Reminiscing About Jem and How the Show’s Songs are Still Catchy

Since last week, I have been watching episodes of the 80s’ cartoon show Jem (and the Holograms) daily. Although I was born about a year after the last episode aired, it wasn’t hard to learn about the show, thanks to Wikipedia and other sources. I have been enjoying the show due to it being a 80s’ cartoon (and I am a huuuuuuuuuuge fan of this decade). But, the characters are also interesting, and the plots are simple to understand yet amusing. However, the best part of Jem is the music.

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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.

Mikolas Josef Gets the Audience Pumped Up for Eurovision with “Lie to Me”

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We have a month left until the “Superbowl” of the European music scene happens: Eurovision. There has been a plenitude of great entries this year, including from the Czech Republic.

Mikolas Josef is an up-and-coming artist from the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague, who made his musical debut in 2015. He first performed as a street performer in various European cities like Oslo, Hamburg, and Vienna. He released his debut single, “Hands Bloody”, in the same year by himself. Although it didn’t chart on local charts, his second single, entitled ” Free”, did. It reached #15 on the Czech music charts. He hasn’t released any albums yet as he is primary releasing singles at the moment (His Eurovision single is the fourth in his discography).

“Lie to Me”, in my own opinion, is a luxurious piece that can catch anyone’s attention at the very second it starts. The song begins with a sassy, fiery trumpet solo. Then, after the introduction, Josef crones the opening verse with a smooth tone. However, Josef showcases a variety of sounds during the song. My favorite part is at the 00:33 mark when he sings in a low, seductive tone.

This tune reminds me a tiny bit of Austin Mahone’s “Dirty Work”. Maybe because the vocal tones between the two singers are very similar. Nothing else though, as “Dirty Work” is more EDM while “Lie to Me” is less electronica.

I have admitted before that I have a soft spot for Czech entries as my mom’s side of the family came from the Eastern European country. However, this is not the case. I repeat: this is the not the case. “Lie to Me” is an excellent song that is sooooooo catchy as well as scorching hot.

 

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 4]

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“Get along” by Megumi Okui and Megumi Hayashibara (from the series “Slayers”)

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I have recently started to watch Slayers thanks to one of my friends introducing it to me. It is also one of my sister’s favorite anime as she always watching one form of this 90s’ classic on her computer when I lived with her. I don’t know why I never watched this series. Maybe because it never really appeared on my list of “anime series to watch” . It could be also that I didn’t have access to it as downloading took eons on dial-up and I was too young to really buy VHS tapes or join an anime club when Slayers came out.

Nevertheless, the show is pretty brilliant with a good storyline and comedic characters. Of course, the show stopper would be the versatile Megumi Hayashibara, who plays the main character Lina Inverse. I have mentioned before how fabulous is Megumi in an earlier post with her song “Nostalgic Lover” from the anime “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”.

She didn’t stop being amazing in Slayers, she got even better.

“Get along”, the opening theme for the series, is a duet between Megumi Hayashibara and another anime singer Masami Okui, who has been one of my favorites since “Rinbu Revolution”. The song starts off with a twenty second instrumentation that builds up the song’s premise. It is also used as a filler as someone usually talks about the show during these first twenty seconds in the TV series. After the introduction, Megumi comes in all tough, singing her lines in a vigor style. Then Masami comes in with another punch during the pre-chorus. Both singers come together during the chorus, never slowing down.

What makes this song amazing is the combination Megumi and Masami. These girls are perfect together as they feed and bounce off each other energies. They also blend pretty well together as they have the same vocal types and skills. With these two dexterous singers, “Get along” is a great song as it’s powerful, upbeat, and never misses a beat,


“Just Communication” by TWO-MIX (from the series “New Mobile Report Gundam Wing”)

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Ahhh, Gundam Wing, how nostalgic! It feels like only yesterday that I watched the first episode of the English dub on Toonami. As an anime with one of the best English dubs out there, “Gundam Wing” caught my attention with the bad boy Heero Yuy and the peaceful blonde hair beau Quatre Winner (who has an amazing voice actor, Kirby Morrow). It is one of the best Gundam series out there with a sensible plot, a great English dub, and a diverse set of characters.

Another thing that makes Gundam Wing so memorable is the music. “Just Communication”, the series’ first opening theme, had a considerable impact on anime songs in the 90s. Minami Takayama’s soothing vocals helps to set an ambient feel to the song  Her vocals are further supported by the instrumentation as Shiina Nagano keeps it simple with a guitar, a bright piano, a dance kit, and synthesizers. Although, there is a neat addition of an electric guitar during the pre-chorus to add to the song’s sincerity. And the guitar pops up once again during the bridge’s unforgettable melody.

“Just Communication” is one of those anime song classics that you can’t get out of your head. It’s such an addictive song. However, for me, I like this song because of the lyrics and the emotions displayed. You can’t even tell that this is song about a series about big robots fighting in a galactic war with such passionate lyrics like “anata no manazashi mamoritai”. (Eng.: “I want to protect your gaze”)  But, that is what makes the song enjoyable. Moreover, the emotions displayed throughout also further this passion by setting different moods. Minami brilliantly goes back and forth from really passionate and not-to-over-the-top fierce during the chorus to calm and collective in the verses.

I strongly urge anyone who hasn’t seen Gundam Wing to do so as it is a really good series. Also, check out the soundtracks with Yasuo Uragami composing an ardent score for the show.


Past Issues:

Part I // Part II // Part III

Painting the World “In Living Color”

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Woah, it’s been a month since I updated this blog! I am soooooooo sorry! Things became busy at work, the weather has been awful lately (and that’s affects my energy levels), and I been binge watching TV shows during my free time.

One of my latest obsessions is the provocative 90s’ American comedy show “In Living Color”. For five years, this sketch comedy show entertained viewers weekly with a diverse cast featuring various members of the Wayans family, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, the hip dancing squad The Fly Girls, and other amazing people. Although “In Living Color” was broadcasted when I was an infant, it’s refreshing to see how now-famous stars looked before they got their big break.

The theme song of “In Living Color” is another masterpiece that the program shares. Have you ever listened to a TV theme song and thought “I wish they created a longer version of this” or “I wish there was an album/single version of this somewhere”? That is exactly I feel when I listen to the theme of this show. Playing the one minute and fifty seconds version of the intro doesn’t satisfy my musical taste buds! I need more!

The theme, ironically also called “In Living Color”, is performed by the hip-hop group Heavy D & the Boyz. Formed in the late 1980s, the band was composed of four members; the Jamaican-born rapper Heavy D, the DJ Eddie F, and the two dancers T-Roy and G-Wiz. They released their debut album, entitled “Living Large”, in 1987 with huge success. It has been ranked as one of the top ten rap albums of the 20th century.

The only song that I actually knew from the group, before I discovered “In Living Color”, was their 1991 hit “Now That We Found Love“. I came across the song when I was trying to find if the “In Living Color” theme was available for purchase on iTunes. I didn’t know that Heavy D performed “Now That We Found Love” until that point. Like, I have heard it a million times on the radio when I was young. But, I didn’t make the connect until that point. I honestly thought when I was younger that “Now That We Found Love” was one of those eurodance songs by artists like Real McCoy, Culture Beat, and 2 Unlimited.

However, the hip-hop driven “In Living Color” is completely different from new jack swing “Now That We Found Love”. Yes, “In Living Color” does feature some of the instrumentation found in a new jack swing song; sound effects, probably a Korg M1 keyboard, and a Kawai Drum Machine, However,  “In Living Color” leans more towards hip-hop as the instrumentation is bare and rough, only featuring the bare necessaries of a song. Instead, it features more of Heavy D’s rapping. The key point of the song is how Heavy D makes it more captivating by the way he shapes the phrases with his rhythm. The other key point is the deep male “In Living Color” and female  backing vocals. These parts, even though small, are important as they breathe life and enjoyment to the song.

“In Living Color” is a rejuvenating theme song from a hip-hop great that will sure enough bring back memories for many readers. Like the musical side of the song, pay attention to the lyrics with the video below. I feel like Heavy D presents a critical message, even though it’s a TV theme song. However, like the song, “In Living Color” was a show about breaking barriers (including the color one) through it’s entertaining and sincere sketches. I take the song’s message to heart as I feel it is very important in the world we live in. Especially at the verses:

“And how would you feel knowing predjudice was obsolete,
and all mankind danced to the ‘xact beat,
and at night it was safe to walk down the street?
(In Living Color)”

“Everybody here is equally kind
(In Living Color)
What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.
(In Living Color)
And how would you feel knowing everybody was your friend
From thin to thick, and through thick and thin
and egotistical trips were put to an end?”

What was your favorite “In Living Color” sketch? I like many however I think Jim Carrey’s parody of Snow’s “Informer” was one of the best sketches. Jim Carrey is a brilliant comedian who can carry a heck of a tune. He should of had a singing career! Don’t miss out of his Popeye impression too.