Back in the early 90s, when Nirvana were top of the charts, alternative rock became the ‘in-thing’ and suddenly, the so-called ‘corporate rock’ of the 80s was something to be disdained by the grunge generation. Despite being critically reviled, here are seven examples of great rock songs that deserve a revaluation.
At a time where there are millions of causes to get behind, some pretentious music-hating moron starts a petition to ‘stop’ Phil Collins from coming out of retirement. Over 2,000 people have signed the petition and of course, the music press gleefully reports about this juicy bit of ‘news’.
One of the best parts of having a new Star Wars movie this year is – apart from the film itself – the creativity demonstrated by hardcore fans. Here’s a heartfelt tribute to the original trilogy set to the score on the latest The Force Awakens trailer by Medley Weaver – it is breathtaking and emotional to witness. Kudos!
It’s always intriguing to have two opposing ideas build up to a contrast in a music video. And this is why the music video for THELIONCITYBOY’s new single “All Night Feat Sezairi, Mr Boo” works despite the inevitable clunky acting.
The song itself is quite lightweight pop with local crooner Sezairi providing the sweetness but there is a edgy underbelly when you appreciate where THELIONCITYBOY’s lyrics are coming from. It’s a refreshing take on hip hop’s usual concerns about partying and hooking up with the opposite sex.
The video is altogether a different proposition. Ostensibly, it may seem corny and cliched to come up with a horror story before Halloween but it seems that the zombie motif is really a deep commentary on relationships and it resonates when the actress involved is THELIONCITYBOY’s own better half, Aarika Lee.
I mean, that scene where she’s asking her zombie partner why he’s so slow (riding his bicycle at the beach – what a twist on the cliche!) is hilarious. So when the ending comes, it makes so much sense and the viewer is nodding in a knowing agreement. Which is why I have always appreciated THELIONCITYBOY’s work – it lures you in with superficial hip hop tropes but then slays you with a meaningful thought-provoking message.
Re-watched the fabulous Brian Wilson biopic, Love and Mercy recently and of course, I spent most of it with a lump in my throat. Isn’t that what Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys has always been about – the emotions? So I decided to present to you, my faithful PoP visitors, eight album tracks you should listen to in order to understand the length, breadth and depth of the ‘feels’ that the Beach Boys are capable of evoking viz. loneliness, melancholy and the usual heartbreak. *Sigh*
“The Lonely Sea”
“The Warmth of the Sun”
“When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)”
“And Your Dreams Come True”
“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”
“Be Here in the Mornin’”
“Time to Be Alone”
Finally, a bit of a cheat – not an album deep cut but a single that the record-buying public just failed to fully appreciate but it will always be my favourite Brian Wilson/Beach Boys song.
If I wasn’t aware that “Magic Cup” was a new song, I would be at a loss to identify which decade it was made in.
The blues riffs, the swampy rhythm section, the distorted vocals and the general shambolic vibe evoke 60s garage rock effortlessly. I would not have been surprised to find out that this was a Sonics or even Blue Cheer track.
But of course, it’s not. It’s Sloom – a rock n roll band from Sydney’s Inner West – with an utterly unoriginal sound that works for the 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
Regular PoP visitors will be aware that I am a massive Beatles fan. The Fab Four (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr) were the first band I ever obsessed over as a teenager and Abbey Road – the band’s final LP – was the first album I ever owned.
By that time, the Beatles had broken up a couple of years already and the individual members were busy releasing their solo LPs. I had friends who were equally besotted with the Fab Four and together we even formed our first band – the Beatles-channeling Hornets in the mid-70s! Like many Beatles fans, I dreamed of a reunion and this seemed even more possible when John came out of his 5-year hiatus in 1980 & released Double Fantasy with his wife Yoko Ono.
Of course, that dream was smashed into pieces when John was murdered outside his home on 8th December that year. It’s almost 35 years since that fateful day but the Beatles remain in my view the best band the world has ever seen (and ever will see). One could argue that the Beatles were at the right time and place as the universe conspired to provide the perfect conditions for the band to irreversibly change the world and to write their names into the history books.
Even as the music industry evolves decade after decade and music revolutions come and go, the popularity of the Beatles remains constant and the music they created fifty odd years still resonate to music lovers worldwide. Though the band was once closely associated with the sixties, it’s might be said that they have transcended that epoch to stand alone and become truly timeless icons. Consider the immense popularly of teen idol Taylor Swift, a search on Youtube – probably one of the most popular websites that teens frequent – will provide about 6.1 million results. Guess how many results a Beatles youtube search will provide? How about 5.5 million! Not bad for a band that last released a new album in 1970.
And so… whilst it has been more than a good 40 years since I first heard a Beatles song, I rest assured that years may pass and the latest pop thing may disappear into oblivion (how long more for TayTay?) but one thing will stay the same – it will always be the Beatles Forever!
Although it mainly consists of vocals, guitar, strings and a smattering of piano notes, there is a certain dynamism and power that distinguishes Brett Randell’s new single “Rise”. Randell’s voice isn’t too sugary and in fact is rather nasal at times but it conveys the emotion well on this uplifting song of encouragement. I like how Randell resists the temptation of cluttering up the arrangement and keeps things very spare so that his lyrics shine through. In fact, I almost expect it to break out into a pop-punk anthem but thankfully that never happens. Definitely one to savour, if you are into edgy ballads that carry the weight of a meaningful life message.
I will be honest (when am I not?) – I first noticed Gayle Nerva in a tour video of I Hate This Place in Japan sometime ago and was struck by her effervescent personality. Then, it was her lovely voice and then her heartfelt ballads that got my firm attention. I have always believe that given a chance, her music would appeal to a mainstream pop audience home and abroad.
Well, glad to say that her new single “Pretend” is out – it’s a dark electro-pop number produced by Trick’s Marc Lian – and Gayle will be performing at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Saturday, September 5th. Tickets available from SISTIC. Check out the music video below.
If nothing else, the Fantastic Four reboot has gotten us thinking about the worst superhero movies out there – of which there is an abundance, sadly.
Well, first up, of course, the obvious ones from DC’s World’s Finest, no less.
SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987)
How did this franchise go from highly acclaimed (the first two instalments) to an absolute dud?
BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997)
Tim Burton revived the Bat-franchise with two well-received dark movies before Joel Schumacher decided to have some campy fun with the character. George Clooney famously said that he almost single-handedly killed the Caped Crusader! A nadir for the superhero genre.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
Again, two hit movies in the franchise somehow led to a turkey. Bryan Singer abandoned this 2nd X-Men sequel to helm Superman Returns (more of that later) leaving Bret Ratner to pick up the pieces. What he assemble was a travesty that subsequent X-Men movies have barely acknowledged. Favourite line? “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
Now, Fox had a huge hit with The Last Stand (based on the goodwill generated by the first two X-movies) so they probably thought, let’s take the most popular X-Man and make an origin movie that is just as bad. Here’s how awful this was – they sowed up Deadpool’s mouth! Seriously WTF!
SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)
Not content in being an indirect cause for X-Men: The Last Stand sucking so bad, Bryan Singer had to foist on us all this ill-judged sequel to Superman II. C’mon! It was obvious from the beginning that this was the wrong approach for Superman in 2006.
Yes I do realise that there are still many more out there but the ones highlighted above were serious tentpole movies that spent a fair amount of money but failed as creative endeavours (some of them actually made big bucks). Thus, I ignored the likes of Daredevil, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Green Lantern, Amazing Spider-Man 2 etc. Considering the only superhero characters at risk now are solely in the hands of 20th Century Fox (Daredevil and Punisher have thankfully reverted to Marvel and SONY is working with Marvel on Spider-Man), there is still scope for bad superhero films with the upcoming Deadpool, Gambit and upcoming X-movies. Fingers crossed, everyone!
In 1979, riding on the popularity of the Saturday Night’s Fever film soundtrack, the Bee Gees‘ Spirits (Having Flown) sold almost 20 million copies. I still remember heading down to the Kwang Sia record store at North Bridge Road where the LP was literally flying off the shelves. Crazy.
However, barely 2 years later, the band’s follow-up Living Eyes would only sell 750,000 copies worldwide! What happened?
Well, disco had become unfashionable and the Bee Gees were (unfairly) associated with the genre. Not only that but rock music had begun to make a return to the charts in a big way with bands like The Police, REO Speedwagon, Genesis, Rush et al, and suddenly the Bee Gees sounded very dated and somewhat lame.
That said, the Bee Gees themselves took pains on Living Eyes to move away from the disco sound that had made millions of them and the trio explored once again the pop balladry style with which they first made their name. But the music critics and fans alike did not want any of it resulting in an abject failure, that the Bee Gees barely recovered from.
BUT listening to Living Eyes now, 34 years later, it is clear that it did not deserve the criticism and hatred it did. The songwriting is sharp, the singing is beautiful and it’s fair to say that the album should be re-assessed by any serious pop music lover.
Songs like the title track, “Paradise”, “Don’t Fall in Love With Me”, “Wildflower” and “Soldiers” are as good as anything on 70s classics “Mr. Natural” and “Main Course”. True blue pop fans will find these tracks irresistible and will want to listen to them over and over to savour the wondrous melodies and harmonies.
Listen without prejudice and prepare to be amazed.
KAMCO Music will re-issue The Crowd’s Pop album this coming Friday, 10th April. So I was thinking – what could I do to raise awareness about this event? Well, as you all know, a lyric video of one of the songs might do the trick. And so, I put together my first ever lyric video on iMovie and it only took this old fart of an amateur to get it done! The song I chose was “Pasir Ris Sunrise” which seems to have resonated with some folks despite being 18 years old. Hope you enjoy!
I grew up in the 60s and thus Star Trek was a massive influence on my love for science fiction and space opera. Leonard Nimoy in his role as Mr. Spock was instrumental in making Star Trek the iconic series it has become almost 50 years later. Nimoy passed away on 27th February at the age of 83. One of his final memorable roles was as Dr William Bell in Fringe, where even in his latter years, he was an imposing presence. He will never be forgotten.
Found this moving tribute at Youtube from The New York Times.
Brian Wilson has a new album – No Pier Pressure – coming out soon. The album will be released on Capitol Records on April 7th 2015 and will be produced by Joe Thomas.
Main concern – Thomas tends to favour a very professional slick sound which somewhat flattens out any of Brian’s idiosyncratic tendencies. Compare Thomas’ production on the lacklustre Imagination to that on the incredible Smile album (shepherded by the talented Darian Sahanaja) and you can understand the anxiety.
In any case, the new single “The Right Time” sounds about right, though it’s not quite sure whether ‘right’ is the way to go for Brian. Sigh.
This came out on Christmas Eve but better late than never as Cherie Ko hams it up as forlorn & neglected housewife on this official music video for “Oh, Louie”. The song is suitably retro and thus Power of Pop fans would eat this up ravenously and the video has sufficient cuteness overload as well. Sorted on all counts.
Forget about how small Singapore is or how you need to sing in the native tongue in order to play overseas, singer-songwriter Nicholas Chim has broken all these rules to find acceptance in Germany! Well, don’t just take my word for it, check out his Tour Diaries below.
So here it is! As impossible as it may sound (and there are probably quite a few deserving bands/artists omitted), we have a Top 25 PoP Hall of Fame list for your consideration, presented as a YouTube playlist. Enjoy …
Regular PoP visitors will be aware of my affection for Vancouver band JPNSGRLS and that their debut album, Circulation, is one of my faves of 2014. So, was pretty stoked to take a look at their latest MV for the title track, which is really hot! Frontman Charlie Kerr literally bursts into flames on this one and reflects perfectly some of the best lyrics seen this year.
“Like I’m counting Mississippis til it’s convenient/You say I’m nothing baby, we’re in agreement”.
Check out the video below and listen to the LP at Spotify!