Try the “SWEE:D” taste with “Stop It!”! It’s 100% Sugary!

sweed-stopit

Valentines Day is coming very soon! It’s a romantic holiday for some of you lucky readers that is full of fancy dinners, Godiva chocolates, and red roses. But, if you are like me, you might be starting to save your money for February 15, the day when Valentines candy is 50% off, in order to begin a massive stockpile of sweets. Mmmm, candy hearts! If one of your pastimes is enjoying sugar rushes, then I got a band for you!

SWEE:D has all the sweetness you ever need. Formed in 2009, the pop band from Thailand had three members: Pin, Mim, and Jenny. Their catchphrases included “33% : Pim, 33% : Min, 33%: Jinny, and 1%: SECRET INGREDIENT” and “Try SWEE:D 100%”. Many believed that the girls were the Thai version of the Japanese girl group PERFUME while others believed they were copying the Kpop style that was popular when they formed. Nevertheless. the girls released their first single entitled “ห้าม* (Stop It!)” in 2010/. The single sadly didn’t chart on any of the Thai music charts[1]. The band released a few more singles in 2010 while performing at various concerts for their record label KamiKaze. Sadly, the group disbanded either in 2011 or 2012 when one of the members wanted to study abroad. Since their contracts were set to expire around the same time, the girls decided not to renew[1]. It is unknown what each girl is doing currently.

You can feel the sugary vibes when you begin to listen to the first few seconds of “Stop It!”. The overuse of the drum kits and synthesizers furthers the sweet tooth as it makes the song sound so innocent and cute. The song turns a little bitter as the lyrics starts to reveal the setup, a list of “don’t”s that the girl in the song hopes that her potential boyfriend will abide to. The list is a bit innocent as some of the examples are: “Don’t post a message…”, “…don’t you dare run off!”, and (the louche one) “Don’t try pick-up lines on me anywhere”.[2] What makes the “flavor” last longer is the visual presentation of girls and song through the music video. You can see the girls are trying to be syrupy by the pastel dress, the “sexy yet cute” look, and the music video’s story.

I personally think that this song’s style comes from those similar to Kpop as it has the cute melodies, sweet and sexy outfits, and innocent lyrics. Hopefully you don’t get a toothache after listening to this candy-coated song.

Further Reads:

* SHANNY594‘s write up of the group: “SWEE:D!!~♥


Notes / References

[1] Thanks Tahmnong for the information! ❤

[2] “ห้าม (Stop It!)” by SWEE:D. (2011, September 30). Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://deungdutjai.com/2011/09/30/stop-it-by-sweed/

30 Years of an “Overnight Success”

teridesario-overnightsuccess

January 21, 1985.

Do you remember what you were doing that day? Do you recall what you bought? Did you, by any chance, buy Teri DeSario’s new album “Overnight Success”? Probably not, if you lived in any part of the world that’s not Japan, as the album and its tie-in singles were only released there.

However, you might have heard of Teri DeSario as she is no stranger to the American music scene. In the late 1970s, she was popular at many dance clubs when her disco-themed debut album “Pleasure Train” was released. The first single from the album, “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Keep Me from You”, was a minor hit as it reached #77 on the US charts. “Pleasure Train” also marked the start of a long-standing musical relationship between DeSario and Joey Carbone (who I mentioned earlier this month with the Bay Canyons post).

A hit single came in 1980 when she released the single “Yes, I’m Ready” with K.C from the KC and the Sunshine Band. The single went to #2 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart, only being outranked by Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Sadly, disco music began to fade out from the American popular music scene soon after the single was released. Her record company persuaded DeSario to adapt to more of a female rock sound and copy the likes of Pat Benatar for her third album, “Caught”. With little promotion and a genre change, “Caught” was met with poor sales, causing DeSario to bounce from one musical genre to another.

When Desario started to work on her seventh studio album, she decided to go back to the genre that helped her to achieve fame; disco. Her record company knew that Japan was the place to make her a star once again. The reason was that disco didn’t really fade out from the Japanese music industry during that time, unlike in America. Instead, it kept on evolving and changing. However, the disco found in Japan during the mid-1980s wasn’t the same kind of disco that was found in the 1970s from the acts of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Donna Summers, Jackson 5, and so on. It was completely different as this type of disco came from the idea of Italo disco; which was a heavy electronic, high energy dance genre from Italy. Some famous Italo disco songs were Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy”, Laura Branigan’s “Self Control”, and Sabrina’s “Boys”  If you don’t know these songs, you can get a taste of Italo disco with this wonderful compilation on Youtube.

DeSario asked Joey Carbone to help write and performed on several tracks for her new album. She also enlisted the aid of guitarist Richie Zito, who worked with artists like Toni Basil, Cheap Trick, Ratt, and others.* Released on January 21, 1985, “Overnight Success” was a huge hit in Japan as it charted #48 on the yearly Oricon chart.

To kick things off, the team picked the high energy, feel good title song to be the first track on the album  The song starts off with an innocent crystallized keyboard sound and a solid bass drum beat for a few seconds. Then, with a small lead in, the guitar and synthesizer come roaring in to set up the song. These instruments provide the energy while DeSario’s voice and the song’s uplifting lyrics supply the raw power. The lyrics are about dealing with the struggles and the hard times that one may face while not forgetting about the dreams and determinations that one holds. Because, these are “the key to your happiness” and gives anyone the power to succeed. Yes, you might have heard these themes countless times before in other songs. But, what makes “Overnight Success” a unique song is how the lyrics are interpreted by DeSario’s way of singing. You can feel the song’s passion, determination, dreams, and strength by just listening to Teri.

The music video’s story is very charming, inspiring, and even makes you experience nostalgia with that 80s fashion. Those workout outfit! Ahhh, the horror! Besides the video’s fashion, it  includes this “once young” actor who is now referred to as “McDreamy” and has starred in countless TV shows and movies like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Enchanted”.

patrickdempsey

A cute video, right? Here is the 12″ remix of the title song:

Happy 30th Anniversary, “Overnight Success”! You may be a bit outdated. But, that has never stop you to be a rare find and an excellent album to listen to. May you continue to inspire others to never give up their dreams and find their “key to happiness”.

*Fun Fact for all those anime buffs out there: Joey Carbone and Richie Zito would later compose the soundtrack for the 1986 anime “Project A-Ko”. Isn’t that cool?

Remembering a Hidden Talent

origa

“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

There has been a great deal of news, either good or bad, in our lives and around the world in the last week. None more shocking than the death of Russian singer Origa on January 17. A talent that has been heard by less than ten percent of the world’s population but snuffed away too soon. Let’s take a moment to reflect on and remember Origa’s beloved career.

Maybe you have heard this voice on your television, if you have cable TV, or on the internet. Maybe not. I do believe she was only well-known in the Japanese, Russian, and anime communities. But, how she rose to fame during the 2000s in these communities is as normal as any other artists. After graduating from music school in Russia around 1990, Origa (original name is Olga/Ольга) decided to pursue a music career in Japan. It didn’t take long when she got a contract with a music agency in 1991 and released her self-titled debut album four years later. Japanese rock musician Hamada Shogo described Origa’s voice to be beautiful and angel-like when they worked together for the 1995 charity single “Waga Kokoro no Maria”. She went on to team up with legendary anime music composer Yoko Kanno to sing the theme songs of the popular video game turned anime series “Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex” in 2002. She later released other video game or anime-related songs that were composed by Yoko Kanno, who became a dear friend to Origa.

First Opening: “Inner Universe”

To tell you the truth, I don’t know much of Origa’s music except what she released for “Ghost in the Shell”. I used to watch a lot of anime back when I was in middle and high school. And one anime-themed TV block that I frequently watched was Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim”. I remember when “Ghost in the Shell” first premiered on Adult Swim. I will never forget when I first listened to Origa’s “Inner Universe” and instantly became mesmerized.  The song fits the show’s dark, futuristic, and war-like premise as the melody is full of electronic instruments that has an eerie presence. What adds to the mystery is the vocals; with the pureness of boy soprano Ben Del Maestro and Origa’s seraphic/angel-like sound. Every time I listen to “inner Universe”. I always think that. maybe. one of the song’s underlying themes is that you can always get something beautiful and good from darkness.

Second Opening: “Rise”

I can also admit that I never really watched “Ghost the Shell” past the opening part. Unlike “Inner Universe”, the show (or the original Playstation game, in fact) didn’t really catch my attention. I don’t really enjoy war or shooter-type things. I am not THAT type of girl. However, the show’s second opening, “Rise”, turns the tables as the song has a “hard electronic meets rock”, down-to-earth sound that is so different compared to “Inner Universe”. Origa’s versatility is shown here as her voice goes back and forth from an earthly, alto one in the verses to a pure, high one in the chorus. I love the melodic turns in the chorus takes, it’s quite breathtaking.

Like the Jane Austin quote from above, let’s remember this hidden jewel with an angelic voice by not mourning on what the world lost. Instead, thinking of the pleasures that came from Origa’s music.

How about you? What is your favorite Origa song?

Four Colourz – “ABCD”

abcd-fourcolourz

Long time, no see! I am sorry for not updating for a week or so. I usually curl up next to the space heater after work on very cold winter nights, unexpectedly falling asleep for long periods of time. Lame, isn’t it? This week’s weather is forecasted to be spring-like here in Japan. Maybe I will be lucky and I wouldn’t have to use a heater.

But enough of the excuses, let’s talk more about music! What do you remember about the late 90s and early 2000s in the music world? Do you remember those influx of girl groups and boy bands from every corner of the world? Ok, ok! Maybe not “every corner of the world”, but it did feel like it! With any kind of band coming from Europe, the UK, US, and Canada, you might of have felt a bit overwhelmed when choosing who to follow. I did! I always had to choose between being a Backstreet Boys fan or a *Nsync fan when discussing who my friends and I loved during lunch in middle school. Luckily, I found a loophole and admitted that I loved the bad boys from the UK, 5ive. ❤

Four Colourz is one of those girl groups.. Formed in late 1999, Four Colourz was a quartet with members Kara, Claire, Tierra and Nraca/R-Ca, They started to record their first album, “FourColourz.com”, in the early part of 2000. To promote this album, they were the opening act for the European leg of P. Diddy’s tour while releasing four singles: “Wait”, “Anything”, “ABCD”, and “Dog Me Out”. The girls found minor success in Europe, especially in their home country of Germany. But it wasn’t enough as the girls disappeared off the music radar a year after their debut. It is currently unknown what the girls are up to now; are they still in the entertainment industry or did they retire to a “normal” life?

Luckily, their music is still roaming around the internet for all to enjoy this talented group. You can hear their beautiful yet sassy voices the best in their second single “ABCD”. Although it’s a typical “pop meets R&B from those days”-type of song,  it really does fit the girls’ voice wonderfully. The magic of this song comes from the solo lines, where each girl gets to show off their unique vocals, and in the chorus parts with the girls blending together to create a unified sound. I honestly can’t choose from Claire’s sultry vocals or Tierra’s sweet ones. But, what makes it more memorable is the beat and the melody; creating a high-energy, get up and bounce jam.

If you liked Destiny’s Child, 3LW/Cheetah Girls, or Mis-Teeq, then Four Colourz is for you! With a pinch of sugar, spice, sass, and everything kinda nice, “ABCD” is an unforgettable jam that might have you arbitrary humming parts of the chorus anywhere.

Kubota Toshinobu – “Missing”

toshinobu-missing

Kubota Toshinobu has been rocking the Japanese music world for thirty or so years. In that time span. he has been able to adapt to and re-define musical genres while pioneering new ones like Japanese hip-hop and Japanese soul. Kubota made his start in the early 80s after winning the EastWest singing contest. But, he didn’t start off as a singer. Instead, he started as a producer; writing songs for various artists like Koizumi Kyoko, Tahara Toshihiko, and others. He was able to release material for his own solo career in 1986 when he released the single “Shitsui no Downtown”. He then released his debut album, “SHAKE IT PARADISE”, a few months later with mediocre reception.

His popularity didn’t peak until the late 80s after he released his first number one single, “You Were Mine”. After that, he started to experiment with assorted musical genres and recorded material in New York City, where he presently resides in. This led to the release of his first English album “Sunshine, Moonlight” in 1995. However, the focal point of his career would come a year later when he released the single “LA・LA・LA LOVE SONG” with English model-turned-singer Naomi Campbell. Due to being the theme song to the mega hit dorama “Long Vacation”, “LA・LA・LA LOVE SONG” sold over a million copies and became the third best-selling single for 1996.

Kubota still produces and releases music today but not like the success he had in the 1990s. Nevertheless, he celebrated his 25th Anniversary in 2012 with a nationwide tour.

For today’s blog post, I thought we could go back to the early beginning of Kubota’s career. “Missing” is a popular ballad, according to my co-worker, that was featured on his first album, The song really sounds like a modern song; if you forget about the excessive use of the crystallized keyboard sound. I think the reason why it’s so modern because the song features minimal instrumentation. Instead, what shines here is the strength of Kubota’s vocals, lyrics, and the camera work of the music video. The lyrics are about a person who is longing to hold a loved one in one’s arms while rendezvousing about their time together. This heartbreaking feeling is conveyed perfectly in Kubota’s vocals as they are powerful, raw, and full of emotion.  Finally, the lyrics are translated again in the music video as its modest setup might tug your heartstrings a bit. I let you be the judge of that when you watch the video below.

What makes “MISSING” a great song is the fact that it’s modest, simple, and full of poignant. I even cried when I first listened to this song a few months back. How about you? How does this song affect you?

Kabah – “Vivir Por Mi”

kabah-La Vida Que Va

I am serious slacking on this blog! I am sorry for this! Winter always has me falling asleep beside my heater earlier than I expected. I want to make it up to my readers by posting an upbeat song from the Mexican band Kabah who might chase the winter blues away. Kabah was formed in 1992 with six members: Maria José Loyola, René Ortiz Martinez, Federica Quijano Tapia, André Quijano Tapia, Daniela Magun and Sergio Ortiz O’Farril. They didn’t have much luck in the beginning as they were unsure about their musical style and had many unfortunate events that ended with crowds booing them off stage. However, luck changed in 1994 when they entered and won the talent show “Valores Juveniles”. They released their album, entitled “Kabah”, soon after. Although only containing four tracks, the album was popular among the younger listeners. Their second album “La Calle de las Sirenas”, is their most popular album to date as it sold over 2.5 million copies all over the world.

The group sadly broke up in 2005 after releasing the acoustic greatest hits album “El Pop”. Some of the members went onto pursue solo careers in the entertainment industry. Maria José Loyola, or simply known as Josa, has released four albums, opened for Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape” tour, and appeared on various shows. Federica Quijano Tapia went on to do some acting and modeling gigs, appearing in various media like “Penthouse” and “KIU”. Daniela Magun is a TV talk host while Sergio Ortiz O’Farril created his own solo project, named “Moroccoblu”. Though the members have went their separate ways, the members decided to reunite Kabah last year and are planning to do a tour this year.

“Vivir Por Mi” comes from the band’s fifth studio album “La Vida Que Va”. This album is said to feature “a lighter sound”.[1] However, I don’t really hear that with “Viviri Por Mi”, which is an upbeat, feel good song about life and growing up for yourself. Maybe it’s the beginning as the song starts out off with a mediocre pace. However, thanks partially to a key change, the song picks up steam as if it’s a dance song. What else is nice about the song is that the male members take lead vocals, which is really good for their range. My only wish is to understand what they are chanting in the beginning with the cool synthesized opening. My Spanish is really poor after years of neglecting to study it.

If you are feeling down anytime, have the dance-y, positive “Vivir Por Mi” playing to cheer you up and remember you that you only live for yourself, don’t try to live for anyone else.

Bibliography

[1] Kabah (band). (2005, June 5). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabah_(band)


Lyrics

Pasa el tiempo y no puedo entender
lo que dejo y lo que encontraré.
Mis caminos recorrer,
mi destino conocer,
quiero equivocarme como ayer,
sin miedo de perder.

Y ahora tengo que salir
a vivir por mí,
tengo que crecer y comprender
que me queda mucho por decir,
tanto que sentir,
tengo que salir para vivir.

No es posible quiero respirar,
cuantas decisiones por tomar.
Vivo y creo en mi verdad,
todo lo quiero arriesgar,
hoy es el momento de cambiar
sin mirar atrás.

Y ahora tengo que salir
a vivir por mí,
tengo que crecer y comprender
que me queda mucho por decir,
tanto que sentir,
tengo que salir para vivir.

Art Porter, Jr – “Undercover”

undercover-art

If you are like me, you might be already suffering from the stress and some burnout from work .I thought we could take a breather and relax with the music of Art Porter, Jr. He is well-known in Arkansas for the “Art Porter Bill”; a law that was pushed by then-Attorney General Bill Clinton to allow minors to work in alcohol-serving bars with parents’ supervision. The law was created because Art Porter, Jr played in his father’s band and then as an independent artist in many events and locations, including night clubs, as a drummer and saxophonist since he was little. After graduating from Northwestern University, he moved to Chicago to study and perform extensively. It was there where he received a recording contract with Polygram and Virve Forecast Records in the early 1990s. He released his debut album, entitled “Pocket City”, in 1992. Sadly, four years later, Art was killed in a boating accident in Thailand.

Art’s music, even to this today, is a subtle sensation as he fused jazz with the sounds of 90’s hip hop and R&B. The pinnacle of his experimentation came in 1994 when he released “Undercover”. In this album, you can heard the chilled atmosphere of the album prominently in the self-titled song. Also, how Art tackles each musical phrase is simply magically; they are full of warmth and emotion. During the break, he keeps the song attractive by changing the rhythms, going from the warm, rich long phrases to accented, quick ones full of scale slides, sixteenth notes, and some saxophone blows. Although a summer-like song, “Undercover” can help you to feel the warm sun and cool ocean breeze in winter’s frigid nights.