Argentinian Musician Cielo Pordomingo Talks Her About Latest Release and Reflects on Her Music

I recently talked to Cielo Pordomingo, a musician from Argentina, about her newest release as well as her musicality. This was my first time conducting a live interview, so I was a bit nervous and anxious about how it would turn out. Initially, it was supposed to be a video interview, but I could only capture the audio.

Take a listen below the cut!

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“Are you Happy” with Morning Musume’s Latest Song?

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What is your current earworm?

Mine is Morning Musume. ’18’s “Are you Happy?”, which was released last month. The Japanese pop idol group Morning Musume. or their sister groups have been mentioned here many times before. I am a huge fan of the group, and this year marks my 14th anniversary of being a fan of Morning Musume. and their umbrella group, Hello! Project.

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Remembering AVICCI

A lot has happened over the course of this past week. I know every week has their ups and downs. But, it feels like last week had more surprising downs than others. Especially yesterday.

To be honest, I don’t know much about AVICII’s songs. I am not much into EDM or today’s house songs, so his music would rarely appear on my Spotify recommended playlists. But, I have heard of him. I remember coming across his 2013 song ‘Wake Me Up” when I was watching a late night weekly countdown program in the summer of 2014. I liked the song’s style, a cross between country and EDM. It was a perfect blend as it wasn’t too country yet there wasn’t an excess of EDM-influenced keyboards.

It is unfortunate when young musicians like AVICII pass away too soon. He was a talented musician that knew how to make refreshing and innovated electronica tunes. But, he wasn’t just EDM or house. He was a musician that infused different genres together. House, funk, country, soul. You name the genre; he could create brilliant tunes with it.

His career may have been cut short suddenly, but his masterpieces and musicianship will be remembered for a long time.

 

 

“Dance trance all in a globe”: A Celebration of a Timeless Trio

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One of the first Japanese pop groups I ever discovered was globe. A trio that included a legendary producer, a virtual unknown, and a up-and-coming rapper and VJ. This year marks their twentieth anniversary since their debut single. Since their debut, globe has changed the Japanese pop music scene in their own way.

After TM Network performed their final live concert TMN 4001 DAYS GROOVE in the spring of 1994, keyboardist Komuro Tetsuya decided to form a three-piece band with MTV VJ and DJ Marc Panther. Komuro was one of the hottest producers in the Japanese music scene by that time. Along with being a member of the mega-popular band TM Network, he was also producing hits after hits with artists like Mizuki Arisa, TRF, Watanabe Misato, and others. His most famous single, “Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokoro Tsuyosa to”, a collaboration with ex-Tokyo Performance Doll member Shinohara Ryoko, was released in the summer of 1994 and sold over two million copies. With all this prestige, Komuro was looking to create another super group.

But, what should it be? With whom?

The first member, which was mentioned above, was Marc Panther. He was going to be the rapper of the group while Komuro was going to be the producer, keyboardist, composer, and backing vocals. Komuro choose the band’s genre as eurodance. Which made Marc’s role easier to understand because a lot of dance music from the West incorporated rapping into their high-energy music. Nevertheless, all they needed was a lead vocalist, which Komuro would find in one his many talent auditions. He picked a then-unknown young adult from southern Japan named Yamada Keiko.

The group made their debut on August 9th, 1995 with the song “Feel Like dance”. At first, keiko’s face was obscured during TV and public appearances as the company thought it would be a neat idea to have a “ZARD-like”, mysterious member. The first single’s music video was actually all done in CGI. (Which would have another version later on with the member’s faces.) It wasn’t until the second single, “Joy to the love”, when we first saw the members.[1]

1996 proved to be a monumental year for the group. They released the wintry break-up song, “DEPARTURES”, in January with huge success. The single was the band’s first number single to chart on the Oricon charts and it sold over two million copies. Their self-debut album was more impressive as it sold over four million copies.

By the end of the decade, globe proven to be one of the top artists in Japan with all their singles charting in the top 10, many reaching the number one position. However, the group changed during the new millennium as they steered away from eurodance and got their hands dirty by experimenting with house and trance. One the best examples to describe globe’s trance sound is the 2002 album “Lights2”, especially with the instrumental piece “TRANSCONTINENTAL WAY”.

keiko and Komuro got married following the release of “Lights2”. Also, the group’s activities slow down tremendously by 2005 as keiko started her solo career, Marc was sort of continuing his, and Komuro was heavily involved with the restart of his old band TM Network.

However, the group has also been facing setbacks since mid-2000s. One of these setbacks happened in 2008 when Komuro was arrested and sentenced for fraud. The group was supposed to released their thirty-first single, a cover of TM Network’s signature song “GET WILD”, on November 26. However, it was shelved and later placed on a best album due Komuro’s arrest.

Another setback happened in 2011 when keiko was rushed to hospital after collapsing at home. It was later discovered that she suffered from subarachnoid haemorrhage and went to rehabilitation, which she is still primarily focusing on at the moment. Two years after the tragic incident,  Marc and Komuro decided to continue the group without keiko by releasing a series of remix albums; “globe EDM Sessions” (2013), “GDM” (2014), and “Remode 1” (2015). These new albums had past favorites updated as EDM-styled songs, which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet. Although, I have seen Marc and Komuro recently doing nightclub tours to promote “Remode 1” and their 20th anniversary. It looks like the lives were a great success judging by the pictures and messages.

i first got into globe when I was a junior high school student. Back in the early 2000s, avex trax had three main music video channels that were streamed over the net for free. I would always spend my free time watching these channels as I was just beginning to get into Jpop. The first globe song that I listened to was their 2002 trance-flavored “OVER THE RAINBOW”. What made me like the song was the mystical but yet mysterious synthesizers and keiko’s pure vocals.  However, I would become more in love with its b-side, “INSPIRED FROM RED & BLUE”, as it so emotional and powerful.

I think the emotional side of globe’s songs made me like them when I was younger. Even though I didn’t know a lot of Japanese back then, I would understand the emotional side of each song due to how keiko used her vocals. I could feel such emotions like sadness in “DEPARTURES”, frustration in “Wanna be a dreammaker”, and longing in “Wanderin’ Destiny” thanks to keiko’s efforts. And due to that, these songs helped me during the most difficult times of my life.

keiko’s techniques would also inspire me when I started voice lessons. keiko will always be one my biggest inspirations for singing because I really admire her ability to hit high notes, her marvellous tone, and the ability to put a lot of emotions in her singing. So, in honor of globe’s twentieth anniversary, I sang globe’s debut song. Now, I am no keiko, as you can recognize while listening. But, I had lots of fun singing and also rapping.

Please listen to my cover here: 

Here is the original:

“Feel like dance” isn’t my favorite globe song. I don’t think it’s even in my top five list….

…However, here is my top five list for globe songs:

5. SWEET PAIN (1995)

4. FREEDOM (1996) / Love again (1998)

3. Music Takes Me Higher (from the album “globe”; 1996)

2. INSPIRED BY RED & BLUE (2002)

1. Wanderin’ Destiny (1997; which was the theme song for the drama “Aoi Tori”, starring one of my favorite actors Toyokawa Etsushi.)


References

[1] “Globe.” Globe – Wikipedia. 24 June 2004. Web. 16 Aug. 2015.  (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe)

Music Reactions: Amuro Namie is back with her 80s’ dance beat meets R&B mashup “_genic”

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It’s Japanese music week here on ☆ai love music☆! I swear it won’t be the case with the next post, I swear! It just happens to be the week that the Queen of Japanese Hip-Pop and my idol, Amuro Namie, released her new album “_genic”.

Has Amuro really had a dull moment ever in her career? I don’t think so. She has always dazzled many with her catchy “Hip-Pop” (a mix between hip-hop and pop) dance tunes, fashion trends, and her ambitions of always going forward. She continuously raises the bar every year in any avenue of work she does. And, that’s what I like about her. So, when Amuro announced that she was releasing a new album, I was really interested in what new concepts would she bring to the music world.

(Author’s note: I will write more about Amuro’s impact in the musical world, Japanese culture, and even in my own life when I do a write up about the 20th anniversary of her debut single, “Body Feels EXIT”, last this season. )

One of the latest trends in Amuro’s music is worldwide influence. Over the past five or so years, Amuro has been singing more in English, recording in various international hot spots like Los Angeles and London, and started to enlist more non-Japanese producers to help create her songs.  One example of this is a duet with French singer David Guetta on a duet version of his hit song “What I Did for Love”. Many have speculated that Amuro is getting ready for an American or even possible a Worldwide debut in the near future. Maybe it will happen or maybe not. Who knows? Even if she doesn’t get an American recording contract, Amuro Namie is still a legend whether you live in Japan or anywhere in the world.

Before we jump off the bandwagon off with wild speculations, let’s come back and take a look at three songs from the new album, Even though the album didn’t feature any singles, it was heavily promoted on her official site and the video site Youtube with various videos. The first track showcased was “Fashionista”.

The songs starts off with a strong start, featuring a baritone saxophone, an electric organ, and a fierce rhythm. But, what the song is lacking is powerful vocals. If you listen to the chorus, Namie’s vocals are weak enough for her to struggle through the song’s fierce personality. Maybe it wasn’t her or the label’s intention to have “Fashionista” be the “it” song vocal-wise. Instead, the song bows out to the stronger player, the music video, as it just focuses on Namie’s ethereal beauty as she wears colorful outfits in a black and white world and dancing in between yellow laser beams.

“Golden Touch” is a perfect summer song that could be passed off as a distant cousin of an Ariana Grande tune. I do question Wikipedia sometimes and how it came up with the argument to classify this song as an “old-school “Beyonce–esque” R&B”. How can that be! Which song from Beyonce’s or Destiny’s Child’s discography does “Golden Touch” remind you of?

Besides that, “Golden Touch” is a cool summer-y piece that doesn’t use electrical instruments too excessively. The bass section of the synthesizers are used perfectly as they accent the down beat of each measure. What also fits perfectly is Namie’s vocals. This is the type of upbeat song that can aid her voice and create a pure harmonization, especially when she hits the nasal sections.

Sadly, I did not like the video at all. Sure, it did have a cool concept and stunning visuals. But, didn’t you get bored after a while, just having your index finger pointing to one section of the screen? I did. And, I really wished I could touch, or at least experience the feelings of touch, Amuro’s finger at the end of the video. Just touching a computer screen that has Amuro’s trying to touch your finger doesn’t cut it.

But, congratulations to Amuro. “Golden Touch” was featured on an American radio station! The song was part of the lineup on a recent episode of Jenna Marble’s Youtube 15, which is on SiriusXM’s Hits on 1. I wonder if “Golden Touch” will be Namie’s guide to the American music market…

(…which could happen because the song is a peeeeeeeeeerfect summer song that resounds the current American music tastes and last year’s summer hit, Ariana Grande’s “Problem”.)

The last song I want to talk about is “Anything”. When I was reading up on the numerous album reviews all over the internet, this one written on KPopBreak made me think a lot about this song when the author E.T. compared it to TLC. Because the author is right, it actually does! Doesn’t it remind you of “Unpretty“? Both songs feature lyrics of girl empowerment, using the same acoustic instruments, and similar melodic and rhythmic structures in the chorus. Hmm….

But I do have to give  “Anything” some credit. It’s a pretty ballad with a strong message and got some great vocal action and decent English pronunciation from Amuro. Futhermore, ballads have always been Amuro’s strong point and “Anything” furthers that point with her soothing and strong timbre.

The album features ten other songs that I will not review right now because I don’t have a lot of time to do a full, in-depth review. (It’s already 1 am here and I have work in the morning.) Nevertheless “_genic” doesn’t really impress me from what I heard on Youtube. It has some decent songs but it isn’t as memorable as her 2012 album “Uncontrolled”, which is one of my favorite modern-day Amuro albums.

How did you enjoy _genic? Do you think Amuro Namie has what it takes to release an album in America?

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