Required listening: Great music from before you were born

 

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I must admit: I haven’t watched MTV in over a decade. I’m serious. I used to be the kid who keeps up with the charts when I was young1, all the way through the time I was studying in Singapore (circa 1994 to 2004). I felt that music has gone stale since the turn of the millennium, and I’m sure it isn’t just me. You see hits that top charts, but don’t quite stay there as long as the hits from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s used to.

I also felt that there isn’t much newness to the current melody. You can basically replicate the pop 4-chord structure like an app to new releases and call yourself a musician. Don’t get me wrong – I still think great music exists today, just that it’s getting rare because pop music no longer win over hearts by their records alone, but also things like your personal fashion style, your fame outside of your professional field, and your overall reputation in the showbiz. For this (and many other reasons), I don’t keep up with the charts anymore and has gradually turned to alternative genres (trance, new age, jazz, chillout, etc). Bottom line, what’s now considered good music is just never going to be the same again.

Now I’m glad the latest Marvel tentpole Guardians of the Galaxy, which became the highest-grossing film out of all previous MCU movies (excluding The Avengers), has inspired Millennials to dig through the timeless vinyl records again – yes, the ones our parents keep somewhere in the garage.

Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 was a joy to listen to for me, and there were some favorites I want to continue listening to everywhere I go now.

That’ s why I came up with the playlist below. I consider these essential hits that my kids should listen to in the future if they’re ever going to listen to anything. While there’s no way I can stop Miley Cyrus or Nicki Minaj from twerking, the next best thing I figured best doing is to provide this handy list of top-charters that people actually still listen to today, then put it up right next to 21st century pop music for the kids to compare. We’ll see if the current chart-toppers are still going to ring in the public’s consciousness when they’ve grown up.

In the meantime, here’s ear porn for you.

 

 

Any favorites?

 
 

P.S. Marvin Gaye’s kids vs. ‘copycat’ Thicke. Hmm.

 
 
 
 
 


Stace

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via Monique Lhuillier on Pinterest

 
 

Footnote(s):
  1. Yes, I could tell what song is playing within a millisecond of the opening of a music video. []

On the road: An eclectic playlist

 

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It’s funny how even if you take things one day at time, the clock is ticking faster than ever before. It’s holiday season again here in Indonesia (Ramadan), and most of us are already out of town for a long vacation. Meanwhile, I am just back from a 2-week holiday to China, and will be in town for the whole season to chill and enjoy the clear traffic.

That doesn’t stop me from daydreaming about long trips if I were overseas. I thought back about the time I went on my road trip with 10 during my spring break. Since I haven’t got my driver’s license at that time, my only task was to compile an expansive list of songs to accompany us on the road, while his job was to drive from day to night and sneaking Kapal Api into his system during the wee hours. I had a really fun time choosing songs from my iTunes, and that was also the time I convinced him that progressive trance (like the tunes on this playlist) can sound so euphoric when you’re driving fast on the open highway. Then again, with the roads so clear, it gets a bit dull if you’re only listening to 1 or 2 genres.

So if you’re going to hit the road for the next 3 hours or so, here’s a really chill mix that I made out of various different songs to keep you company. Most of these I’m sure you’ll recognize, because they’re records from the late ’90s on to the turn of the millennium, although there are a couple of special songs that happen to be recent hits. Even if you don’t understand what “愛的就是你 ” or “애인이 생기면 하고 싶은 일” means (neither do I for the latter), I’m sure you’re going to fall in love with the melodic feel I’ve instilled upon you with this playlist.

I know, I know, these cheesy-mellowy tunes may be all too fluffy to take on for so long on the concrete road. Call me starry-eyed, old-fashion, or even boring, but I bet you and your honey will be closer to each other than ever by the time you’ve reached your destination(s).

Now chill, bask in those last rays of sunshine, and listen:

 

 

Now I want to hear from you: Where are you taking yourself this holiday?

 
 

P.S. 20 scenic roads you should drive in your lifetime.

 
 
 
 
 


Stace

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 via UnsplashSamantha Rosenberg Stewart on Pinterest

 

Loving lately: A running playlist to keep your mojo flowing

 

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I thought it’ll be a great idea to share the stuff I’m overplaying while on the treadmill.

They’re on heavy rotation on my playlist right now, and it’s not just because these jams amp me up on those moments my body’s telling me I can’t go on. I play them even when I’m not running, so you can imagine how persistent the melodies stay in my head as I go about my day.

 

 

I think I’ve played Tiësto’s “All of Me” birthday treatment on loop on average for about 10 times a day these days. And yes, these songs are bangin’ only if you’re a fan of EDM. Funny thing is, depending on my mood, I sometimes prefer super slow ballads to keep me going during long runs rather the usual power songs, which tends to go above 130bpm. In those cases I listen to tracks that contain meaningful lyrics just so I can get away from my surroundings and into a more meditative state (something like these girly songs).

Nonetheless, DJ Shah’s “Who Will Find Me” is one of those airy trance classics that I’ll never get bored with, even if it’s been sitting on my favorites list for 6 years. It’s just beautiful.

What songs are you obsessed with lately?

 
 
 
 
 


Stace

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 via Julia benesch on weheartit

 

Here’s a little something for your Monday.

 

Over a week later and I’m still hungover with Jay :p Tunes I listed below were in my head all week, and since it’s dreadful Monday, I want to share the joy with you.

Here’s the 101 on the master of diao: Practically every Mandarin-speaking population have at least heard one song by Jay Chou. The Taiwanese artist plays the piano, guitar, cello, flute, drums, violin, and various traditional Chinese instruments. He makes films, he loves his mother, and he’s cute. Oh yes, and his beverage of choice is a glass of milk.

Other than that, when it comes to music, variety is his nature. His albums always has that one upbeat song, that super emo one that almost always become chart-toppers, and the one with zhong guo feng. Because you’re hearing it from me, I’m gonna say everything he does is great.

Depending on which of these emotions you’d like to get a dose of right now, you can get them from Jay Chou. If you’re a girl and you understand Mandarin (i.e. the lyrics), these songs will work doubly on you. Guys, stay straight.

Without further ado, ENJOY.

 
 

Get happy

 



 
 

Get emo

 



 
 

Get Oriental

 



 
 
 
 
 
 


Stace

 
 

The unforgetable Opus Jay 2013 World Tour in Jakarta

 

WARNING: Deeply affected (read: benumbed) fangirl ahead.

 

Sorry that it took me so long to give you the 411 about this, but … you remember I told you about Jay Chou’s concert in Indonesia? For the first time, like, ever?

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Friday, October 11, 2013, at the press conference of Opus Jay 2013 World Tour in the ballroom of The Media Hotel & Towers.

Well … I went to see him. FOR FREE!!!!!! And Oh. My. God. Like, seriously he’s 帅到要死啊~~ you don’t even have to understand what I just said in Chinese, the point is, my childhood fantasy came true~


 
 

The day before

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L-R: Sean Sudwikatmono of W Productions, Harry Cheung of Kaspersky Lab, my incomparable Jay, and his translator

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG … I mean, Jay Chou is REAL.

I was trembling throughout the press conference while watching him coming to life with every move he makes, walking and talking like a human being. For the first time I saw him in person. Ten years holding his voice close to my mind and heart and soul and I finally saw him in person.

He’s not the usual two-dimensional figure I’ve been fantasizing about since I was thirteen. He’s, like, real, as in 3D – moving, breathing, and completely touchable. Of course I didn’t get to touch him you silly. I mean it’s a good thing ’cause I’ll probably die and go to heaven if I’d poke him, let alone touch him.

Throughout the super short conference, Jay hinted on a couple of stuff to expect in the concert: He will be performing some thirty songs, all of which are the ones he has written himself. That’s still a vague overview, even though Vincent Fang has written more than half of Jay’s ten-year discography. But then I know he won’t be serenading Ai Zai Xi Yuan Qian (愛在西元前) to me anymore.

He also said that this wasn’t the first time he’s been to Indonesia. A long, long time ago, when he was seven years old, his mother once brought him here for a vacay … in Bali.

So yes, besides being his first performance in Indonesia, this was his first time in Jakarta as well.

One journalist asked the one edible thing he’d like to try while in Indonesia, and Jay spoke of the modest cup of java.

“I heard Indonesian coffee is great,” he remarked. Immediately, I thought, this is one of those successful cases behind the excessive advertising of Sumatran coffee beans overseas. Then again, maybe he really digs coffee. A large part of why I always think he’s cute is because he loves milk.

Okay, okay. Maybe I shouldn’t reveal any more trivial information about him on this post. It only shows how much of my teenage years I’ve spent on stalking him.

So basically throughout the Q&A session, journalists asked him casual questions that would serve the general public’s interest. I had a question, but I resisted from raising my hand, because the ONLY thing that was in my head the whole time was … 你到底有没有努朋友?? (Do you or do you not have a girlfriend??)

FYI, he’s always denying about his rumored relationship (and/or marriage) with the beautiful 20-year-old model Hannah Quinlivan. Nevertheless, I’m comfortable living with lying to myself that he’s still single, as over two years of their alleged relationship later there’s still no fool-proof pictures to confirm their relationship.

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I know he doesn’t always look good in pictures. In fact, and I’m brutally honest with this, I thought he’s just another C-Pop star with a garage of emo mementos to share. It’s why the only C-Pop artist I really listen to, like really, really listen to, is Jay Chou.

It’s not just that – by now, my taste in skinny guys with smiley faces have probably been challenged for the umpteenth time … but I don’t care.

I believe anyone who’s seen Jay on these videos would know right away why guys and girls alike would just get head over heels for this artist.

For Pete’s sake, he’s a modern legend of Asia. Ten years from now, if the standard school is to include the ’90s Asian pop culture in their curriculum, I guarantee Jay’s music and his influences would mark a dent on history textbooks.

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Look at that razor-sharp jawline … those dimples … that gentle, mysterious, calm and cool facade!


 
 

The Opus concert

As with everything Indonesian, one of the most unforgetable two hours of my life started late at about 07:40pm -_- But I was just thrilled that the line-up were largely comprised of his old favorites, most of which the lyrics and chords and piano scores I’ve memorized entirely by heart in the past decade, partly because I’m obsessed with him and partly because they’re still good even though I’ve listened to them more than a million times.

The concert opened with the blasting 4D effect technology getting the 12,000-something audience warmed up quickly. Wowed crowds of teenagers and the elderly alike started singing cheers as they chanted wah kao! (哇靠!) repeatedly (from the upbeat chorus of Jing Tan Hao) on Jay’s cue. I won’t go further into the details because I wasn’t taking much notes during the concert (guilty). I made an attempt to list all the songs he performed that night though, which you can see if you scroll down just a bit more.

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This is where I need your help: If you went to the concert as well, please drop a comment and spell out where I’ve gone wrong with the order of the songs, or any other mistake you’ve spotted on my list. This is as far as I can recall:

 

1. Jing Tan Hao (驚嘆號) – Exclamation Mark
2. Long Quan (龍拳) – Dragon Fist
3. Zui Hou De Zhan Yi (最後的戰役) – The Last Battle
4. Na Li Dou Shi Ni (哪里都是你) – Everywhere is You
5. 一路向北 (Yi Lu Xiang Bei) – All The Way North
6. Bu Neng Shuo De Mi Mi (不能说的秘密) – Secret
7. Shuang Jie Gun (雙截棍) – Nun-chucks
8. Ming Ming Jiu (明明就) – Obviously
9. Shi Jie Mo Ri (世界末日) – End of the World
10. Dao Xiang (稻香) – Fragrant Rice
11. Long Juan Feng (龍捲風) – Tornado
12. An Jing (安静) – Silence
13. Jian Dan Ai (簡單愛) – Simple Love
14. Ben Cao Gang Mu (本草綱目) – Compendium of Materia Medica as a beatbox prelude to Gong Gong Pian Tou Tong (公公偏头痛) – Dizzy Eunuch
15. Qian Li Zi Wai (千里之外) – Faraway featuring Beijing singer Liu Chen (Sylvia Stephanie)
16. Qin Hua Ci (青花瓷) – Chinese Flower Pot
17. Dou Niu (鬥牛) – Bullfight / Shui Shou Pa Shui (水手怕水) – Sailors Afraid of Water / Da Ben Zhong (大本钟) – Big Ben
18. A medley of Cai Hong (彩虹) – Rainbow / Gui Ji (軌跡) – Orbit / Niu Zai Hen Mang (牛仔很忙) – Cowboy Is Very Busy / Xing Qing (星情) – Clear Stars / Hui Dao Guo Qu (回到过去) – Go Back To The Past
19. Wan Mei Zhu Yi (完美主義) – Perfectionism / Qiao Ke Shu Shu (乔克叔叔) – Uncle Joker
20. Qing Tian (晴天) – Fine Day
21. Qi Li Xiang (七里香) – Common Jasmine Orange
22. Kai Bu Liao Kou (開不了口) – Cannot Speak
23. Wu Ke Li Li (乌克丽丽) – Ukulele
24. Yang Guang Zhai Nan (阳光宅男) – Sunny Otaku

 
 

Every passing minute of the concert had me stupefied (and perhaps I cried a little) that I went gaga all the way with my lightstick. I know it was two sweet hours (and some more) already, but … I really, really can’t get enough of the guy. 再给我多几个小时的杰倫吧~~~ T_T

You have to see the look in his face – he’s sincerely doing it all for his fans. If I were him I would’ve been easily let down because the seated persons on the VIP and VVIP sections were, compared to the frantic me, quite nonchalant throughout the first half of the concert. There weren’t many from the audience who were fully engaged and singing along with Jay, whereas I was waving at him like there’s no tomorrow, singing as loud and as in tune as I can with him. I just went berserk. Whenever he moved towards his left onstage, near where I was at at the stadium’s top right, I’d melt slowly in his words. My eyes could’ve fooled me, but I must have imagined him seeing me because I was practically hanging in the air, my top half reaching towards him so far as if I was about to fall off the balcony. Like if I could just poke his pecs or something, I’d die.

Putting all fangirl raves aside, I thought I heard short clips of Ting Ma Ma De Hua (听妈妈的话) in the beginning (or was it the end?) of one of these songs, and Yi Fu Zhi Ming (以父之名) somewhere else. But overall I was beyond impressed with the whole sequence. There were segments where Jay specifically promoted his most recent self-directed, self-starring musical, The Rooftop (天台), plus a mime segment, a solo drum performance, a solo electric guitar one, and many more spectacular performances by his accompanying crew.

"The Rooftop" official poster

“The Rooftop” official poster

Even though he’s now making movies and made it to Hollywood these days, and I’m sure many of you longtime Jay Chou fans would feel the same, I hope he will never stop making music in the long run. He was the first guy who brought the Western R&B into a new light – a zhong guo feng light to be exact – and that has never changed in the past ten years of his music career.

One decade is quite a while to keep up with any form of consistency. Not many artists out there, be it the Western thunders or the Eastern counterparts, who have enjoyed the same, if not more respect from their fans for such a long time. Fast forward to the far future: If he still keeps up with his originality in the years to come, I’m sure the whole Mandarin-speaking world will forever remember his legacy.

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Ai Xin & me *peace*

Oh, and one more thing: To follow the footsteps of other Mandarin-speaking countries, Indonesia will welcome Jay with open arms should he return for his future concerts. During the press conference, he expressed his interest in coming back, hopefully for every two years, to entertain his Indonesian fans. Note that the every-two-year part is meant to comply with the touring tradition he’s established for himself. Of the past every-two-year tours, none in which he’s ever gotten the chance to perform in Indonesia. So let’s pray he’ll return for the second time in 2015.

 

Much more better-quality pictures from the amazing Opus concert will appear on next month’s issue of HighEnd Teen magazine, so make sure you get your copy once November rolls around!!! :)

 
 
 
 
 


Stace

 

3 jams I can’t get off my head right now

 

I can still distinctly remember the last time I went clubbing: summer of 2009 – just before my so-called depression era and the year-long absent period.

alex-morph-prime-mover-the-remixes-our-personal-picks-youredmBut for many reasons other than the brazen addictive nature of it, I can’t get trance out of my life.

It’s like therapy even up till now, and I suspect it will last for a very long time. I used to have a really (and I mean, really) wide variety of music on my playlist before trance came along.

Safe to say that I was a totally different person than who I am today. Either that or I’m simply breaking out off the extrovert shell I’ve carefully molded over the years.

But put me on a dancefloor this minute with progressive beats and sync a couple of vocal trance in the background, and I’m off the ultra-tense exterior I now put on every day.

Here are the bombs:

 
 

1. Eternal Flame (Solarstone Pure Remix)
– Alex M.O.R.P.H.

BPM: 136
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Record Label: Armada
USD 1.99 @ Beatport

This is my personal pick from the Prime Mover remixes bundle. I think I could last a full night’s loop of the tune. It’s pure bliss – as if you’re in another world. Like when I danced in heels for a straight 4 hours during AvB’s line up at the 2008 LoveFest Afterparty and remained euphoric throughout. Alex M.O.R.P.H. has a got dozens of remixes I’ve loved throughout his decade-long career, particularly nailing it on his B2B remix of DJ Shah & AvB’s “Going Wrong” with Woody van Eyden, as well as the more recent remix of The Thrillseekers’ super old hit (in trance history), “Synaesthesia“.

 
 

2. Strangers ft. Tove Lo
- Seven Lions with Myon & Shane 54

BPM: 128
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Record Label: Casablanca Records
USD 1.29 @ iTunes

Guess what, this is the first time I spotted a trance tune on a Hollywood movie soundtrack (“Strangers” appears on the “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” official soundtrack)! Also my first time listening to the vocals of Tove Lo, and she’s a different breed from MS54’s usual sidekick, Aruna, though equally ethereal. But I’ve been a longtime fan of MS54’s productions and remixes alike – I voted for them as one of the five spinners on DJMag’s annual Top 100 DJ voting for the last couple of years, though AvB’s still off the charts consecutively. I suggest you start educating yourself with their stuff by subscribing to their FREE weekly podcast, International Departures.

 
 

3. Go It Alone (Andrew Rayel Remix)
- Dash Berlin ft. Sarah Howells

BPM: 132
Release Date: September 2, 2013
Record Label: Aropa Recordings
USD 2.49 @ Beatport

I’ve been in love with Sarah Howells’ voice since Lange’s epic 2008 record, “Out of the Sky”. The Kyau & Albert-remixed version still gives me the chills. Though trance is starting to become mainstream today and I’m all nostalgic about the classics, this is one of the tunes that caught my attention throughout the build-up.

 
What about you? What have you been listening to lately?
 
 
 
 
 


Stace