Everything Will Flow

Saturday, 9 February, 2013 - One Response

Don’t you just love it when you’re at a cafe or a restaurant, and for some reason they play this great song which you used to know of, but have long since forgotten?

I was at lunch with some friends recently, and halfway through our conversation, this song started to play in the background and I just couldn’t help but take my focus away from the conversation and just keep thinking about the song.

Hey, what’s this? It sounds familiar. Wait, I know this. I know this one. Oh, so that’s what it is. To think I used to like this song!

It was like being reacquainted with an old friend once again.

This was “Everything Will Flow” by Suede, from their “Head Music” album.

Great song, great melody, beautifully sung.

Probably one of my favourite Suede songs, which is saying a lot.

Immediately after the lunch, I headed back into my car and played the song over and over again from my collection.

Life’s little pleasures.

Petronas Commercial

Saturday, 9 February, 2013 - 2 Responses

Once in awhile you come across an ad that makes you go “Hmm, that was good. Really good.”

And this one fit the bill.

I chanced upon this clip a few days ago, and I thought it was extremely well done.

It gave me that “Hmmm” feeling after watching it, and it kinda left some thoughts in me, which the best commercials always do.

The message I got from this was that at the end of the day, you can have the most successful children in the world, all in high-flying and well-paying jobs and all that, but none of that beats the simple man who personally turns up at the home every day to bring his mom out.

That’s all there is to it in life really.

It’s not about the wealth or the power you have accumulated for yourself.

Ultimately, it’s still about the strength and the warmth of personal relationships, which no amount of material success in the world can replace.

Look What I Found On YouTube

Thursday, 3 January, 2013 - 4 Responses

It’s amazing the kind of things you can discover on YouTube.

I recently discovered these clips of Disney princesses performing their songs from the classic movies.

As in, the actual voices of Ariel, Belle, and others.

I watched the Jodi Benson clip above with mixed emotions.

I mean, it’s great and all to see one of your favourite voices of all time sing one of your favourite Disney songs of all time.

But we have to remember that “The Little Mermaid” came out in 1989, and that was 24 years ago!

Which means that Jodi Benson is now 24 years older than she was when she did the movie, which explains why her voice, although still recognisable, isn’t exactly the same as on the CD.

It’s kinda like if Michael Jordan comes back on the court today to play an exhibition match.

He’d probably still be better than 99% of people in the world, and we may still see glimpses of his trademark moves, but it’s just not the same Michael Jordan we saw on TV in the 90′s.

That’s one thing.

The other thing is that I feel that I’ve kinda lost a bit of my innocence after watching this clip, after seeing the REAL person behind the voice perform.

Maybe it’s just me…but you know how quirky I can be in my thinking.

In my mind I would have preferred to keep this image of Ariel (albeit a 2D cartoon character) being the actual owner of this amazing voice.

I would have preferred to have kept this fantasy in my mind, but alas, now this fantasy has been shattered.

Now on to Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”…

Honestly, this video clip affected me even more than the first one.

The good thing is that I almost shed a tear of joy when the crowd shouted along “Good morning Belle!” at 0:22 of the clip.

You can tell that this crowd is truly an aficionado crowd, which is nice.

The bad thing is I couldn’t bring myself to sit through this entire clip.

To me, it’s much more unwatchable than the first clip.

Why?

Because Paige O’Hara sounds nothing like she did back in 1991.

It’s shattering to see something like this.

It’s kinda like when we first saw Muhammad Ali, the greatest fighter of all time, struggling with Parkinson’s disease and being a far cry from when he was arguably the fittest athlete in the world.

But hey, look, I perfectly understand that it’s been 22 years since the film, and voices change as people age.

I’m not blaming her at all.

I’m just sad that this has affected my fantastical notions of Belle which I have been keeping in my mind for the past 22 years.

I find such things very important.

It’s like what they always say about telling a child that Santa doesn’t exist.

Ariel or Belle?

Anyhow, since we’re on this subject, I’ve been deliberating about this for the longest time: Who’s got the more beautiful voice – Ariel or Belle?

(I’m talking about back when the films were made of course, not right now.)

I’m fully aware that there is no conclusive and definitive answer to this, but it’s fun to just think about it.

I can’t decide which voice I love more.

Of all the princess voices Disney has had, in my mind it’s still ultimately down to Ariel and Belle as having the greatest two voices of them all.

That much I’m certain.

I once read somewhere that Disney had chosen Jodi Benson as Ariel because she had this all-American quality to her voice, whereas for Paige O’Hara being Belle, she had a slightly more European quality to her voice (since Belle was supposed to be from France).

Anyway, it’s really open to personal tastes.

But if you were to put a gun to my head and forced me to choose between Ariel or Belle, well, then I guess I would have to go with…Ariel.

The Death Of Singapore Music?

Wednesday, 26 December, 2012 - One Response

I was just wondering…when was the last time a Singaporean-made English song actually entered the national consciousness?

(Let’s leave NDP songs out of the equation here okay…cos everyone knows that if you force feed a song down people’s throats enough times a day, they will eventually have the song engraved in their brains, for better or for worse.)

I’m talking national consciousness as in becoming a real big-time hit, on par with the likes of “Moves Like Jagger” or “Born This Way” or “Just The Way You Are”.

We consume hit songs on the radio on a daily basis, but since when did a locally-made English song actually become a big hit?

Would Electrico’s “Runaway” qualify?

Even then, the song came out in 2004, and moreover, I don’t know if that many people in Singapore are truly familiar with it.

I really don’t know.

I’m struggling to even come up with recent examples of local songs that made it big on the airwaves.

I suppose Corrinne May’s songs would qualify?

Yeah, I suppose they would, although according to Wikipedia she had moved to Los Angeles since 1999.

Nonetheless, I do feel that it is a rather worrying sign that in the past decade or so, we have produced surprisingly few hit songs from local bands or singer-songwriters…songs that had the whole nation singing along to or at least bopping their heads to.

I’m not saying we’ve not had any good bands or singer-songwriters recently.

I’m just saying we’ve not produced any real big hits to speak of.

In the 90′s we had “Jane” by KICK!, “My One and Only” by Kevin Matthews, “Radio Station” by The Padres, and “Sometimes When I Feel Blue” by Art Fazil.

Those songs took the local radio airwaves by storm, and up till today, most of us can still remember these locally-produced hits.

Those were the days.

Nowadays so few local songs make it onto the radio, and even if they do, they very seldom become big hits.

Why is this so?

I have no idea.

But I long for the day when a local song manages to enter the national consciousness once again.

Peter, Paul And Mary

Saturday, 15 December, 2012 - 2 Responses

I woke up to news of the senseless killings in Newtown, Connecticut and I was reminded of the immortal line from Bob Dylan: “How many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned?”

I count myself fortunate to have grown up being exposed to folk music, as my dad used to play lots of folk music CDs in the car when I was a kid.

I’m thus familiar with the sounds of Dylan, Joan Baez, Simon & Garfunkel, the Brothers Four and so on.

The above clip is a beautiful rendition of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” – one of the great songs of all time – performed by Peter, Paul and Mary.

This was back in the day when the song was the most important thing, and the singers delivered the songs armed with just acoustic guitars and great voices.

It really was a different era back then, where the song took precedence over everything else, and that’s what I adore about the 60′s and the whole folk movement.

I also like the fact that the folk songs were so simple to catch but yet their lyrics held so much meaning in them, and that so many of the great folk songs still endure right till this very day.

Here’s another clip of Peter, Paul and Mary doing another classic folk song called “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, but many years later of course:

Again, you can see how the gravity of the song just takes hold of the audience completely.

I was completely bowled over by the two top comments on this YouTube clip:

“No electronic white noise, no exploding props, just a small trio singing a simple song–and they tear you to pieces. Make you remember you have a soul. Peter, Paul and Mary proved decisively that is indeed possible to rivet an audience with 3 human voices backed up only by acoustic guitars.”

“Where have all the real artist gone? Those who wrote music like this. All the music today is so superficial repurposes garbage.”

Couldn’t have said it any better.

The Present Theory

Tuesday, 20 November, 2012 - Leave a Response

Chanced upon this article (here) a few days back.

It’s entitled “The Presentation Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making”, and it’s quite an interesting read about what is known as the “Presenter’s Paradox”.

Basically what it’s saying is that if you want to sell yourself most effectively, just state only the few things which you are very good at, rather than the numerous things which you are both very good at and semi-good at.

We tend to think that all the qualities we state add up to a large cumulative score, but how others perceive it is that they would actually average out all your qualities.

I can illustrate this theory better with my own theory which I had come up with some time back.

I call it the “Present Theory”.

My theory states that it is always better to give a person one very good gift alone, rather than give one very good gift plus one so-so gift.

It’s better just giving someone a Kindle Fire alone, rather than giving someone a Kindle Fire plus say a coffee mug.

I think the “averaging” concept works here as well.

The coffee mug somehow dilutes the effect of the Kindle Fire, and makes it less impressive as compared to if it were given alone.

Many a times we are tempted to give more gifts thinking that it strengthens the effect, but in actual fact I don’t think it does.

People tend to cherish it more when they are given just one solitary gift.

That’s just the way I see it.

Books

Thursday, 8 November, 2012 - Leave a Response

I was at the S’pore Writers Fest bookshop recently and I couldn’t help but buy another bagful of books because they looked like books which I really wanted to read.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a reader in any sense of the word.

Yes I buy books, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I read them.

One of my biggest shortcomings is that I do not read enough literature.

I have stacks of classics and other titles on my shelf, just waiting to be read.

I love starting on books, but I hardly ever bring myself to finish them.

Sometimes I read just the beginning, sometimes I venture till halfway, sometimes I get tantalisingly close to the end…but I seldom complete them.

One of my friends recently commented that I have an alarmingly short attention span.

That is very true.

I have a wide-ranging interests in books.

I don’t restrict myself to a particular “type” – there are a whole range of books that would appeal to me, and I can see myself enjoying different kinds of books.

Each book has its own appeal.

There is no such thing as a “perfect” book.

The problem is summoning the commitment and resolve to just stick with one book and see it through till the end.

Every read is a journey of discovery, and I can imagine the unspeakable rewards of having completed a really good book, but unfortunately what usually happens is that I get distracted with yet another book along the way.

Sometimes I even straddle between multiple books at the same time.

Not ideal, I know.

But as I said…short attention span.

Month Names, Day Names And Song Titles

Friday, 2 November, 2012 - 2 Responses

I was just wondering – do I know a song which contains the name of a month for every month in the year?

Well, I don’t.

This list is all that I can come up with thus far.

But as I said, this is purely based on the songs I am aware of.

(I’m just gonna list down the first song I can think of from each category.)

January:
February:
March: “Turkish March” by Mozart (just kidding)
April:
May: “First of May” by The Bee Gees
June: “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” from the musical “Carousel”
July:
August:
September: “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day
October: “October” by U2
November: “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses
Devember: “Back to December” by Taylor Swift

Since we’re at it, let’s try days of the week as well…

Monday: “Manic Monday” by The Bangles
Tuesday:
Wednesday: “Wednesday Morning, 3am” by Simon & Garfunkel
Thursday:
Friday: “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure
Saturday: “Saturday Night” by Suede
Sunday: “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5

Any ones I’m missing out?

Discovering Chopin’s Prelude No. 4

Monday, 22 October, 2012 - 3 Responses

I was watching the film “Salt On Our Skin” awhile back and at one scene it featured a snippet of a familiar piece of music which I later identified to be Chopin’s Prelude No. 4 in E Minor.

(The clip above has nothing to do with “Salt On Our Skin”.)

I tried it out on the piano recently, and it’s actually a rather simple piece to learn.

You could probably learn it in fifteen minutes.

However, I was utterly amazed at how Chopin was able to say so much in so few notes.

(There’s a reason why he’s always been called “the Poet of the Piano”.)

You really have to go try it on the piano, and play the first few bars, and feel the whole emotion grip you like few other pieces can.

At least that’s what happened to me.

I believe that you never really learn to fully appreciate a piano piece until you’ve tried to play it yourself.

I’ve never been so overwhelmed by a piece which was so deceptively simple to play.

But as they say – “A moment to learn, a lifetime to master.”

Almost like Schumann’s “Traumerei” in many ways, in the way that its apparent simplicity belies its immense depth and profundity, but I still prefer this Chopin Prelude.

There is this foreboding sense of hopelessness and desperation, especially in the way the music continually descends and descends…until it culminates in the final few dark chords.

As with great pieces, there are many interpretations of this Prelude, and different pianists take it in different tempi, but I would most agree with Maurizio Pollini’s interpretation.

(Then again, I agree with a lot of Pollini’s interpretations.)

Is there a great moment in this piece?

But of course!

The moment that gets me every single time is at 1:32 in the above clip where the piece briefly goes to C Major.

That is the killer moment, in my opinion.

I never fail to get a thrill out of playing that C chord every single time.

Cheap thrill, I know.

But that’s just me. =)

Gf*Bf

Thursday, 18 October, 2012 - 11 Responses

I didn’t really enjoy the movie.

But that being said, it definitely had a very clear and defining moment for me.

It’s all about the moment.

The moment is what makes a film worth the while really.

It’s just like music.

You could listen to a long symphony or concerto, and it may be all well and good, but if you don’t encounter that particular moment that just reaches out and totally grabs you and takes you to another level, then you don’t really remember much of it at all to be honest.

I’d rather a mediocre piece of work with that one strong moment, than an above-average piece of work with absolutely no defining moments.

So for “Gf*Bf”, the moment that really got to me was at the Karaoke scene when Joseph Chang forcefully sat them down and just plain called them out, both Mabel and Aaron.

Especially when he reminded Aaron of how he used to be such an advocate of democracy, but is now ironically living a willfully trapped life.

Though it was a very brief sequence of events, it immediately made me well up.

Now that’s what you call a moment.

Pity the rest of the film was just meh.

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