Tag Archives: Queen

Journey To The Centre of Yourself Showcases A Chronological Story

1 Nov

Most people have online archives documenting their teenage angst and coming of age stories, but H! documents alot of his through Journey To The Centre of Yourself. A song on this album that stands out is Chasing What You Don’t Want and Life’s Too ShortChasing What You Don’t Want goes over heartbreak, but keeps it in a matter of fact way, rather than telling too much of a melancholy tale. Life’s Too Short is not only an emotional track, but one that promotes hope through life’s struggles. The electronic tune in the background of this song adds even more layers to the musical scenery. “These are the words that I’d go back and tell myself don’t let go and savor every breath you take along the way”. This packs an inspirational punch in light of being trapped and struggling through certain periods of your life. Alongside the creative license H! takes in constructing his music, his album cover of storyboard frames he illustrates gives listeners a new level of seeing an artist connect to their work.

For more listening:

 

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The Music of GTA 5

25 Sep

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the beauty of the Grand Theft Auto soundtracks. Now that a little game called GTA 5 has been released, it seems like a good time to analyse the music of Rockstar’s latest masterpiece.

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(A quick side note first – rather annoyingly, the in-game radio stations often get obscured by screeching tires and fleeing pedestrians as you’re driving. Feel free to adjust the volume for the radio stations in the Settings menu to make sure you can always hear them.)

West Coast hip hop classics are well represented in the tracks, as a throwback to San Andreas. Dr Dre’s “The Next Episode” is the first track you hear as you begin the game. Most of the songs on here veer towards the lighter side of G-Funk spectrum, being good songs to cruise along the highways to rather than gang anthems. Dr Dre’s associates like Snoop Dogg and NWA are also included several times. The station is even hosted by DJ Pooh, a real life producer who’s worked with many of the artists himself.

Contemporary hip hop is also out in force. The golden child of LA’s real life rap scene, Kendrick Lamar, is featured on not one but three songs, including Jay Rock’s great “Hood Gone Love It”, which was used to soundtrack Franklin’s trailer. There are also tracks by up-and-coming stars A$AP Rocky and Tyler the Creator.

Los Santos Rock Radio plays a constant stream of classic rock and pop from the 70’s and 80’s, including my favourite song from the game so far, “Radio Gaga” by Queen. This ode to the golden age of radio works brilliantly in a game where you will spend so much of your time listening to it. It also shows the game’s sense of fun, compared to the dour, serious GTA IV. You can also hear the likes of Stevie Nicks, Elton John and Phil Collins on this station.

As always, Rockstar takes pleasure in placing obscure genres and artists in its games. For example, Radio Mirror Parks plays non-stop ‘indietronica’, while Soulwax FM specialises in ‘fidget house’. Thanks to the games improved-radio system (just hold down a button to select the station and see what song’s playing), you’ll always know what you’re listening to, so you can find it again later.

If like me you loved San Andreas’s country station, K Rose, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s back in the form of Rebel Radio. I’ve not had much time to listen to it as you can only get it when out in the country, however I predict there will probably be some hidden gems on it, and also some intentionally terrible ones.

With 240 licensed songs, the entire soundtrack would take you days to listen to even without all the exciting things happening in Los Santos. If you somehow get bored of this wealth of music, there are even two hilarious talk radio stations to listen to. All of this adds up to one of the richest gaming experiences ever. If I’ve missed out your favourite song (which I probably have), share it below. Hey, it’s a free excuse to play more GTA!

A New Bohemian Rhapsody

3 Jul

This is American Idol alumnus Adam Lambert performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” with Brian May and Roger Taylor in Kiev, Ukraine a few days ago. Lambert is playing the impossible part of lead-singer Freddie Mercury during a mini-tour with Queen. If anyone is fit to play the part of Mercury, though, it is Adam Lambert. He has been compared with the late theatrical crooner since he auditioned for Season Eight of American Idol with the famous Queen song that he is seen performing above. So, I guess the question is, how does he compare with the original? The answer is simple. He doesn’t. It is impossible to echo Mercury unless you are Mercury. Since that is now impossible, we must rely on videos, like the one behind Queen as they before in Kiev and the one of Mercury I saw during the performance of the play “We Will Rock You” in London this past June. We can ask, though, how he does in his own right? Overall, I’d give him an eight out of 10.

Freddie Mercury’s voice was unparalleled in his particular genre. He was able to sing with a rock grunt and manipulate his voice in such a way that the song came out smooth, effervescent, and effortless. He also had a naturally high voice and demonstrated such extraordinary range that he was able to  successfully hit notes that fell all over the spectrum. In my opinion, his voice may just be the best (if not one of the best) rock voices ever to be recorded. “Bohemian Rhapsody,”  written by Mercury for the 1975 album A Night at the Opera is his chef d’oeuvre. The song is delightfully theatrical and Mercury’s voice shines, ranging from pugnacious to tearful. It is one of the most masterful examples of singing I have ever heard in a rock song. Hence, it is difficult to reproduce on any level.

Adam Lambert certainly has the “type” of voice to sing the song. It actually does have a similar quality to Mercury’s. It is theatrical. That is a good start. But, in a remarkably similar fashion, it is tremendously controlled. Lambert certainly considers his voice an instrument of power. That actually is some of the problem with this rendition. It is a little too grunty. I find that when a singer cannot reach a particular note (whether the note is too high or just too difficult) they grunt and quickly end the note as to not highlight the inability. This most certainly could have been because it was live. Mercury, himself, sang the opening of the song in short bursts similar to Lambert. I am not saying Lambert’s voice is incapable. He has one of the better rock voices out there today (despite the fact that he continues to release mainstream music – he is in the wrong genre!) He is simply not Freddie Mercury. Listen to the famous scaramouche commedia dell’arte operatic part where Lambert drops out in favor of a light show (like in old Queen Rhapsody performances with Mercury) and Mercury is heard on a recording. Yes, it is a mastered recording so that must be taken into account. If you do listen to Mercury perform the song live, though, you can just hear the buttery smoothness of his voice. It is perfection and while Lambert may be one of the only singers out there that can do this song justice anymore, he cannot hit Mercury’s vocal precision.

However, Lambert absolutely destroys the rock breakdown. He flat-out breaks the song open. He also puts on such an incredible show with Brian May on stage. The interactions are fresh and exciting. Lambert hits a high note, owns it, and then continues rising into this classic rock screech that sends shivers down your spine. Then the song quiets down and, in a similar fashion to the London show “We Will Rock You,”  Freddie Mercury’s hologram ends it. That was the best part of the song and Lambert showed he belongs.

I give Lambert an eight because I feel that he held back a little bit – perhaps because he still wants to settle into the role – and I can’t wait to hear him belt it.

First Stop: London

22 Jun

The Clash proclaimed quite popularly in their 1979 punk masterpiece that they were “London Calling.” I have perverted the angst demonstrated in that song and will now use it for my own tourist purposes. Yes, I too was London Calling, but as an American who had never been to The Big Smoke. Wow, that’s an outdated nickname, ain’t it. Rebecca, my girlfriend, and I took off on June 1 (conveniently missing the Mets first no-hitter later that night…I don’t want to talk about it) and landed in London early June 2 to cloudy skies and light rain (which would follow us around like a dog throughout our stay…and most of our trip elsewhere). But we were troopers and with umbrellas at ready went out to explore London by way of tourist bus and London underground. Our first impressions? Rainy, but soaked in antiquity and culture. It also didn’t hurt that we visited London (unintentionally) during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which provided us with a full-on display of British celebration and culture.

While this post does not have much to do with music, I thought you might find our stop in London interesting. I also think you might enjoy a taste of Paris and Berlin over the next few days. Talking about taste.

Is there any better picture to start out with. You know I am an American when my box of fried goodness is loaded with the sticky rouge of ketchup. Notice the variety and straight-up disorderly jumble of my little artistic food picture above. In a way it describes our culinary experience in London. We had Sardinian cuisine, British staples like fish and chips, pies, and pasties, Indian food, and Chinese cuisine at Chinatown at 11 p.m. We crisscrossed cultures and broke down culinary boundaries. Actually, we didn’t. See, that’s the thing with London. It is so ethnically diverse and culturally open. It reminded me of New York in many ways. Hmm…I wonder why. New York was named after the Duke of York, a title of nobility in the British peerage. New York in many ways is like London’s cool nephew. I felt at home in London, more so than in Paris and Berlin (perhaps that’s because they spoke English).

You knew you were getting an image of Abbey Road

There I am in my Grateful Dead zip-up grinning like a fool. It’s funny. Now that I look back at this photo it actually seems photoshopped. I assure you it’s not. Rebecca and I took the trek west of Regent’s Park to Abbey Road. It was quite the trek, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was completely worth it. Like I am sure you all know, this intersection is still an active roadway. Can you imagine having to drive on that street to get to work everyday and having to deal with starry-eyed tourists walking back and forth like idiots to imitate the Beatles. Damn Beatles! I’m not going to lie, besides from thinking about getting run over by a car, I was humming a little ditty to myself as I walked quickly on the beaten white lines. It went a little like this:

Like I said earlier, the Diamond Jubilee transversed our time in London. It was quite exceptional seeing all the preparation for the celebration of the Queen’s 60 years of reign, only the second time a Jubilee has reached diamond status (other was Queen Victoria in the 19th century) since the British monarchy began with Offa the Mercia in the late eighth century (even though some consider the true beginning to be with William the Conquerer in 1066…even though the kingdom of Wessex is the first kingdom to unite England after beating the Mercians in the ninth century (okay I will shut the hell up).

The Fish and Chips photo from above came from the day of the Thames River Pageant which saw thousands of individuals crowd bridges and traffic-less streets to view the procession of boats (including the royal barge) down the Thames. Big video boards showing histories of the Queen on repeat lined the streets. People walked around in suits of the British flag and sang God Save the Queen (I’m serious).

There was also a concert during the five-day celebration at Buckingham Palace that was streamed to various viewing areas like Hyde Park. Here is a picture of my girlfriend before we dug into a vegetarian pie. It was delicious. But through it all my favorite memory from London was something we saw that was not even in London.

That is my beautiful girlfriend and I in front of Stonehenge, the famous pre-historic rock something-or-other built by people who lived on the land that is now the English county Wiltshire anywhere between 3000-2000 BCE. Yes, the rocks are old and they also make extraordinary pictures.

See…I told you

Damn group of people to the right of the picture. I should photoshop them out. What is so intriguing about this rock formation, besides its age, is that no one is quite sure what the formation was. A temple? Was it a clock? Or perhaps…aliens? They are all theories, and besides the last one they are all reputable notions. Since the people did not keep written records (but they were able to master dragging rocks from hundreds of miles away to this spot) we will never know for sure.

It also was pretty funny that the first time we saw blue skies was at Stonehenge.

Rebecca and I made sure to catch some theatre on our last night in London. We chose to see a rock musical based on the music of Queen because, well, we both love the music of Queen. The music was killer (like the title pun, lol) and it made for a great last night in the city.

So there you have it. London. Next Stop: Paris. Before we get there, here is an image of the Tower Bridge.

Bye for now London

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