The State of Music

Saturday, March 26th, 2011 12:16 am
forchancookie: (OMG What?!)
Let's talk a bit about music. This video has been floating around the internet for a while and you've probably seen it before. Basically, a guy with a guitar is lamenting about the overuse of that iconic bit of music from Pachelbel popping up in all sorts of pop music.

Pachelbel Rant )

It's one of those things that really makes you go hmm. Well, now there's this act by the Axis of Awesome about four chord songs.

Seriously! What does this say about the state of music? It's all so homogenized that we'll just keep listening to the same recycled bits over and over and over? I like a lot of the songs thrown in there too so I'm conflicted. If I'm horrified about what that says about music, then what does it say about my tastes in music personally? Not that I'm a music snob or anything. I'll happily listen to bubbly pop music over some of the other stuff on offer, but still.
forchancookie: (Alllways)
So, Lady Gaga's new video got released yesterday and man, it's fucking weird. And yet I agree with a review I read of it the other day. For all it's weirdness in the beginning, it simply isn't weird enough. You have all these alien birth scenes and then it just trickles off into your standard group dance video in really normal looking leather and latex outfits. I shouldn't be able to say that anything about that video is normal looking, but in the end, after the alien weirdness, it just trickles out. Oh sure, you have the weird cheekbones and skull guy, but meh.

Now that that's discussed, let's move onto another video. This video is particularly brilliant because it brings together some odd things that the internet loves. Recently, James Van Der Beek has made a viral come back on the internet with a few Funny or Die videos and the James Van Der Meme website. It takes advantage of the popularity of the Dawson crying .gif and well, he's gone crazy and made all sorts of emotional .gifs. It's really fun. Way to harness the internet James! And so, we take James, who is now an internet sweetheart of sorts for his sense of humor and ability to make fun of himself, and we add in some unicorns and rainbows, also beloved staples of the internet, and we make a music video. That music video is "Blow" by Ke$ha. No matter what you might think of her and her music, whoever conceived this video was very smart. They had an audience in mind and that audience was the internet.

Something else that I like, while Lady Gaga is covered in makeup to look perfect or alien or whatever look she's going for, Ke$ha doesn't have much on at all, mostly some shadow but more importantly no sleek perfect layer of cover up. You can see all her freckles and possible imperfections. You can see her face. Her real face! That's so rare that she gets many many props. Isn't it sad how the smallest bit of real is such a shock? She's getting trashed in the comments for her lack of makeup and bad skin, but we all know that youtube comments are full of stupid. She gets a little respect from me for being just a regular woman.

ETA: Speaking of Funny or Die, Ke$ha was in Disney's Princess Ke$ha. The girl has a sense of humor about herself.
forchancookie: (I Wanna Rock!)
Let me introduce you to my newest addiction. I lay a lot of blame for this at the feet of Bento who randomly introduced me to the interesting world of Vocaloids quite some time ago. Vocaloids are voice synthesizers used to sing songs. And since it really took off in Japan, they have cutesy mascots for each specific singer. And since there's a cutesy mascot, there is a big fandom.

What's fascinating about Vocaloids is that it's users who create the music and then have the vocaloid sing it. But then it gets more interesting. Fans of the songs will make art and create videos to go along with their favorite songs so you have a very organic sort of music experience. It's just some guy that composed the song and just some fan who drew the art and created the video.

The thing about Vocaloids is that they're just programs. They work really well in Japanese given that all words are composed of smaller syllables. The English language ones are far more lacking. Even so, while sometimes they can fool you into thinking you're listening to a human sing (and indeed the vocaloids are sampled from real singers) they still have a distinct computerized sound. It's pretty cool, but I could only take it in certain songs.

Circle Me, Circle You ended up on my favorite list because it's a pretty creepy song where the haunting computerized voices really work well. It really gets stuck in your head! The video is quite macabre if you do decide to watch. Another one that I liked, more for the video than the song is Trick and Treat the Reborn version. Someone took the video and changed the characters from the vocaloids to Reborn characters. It's very cool. The song is pretty catch too.

At the time I listened to a few other songs, but it didn't really catch on with me and I moved on. But Bento kept favoriting stuff and I found Nico Nico choruses on her favorite list on youtube. Nico Nico Douga is a Japanese video sharing site where vocaloid videos and pretty much every Japanese video gets posted. It's their youtube. Fans weren't content to just listen to music, they wanted to participate. They all record voice tracks or even instrument tracks and post them and people mix them together to form Nico Nico choruses. So now you take the very organic user generated music add in regular fans singing put it on a video that is remixed for that particular chorus and you've got a really unique music experience.

When I first listened to a few, as before, I was like "This is pretty cool" but it didn't really catch me. That's probably because Bento has an obsession with the Black Rock Shooter song and I was about ready to shoot myself in the head after three or so choruses of that. ^_^;;

But recently, I was poking around on Crunchyroll and they had this video posted Just Be Friends by Rapbito & Zebra. It's a rap remix of a Just be Friends sung by one of the Vocaloids. The video just happens to be very poignant I think. The art is really pretty. The Rapbito video was similarly remixed and it's really awesome.

After watching that one, various choruses were suggested for me to consume and consume I did. And that's when it happened! I found some really good Nico chorus singers and suddenly I'm addicted! And even though you end up listening to the same songs over and over by dozens of different people, you can't stop. You want to hear the other versions. Some of them make you wince, but some are really good.

I've started compiling a decent sized playlist of some of my favorites. There are a few repeats and a few flat out Vocaloid songs mixed with some choruses and single chorus singers. One of the first ones that really sucked me in was a chorus version of Imitation Black sung by Clear, Dasoku and Valshe. Having pretty bishies singing about a love triangle in the video helps (even if Valshe is a girl, she's singing a guy's part).

I sortof went crazy with Clear. He has a really nice voice. I think he showcases it well in Last Night, Good Night. It's usually sung by females. I heard him in a chorus version, but the horrible girl voices had to go. Glad I found the single version. It seems that Clear will be putting out an album of his covers soon. Valshe already has one. I guess it's the thing to do once you've got enough popularity.

Anyway, moving on, the fun thing about having all these individual voice tracks to play with is that people can make duets (or choruses) that wouldn't usually happen. So when a sexy song like Magnet comes out, it's easy to hook two gorgeous voiced young men together for a scintillating duet! *purrs* And let us not forget the ladies. There seem to be about a million versions of Magnet out there, some better than others.

Those are all songs with only a singer or two. For larger choruses, they'll choose a photo to represent each singer and have them flash on the screen when they sing, like in this super catchy song World's End Dancehall that I stole form Bento's favorite list. That's a pretty simple video. Some of them get pretty complicated. The sheer amount of musical mixing and keeping the tracks straight and matching them up with their photos is amazing, especially in the larger choruses. This version of Fire◎Flower is pretty involved. I can't even keep track of how many people are singing in this version of Meltdown x_X

And the Japanese can't keep all the fun to themselves! Here's a Russian girl belting out Love is War in Japanese. I'm trying to find some English translated covers that don't make me wince....I'll keep working on that. This version of Just Be Friends has decent singers. The main problem is that singing it in English makes it really awkward. They lyrics don't fit the music as well and the singers try to cram them in there. The guy's solo version of this song is better. I think I'll stick to the Japanese ones though. I don't need to understand the words to enjoy the pretty music. Not to mention a lot of these lyrics are nonsense anyway >_>

There are some down sides. Singers with different singing abilities being the obvious one. Just one bad apple can ruin a good chorus song. Singers can be out of sync since their tracks are recorded individually and then put together. There can often be a noticeable difference in sound and mic quality from singer to singer that is sometimes distracting. As mentioned, sometimes the songs don't make any damn sense if you translate them. Regardless though, I can't stop! I even hunted down a handy dandy website that lets me rip mp3s of songs of Nico Nico Douga :D I already have a program to rip mp3s from saved youtube videos, but Nico Sound is so much more convenient. ♥

So there you have it folks, I am strangely addicted to nico nico singers and choruses and to a smaller extent, vocaloids. Not that I'm complaining. Musical addictions are delicious. I leave you with this very pretty video I just stumbled upon.

September 2011

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