Tag Archives: Music

Get to know AKB48, the world’s biggest pop group

akb48

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one aghast at the video of Japanese idol Minami Minegishi crying with a shaved head to apologize for being caught by the tabloids leaving the home of a boy band member. This seems like an extreme reaction, but she was remorseful about breaking the dating ban that’s inflicted on members of the girl group AKB48. Part of the appeal of the girls is the fantasy of being able to date them, which is shattered if they are attached to someone else.

The group has repeatedly come under fire by the public because of how it sexualizes the girls, which seems inappropriate given the young ages of many of the members. The ages girls range from the early teens to mid twenties.

Curious to see see pics of Minegishi? Read on below.

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“One pound fish” the next hot club song?

Meet Muhammad Shahid Nazir, aka “the one pound fish man” from Lahore, Pakistan.  I honestly can’t tell if I love or loathe his Bollywood-inspired crooning, which has skyrocketed him from selling fish at the Queens Market in London to becoming an internet sensation.  He’s even made an appearance on The X Factor, has a top-40 hit on iTunes, and landed a record deal with Warner Music (check out his hilarious R&B remix below).

“One Pound Fish” just might become the next crazy song you hear while dancing at the club.  Watch this video and you’ll be fighting with yourself not to start singing it: “Come on ladies, come on ladies; one pound fish. Have-a, have-a look, one pound fish. Very, very good, very, very cheap, one pound fish…”

 

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Mindblowing: 5-year-old prodigy kills it on the piano

I don’t know what it is about little Asian kids and their unnaturally gifted musical skills, but it seriously never gets old. This little guy is so cute, and (unlike me when I started playing piano at five) obviously loves playing the piano.

Get ready to have your mind blown. BOOM!

(Thanks, Hubie!)

“Gangnam Style” horse-riding dance move is the new “shuffle”

To be honest, when I first saw this video by Korean-pop rapper, PSY, I immediately stopped watching it thinking it was just plain weird. But a few hours later, I found myself re-watching the video, and now it’s been on repeat ever since. There’s just something about the quirky randomness that makes the video so entertaining. Best of all are the dance moves. Not many singers can choreograph a dance that looks like you’re horseback riding and make it go viral. Even I’ve secretly tried to learn the dance in the privacy of my room, although I’m not sure how well it will fly if I bust it out in a club.

The video has over 15 million views and even T-Pain and Justin Bieber have tweeted about it. Apparently the 34-year-old Korean artist raps about his ideal girlfriend– one who is a classy and smart by day, but sexy and bares all at night. “Gangnam” is a wealthy district in Seoul. Put it all together and you have Gangnam Style!

I tried to figure out why this video has become internationally popular and I think it caught on for the same reason LMFAO’s shuffle dance in “Party Rock Anthem” became so widely loved. Like LMFAO, Psy isn’t your typical cookie-cutter pop-star image. He’s funny, weird, and just doesn’t give a crap about what others think of him. The lyrics are simple and catchy, and the dance moves can be learned by everyone.  I guess that’s the recipe for an viral video!

What do you get when you cross a Japanese yodeler with chickens?

An epic music music video, duh! I found this awesome YouTube video of Takeo Ishi, a Japanese guy who was raised in Tokyo. I couldn’t find much info on him except on a German Wikipedia page, so hopefully nothing has been lost in translation!

He studied engineering, but during his spare time he learned to yodel from records by yodeler Franz Lang. His unique talent landed him on Japanese television. He then moved to Europe at some point, and sang in a restaurant in Switzerland. Then his idol, Franz Lang,  mentored him after hearing Ishi sing.

I’m not familiar with the yodeling genre, but he sounds pretty darn good! However, I’m a little bit confused about the chickens.

Rihanna’s “We Found Love”: Bangkok Version

At first, this music video seems like just a funny spoof of Rihanna’s hit song, featuring a transgendered girl and her Thai boyfriend.  But watch on and you’ll realize that while it’s totally hilarious seeing a Bangkok-ified version of the MV, the end somehow feels more dark and intense than the original.  I just returned from a trip to Thailand, I have to say the video really captures the grit of city life in that country.  Kudos to Trasher, Bangkok for making a video that’s ripped off but absolutely original at the same time.

 

Rihanna’s original vid:

(Thanks, Marisse!)

Adele, reincarnated as an old-school Chinese musician

This is what Chinese people in the Tang Dynasty would have rocked out to, had Adele been a traditional guzheng musician back in the day. The guzheng, sometimes called a Chinese Zither, is a stringed instrument played somewhat like a guitar.

Seriously, it’s a pretty killer rendition of the British singer’s “Rolling in the Deep.”  I love how the cascading, harp-like embellishes go so well with the song…who knew that Adele’s song could sound so perfectly Chinese?

(Thanks, Dunks!)

New Heights’ Travis Graham’s advice: stay humble and passionate

 

 

What do Bruno Mars, Ryan Tedder, and Coldplay all have in common? They are all musical inspirations for Travis Graham, the lead singer of New Heights (pictured second from the left). I first saw Travis and New Heights perform at the ISA concert hosted in Seattle last year.  Since then, they’ve grown on YouTube, collaborating with popular Asian YouTube stars like Clara C and David So.

Want to know which artists inspire Travis, his go-to karaoke song, and what it was like meeting President Obama? Read on!

How did New Heights get started? Where did the name come from?

New Heights started right after high school. I always wanted to be in a band and found out Kiyung, who is now in the band, played guitar.  I saw his band play at the same event I was playing at and said, “Let’s jam together.” From that, things happened, everyone seemed committed, and we just rolled with it.

We were looking for something inspiring and uplifting and so at 17-years-old, we came to a conclusion: New Heights.

Are your parents supportive?

They have been always supportive. I owe them so much. I’m not the kind of person who would be the rebel. If my parents weren’t having it, I wouldn’t be the type of person who would be like, “Oh I want to do it.” My dad keeps telling me to get rich and famous so I can buy him a boat. That’s what I’ve heard my whole life.

What artists inspire you?

Bruno Mars, Ryan Tedder, and Coldplay.  Even more so than certain artists, I’m more influenced by producers.  So what I’ll do a lot is, if I like a record, I’ll look into the credits and see who produced it, mixed it, and engineered it.  I’m really into tones and the final sound.

How do you differentiate yourself from the other Asian singers and YouTube stars?

Sound—a lot of our friends are singer and songwriters, but it’s a different genre.  For us, we are pushing top 40’s pop.  We are pop kids at heart.  We are in love with catchy melodies, choruses, and epic sounds.  There are not too many Asian American bands pushing for that sound.

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Japanese researcher spins spiderwebs into violin strings

 

Whenever I see a spiderweb, my instinct tells me to look for the spider and kill it. It  would never occur to me that the fine strands of silk that create the home of these eight-legged insects can be transformed into violin strings.

Shigeyoshi Osaki of Japan’s Nara Medical University has been studying the mechanical properties of spider silk for a number of years. He decided to use the silk strands taken from the webs of 300 female Nephila maculata spiders, which are known for their complex webs, to create the strings of the classical instrument. For each string, Dr Osaki twisted between 3,000 and 5,000 individual strands of silk in one direction to form a bundle. Three of these bundles are then twisted together in the opposite direction to complete the string.

Although the spider silk strings withstand less tension than traditional violin strings, they create a unique and preferable tone for professional violinists and music enthusiasts. So the next time you see a spider, think about their contribution to music before you squish it!

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(Thanks, Arthur!)

Fobby hottie of the month: Zee Avi, Malaysian songstress

Here’s a perfect Christmas gift for that music lover—Zee Avi’s new album, Ghostbird.  I only recently discovered Zee Avi’s music while guiltily indulging in an E! News episode back in Singapore (perhaps that show isn’t all garbage!), and I’ve been playing her music on repeat ever since.

The 25-year-old Malaysian is originally from  Sarawak, Borneo Island, but now lives in Brooklyn, New York.  I love how she blends traditional Malay sounds into her folk-style music. Brushfire Records, which is partly owned by Jack Johnson, discovered her after Avi’s music took off on YouTube.

Check out her psychadelic music video for the song, “ The Book Of Morris Johnson,” from her new album.