass. Although the "barking" noise reminds me of my childhood playing around with my keyboard. This whole song could've conspired from just messing around with sound effects and I really don't care. The song's cool.

When all's said and done, G-Dragon did complete his mission of trying something new and possibly bring new elements to the genre. Was it controversial? Adding a few profanities here and there makes it more amusing (or annoyances when censored) for outsiders than controversial, but I'm sure the Ministry had loads of fun ripping the mini to shreds. The mini isn't all that solid for me and my mood for tracks fluctuation from day to day. Some days I like certain tracks and the next day I hate them. It was a nice try, but nothing spectacular.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Miko vs. the Sixth Guns

Originally, I had a rant planned out to express my thoughts on the GazettE's musical evolution, but since I had a new idea in the works and being decided by you, my precious Cult followers, I decided to abandon the post completely in case the project was a go. Remember, it's up to you guys whether you would like to hear my personal retrospective on the band or not, but the poll will be posted later. Anyway, on this post, I'm moving on to the supposed second part of my thought of the band which is the fandom. In the beginning, I was only going to focus on the band's endeavors and my personal thoughts on their growth like I did with Miyavi, but a situation occurred and I wanted to put my two cents on the table about it. Unfortunately, due to my creative and motivational block, the situation has somewhat past, but my thoughts about the fandom is still somewhat relevant. Before I begin, I would like the Sixth Guns to have an open mind to this. If you're sensitive to criticism about the fandom (and the band), then I will kindly advise you to skip out on this post because it's not going to be pretty.

I must admit that no fandom is perfect. Some get along quite nicely with minimal drama, some divide and accept their differences, and some can be quite unreasonable. Since the release of the GazettE's Division album, the fandom decided to tear each other apart. This isn't the first time I've witnessed such harsh treatment among the Sixth Guns either. Fortunately, I can say that I am not a Sixth Gun. Honestly, there's not many music fandoms that I claim especially internationally. From year to year, I have observed that the Sixth Guns are constantly competing for the craziest fandom I've witnessed. Their biggest competition are Tokio Hotel's fangirls and their mothers and Sones (SNSD's fans). Even though the Sixth Guns are too much, they provide some interesting entertainment for outsiders that enjoy the GazettE's music or a general jrock fan. So, what makes Sixth Guns amusing, crazy, and harsh?

Let's start back in 2007 when Stacked Rubbish was being promoted and released. Sure, there was a small division between the releases of Disorder and NIL as I've witnessed through a friend who enjoyed them at their beginnings. Stacked Rubbish really stepped away from their roots and, in my opinion, visuals seemed more important. Most will agree that this was their worse or weakest album, if not that then their follow up album DIM. Of course, there is that hoard of Sixth Guns that would argue differently. Like most kpop fans, Sixth Guns can be a delusional bunch and can find no flaws in the band's work. As a casual fan, my purchase loyalty fell upon Stacked Rubbish's release. But to make things fair, I'm sure you know I love Dir en grey very much with nearly all my being. I can admit that out of their more recent albums, The Marrow of a Bone was the weakest.

Now let's move on to the band's personality and attitude. For two years, I remember hearing Sixth Guns' whining about the GazettE touring America or guesting at an anime convention. This might sound weird, but I think they might be a little too popular for a con. I guess I could see them at one of the bigger/major ones, but otherwise I'm not sure where they would fit in. As for a tour, even back then and now I don't think they're prepared nor interested in America. I remember reading about their dream of performing in the Tokyo Dome. This familiar goal was brought to you by the legendary X Japan. I'm not saying that it's impossible for the GazettE to tour here, but I feel that we (North America) are a low priority. Just think of it as the common Japanese attitude in the mainstream music industry has toward being international. There's just more profit and security at home than elsewhere. Remember, this is a major reason for the Hallyu wave in Japan.

As for the band's attitude, some fans say one thing and some say another. For example, the claim that Ruki is arrogant and a diva. This may or may not be true. This could be part of his persona or he really could be losing himself in the band's success. Either of these scenarios I can imagine fitting him. The only person I can really comment on is Aoi. I love Aoi, but sometimes he needs to realize that he needs to be careful of what he says on these social networking sites. His tweet concerning Division caused an uproar among Sixth Guns, but, of course, this isn't the first time he's caused controversy.

Aside from some surprise fanservice, I remember the fandom scrambling when a live report revealed that Aoi's temper showed and he exited the stage unexpectedly. After a while, he returned, apologized to the fans, and continued with his band mates to perform some encore songs. When this news was released online, some Sixth Guns panicked and rumors of disbandment arose. Of course, I didn't think nothing of it. A million things could've happened to cause Aoi's behavior that evening. I have my own speculations of what set him off, but I won't go into that rant. I didn't hear any rumors of Dir en grey disbanding when Kyo was upset about some technical malfunctions beyond his control at overseas show.

Recently, upon Division's release, Aoi expressed his disappointment and perhaps frustration through a slightly ambiguous tweet. The guitarist mentioned how he was proud of all the work they put into making the album and that it saddened him that fans didn't want to put in the money to pay for the music they created. He compared this act of stealing to murder, which I can understand where he's coming from. Every time a person downloads and doesn't choose to pay for the music is slowly killing the industry one track at a time. You can see the results of this with American artists' record sells. Of course, in some way, I don't think downloads are the whole reason that music sells are low either. How did Sixth Guns take this bit of information?

Well, a group of fans shared Aoi's attitude toward the illegal behavior and began attacking fans who downloaded the album instead of preordering or buying it. Some would go about this attack aggressively by using harsh words on social networking sites to guilt trip them. I've seen a couple of friends feeling nearly less than nothing with these aggressive attacks. Others would attack a bit more passively by announcing to the fandom how loyal they are. In this case, they would talk about how they've bought every album and never participated in any illegal activities concerning the band. At first, this blow up was amusing for me and a friend, but then it became a major headache all in one day. When feelings start getting hurt, it's time for people who aren't die hard or at least sensible Sixth Guns.

My friend already put her two cents in via Tumblr and I completely agree with her. Since my post is late, I might be reiterating the same ideas as her, but I highly doubt any international fan (meaning fans outside of Japan) found out about the GazettE through legal means nor avoid illegal activities. According to PS Company, if you download or upload their music, videos, and pictures you are participating in illegal activities. Yes, those fanvids you've spent hours on are illegal. The pictures you've scanned from magazines and manipulated for artistic graphic use in icons, avatars, wallpapers, layouts, and whatnot are frowned upon.

Any normal music lover does not blindly purchase CDs, especially overseas, without listening to the content in some way. Since jrock isn't mainstream anywhere outside of Japan, there's an extremely low chance of hearing bands on the car radio or seen on MTV. To my knowledge, PS Company and the GazettE have not created an official YouTube or Vevo channel for themselves, so you have watched their PVs and other videos illegally. This is the sad hard truth that aggressive and passive aggressive Sixth Guns need to realize during these attacks. We also need to be a little smarter about our grey area illegal activities by not showing the musicians the evidence. I heard that some fans outed fan sites and shared download links with the band members through Twitter. Smooth move, newbies~ I remember this same problem occurred when Kyo expressed his disappoints when fans openly complimented Dir en grey's album when it leaked a couple days before release. We can't be that stupid, people! If you're gonna do it, at least be discreet about it. Otherwise, Sixth Guns (and other fans) should understand that not everyone is trying to be a bad guy when it comes to sampling/downloading. Remember, not everyone has the resources to immediately support these artists, especially international fans and more importantly, hardly anyone is innocent from participating in illegal activities when it comes to these bands.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"sweeToxic" by SuG
I was waiting for the official release before posting this one and I'm so happy to finally show my love for the group. We've had some rough times like most of the PSC bands, but it's nice to see that the band has figured out how to catch my attention again. This PV combines their more recent style with a taste of what made them appealing in the beginning and something fresh to keep me interested. The visuals are saturated in some places and vibrant in others which shows that balance they have finally claimed with this musical style. It's not overwhelming either, it's just enough to make me happy again and I hope they keep this direction up for future releases.

"Eclipse" by Moran
I was really curious how the new additions of Vivi and Ivy would work out with the band and I'm happy to say that it only made an awesome a more awesome band. They haven't lost their initial sound, but simply enhanced it even more with this addictive track and natural energy. The PV is simple and highlights each member while delivering so much energy. I am even more anxious to hear their first album as a quintet.

"Controversy" by Natalia Kills
Sometimes less is more, but this one could be a hit or miss for fans visually. The concept points out social commentary of what we digest through media from day to day. It's lyrically simple, but possesses a truthful message with its words. I read that Natalia's concept for the upcoming album this song will be featured on will be chaotic and noisy and this song definitely fits in that category without being obnoxious about it. Everything is very simplistic, but it holds so many topics that people can discuss for hours on end. I'm looking forward to the album and delving into this new direction.

This was an interesting new sound for the group...and kinda kpop as well. It's a mixture of 90's pop and current electro-pop elements which surprisingly works well for the boys. They're slowly breaking out of B2ST's shadow, but they still have quite a ways to go to truly not be compared by their labelmates. The story is pretty standard and the styling matches the musical mash-up ranging from 90's throwback scraps and recycled and revamped B2ST wardrobe.

"Don't Let Go (Love)" by En Vogue
So, I've decided instead of just waiting for something more interesting to pop up or just settle for okay, I would pick something from the past that I'm sure the younger generation haven't been exposed to. This will only occur if I can't find anything to fill the space. Anyway, this is a memorable and empowering song. I remember when it came out for the Set It Off movie. I don't think I've seen the whole movie actually. I believe I was too young to watch it at the time. ^^; Like typical soundtrack based songs, they insert snippets of the movie in between the groups' performance. Normally, this would be quite boring, but for this song it doesn't need anything flashy and over the top. The ladies' emotion filled power vocals make up for everything. I miss R&B songs like this that provide strength to women and really touch your soul.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

V-log: Hype, Scandal, Change, & Updates Ahoy~

It's been a few months since I did one of these, so let me explain the situation of what's been going around here. Hopefully, you will forgive me for the inconsistent stream of content here. I'm hoping that I will get back into the groove of things, so please bare with me while I adjust to everything. A new poll should be up by the end of the week concerning my new idea for my channel which is in the second part of my v-log. Please check that out. Also, you can always send me requests, questions, and suggestions no matter how busy my schedule is: zetsu_nightmare2.0.9[at]hotmail[dot]com.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"BLACK OUT" by VERBAL (m-flo) feat. Namie Amuro & Lil' Wayne
Not much of a fan of any of these artists, but there's a couple things I like from VERBAL and Namie. This was posted on aramatheydidnt as an unreleased video and it didn't seem like many people liked this one, but I was one of the the few that obviously did. Sure, it's seizure inducing, but this seemed more interesting than Kanye West's "All of the Lights". The visuals are intriguing and the song is quite awesome...until Lil' Wayne adds his egotistical lines into a perfectly good song. What is up with crap rappers ruining amazing songs!? Please stop this epidemic, artists! I'm happy I didn't have to see his ugly face. I'm still trying to get over the mental scars of seeing Rick Ross shirtless in "Lemme See". >.<

"Royal Blood" by Rin -the end of corruption world-
It's been a sad week for jrock and Rin is part of the news. I won't go into detail about the situation, but it's nice to post a PV by these guys since I was really worried about their direction. Honestly, they were a bit lackluster and I kept longing for Phantasmagoria, then this came out. It seems almost fresh and new, even though I've seen this concept before with SID but Riku's voice is so effortless. The bass is really deep and the composition isn't that bad either even though it's quite simple compared to Kisaki's other works. I still appreciate it and I hope that Rin continues to live on despite the closing of Under Code.

"Lolita" by The Veronicas
I honestly haven't listened to these girls since "Untouched" was released, so obviously I'm not a fan nor do I keep up with their releases very closer. I saw this update on The Prophet Blog. I agree with a comment on this video that they're not being properly promoted in America like they should be, because they really do have talent. Anyway, the video and song are both very simple, slightly aggressive dance track. It has a badass alien concept with some artistic shots mixed in. The vocals are very easy on the ears, the lyrics are simple, and the music has a subtle dubstep sound to it. Maybe America will re-embrace these girls again.

"She's Gone" by G-Dragon
Yes, I'm very aware that Senor Dragon has two new videos for his upcoming solo album, but I have problems with both somewhere. I won't get into details until the album is released, then I'll spill. Anyway, this video seemed a bit overshadowed, but it has a nice, dramatic, and dark feeling that I've realized that I enjoy from GD. I realized this through "One of a Kind". I'm a fan of GD's dark, twisted side. The lyrics aren't as impressive as his recent "That XX" to me, but it's visually appealing and the concept works with the lyrics. I kinda want him to do more dark things like this, but not too often.

"The Shadow" by BoA
I'm not much of a BoA fan, but I understand why fans were looking forward to this song being her next promotional track. The song is more interesting than "Only One", but I think I enjoy the choreography more from the other song more than this one strangely. Anyway, the video still has it's signature SM color palette and settings, but they tried to do some different camera angles to fit the tone of the song which was a welcome change. The song's not that bad. It has a strong Janet Jackson vibe and the concept is kinda cool too. It's not quite a flawless MV as the still shots kinda ruined things. SM, still rotating shots are not cool. STOP USING THEM IN YOUR VIDEOS!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chad Future Brings Out the Flaws of KPop

I wanted to do a video response to DailyPSA's reaction video, but I have a lot to say about Mr. Chad Future's worldwide debut into the kpop scene. For those who are not familiar with him, I'll give you a brief history.

David Lehre or Chad Future most notably was introduced to kpop fans through a boy group by the name of Heart2Heart. This group was brought together by N'SYNC's Lance Bass and showed their kpop skills and influence in their debut music video "Facebook Official". The initial response from viewers was a mix of confusion, amusement, and negative criticism. The whole thing seemed like a parody like MTV's 2gether, but far less entertaining. To this day, I'm not completely sure if it was a joke or something serious. My mind is leaning more toward a joke. Although I heard initially from Lance Bass that this was a serious effort, but was later taken back by stating that it was a parody when the overwhelming response to the video was negative. Way to go by sticking to your product, Lance~

I guess I missed the memo that Chad Future was coming to Koreatown, but when I saw DailyPSA promoting him this past week or so, I was confused who this kid was. With a dumb name like that, I thought it was another talentless solo Korean guy. To my surprise, it was that American guy with the funky haircut in "Facebook Official". His first solo video was posted last week and the same response from Heart2Heart flooded the comment section of YouTube. It took me a while to realize that kpop's true colors were showing from the viewer reactions to the actual video.

Overall, I didn't like it at all and my dislike has nothing to do with his race or nationality. The rapping was nonsense, the choreography was silly, and some parts of the video felt unnatural. If you're wondering if it stacks up to typical kpop videos, then I would say yes. It follows your generic formula of kpop artists today with a little more racial diversity. But will this bridge the gap in the music scene, I highly doubt it as kpop fans are very harsh judges to outsiders and Chad lacks the talent to convince them otherwise. Although, he is equally if not slightly more talented than some male kpop artists with his same skill set. But because he is non-Asian, he has to go beyond the standard...unless Chad Future is actually trolling the industry with everything they dish out on a daily basis with better English.

Not only does this video point out the true low standards of the industry, it also points out the weakness in the fanbase. A former top comment explains it well:
"When you think about it, if this same concept was done by [a Kpop group], they would be sucking his or her dick and digging deep into the recesses of their soul to find some ridiculous connection that makes the song infinitely more meaningful than it actually is. Yet, because this is a white dude doing K-pop, people are either angry at the idea of it or just straight insult the whole concept."

This is the reason I had to explain my feelings toward it in such a different way. I don't care what nationality or race he is, I still wouldn't enjoy it. His take on Big Bang's "Bad Boy" was painful to listen to and I couldn't finish it. But like my previous post concerning foreigners in jrock, I find it contradicting how kpop fans label him as bad or whatever because of his race/nationality, especially when they believe that kpop is so "international". Kpop boys dish out poor choreography, unnatural music video choices, and nonsensical English and rap lines all the time, but fans eat it up without harsh criticism.

If Chad Future is a serious character, then I'll give him props for trying to bridge the international gap and being brave enough to face the rabid kpop fans alone. I won't be supporting his music anytime soon, but apparently he does have some musical supporters who can look past his race which is good for others who want to try in the future. Otherwise, I think Chad has a lot of things to work on to be taken more seriously by the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Contradictory Standards in Asian Fandoms

Race has always been a slightly touchy subject in my book. I try not to get into debates about it, especially in a general sense. That's just dangerous territory and doesn't flow with the content of Muddy Cult. I have ranted some about it in concern with the Jenny Hyun and MBC incidents, but there's so much more I can say about the kpop industry and foreigners. In this rant, I want to focus on the fandom who bashes their own when it concerns the Asian entertainment and subculture.

I have thought of bringing this up earlier during cosplay season and there was a massive debate on who and who shouldn't cosplay. But I held back until I listened to Seremedy's first major Japanese album and skimmed the dumb comments of It brought back memories of ignoring anti-fans while listening to Sai, a Swedish visual kei band. Recently, Chad Future has entered the kpop scene with harsh criticism. So, why are some people so harsh to their own kind when it comes to enjoying and actively participating in a hobby they love as well? I can understand Asians from those countries being narrow minded, but, it doesn't make sense.

Let's start with cosplay standards. From what I see, it's foreigners that are guilty of trying to enforce this standard. They say you have to be a certain skin tone, weight, or even Asian to be a great cosplayer. Of course, I don't believe in these standards as a non-Asian, colored crossplayer. I've seen some amazing cosplayers that are people of color and not a size zero. I've also seen bad Asian cosplayers. It's the quality, effort, and passion you have that makes a good cosplay. If we all followed these crazy standards then no one could cosplay. Not all anime characters have Asian features, non-POC couldn't cosplay either, and people who lack certain body types couldn't join the fun either.

If you're going to be critical with these, look at yourself and see if you qualify. Most times the accusers do not. I've met two elitists or self proclaimed perfectionists who have openly criticized others' work as not being accurate to their standards yet they can't back it up in their own work. Now I'm not saying I'm the best either, I'm still learning and improving along the way. Cosplay is meant to be fun and we should try to support each other in our craft to express our love for Asian pop culture.

Next I would like to address jrock and kpop fans that criticize non-Asian visual kei bands and more recently kpop artists. Yes, there are some that exist that actually have talent and understand the basics of visual kei. Even the bands that are inspired by the genre respect it and try to show their appreciation like German bands Tokio Hotel and Cinema Bizarre. But some fans want to be all high and mighty about it when these bands get positive recognition especially from Japan. Also, this rant can apply to those who bash jrock bands that have a more western sound.

Once again, the usual accusers are wannabes who eat, breathe, and live visual kei (and kpop) in an obsessive manner. They are usually foreigners themselves. Looking back at Sai and Seremedy (and even AKADO), I don't think they even claim to be visual kei, but just inspired by the genre or just visual or glam rock. It's the fans and the media who label them as visual kei. Every country has a different label for visual bands, so there's no reason to bash them, especially since they do create decent music. Even if they didn't, because I know there are some that fail with their skill set, it shouldn't be something to use to generalize everyone's talents that try to go in the same direction. I also find it interesting that this problem only occurs when it is a non-Asian participating in such things because I haven't seen any hate on Chinese visual kei band Silver Ash. Don't they fit in the same category as they are not Japanese and visual kei originated from Japan?

It seems that having a foreign member in a band is a little more acceptable than a full band of foreigners, but even then some fans are not open to the idea. There are plenty of great jrock bands that have or had foreigners as members such as Blood Stain Child, Chemical Pictures, and Oblivion Dust. Perhaps I haven't paid too much attention to the fandom responses, but it seems like they have done well for themselves despite having a foreigner in their band.

For me, I don't mind if visual kei inspired bands and foreigners join jrock bands as long as they have talent. Music is music and it's all been borrowed from elsewhere. I can understand if there is some sort of fear of losing something special like visual kei to being exclusively Japan and I've seen that same fear when it comes to rap music being a more global genre. In the end, if you don't like foreigners being apart of the visual kei scene musically, then don't listen to it and keep your comments to yourself. Because if you say that foreigners shouldn't be apart of the visual kei world and you're a foreigner yourself, then start selling your possessions and start listening to your country's music.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"STRoooONG" by DOG in the PWO
It's good to have some positive energy rock that isn't overly cute. These guys always deliver the fun aspect of jrock and I always appreciate it when they release something. The PV is a little darker than usual, but it still has their typical bizarre edits and effects incorporated throughout the video. It might seem like a little too much at times, but it fits the band's sporadic style.

"RIP" by Angelo
For some reason I get these D'espairsRay "Death Point" vibes from this song with a nice Angelo twist. I'm seriously enjoying the chemistry between these guys and it makes me love them even more. Kirito's voice sounds amazing, the guitar section is quite powerful, and Kohta and Takeo's subtle attacks really highlight the tone of this song. The video has a nice balance of story and band focus. Not too dramatic, but still emotional enough to lose yourself in the dark atmosphere. I have a feeling RETINA is going to blow BABEL out the water.

"Burning" by PHANTOM
It's been almost a year since "Hole in Your Face" and the trio has finally released their debut mini-album. You have no idea how pumped I am about this. Like many Phantom fans, I've been waiting for this moment and this video truly highlights everything I love about this group. The music is deep and emotional, matching the tone of the lyrics. The visuals match as well in a simple, but artistic way. They don't over do it with the effects and I find it interesting that there's a lack of color compared to the usual. I'm looking forward to hearing PHANTOM CITY.

"We're a Bit Different" by EvoL
Alright, once again I can understand the 2NE1 comparison, but for some reason it feels like they have something that 2NE1 lacks. I'm not sure what it is, but everything seems more. I know that totally doesn't make sense, but once you watch it perhaps it will make sense. I really love these girls and I've been listening to their first release on repeat this past week. I love their voices, style, and energy. It seems fresh despite the familiar electronic beat and the visuals of the video is quite appealing. I am looking forward to future releases by these fine ladies and I hope they don't lose their initial spark either.

"[s]hit parade" by Dali
So, I found out that this band is breaking up and I remember listening to them when all they had out PV-wise was "Placebo". I was really into Under Code and started leaning toward the label more and more when PS Company was becoming a little boring, then some bands graduated and whatnot. Anyway, this is my favorite PV from the men of Dali. The costumes are very intricate like most Under Code bands, the spotlight was a different idea, and the song has the right energy. It's a shame this band is breaking up, because there aren't many UC bands that I like anymore.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Miko vs. Kim Kwang-soo

I'm sure everyone in the kpop universe knows about the T-ara situation whether they are a fan or not of the group. I've seen comments that this is one of the biggest conflicts since Jay Park and JYP. So, I figured I'd put my two cents in there about it, since I actually enjoy T-ara's music. I was planning to do a v-log about this, but I've been facing my own unfortunate events.

It all started with "Bo Peep Bo Peep" that I started liking T-ara's music. I listened to everything that they released at that time, but I honestly never tried to learn their names. I've probably already mentioned that I'm terrible with remembering Korean names, especially if there are more than five members in a group. Their sound was fun, catchy, and actually had some sort of substance to it. Their image seemed almost contradictory to their sound, but they were easily likable to me.

In 2010, I was surprised to see the introduction of Hwayoung to the group as well as their newest video at the time for "Yayaya". Although I enjoyed this nonsensical and fun song, I was confused by the member addition. Even though I didn't know the members' names, I could tell that the line distribution with their songs wasn't even among the six members. Adding a seventh member would be ridiculous and seeing their next releases, my point was proven. They hardly utilized their newest member and their music became more like catchy hooks and lackluster substance with "Roly Poly" and "Lovey Dovey".

Finding out this year that two more members would be added to the group made me and I'm sure others very upset. I'm sure adding more members to the group wouldn't make them any better especially when only less than half of the girls sing and the material was extremely simplified. What really jarred fans about the member addition was the CEO of Core Contents Media Kim Kwang-soo who encouraged competition between the girls as well as threating their positions if the girls caused any problems. Who would've thought problems would occur? ohohoho

T-ara has been pegged as either the hardest working female idol group as well as the laziest, but I think the lazy comment comes from Mr. Kim Kwang-soo. The girls haven't had a break since their debut in 2009 and some of the girls' schedule are packed with twelve different things in the day. I've heard accounts of exhaustion causes, the girls secretly inputting that they haven't had a break, and jokes about starvation for a promotion. From modelling, TV appearances, dramas, and music, these girls probably do more than any other girl group in a day and KKS wants to call them lazy!

I thought SM Entertainment was the evil of evil, but this guy is a slave driver and apparently this isn't his first offense with a group either. So, what brought about this post against him is the situation with Hwayoung's departure that has gone completely out of control. Recently, Hwayoung decided not to attend a performance for Music Bank which a couple of the members had to learn her parts and rework choreography to make up for her absence. There were Twitter posts from some of the girls questioning her determination pertaining the group and she responded with her own reply. This brought up the subject of potential bullying within the group. There hasn't been much hard evidence whether the bullying situation occurred or not and we will probably never know, but fans and anti-fans have drawn their own conclusions on the matter causing a T-ara disbanding petition, fan cafes shutting down, netizens demanding them to be removed from guest appearances on TV, and several endorsements to be pulled from the members. It seems the majority are putting the blame on the girls for this shit storm of drama, but the real root of the problem is Kim Kwang-soo's lack of professionalism.

I already mentioned that I thought Hwayoung's addition seemed and was proven pointless until the release of "Day by Day" this year. KKS obviously doesn't know how to utilize the members he has and help build their skills to be better than other top female idol groups. Adding more members to the mix just causes more problems and as proven by the charts, makes you lose your ranking as a popular act among the masses. This is the reason I don't like too many members in a group. Perhaps I should call it the Pussycat Dolls method where only certain people sing and everyone else is just dance filler. Along with the useless member additions, the latest additions have an age gap between the existing members and I believe it's Dani that lacks a lot of skill that I'm pretty sure KKS isn't going to take care of. She's not a very good rapper and she appears to lack the ability to converse in Korean. This could cause a lot of problems with the already unsettle chemistry with the girls and having a threat thrown their way by the CEO isn't going to help.

Pertaining the tweets, KKS was too late to do the damage control that fans and antis have formulated and his cover ups were a complete failure. It was obvious everything he said was complete bs since he would change his story to a point. First, the girls' Twitter accounts were hacked, then he discussed the bullying situation that never occurred and threw the whole determination nonsense that Hwayoung seemed to be lacking. He later adds that Hwayoung contract termination was due to her "diva" attitude and that there were complaints from stylists and other staff members. They honestly shouldn't have any power over such decisions, but it's KKS. He also says that the testimonies from dancers and other staff members that support Hwayoung's case were false. While he was doing a poor job of cleaning up the mess fans and himself had made, he wanted to continue with their concert and promotions, but finally decided to postpone it for next year...if the girls actually survive this nonsense. I guess he got the hint after fans demanded refunds for their concert tickets. To make matters worse and a bit confusing was when Eunjung gave a thank you and apology message to the fans. It seemed a bit out of place and possibly unnecessary. Even more suspicious was Hwayoung's apology to the fans as well that seemed forced. Those who have been paying close attention to KKS's puppetry work may suspect some foul yakuza play going on between him, Hwayoung, and possibly her family. There was a subtle threat in one of his messages to her about her keeping her mouth shut, but on the other hand, he also offers to support her entertainment career if she accepts her wrongdoings. I honestly hope she doesn't go back to him either.

Aside from KKS being a lousy CEO, places like AllKPop are totally not helping the situation either by offering fans tabloid-esque information on such a serious situation that may involve bullying. Fans eat up the information they get without thinking and immediately lash out without logically thinking everything out. Of course, antis are quick to jump in as well since they feed off drama and negativity whenever they get the chance. I'm sure places like that do provide some good information but sometimes you can tell they're in it for the hit counts on their site. Sometimes their information isn't carefully researched either and have errors or contradicting statements. You have to have a good eye on how to weed out the bs from such articles or you get exaggerated narratives from fans and antis. Fans also need to stop making up bullying evidence as well from variety shows and hidden messages in tweets. Anything could be considered something else when taken out of context.

I think fans need to chill out for a moment and really look at the situation with the girls, Hwayoung, and Kim Kwang-soo. If you're going to be pointing fingers at anyone, it should be the CEO who has added all the stress, competitive attitudes, and drama. If he made better decisions for the direction of T-ara and even the member additions, perhaps things would be better now for everyone. For now, they will definitely have a hard time coming back from this.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

I was going to post this last week before this catchy tune went viral, but I couldn't find enough recent videos that were worth recommending. Anyway, I honestly don't like PSY's music, but this is quite ridiculously catchy with a silly dance. I'm glad that people outside of the fandom find this entertaining and worth sharing. It's a fairly amusing video and the song is pretty decent. Don't think I'll become a PSY fan though. I'll stick with SAN E, thanks. ^^;

"Stand in the World" by HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT
This isn't my favorite song from their latest album, but it's still pretty amazing. They haven't lost their touch and Anza is as ferocious as ever. I love her presence and emotional vocals. The music helps emphasize the tone and the simplistic video gives enough mental stimulation to piece everything together.

"Beautiful Night" by B2ST
Once again, another group did a better job than Big Bang on utilizing their abroad surroundings in a video. There's even some damn diversity in the people too! I love B2ST and I was excited to see something more upbeat and fun, not that I didn't enjoy what they had before or anything. The video is great and definitely shares the same energy as the song. Cool, fresh, and energetic. A perfect summer song, right? The styling is a little off, but it's easily forgivable since everything is right.

"I'm Missin' You" by D-UNIT
I'm sure a lot of people are comparing this rookie girl group to 2NE1 and I can see it. If you're denying it right now and you can definitely hear some similarities, I'll tell you the reason why. KUSH put his hands all over this track. The styling is simple and tomboyish. The video isn't super flashy, so it matches the tone of the message. The song is catchy and has a decent balance of electro-pop and hip-hop. The girls definitely have potential and hopefully they break out of the comparison shadow because there are differences in their vocals and style. Looking forward to more.

"sink" by 9GOATS BLACK OUT
It was announced recently that this band will be disbanding and I'm quite saddened by this. Although they hit a slight bland phase in their career, the spark was slowly emerging again. Nonetheless, this PV was their first and it sparked an immediate love for me. It's also my favorite from the trio. It's a very calming, beautiful, and somewhat sorrowful song that has great, artistic imagery to accompany it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Miko vs. Miyavi

Seven years ago, one of my best friends mentioned a solo artist by the name of Miyavi. Her selling point was that his spastic personality reminded her of me, so I checked him out. I came across one of his first solo PVs for "Pop is Dead" and immediately fell in love with his high energy. It wasn't until I heard "Night in Girl" that I enjoyed him as an artist. From then on, I became a Miyavi fan.

Naturally, I went backwards and checked out his previous band, Due'le quartz. Miyavi was a young man by the name of Miyabi. He was a gifted guitarist with a rocky past and a mixed background that he denied for quite some time. He displayed energy, passion, and was a little contained when needed. Watching Due'le quartz's last live was a heartbreaking moment, but all good things must come to an end and Miyavi had a fairly successful solo career. His former band members Sakito and Kikasa (and Kazuki providing support drums for lives) had a decent, but short lived duo band [FIGURE;]. Kikasa supposedly managed an indies label, TUXEDO PRODUCTION, as well.

Since his band days, young Miyavi grew and evolved as an artist. His passion for music showed more and more over the years. He seemed more confident with his craft with Miyavizm - Shugi and showed off his acoustic abilities with his double album release MYV☆POPS and Miyavi uta - dokuso. Soon a new style was introduced with the enthusiasm of the KAVKI BOIZ. It mixed traditional visuals with slap guitar, tap dancing, and rap. I wasn't a huge fan of this era and I won't drift too far on how pointless his involvement with S.K.I.N was either. That's more of Yoshiki's doing than Miyavi's.

In 2009, Miyavi departed from PS Company and announced his marriage to jpop singer and J-Melo hostess Melody. He was opening his label J-Glam and was starting a family with his new wife. This was a rocky transition for some fans and I was surprised by the fan attacks. During this time, he made his first appearance at Texas' Anime Matsuri. The Q&A was the worst I've ever been to and the live was underwhelming. Despite his busy schedule with new material, business, and a family, Miyavi set forth on his first world tour that was unfortunately cut short due to health issues. The following year was another slightly underwhelming performance for myself.

WHAT'S MY NAME? introduced a very basic instrumentation and electronic elements with his improved slap guitar talent. In 2011, I was finally satisfied with his live performance in Dallas. Miyavi was a little more settled with himself as a musician, businessman, and family man. Unfortunately, this new Miyavi lacks lasting power as the spastic one I grew attached to. No, I'm not saying one of those "the old Miyavi was better, he never should've changed" type rants. Even if I enjoyed this era differently, I do notice the good points to them. Since Day 1 was released this year, I noticed how repetitive and almost uninspired Miyavi has become.

His departure from PSC was a smart move. He got to gain his own personal freedom with not only his musical journey, but for his own happiness outside of music. He has a proud wife, beautiful children, and a new love for himself by accepting his father's half. That's a huge positive! The misstep was the push to produce music and tour the world while trying to adjust in this new position in life.

Put away your rocks Miyavi fans and hear me out. Listen to "What's My Name?", "Strong", and "Day 1" and tell me that this isn't repetitive and uninspired. Even at his last live in Texas, some of the songs sounded the same. The energy was there, but the passion was lacking. Sure, he was never the best singer, but his lyrics were touching. His composition was unique from song to song. Now it's the same guitar slapping and random spouts of yelling lyrics over an electronic track with barely comprehensible English.

I love Miyavi and he will probably be my favorite jrock solo artist for a long time even though there are way more talented solo jrock artists I like, but I really want Miyavi to turn around and abandon this lackluster music style. He either needs to slow down with his schedule or rejoin a band to adjust his skills and reignite the passion in his music. Watch this live he participated in with Kiyoharu. The man can play when he's actually plucking some strings.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 164 minutes

This was my movie of the year, the film I was looking forward to this year, and also the movie I was the most nervous about. My expectations were all over the place since The Dark Knight became one of my favorite movies. Everyone enjoyed the sequel
so following it up and closing such an epic triology would be a challenge.

Eight years later after the events of Harvey Dents's death, the city of Gotham feels at ease since passing the Dent Act that stops criminal and violent organizations. The blame of Harvey's death remains on Batman's reputation and Comissioner Gordon's conscience. The man behind the mask has become recluse for all this time until an unexpected terrorist appears in Gotham by the name of Bane.

First of all, I'm a casual Batman fan. I've never read the comics, but I've seen bits and pieces of the 1960's TV show starring Adam West and the cheesiest version of the "Justice League". I've seen all the live action movies that have hit the theater, even the incredibly awful Batman & Robin. I've watched a few reviews from Pretty Much It, James the Nintendo Nerd, JesuOtaku, and Doug Walker. They all seemed to enjoy it, except for Doug, and had different takes on it. The person I agreed with the most was the guy on the right of PMI's review. Unlike The Amazing Spider-Man, I will be avoiding spoilers.

As mentioned before, I was more than excited about seeing this movie. I also was worried it wouldn't be as spectacular as The Dark Knight and also a casting choice. I love Anne Hathaway, but trying to picture her as the alluring and clever Catwoman was hard to imagine. I also worried that Bane would get overshadowed by The Joker's anarchist ways. Were my barely existing expectations met? were way beyond anything I expected!

The story was intriguing and those near three hours of film felt like a standard hour and a half of pure art. Yes, it is dialogue heavy, but Christopher Nolan is a fantastic storyteller. Every character mattered and were fleshed out enough to know them and understand them. The acting was convincing and I can understand the choices they made without question. As for my worries about Hathaway and Bane, they went away as the movie progressed. Hathaway's portrayal of Catwoman exceed my expectations and broke that awkward but loveable girl I remember her as in The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada. She was smart, sassy, and sexy. Then there's Bane. I believed he lived up to the Joker's intimidation and power, but in a different way. I can't admire him as much because honestly his appearance scares me inside. Joker's intimidation was his mind, something I'm used to as a fan of psychological horror.

The production was rich and smoothly transitioned from the previous movie. The cinematography and editing were smart. I don't pay attention to music often in movies, but the soundtrack was phenomenal and cleverly placed. The moments that lacked music heightened the tone effectively and you constantly felt invested. Lastly, I like how it tied in Batman Begins into the story to complete the circle.

I bet you're wondering if I have any complaints. The cons are rather small to me. Without any spoilers, Batman is mentally and emotionally tested at some point and there's a story attached to it. It can be a little confusing and may take a second viewing to fully understand. There's also a scene where Batman and Bane fight and there seems to be a small continuity error. I could be wrong, but it cuts away quite quickly afterwards. There were a couple cheesy moments too, but it doesn't ruin the movie. Lastly, there were a few moments where I couldn't understand Bane and had to pick up clues in the scene to understand what was going on. Maybe a second viewing might clear things up as well.

Overall, I thought the movie was just as good as the previous. I was a bit overwhelmed by how stunning it was afterwards and also a little saddened that Nolan's tale of Gotham's Dark Knight has come to a close. I truly felt inspired by this trilogy! I'm curious how the next reboot will pan out leading to a potential Justice League as well as Nolan's next hero, the Man of Steel. I highly recommend seeing this masterpiece.

Lastly, I want to close with a quote from my Facebook concerning the events that occurred in Colorado: "The Dark Knight Rises" was a possible life changing experience to me. It's a shame that it changed so many lives by a shooting that same night in Colorado. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who were affected that evening.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Little Shop of Horrors: 1960 vs. 1986

The Little Shop of Horrors is probably one of my favorite musicals. I saw the 1986 version many times growing up and it was the only version I knew of. Recently, I discovered that Jack Nicholson was part of the original version of the movie when I stumbled across the DVD at work. With that, I felt obligated to watch it and compare.

Seymour is a young, nerdy man that works for Mr. Mushnick as a florist. The shop has been receiving low business and they struggle to figure out ways to lure customers to their shop. Despite the poor business, Seymour is not only passionate about flowers, but he is very fond of his simplistic and sweet co-worker Audrey. Secretly, Seymour has been working on a project at the home that he shares with his hypochrondriac mother Winifried and brings the new species of plant he was raising to the shop. He gives it high quality soil and food to make it grow, but is puzzled and pressed for time to make it blossom to impress Mr. Mushnick and keep his job. After a little accident, he learns that his plant is not an ordinary plant that requires water and sunlight, but it is a carnivous one. Once Seymour runs of out fingers to prick and offer blood, he is pressured to find people to feed his plant, Audrey Jr..

Between both versions of the movie, the story is pratically the same. There are some differences of course. In the 1960's version, we get to meet a few of the customers quite regularly. There are more supporting characters than background. Viewers get a chance to see Seymour's living arrangement and meet his mother, which is not presented in the remake. The original is also not a musical. The 1986 version is actually based off the stage play that is based off of the 1960's movie. Lastly, the endings are different.

So, let's begin with comparing the characters starting with our protagonist Seymour played by Jonathan Haze and Rick Moranis. Both characters are the shy, clumsy, nerdy types, but I believe that Haze's portrayal seemed more incompetent than Moranis's. They were both loveable and you can truly sympathize with these characters and what they had to go through to impress Audrey, Mushnick, and most importantly pleasing Audrey Jr. If I had to pick a favorite, I enjoyed Moranis's version. Haze's portrayal seemed too incompetent and clumsy for my liking as Moranis seemed more realistic by not cheesing it up too much.

Jackie Joseph and Elle Greene play the love interest Audrey Fulquard and the characters are quite different, but not too much of a gap. Joseph's character was sweet, simple, and everything seemed so "lovely". It fit the time period of the movie. While Greene's character was just as sweet, she had this annoying speaking voice to me, although her singing is quite great. Strangely, I prefer the simple Joseph version.

Mel Welles's portrayal of Gravis Mushnik seemed a little harsher than Vincent Gardenia. It seemed like the dentist's purpose seemed more useful in the remake than the original. Steve Martin definitely had more screen time and left more of a lasting impression than John Shaner's brief appearance. They were both untrustworthy, sadistic dentists, but Martin's character had more of a relationship and conflict with the main cast. Bill Murray and Jack Nicholson both played the masochistic patient in a slightly different way. They both enjoyed pain, but Murray seemed more comical with his character and fit the tone of the remake while Nicholson seemed almost creepy with his excitement during his dentist visitation. Then there are the plants Audrey Jr. and Audrey II. Audrey Jr. had simple dialogue and was more manipulative to get what it wanted from Seymour whether it was by guilt tripping him or putting a hypnotic spell on him. While Audrey II had more attitude and sass. It was demanding as well, but seemed like more of a threat to the main cast. Even though they weren't in both movies, I really appreciated seeing Seymour's mother and her interaction with her son. I also enjoyed Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon who were like narrators in the remake. They made the transitions entertaining and helped the tone for each scene.

If I had to choose which version I prefer more, I guess my bias lies with the 1986 version. Putting my sentimental attachment aside, I liked the storytelling better than the original, the characters seemed more interesting, and the ending was a bit more satisfying. Now the original isn't terrible at all, it's definitely worth seeing as well. The story is a little different in places, but it's just as entertaining. The ending was less satisfying for me though. It was a bit of a downer, but not all movies can have cliffhangers or happy endings. If you haven't seen either version, I advise you to check them out and if you can, go experience the stage play. If you have seen either or both versions, tell me your thoughts on the film and even the stage play below.