Welcome to another edition of Battle of the Songs. For this edition, I was debating to do one or two topics: either about Eurovision or Japanese songs. It looks like that this week is about Japanese songs as you can see Sunday’s and Monday’s post were both about Japanese songs. But, I am going to save the Japanese songs battles for May as it will be the first month of the new era in the Japanese calendar.
So for this battle, I want to do a song that was performed by past Eurovision winner as you know Eurovision is next month! )If you haven’t read my series about this year’s entries, you can find in these parts: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI.) The song itself was never presented at Eurovision, but the group has. And, everybody knows this group as they are world famous. There have been a musical and two films that featured their songs.
I am trying to get back to blogging after two weeks of being here and there. Just needed to catch up on sleep this weekend and had to prepare for the new school year, which starts tomorrow!
I really enjoy participating in the Song Lyrics Sunday challenge two weeks ago. So, I am going to try to continue this every week! This week theme is “Burn/Fire/Flame,” as suggested by the host Jim at A Unique Title For Me, with this post.
This week’s 4M is a free choice week. Since a local adaptation of James Brock’s rendition of Aesop’s Fables, which I am a part of, will open this weekend only at a local playhouse here in Nagoya, I dedicate this 4M to the fox.
Everyone knows about the “Tortoise and the Hare” from the Aesop’s Fables collection! But have you heard “The Fox and the Sour Grapes”? Or even the “Donkey and the Lion Skin”? Or perhaps, “The Fox and the Crow”?
Why did I choose the fox for this 4M? Well, that is because I am playing the character of the Fox in one of the fables. I also play the role of Betty who is a bit of a snob and wants everything her way, think Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls or a snobby rich girl from Clueless. (Note: This play features humans transforming into different animals, It’s also an ensemble play.) I can’t reveal the whole story (but you can find parts of the play on Google Books) as you have to come to Nagoya to see it! Of course, I can post the highlight video when it comes out.
The song was written by the mega-hit musical trio Stock, Aitken, and Waterman (SAW),. These three wrote a countless number of hits in the 80s by artists like Rick Astley, Bananarama, Dead or Alive, Kylie Minogue, and others. I had a SAW-themed battle a month ago with Rick Astley vs O’chi Brown.
Actually, Everybody Knows was the only album that solely produced by SAW. At the end of 1990, the trio and Sonia had a falling out where Sonia left the label and parted ways with the team, leading her to release her follow-up album with another producer and an independent label. And, what a smart move too. As many modern British music historians would point out, SAW-produced songs began to fail on the charts by 1991 or 1992 as people’s taste in music changed.
I like “Counting Every Minute” as it’s so bouncy and so positive. I could use this as a workout song and maybe even bounce like Tigger for the entire span of the song. (I had a dance routine for this when I was in high school.)
The lyrics could be classified the songs as a “bubblegum pop” song as they are bouncy and have that sense of innocent puppy-dog love. Nevertheless, “Counting Every Minute” is cute and fun that will have you dancing.
I recently conducted an email interview with a rock band named Into•The•Deep from England. They talked about the newest single, how they came together, and answered my question of how music influences them.
Click to read their fantastic interview and listen to some of their music!
My, my, my! 2019 is blazing by too quickly! I can’t believe that spring will be here in less than three weeks!
According to the National Days calendar, tomorrow is Hinamatsuri (or Doll’s Day here in Japan, click to read more about this special day) and March 8 is International Woman’s Day. March is also Woman History Month. So to pay tribute to these special occasions, it’s an all-female band battle in this edition of Battle of the 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!
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:
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).
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. 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.
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”.