My Favorite Christmas Song: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus [25 Days of Holiday Songs]

Welcome to Day 3 of the “25 Days of Holiday Songs” Challenge. Today’s post is brought to you by Rev. Rebecca L. Torres-Holland, the author of 
www.beckiewrites.com. Rebecca has written an amazing piece about her favorite Christmas hymns! Check it out behind the cut!

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Hark Back to the Vibrant Fantasy World of the 80s with “Loved By the Sun”

Do you have a soundtrack or two that you have fallen in love with? Perhaps so much that you have replayed it over and over over a long period? That is the case with Tangerine Dream’s “Legend” soundtrack, my new beloved earworm.

I have seen the 80s’ fantasy movie “Legend” only once or twice. The version I have seen was the Director’s Cut, which features Jerry Goldsmith’s orchestral works. The movie had two soundtracks: the European release had Goldsmith’s orchestral score, and the American release contained an electronic, pop-sounding score composed by German band Tangerine Dream. The reason for the change was that test audiences didn’t enjoy Jerry Goldsmith’s score.

One track from Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack, “Unicorn Dream”, was transformed into a love ballad for the US version’s ending. “Loved by the Sun” resulted from this transformation with the song being performed by rock band Yes’s frontman Jon Anderson. He also wrote the lyrics.

“Loved by the Sun” starts off with a quiet duet between an electric guitar and a synthesizer with two functions: starry sounds and synthesized deep bass. The duet continues on while Anderson begins the first verse softly. He continues to sing as the instruments build up the song’s emotion with an increase in volume. Some drums, a choir, and the trumpet function from the synthesizer are added in. This build up spills out in full energy at the final chorus with every instrument and voice’s volume raised to heighten the passionate message in the lyrics: “that legends teach us to love for goodness’ sake.”

My favorite part comes at the end, around the 4:15 mark, when the key changes from major to minor. The change begins when Anderson’s sings his note; a note that doesn’t resolve the phrase into a final cadence but instead slipping into the relative minor key. The song stays in the minor key till the end, as it fades into the instrumental piece “Blue Room”, which is another minor tune.

“Loved by the Sun” is a quiet piece. It doesn’t feature many instruments; only the synthesizer and electric guitar serve as the primary players. But, as Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Or, in layman terms, simplicity is beautiful. The song serves its purpose well: a gorgeous yet simple love song to support the movie’s romantic happy ending.

Here is the US version’s ending with the song playing along:

The Fantasy That Pulls You Into “The Land of Make Believe”

allstars-thelandofmakebelieve

(Originally written on May 4, 2015)

Happy Golden Week everyone! There are a week of consecutive holidays on the Japanese calendar for May that people don’t have to go to work or school and go on vacations. Luckily, I get a week off from work; which I been using to sleep, relax, be lazy, write, and see a lot of free mini-concerts around Nagoya City. Starting this week or the next, I am going to do a write up about the lives I see in additional to the monthly post about the anime songs of 1995. I will try to see indie artists as well as popular artists, so please check them out.

In this post, let’s head “across the pond” to the United Kingdom to check out allSTARS*. This pop band was formed with five members; Sandi, Thalia, Thalia, Ashley, Rebecca, and Sam. Interesting fact, if you take the first initials of each member’s names, you get the “STARS” part of the group’s name. Coincidentally or not, the TV station CITV wanted to bank on the member’s ambitions of being stars after seeing the extreme success of the S Club 7 television series, “Miami 7”, which was co-producer by Simon Fuller (which Japanese TV show “Music Station” labelled him last week as the top producer in the world).[1]

Formed in 2001, allSTARS* starred in their own TV show, STARStreet*. The show featured fifteen minute episodes where each episode focused on the different experiences of the group living in a house together. The show was apparently popular as they made two “seasons” and produced a couple VHS tapes.

While the show was on the air, the band decided to take a stab at a musical career. Hey, if S Club 7 could have a TV show, sing, and dance, allSTARS* could too? To take the chance, the group released their first single, entitled “Best Friends”, on June 11, 2001. The childish fun hit, as the website “This Must Be Pop” puts it, was a mediocre hit as it reached No. 20 on the charts.[2] However, their next two singles proven to be more successful as the second single reached #12 on the charts, due to a tie in with the Scooby Doo movie soundtrack, and the third single managed to get in the Top 10.

After finding their success in being a cover band, allSTARS* decided to release original material. Their fourth single, “Back Then / Going All the Way”, was deemed a failure by their label company Island as it barely made the Top 20. A month later, the band released their self-titled album with the same results; this time charting at number 42 for only two weeks. Feeling like the popularity of the band was waning, Island dropped allSTARS* from the label. The band split up soon after with each member going their own ways.[3]

Most of the members found success after the band’s breakup. The most prolific member was Ashley as he returned to the British soap opera “Hollyoaks” (which he starred in before he joined the group and still acting in as of today) while appearing in various musicals, shows (see Season 11 of “Strictly Come Dancing”), and being nominating for many awards. As for Ashley’s former college roommate and band mate, Sam, he found success off-screen as the co-founder of a well-recognized intern program.

Thalia found success on the small screen like Ashley as she appeared on various TV dramas and shows. Her most recognized appearance was in Big Brother (UK) 8 as she appeared as a “fake housemate” named Pauline. For the other girls of the band, Rebecca and Sandi made minimal TV appearance throughout the years. Eventually, the two woman eventually married their partners and currently living a quiet life with their own families.

allSTARS*’s third single is simply magical. A cover of the same-titled song by the 80s pop band Bucks Fizz, “The Land of Make Believe” reminds you of Limahl’s “Neverending Story”, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s me but I think they have that same “fantasy/magical” sound by the songs’ use of the europop sound, the lyrics, and how each song is sequenced. They also share the same musical technique, especially the use of prolonged notes (like the half and whole notes) in the stanzas. Another thing that sticks out is how the lyrics for “The Land of Make Believe” reminds you of “Neverending Story” due to a connecting theme: a nonchalant mystical world, full of dreams, and adventures. The vocal arrangements and the synthesizers further this concept throughout the song.

I really like the remix version of “The Land of Make Believe”, found on their self-titled album, better then the singles version. I don’t have anything against the original single version, really I don’t. However, I think it’s because the remix version makes the song more magical with the echo effects on the “Fun in the sun” part, how the vocals are softer, the addition of dramatic pauses, and better instrumentation that features more synthesizers, a stronger club-sounding backbeats, and electric guitars. The other reason why the remix version better is because it has a more appropriate speed that is suited for the song. The single version, when listening, makes you feel like you set the speed of 33 RPM on a record that was meant for 45 RPM; just too slow.

The mystic sound of allSTARS*’s remake of “The Land of Make Believe” makes the song a treat to listen to in any environment: dancing, exercising, commuting to work, and etc. Too bad the group disbanded quite prematurely as we could have gotten more delightful tunes like “The Land of Make Believe”.

The Single Version:

You can find the “Almighty Mix” here at Poprush.


References:

[1] “Music Station.” Yamamoto, Takao. TV Asahi. 1 May 2015. Television.

[2] “Whatever Happened To… AllSTARS*?” This Must Be Pop. 25 Sept. 2010. Web. 5 May 2015. <http://www.thismustbepop.com/2010/09/25/whatever-happened-to-allstars/

[3] “Allstars (band).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Aug. 2006. Web. 5 May 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allstars_(band)&gt;.