Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Anne-Marie takes us back to 2002: Well, sort of.

Anne-Marie's latest single 2002 has got me interested. After all, 2002 was a great year for me, and it had a lot of great music.

There's just a problem: the 2002 described in the song may well not be 2002 at all. It's like the time machine malfunctioned, and brought us to another time. You see, the song included lyrics of songs supposedly popular in 2002, but from my memory none of them were actually from 2002.

Anyway, nostalgia is not a real time machine, and memory is often inaccurate. So maybe we should forgive her for that.

Now, I think I wrote this song in 2003, but since memory is often inaccurate, could it have been in 2002 instead?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Is there Cultural Appropriation everywhere, from Utah to Eurovision? I don't think so.

Israel's Netta has won Eurovision with her great song Toy. But this victory was not without controversy: as you see, she dressed in an Asian-styled costume, and her stage was decorated with Asian items. This has predictably caused some people to cry 'cultural appropriation'.

This also brings to mind a recent unrelated story from Utah, USA, where a girl who wore a Chinese-style prom dress provoked a national discussion. In both cases, none of the Asians I know were offended: most were simply bewildered.

You see, the reason why cultural appropriation is considered bad is because comedians in the US and UK used to do blackface, where they would paint their faces black and act in ways that were demeaning to black people and black culture. I can understand why black people are very offended by anything similar to blackface. But wearing an Asian dress? That's completely different. There's simply no parallel here. In fact, Asians living in Asia are arguably the most pro-cultural fusion people in the world. Every Asian I know has no problem with people of other races adopting aspects of their culture, provided that they do it respectfully. In fact, my Asian relatives quite enjoyed Netta's performance.

From my perspective, it really wasn't 'cultural appropriation'. It was just, well, special

Monday, May 14, 2018

Contrary to Popular Belief, Babe Proves that the Old Taylor Swift is Alive and Well

"The old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Cause she's dead!" So proclaims the lyrics to What You Made Me Do, Taylor Swift's first single off her Reputation album released last year. At that time, even the most die-hard fan of country Taylor had come to accept the reality: the old Taylor simply wasn't coming back. If she said it herself, on her own record no less, it had to be true.

But recently, there is evidence that the old Taylor is, in fact, alive and well, just hidden somewhere. What is this evidence I am talking about? A song called Babe, a collaboration between Taylor and country band Sugarland. Not only does Taylor sing on a country record, she still sounds just like the old Taylor from the Fearless era.

Taylor, I know that you still want to make country music. Don't let the pop fashion of the day stop you from doing so. After all, you may just need a new vision:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Avicii was yet another Tragedy of the Music Industry

When news broke of the death of Swedish DJ Avicii at just 28, many of us were surprised, and of course, sad. Avicii was a musical genius: even somebody like myself, who is generally not into EDM or club music, can agree with this. His 2011 hit, Levels, was his best, in my opinion.

Avicii was ultimately a victim of the music industry. All he wanted was to make music, and share it with his fans. The industry provides a route for musicians to take their craft to the next level, but being a multi-billion dollar industry, it also makes a lot of tough demands of the musicians under its wings. It is scarily common for young musicians to suffer from health problems not normally seen in young adults.

One day perhaps, no musician will need the music industry. But for now, the industry remains a double-edge sword, attractive to many aspiring musicians, even in the face of tragedies.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Decade Later, Love Story by Taylor Swift has become a Classic of an era

It is coming up to a decade since the original release of Taylor Swift's iconic single Love Story. The first single on her second album Fearless, Love Story was released in 2008, and had entered the top 5 in the US and Canada by October that year. In early 2009, Love Story was released to similar success in other markets like Australia, the UK and other European countries, and also enjoyed a second top 5 run in North America. Many people around the world first learned about Taylor Swift through Love Story. In fact, many mistakenly believed that it was her debut single, since her first album was not very well known in many countries.

Love songs have always been Taylor Swift's main offering, and I argue that Taylor has been instrumental in the revival of romantic love songs at the last turn of decade. I mean, pop ballads were big in the 1980s and 1990s, but much of the 2000s were about hip-hop and hip-hop influenced RnB. In a way, Taylor brought romance back to the charts, even if it was not as grand as what the likes of Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey used to offer in the 1990s.

In the spirit of celebrating romance, let me leave you with this, well, sort of romantic love song:

Friday, May 4, 2018

American Idol is not Discriminatory, just because it doesn't have Affirmative Action

Last week on American Idol, the elimination of contestants Ada Vox and Michelle Sussett caused predictable outrage. Accusations of homophobia (in the case of Vox, a drag queen) and racism (in the case of Sussett) came flying through social media platforms. For long time fans of Idol, there is indeed nothing new here. I mean, top 7 week in Season 3 (2004), which saw the elimination of Jennifer Hudson (who still went on to have a great career by the way), provoked even greater controversy. Somehow, people always want to find evidence of American Idol (or should that be America itself?) being discriminatory.

It is true that American Idol doesn't have affirmative action. Therefore, it doesn't particularly protect minorities from being eliminated through voting. But neither does this mean that Idol is discriminatory. Quite the opposite, in fact. Idol has had many non-white winners (Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Jordin Sparks, Candice Glover), and has also been the launching pad for gay musicians like Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert. In fact, Aiken himself took to Huffington Post to say that he believed Ada Vox was eliminated simply because she was not the best singer, not because she was a drag queen. Plus, the fact that Ada Vox entered the top 10 already represents a better result than the first-ever Idol drag queen anywhere in the world, Courtney Act, who was on Australian Idol 2003 (and who later became one of the world's most famous drag queens). I'm sure Ada will have a similarly successful career.

So, calm down and enjoy idol. After all, even though Idol is often about singing old songs, it is definitely 'not that kind of retro':