Category Archives: Music

My favourite J-POP artist – Kuraki Mai

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I would love to introduce my favourite J-Pop artist. For the last decade, I listened to nothing but Japanese pop music, mostly solo female artists (Hamasaki Ayumi, Koda Kumi, Aiuchi Rina, Utada Hikaru, to name a few) who have been the major piece of Jpop market. After 2010, many of these artists have lost their oversea fans, including myself, mostly due to the recent recession of the market.

There is none other Jpop artists left to grab my eyes than this lovely-faced Kuraki Mai. Quick bio: she debuted in 1999 in Japan with the hit single Love, Day After Tomorrow and has released 40 singles, 10 studio albums and 3 compilations so far. She holds the record of having all singles consecutively debut in top 10 in Oricon Chart.

What keeps me to her? Year after year, she appears in public with even better songs and newly polished images. This is unseen in other artists who have used up their public personas and lost all their past glamour. With her deep affection for South Korea, she has performed her solo concert back in 2009. She has come to the land several times after that, notably last year at the Yeosu Expo.

A natural introvert under pretty much closed-up policy of her agency, she had not appeared in TV for 10 years until 2009 when she celebrated her 10th anniversary with her eighth album Touch Me! and second best album All The Best.  This was the year her long-lost popularity was revived, much to my happiness. I loved to see her in the major TV music programs and annual music festivals. Every year she conducts live tour in which she remarkably improved her command at stage.

I have included several images from her 2013 live tour “Over the Rainbow” titled after her 10th studio album. She has recently concluded her live tour for this year ‘Live Tour Project 2013 RE:’. I have no idea what she’s being up to these days. I would very much love to sea her new song or new album being released soon. I absolutely looooooooved her 39th single ‘恋に恋して(Koi ni Koishite)’ and have it in her album CD, as I always did with my favourite songs.


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New York City Revisited & My favourite ABBA songs



I paid my second visit to New York City as an extension to the family trip to my commencement ceremony in Buffalo. Me and my brother have been there once, in 2007 and 2008 respectively: I with a group of friends from my parish and my three-years-younger brother by himself. As for me, it was an eye-opening trip. I was dazzled by the countless neon lights in the Times Square and the affluent shops lined along the Fifth Avenue. 

The most anticipated attraction was Broadway musical. We waited over an hour in the endless line to secure tickets for Mamma Mia!, one of my mother’s favourites.

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There were many songs that have not been included in the film version. I was delighted to hear Knowing Me, Knowing You, one of my favourite ABBA songs. During my past romantic mischief, I found the lyrics so well resonated with my then feelings. After the trip, I went back to the ABBA Gold album and counted for my favourite songs among the stellar hits.

1. Knowing Me, Knowing You

Knowing me, knowing you (ah-haa)
There is nothing we can do
Knowing me, knowing you (ah-haa)

In the musical, it  is sung by Sam to Sophie who has just quarreled with Sky. The obvious interpretation of the song in such context is of course to know your own desires and live your own life. In my context, it was the dreadful buffering time that I took to actually “know” someone I had feelings for. In the end, I never got to know the person. Well, I am not the kind of person who could easily enter a relationship with someone I just met; I had to stop and needed the “time” to get to know each other, but he did not wait. He and I had essentially different views on relationships. I listened to this song and found the words I wanted to say to him. Without the lyrics, it’s still a beautiful song.

2. Chiquitita

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
There is no way you can deny it
I see that you’re oh so sad, so quiet

I love this song purely for its melody. I love the way it starts from the sad mood and gradually transforms into cheery. I used to be the one with a face “so sad, so quite” and listen to those words from my lovely friends.

3. Money Money Money

In my dreams I have a plan
If I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn’t have to work at all, I’d fool around and have a ball.

I think the onstage and onscreen adaptation of this song is just perfect. I daresay it was one of my favourite segments of the Broadway performance.

4. S.O.S 

So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me
S. O. S.
The love you gave me, nothing else can save me
S. O. S.
When you’re gone
How can I even try to go on?

It was my favourite track in the Mamma Mia! soundtrack of the 2008 film version. Then it was soon overshadowed by other vivacious tracks in ABBA Gold.

5. Fernando

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando

It was one of the few songs not featured in the musical, but I was quickly enchanted by its sweet tune and murmuring lyrics when I heard it from ABBA Gold.

6.  Lay All Your Love On Me

I wasn’t jealous before we met
Now every woman I see is a potential threat

The duet of Sophie and Sky in the musical was so fit to the sentiment of this song. Without this song, the character of Sky is only a minor. This song, too, is a number that shines more with the chemistry between the two lovers onstage.

The reason why ABBA’s songs have been not forgotten was not only for their catchy and dancey tunes but also their beautiful lyrics. I wonder how the songwriters derived their inspirations to write such diverse and universal lyrics. I am sure those quality lyrics have contributed to the making of this global hit musical that made ABBA the most wealthiest copyright artists of the world.

On my way home, I used to think of the artists who were known for their memorable lyrics. What if Taylor Swift’s narrative songs made into a musical? That’s an idea.

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What’s your favourite Disney feature animation?

Someone posted a question “what’s your favourite Disney animation?” in a portal website I visit daily. Many replied to the post with unforgettable titles such as Aladdin, Lion King, Little Mermaid, Mulan and Beauty and the Beast, but the first one that came to my mind was Tarzan (1999) that has been remembered as the last film to be included in the Disney Renaissance in the 1990s.

As the last film in the decade, Tarzan boasts of Disney’s most highly advanced 2D animation technology. The expressions and actions of the characters are so alive in every second of the film on the three-dimensional background they relived with the Deep Canvas software. But all things aside, the part I love the most is the scenes where Tarzan and Jane secretly exchange the emerging feelings for each other. Largely owing to Phil Colin’s beautiful songs, the emotional depiction is so well done in this film in a way you wouldn’t expect from a two-dimensional animation. The fairly recent Tangled (2010) is of course much more technically advanced but those romantic subtleties were not felt as much as the 12-years earlier work.ImageImageImageTarzan and Jane are arguably my favourite Disney couple. Although not included the famous Disney Princess franchise, Jane Porter is absolutely too adorable heroine to be forgotten. Their lovely chemistry reminds me of that of Princess Aurora and Prince Philip in the legendary Sleeping Beauty (1959) in which a central scene depicted the sweet vibration of young lovers.



Disney’s incredible ability to relive the interior emotions into the animated characters has been the heart of the countless classics still beloved by the worldwide audience, regardless of gender and age. I’m looking forward to Disney’s new feature animation this year, based on Anderson’s beloved classic Snow Queen. I hope it’ll be as enjoyable and unforgettable as their classics in the 1990s.

I’ll conclude the post with my favourite musical sequence in Disney’s films. Phil Colins is the smartest musical partnership Disney has ever chosen.

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Introducing an amazingly talented Korean singer-songwriter JUNIEL

Juniel is a rising singer-songwriter in South Korea, arguably more talented than IU whose next album, to my disappointment  has been postponed next year. She is nineteen-year-old and plays acoustic guitar every time on stage. She debuted in June, 2012 with her first mini-album My First June that features her debut song, Illa Illa.

Juniel has also debuted in Japan with her original song Ready Go! which she wrote. When listening to her albums, I always feel that the songs she composed herself are even better than the title songs. She usually sings about heartbroken love affairs, a major thing that distinguishes her from another major guitar-playing singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift.

I’m sharing a video of her live performance of her debut song which I liked immediately. It’s a song about first love.

When the warm and scented wind passes by my cheeks
I think of your face that i used to love
Oh, when the wild, unknown flowers bloom hidden on the streets
I think of you, whom i hide away in my memories

My baby illa illa illa, baby illa illa illa, baby illa illa illa
Never forget love

Because first love is beautiful, a first love is a flower
Blooming widely when spring comes – dazzling like a flower
Like a young child, a first love is inexperienced
Because you can’t unconditionally give and take love

Illa illa illa, illa illa illa, illa illa illa,
My love, good-bye

When the stars drawn out on the night sky bring up your memories,
I take you out of my old diaries

My baby illa illa illa, baby illa illa illa, baby illa illa illa
Never forget love

Because first love is beautiful, a first love is a flower
Blooming widely when spring comes – dazzling like a flower
Like a young child, a first love is inexperienced
Because you can’t unconditionally give and take love

I was young back then, i didn’t know any better
Now i think i will know
I call out to you as i draw you out
Illa illa illa illa, illa illa illa

Illa illa illa illa, never forget love

Seeing as a first love is painful, a first love is like a fever
Because after you are mindlessly sick, you become an adult
Because a first love can never be, a first love is lingering attachment
Because you can’t have it since you loved too much

Illa illa illa, illa illa illa, illa illa illa, my love, good-bye
Illa illa illa, illa illa illa, illa illa illa, my love, good-bye

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My Favourite Christmas Singer I: Brian Stokes Mitchell

I had been a member of Young Adults choir in the local Korean Canadian Parish for about 2 years and had immense joy in singing some of the wonderful Christmas carols under the direction of a beautiful conductor. I was so happy to sing the Medley from my favourite Prince of Egypt OST for which the leading Broadway baritone Brian Stokes Mitchell delivered the amazing number of Through Heaven’s Eyes. Below, I’m sharing his live performance of the song and Sleigh Ride with Mormon Tabernacle Choir, just because it’s the Christmas season!


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Random Discovery: Lindsey Stirling, Video Game Violinist

I was watching videos of Assassin’s Creed 3 on and accidentally discovered an interview footage of this eccentric female violinist playing Zelda and AC3 medleys. I thought she was very interesting musician almost resembling a character sprang from a video game.  She also covered themes of Phantom of the Opera and Lord of the Rings which I liked immediately. I later found out she was a finalist in the America’s Got Talent and has released her official self-title album.

I’m a music fan who welcomes any type of blend of classic and modern music, so I’m very much attracted to the music she plays, especially her own interpretations of video game soundtracks. By the way, she’s coming to Toronto next March. I’d love to go when I can hum her original tunes by heart!

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Lauding Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album RED

I didn’t see country music globally inclusive because it originates from the region where diversity is not much celebrated. That was why I have not paid proper attention to the gorgeous and ingenious Taylor Swift until now, shortly after she released much anticipated fourth studio album Red. I accidentally heard several songs and I could not help peeking at the album cover, just to see where these sweet songs came from. Of course, some do criticize her loss of ‘Country-ness’ but I can tell you that her new direction has earned her a considerably increased number of fans, including myself. Maybe it is because of the participation of Max Martin the legendary producer of Britney Spears, BSB and N’Sync who literally dominated the 2000’s pop world.

Taylor is an amazing musician. She’s coming to Toronto next June but I didn’t succeed to reserve a ticket 😦 I’d love to see State of Grace as the mindblowing opening number; I’m certain it will be the first song she’s going to sing in this tour.

I want to do a lesson on poetic devices with Taylor’s lyrics. Here’s example:

Polysyndeton (repeated use of conjunctions): Thinking all love ever does is to break, and burn, and end. (Taylor Swift, Begin Again)

Let me come back with more!

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