Pick Me Up Playlist – #MentalHealthAwareness

Hey guys! Mental Health Awareness Day was on October 10. Although, I was busy with work and couldn’t talk about it on that day, I was nominated by Laura Spoonie to talk about how music helps my mental health and what songs helps me to stay positive. See what songs I picked under the cut!

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What Song Inspires You To Get Energize?

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(Disclaimer: This post is not an affiliation post. It’s just me talking about an app I like.)

It’s the afternoon. You glance at the clock and groan: It’s only 2 pm. You have three more hours till you clock out from your daily 9-5 job. But, you are tired from that after-lunch fatigue. You ponder, should you eat sweets (the sugar can energize you) or make a cup of coffee? Although these choices sound like a nice idea, they might not be the best one.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI have recently been using an app called The Fabulous. I have been using it for two weeks already and enjoy it so far. Fabulous is designed for the user to do a variety of goals during the day. From the moment when you wake up to the second before you drift into dreamland, there is some sort of activity that you have to do. Doing these activities will help create a better you. Some of the tasks are drinking water and eating healthy yet meaningful meals. One of the actions is exercising throughout the day. This is something I think that I’m not good at. I cannot run (I hate running actually) and I don’t have room in my tiny apartment for big equipment.

I was in a pickle: What would be the right exercise for me?

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Enjoy the Youthful Summer Fever with The Party

It’s June! Summer is almost here! Time to put on that brand-new swimsuit, lather on some suntan lotion, make sure not to forget those all-important beach items and make your way to the nearest beach (or pool if you don’t live by a beach). For me, as a passionate music lover, summer doesn’t start until I put together a mix-tape of cool summer hits to jam to and enjoy the season. The Party’s “Summer Vacation” would be one of those tracks!

The first thing that catches the listener’s attention is the sampled bass line from “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama. That bass line is the real beginning as it serves as the song’s backbone with its intense and defining characteristics. The deep-sounding bass serves as a perfect contrast with the male’s tenor vocals. It’s easy to notice that the bass line is the principal character of this piece. Although, this 12-beat pattern is repeated over and over.

My favorite part has got to be the chorus. The rap verses are slick; the guys lay down the verses coolly and in a typical 90s’ teenager attitude. But the meat of the song is the chorus; the female vocals bring a refreshing yet robust and dance-able flavor to the song. It doesn’t help that the music video features two girls dancing a particular routine to the chorus. It makes me want to get up and dance that same routine. The slick, teenage bad-ass rap verses differ from the rousing chorus, but they both go hand-to-hand as their unique characteristics compliment each other.

I am now an adult working a full-time job with not enough summer vacation time. The lyrics and the summery dance beat of “Summer Vacation” make me wish I was a teenager who is on the cusp of summer vacation; when school is about to be let out for the year and teenagers make the mental (or perhaps, physically as well) dash towards their long three-month vacation. Oh, how I wish, as an adult, I could “get away” and “have fun” for three months!

“Summer Vacation” isn’t my number one favorite The Party song (that honors go to “That’s Why”) but it is a fun song. The youthful vibe and the danceable beat makes me want to break out and dance while enjoying summer in a fun way.

About The Party:

The Party was a group of five teenagers that starred on the show The All New Mickey Mouse Club in the late 80s and early 90s. The members were Albert Fields, Tiffini Hale, Chase Hampton, Deedee Magno Hall, and Damon Pampolina. The group lasted for three years: releasing two original albums, one remix album, and a handful of singles. Their most successful single was “In My Dreams”, released in 1991, a dance cover of the same-titled song by heavy metal band Dokken. Most of the members went onto pursue different fields in the entertainment industry with Deedee Magno Hall being the most recognized name among musical theatre patrons and Steven Universe fans.

Celebrating Canada Day with Don’t Wanna Fall in Love by Jane Child

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Happy Canada Day to all my readers!

Over the past twenty or so years. many Canadian artists have been featured and became immensely popular all over the world. Barenaked Ladies, musical goddess Celine Dion, rock-pop princess Avril Lavigne, “boy wonder” Justin Bieber (which you should check out his new single with Skiillex), and others. But, none were more eccentric or skillful at playing the keyboards than today’s featured artist.

Jane Child was born and raised in “The Big Smoke”, Toronto. She came from a musical family as her mother was opera singer Lorraine Johnson and her father was violinist Ricky Hyslop. Growing up, she sang in various chours including the children’s choir at the Canadian Opera Company. By her teenage years, Jane started to create her own bizarre fashion styles as she had braided hair with a mohawk, nose chains, and the Sinead O’Connor-type of clothing.

Sometime near the late 80s, Jane was offered a recording contract with the label Warner Bros to write and produce her own music. She released her self-titled debut album in the fall of 1989  It produced a couple of singles, including the hit “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love”. That single was featured on many top 40 charts in various countries, including #2 on the US Billboard 100. Jane released a follow-up album, named “Here Not There”, four years later, which was not as successful as her first one. By the late 90s and early 2000s, Jane Child faded from the spotlight as she worked in many indies outlets with her husband Cat Gray.

“Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” is a pure synthesized keyboard pop song with some R&B thrown into it. You can hear the R&B influences within the first fifteen seconds of the song with the mid-range, twangy melody to introduce the song. After that, the song keeps going with Jane’s meticulous use of the keyboard. She really knows how to master a keyboard with the techniques she displays during this song. One of my favorite parts of the song happens to be the modulated chords before the first verse. As you could see in the video, Jane plays with such raw emotions that you can even feel it while listening to “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love”, especially when she rams the modulation switch back and forth while pounding away on her keyboard. Other great parts are at the musical interlude (she has some amaaaaazing keyboard skills here because I haven’t heard or seen a person play like that ever, or maybe I have…) and at the big musical exposition with Jane moving up the scale before the last chorus.

The other prominent aspect of this song is Jane Child’s vocals. Her vocal style reminds me a lot of Avril Lavigine’s as both are, as you could. classified as “rock meets pop” vocals. Although Jane’s are more nasally and trying to emulate a R&B style in this song, both ladies put that “oomph” that you can only hear in a rock or R&B song. You can hear this particular vocal style during the second verse when she sings “And you have started sinking in, Whoa baby you’re way out of line now”. When she sings like this, it intensifies the song’s emotion. Sadly, I feel like she has lost that fiery vocal style recently. If you take a look at the performance on “The Wayne Brady Show” below, she can barely sing  “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” with ok vocals.

Besides that, you should listen to “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” as it displays Jane’s amazing keyboard skills and fiery vocals. The song is one of my most recent favorites because it’s an amazing song that you can’t really attach a label to it. Sure, it’s a mixture of rock (as it’s edgy), synthesized dance music (hey, keyboards), and R&B (see “wooo” and “oh baby” vocal parts), you can’t exactly say it solely belongs in one genre. It belongs in many.

Please give it a listen and tell me what you think!

A 2004 performance of the song on the “Wayne Brady Show”:

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

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(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;.