Q

Songs: 23
Albums Represented: 2
Albums Complete in Library: 1

I can’t help but think of John de Lancie.

Well, it’s just the Smiths’ The Queen is Dead and Jurassic 5’s Quality Control here.

From the Smiths album…what can I say? No love song quite like a morbid one. I saw recently that some movie used a cover of “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” and while that version I thought was pretty crappy, maybe it’ll introduce the young’uns to the original.

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^

The Opposite of Heavy Rotation: The iTunes Music Library All Album Challenge!

Last week I found a blog through Freshly Pressed that had a post that resonated with me: Things I Learned From My iPod Shuffle Challenge over at Logy Express. The blogger, Tracy, had listened to all 2700+ songs on her iPod on shuffle over the course of several months and written posts detailing the experience. Wow!

I immediately thought, I need to do this! I still have songs in my iTunes Music Library that have never even been played (not by my laptop anyway); some songs have racked up over 50 plays while others languish in the single digits; and every time I run to refill my credit on the iTMS I think “Don’t I have enough music already?” There’s also the matter of the 400+ tracks a friend gave me before he left Japan last year, that I still haven’t sorted through. This Challenge seemed like a great way to take stock of my music library; remembering what I have, taking note of what I need to get or forgot to import, deleting tracks that aren’t to my liking, and fixing incorrect info on tracks I had left at the mercy of Gracenote.

Now, because my listening habits are different, I’m doing the challenge differently from the original. I don’t really, really, for realz listen to music unless I’m at home plugged into my computer via my Sennheiser HD555s or have my external speakers loud enough to just almost be audible from outside my apartment, so I won’t be doing this through my iPod.

My partner in crime is my MacBook Pro! *Snuggles MBP*

I’m going to listen to all 2933 tracks (about 9 days’ worth) in my MBP’s iTunes Music Library once, without skipping or fast-forwarding, with one exception: if I happen to be close to the computer when it starts to play an MP3 copy of an AAC rip of a song, I will skip and uncheck the MP3 version. I made MP3 copies of a few songs that I had originally imported as AACs because before I got an iPod earlier this year, I used a Sansa MP3 player that didn’t support Apple’s formats. In any case, these MP3 copies don’t bring the total number of tracks down by much, maybe by 10 or 15.

Also, I decided to listen to the tracks in order of album, because I hardly ever listen to whole albums. Even when I was playing CDs in my good ol’ Phillips stereo, I pretty much never listened to albums with the tracks in order after the first one or two sittings. Well…unless it was something that just got really jacked up by shuffling, such as My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. That said, a good portion of my Library consists of just a couple or a few select tracks from albums, rather than the full albums.

Come to think of it, I wonder how many full albums I do have? Guess I can look into that.

Anyway, I started doing this on the 20th of this month. So far, I’ve gotten through all the albums that begin with the letter ‘A,’ from Santana’s Abraxas to 50 Cent’s Ayo Technology Single. What did I notice?

Well, my aforementioned friend had given me a lot of tracks that I guess would be considered chill-out or new age or…some other thing like that. I think having a sprinkling of these is good for variety, but I don’t need very much of them. After all, I never put on music for the purpose of ignoring it, which is all I can think the majority of this music is good for. (I’m thinking of a lot of Putomayo releases here. ^_^;) I’ve already deleted several such tracks after becoming exasperated actually listening to them, LOL. Other tracks that I was a bit dubious about I merely unchecked for later review.

Perhaps the most interesting story is the one behind “Hallucinations? (Dream World Mix)” by In the Nursery from Anatomy of a Poet. I first heard this song in the animated Street Fighter movie, during Chun-Li and Vega’s fight. I was in elementary school, and man, did that track haunt my mind! Years passed without me knowing what it was, or where I could hear music like that. (Years later I would thankfully stumble upon 96.3’s radio show “Big Sonic Heaven” with Darren Revell. ♡) Finally, enter YouTube and its copyright infringement fiesta. I was lolligagging online and suddenly it hit me: what if I search for that fight scene, and maybe in the comments it’ll say what the song is?!

It only plays for a few seconds in the movie, but that was all I needed to get hooked on trip-hop. It’s too far down in the comments now, but this is how I finally found out the name and artist of the song. I bought it from the iTMS immediately!

You can hear the whole song at this YouTube vid:

Lastly from the A’s, this was a pretty weird transition that somehow worked: the creepy electronic horse neigh followed by Janet Jackson’s scoping out that “package.” @_@ Meaning:

Steve Vai’s “Bad Horsie,” from Alien Love Secrets. Pandora suggested this to me after I put in “YYZ” by Rush. (I miss Pandora! T^T)

(There’s also this official vid from a performance DVD , but it doesn’t include the neighing at the end.)

Followed by the title track from Janet Jackson’s album All For You.

Damn! What I want is abs like that! >o<;

Well, to give some basic stats of what I covered in the A-albums:

Number of Albums: 40
Number of Albums available in their entirety: 2 (!! Wow! Even I didn’t think the contrast would be so stark! @_@)
Total Number of Songs: 109

Well, I guess next time, I’ll be writing about the albums from B.O.B. Presents Bobby Ray through By the Way (Bonus Version).

Castlevania Soundtracks are on iTunes!

I was just using iTunes’ “Get Artwork” feature when I noticed something unexpected: the cover for the soundtrack to Castlevania: Curse of Darkness came up.  Which could only mean that it is available on the iTunes Store!

4 Castlevania soundtracks available on iTunes!

4 Castlevania soundtracks available on iTunes!

Okay, so that’s a bit hard to see, but if you’re a Castlevania fan I’m sure you can recognize the covers to Symphony of the Night and Curse of Darkness easily enough.  The other two albums are for the PSP release The Dracula X Chronicles, which includes both the remixes for the remake and the original tracks, and a collection of “classic” tracks.  I don’t know if that one is from several Castlevania games, or just one, but it is most definitely old school.

Given the dates on the reviews, these have been up for a while.  I don’t remember when I imported the soundtracks for SotN and CoD, but I definitely had looked for them on iTunes before doing so.  Had I known they’d be available eventually…well, at least I can easily get the hot tracks from The Dracula X Chronicles for the low price of a domestic release.

Hope this is as exciting for someone else as it was for me! ^_^