The Post Wherein I Realize I Don’t Know My ABC’s

Ahahaha…so, I have a confession to make: I’ve fallen way behind on chronicling my iTunes Music Challenge. Now, because I’ve been deleting tracks after going through them, I’ve been making draft blog posts that contain just the specs (number of songs, complete albums, etc) pre-deletion. I had the drafts containing only this basic information for the G, H, and I albums in my draft queue. Today, I thought, “lemme bust these posts out right quick.” I see the draft titles: “Incomparable,” “Heavenly,” and “Great.” But I pick “Incomparable” anyway when I should’ve worked on “Great.” >o<;;;

I’m sure there’s a way I could remove the post and stick it back in later, but I don’t feel like doing all that. So there’s just gonna be a little hiccup in my alphabetical order.

A B C D E F I H G…

LOL

Well then, let’s keep going! The H albums!

Songs: 101
Albums Represented: 22
Complete Albums: 4

Hmm, what to share? Something a little embarrassing perhaps?

Well well, there’s only that then.

As I chronicled over at my job-specific blog, the students of the school I used to work at have to put on a play in English for Culture Festival. My first year there, they did High School Musical 2, and my second year, they did Camp Rock.

Now, I had a passing awareness of HSM’s existence, and hadn’t even heard of Camp Rock. When the kids had decided to do HSM2, I watched the movie to be able to help them better. Suffice it to say I ended up wishing my students had picked something else.

So, how did this music end up on my computer? Long story short, I had to edit the tracks to make them shorter for the play, which had to fit in at most an hour. None of the kids knew how to do this, so I offered to do the editing. Not that I’m a pro sound engineer, but I’ve got GarageBand and can do simple stuff. I kept the edited versions of the tracks for both plays on my computer just in case the students lost the CD, or for future reference. But when I was transferred schools, I got rid of most of them. Meaning, I had actually ended up enjoying some of those tracks! *Embarrassed*

Well, they are lively, catchy tracks, but I think for me, I just associate the tracks with English Play and the whole experience over at my old school. So when I hear these songs, I don’t think of Zac Efron so much as I do of my former students. I even remember their choreography, LOL.

So here’s my guilty teeny-bopper pleasure: “I Don’t Dance” from High School Musical 2! XDDD

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Techno Keeps My Mind In Check

Stats for the I albums:

Songs: 81
Albums Represented: 30
Complete Albums: 0

Not a single complete album out of 30?! Wow. Well, in the case of the ones that come close, I actually do own the CDs, I just didn’t like every single track on the albums and didn’t import them all. The albums that I have in near completion in my laptop’s iTunes Music Library are Madonna’s Immaculate Collection and My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything.

In the I’s we find a track I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of, not because I’m listening to it, but because I’m ignoring it.

I had said in the very first post of this Challenge Series that I don’t put music on to ignore it. I had forgotten about one special occasion where I do, in fact, turn music on so as not to listen to it: when I’m studying kanji or checking tests. Well, it’s a little unfair to say that I’m “ignoring” the music, since it serves a very important purpose.

What I ended up discovering was that if I tried to study kanji or check tests in complete silence, I would either space out, or start doing the practice/ reading the answers out loud, which inevitably would lead to going on monologue tangents and spacing out. Not very productive at all. However, if I play lyricless, repetitive music, it helps me check my wandering brain. Basically, without music, I’ll be distracted by any errant thought or external stimuli. But if there’s music, when my mind wanders, it goes straight to the sound at hand, which ends up reminding me to focus. I had actually discovered a similar principle in my school days; if I drew in class, it would help me mentally stay in the room if a lecture wasn’t interesting; if I didn’t draw, I’d tune out the teacher’s voice and go off on all sorts of mental adventures.

Yeah, so basically I’m a space cadet but have developed effective techniques for combating this. (I wonder if I actually have some sort of high-functioning ADD sometimes, LOL.)

Anyway, one of the 400+ tracks my aforementioned friend had given me is actually a whole disc compiled as one track, disc 1 of Tiësto’s In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza. Since I hadn’t really thought of it as being composed of all its individual tracks, I can’t say I have a favorite part of it. So what I will suggest is that if, like me, you need a sonic barrier to keep your mind from leaving the Milky Way, that you turn to the playlists on Tiësto’s official YouTube channel.

Hmm, I hope that doesn’t come across as an insult. ^_^;

Finite F’s

Songs: 128
Albums Represented: 35
Complete Albums: 3

The bulk of the tracks from albums in the F’s are definitely Final Fantasy tracks. Mostly just FFVII and its spin-offs, but also a few from FFs IV, V, VIII, IX, and XIII. But, I don’t think it’s particularly necessary to promote FF’s music, especially not the track that is my favorite, “Advent: One-Winged Angel.”

Whoops, I went and promoted it anyway. >o<;

I don’t like the Advent Children Complete version as much, because it has a long pause for the scene that I really wish hadn’t been added to that fight.

Alright, might as well bring up my favorite FF track that isn’t super famous. Out of all the airship themes in the seven main FF games I’ve played, FFVIII definitely wins with “Ride On.” I used to fly around aimlessly in the Ragnarok just to hear it! And the Ragnarok is definitely my favorite FF airship. It’s just cool. Honestly, the whole “boats flying in the air” thing always seemed mighty ridiculous to me. ^_^;

Last, I’ll end with a track from my very first CD ever. Keiko Matsui’s Full Moon and the Shrine, from 1998. I fell in love with the track “Steps in the Night” when I heard it on Smooth Jazz V98.7. This was the first time in my life that I felt that I should have an official recording, not just my taped-off-the-radio copy. (I had amassed quite an army of music taped off the radio by then, ahaha.) My brother gave me the album as a birthday gift, but I didn’t even have a CD player! I would play it in his CD player until I got my own CD player 2 years later.

The album also came with a digital copy of the music video for the title track, but my family didn’t have a computer back then. I didn’t get to see the video until I went to college; one day it occurred to me to try to play the video on the school’s computers. Nowadays, the format of the file is so old none of my Mac computers recognize it. Don’t know if it would still work on a PC.

The first time I came to Japan, when people would ask me what Japanese artists I liked, I would mention Keiko Matsui in addition to GACKT, L’arc~en~ciel, and Hikaru Utada, but barely anyone knew who she was. (That said, my host father in Hiroshima didn’t know who GACKT was, and it amused my host mother so much that a foreigner would know a Japanese artist while a Japanese wouldn’t. ^o^;)

Anyway, the video to “Full Moon and the Shrine” was filmed at the famous Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, and features what look like gagaku dancers. Well, I didn’t know that when I first saw the video, but when I visited Itsukushima Shrine, luck would have it that someone was having their wedding there, complete with gagaku dance and music! They must have been very rich!

Ahaha…

Without further ado, I end with the aforementioned video:

Eclectic E’s

Songs: 129
Albums Represented: 35
Albums Complete in Library: 4

In contrast to the C’s that were dominated by the haunting sounds of Castlevania, and the upcoming F’s which are filled with Final Fantasy, the E’s are just all over the place. From 70s prog rock to the gangsta rap of the 90s, to Mexican diva pop and the shoegazer wall of sound, the E’s had it all.

Let’s just go in the order I laid down there then, shall we?

Last time I went back home, I bought an iTunes Card, then realized that I had to use the balance up before coming back to Japan, since unused balances expire after…6 months I think it was? And you supposedly can’t purchase songs from iTunes Music Stores that are outside of the region you’re accessing from. That’s what the Terms of Service say, but I’ve never tried to see for myself. The threat of being banned from the iTMS for breaching the terms is enough to keep me from trying.

Anyway, I had downloaded all I wanted, and still had credit left over in my American iTMS account. So I asked my brothers if they wanted anything from the iTMS, and one of them requested some songs from Camel.

I immediately thought of cigarettes, even though I don’t smoke. >o<;

I’ve ended up digging many of the tracks I downloaded for my brother, especially “Air Born.”

And now for some gangsta rap!

I was in middle school when Bone Thugs N Harmony were at their peak. I prided myself on being able to keep up with their fast-paced rapping. Now, I’ve always had a sense of humor that gets branded as “dark” or “twisted” by what I’ve come to find out is the mainstream (^_^;;;). Back then, what fascinated me about BTNH was that they rapped so melodiously about the grim subject matter of murder, weed, bitches, and ho’s. Despite growing up in some unsavory parts of Detroit, and witnessing gang violence, sometimes very close to home, I found gangsta rap…hilarious. ^o^; I guess I knew from a young age that swagger’s just a front; if you’ve really got it,  you don’t need to flaunt it. The bravado of the petty gangbangers, the ones who dream of getting to the top but end up just shot on the bottom, it was too ironic to take seriously. Likewise, the bravado of  gangsta rap was just too funny not to sing along.

This is not to say that petty gangbangers don’t do real damage; there have been countless tragedies in my hometown on account of fools with guns who wanna be hard. What I’m saying is, those people think the gang is the only way for them to get somewhere in life, the only way to beat The Man and The Pigs, but the guys at the top of the gang are taking advantage of them just as much as The System. Perhaps even more so. After all, if you switch jobs, your old company doesn’t come try to shoot you for leaving them. Try to leave the gang and see what happens.

Uh…right, this blog post is supposed to be about music. >o<;;;;;

The BTNH track that everyone thought was too fast for mere mortals to rap: “First of tha Month

Ah, that’s right, that’s the other thing I found hilarious about gangsta rap: in this song they’re talking about making all this money dealing drugs, but that money is welfare money, money that came in on the first of each month. I remember being in middle school thinking, if you were really rich, and if you were really “runnin'” anything, would you really be dependent on large numbers of poor people buying small amounts of drugs from you with cash they got by selling their food stamps? If you really cared so much about your hood, would you help keep it in destitution?

I think a really naive side of me found gangsta rap hilarious for another reason: I hadn’t yet realized that people actually could be that stupid. So part of the hilarity, in my mind, was the thought that, of course no one would be so dumb as to think the rappers are really praising this lifestyle, because it’s a lifestyle that treats people like shit, so to come up with these rhymes about it and sing them harmoniously was funny.

*Sigh*

Ahaha, moving on…

…to Mexican mega-star Thalía. She’s actually come up in my iTunes Library already, pretty early on with the album Arrasando, which I bought because it included the theme song to the telenovela Rosalinda. I can no longer remember why I picked up her album El Sexto Sentido Re+Loaded. I may just have felt that I didn’t have enough Latin music in my CD collection; or maybe I did watch the reality show Cantando por un Sueño (which is like Pop Idol / American Idol) and liked the song, also titled “Cantando por un Sueño,” and decided to get it. In any case, my favorite track from this album is “Un Sueño Para Dos” (meaning “A dream for two”).

For the shoegazing, there’s My Bloody Valentine’s combined EPs Ecstacy and Wine, where I heard “The Things I Miss.” It takes you to another world in under 3 minutes!

I’ll admit, I learned about MBV indirectly through Final Fantasy VII. The first time I played through FFVII, I saw the Loveless poster in Midgar in the beginning, but I didn’t really pay it much attention. Then I saw on a fansite that the poster said “My Bloody Valentine” on the side, but the fan thought it was just a reference to one of the game’s characters, Vincent Valentine. A web search for “My Bloody Valentine Loveless” revealed what the game’s programmer’s were really getting at.

Back then there wasn’t that much on YouTube YouTube didn’t exist (GASP–I can’t believe YT’s been around only for 6 years! To me it’s an existence before time!) so I didn’t get to hear much of MBV save what I happened to find on some random website. The site listed its contents as coming from a “rarities” album. The MBV covers of Wire’s “Map Ref 41°N 93°W” and Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All The Time In the World” were all I needed to hear to know that I needed to listen to more of the band’s music, and I ordered Loveless off of Amazon eagerly. The rest of their albums and EPs soon followed.

Alright, so that was me eclectically sharing some eclectic albums! ^o^