Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Few of my Favorite Things: Music

Note: This is the longest entry of the “Favorite Things” lists, or indeed, any of my posts. It clocks in at a daunting 2603 words. If you have difficulty comprehending how many words that is, try reading the word “flatulence”. Then, read that word 2602 more times. You now have a good idea of what it’s like to read this post. I’m probably not doing myself any favors by discouraging readers from reading further, but I feel like this is the gentlemanly thing to do.
Music is a funny thing. Like the Spotify ads say, most people like to share their taste in music. Perhaps more than any other medium of entertainment, people seem almost compelled to share songs and artists they like with their friends. There’s a problem with this, however: no one cares. If you’ve ever recommended music to someone, then there’s a very good chance that, unless they requested it from you in the first place, they couldn’t be buggered. I’ve seen many songs in my Facebook news feed, and I’ve listened to almost none of them. I’ve posted a few myself, and know with some certainty that almost no one listened to them. In this way, music is kind of like wedgies: Everyone wants to give them, but no one particularly cares to get them (With a few special exceptions).
With that in mind, I’ll be starting this list, safe in the knowledge that no one will bother to listen. Which is something of a shame, because, unlike most of the things I’ve written lists about so far, music is something that is fairly important to me. Despite this, I can’t seem to be buggered to ever find music to listen to, so I just listen to the music that I hear when I’m doing other things I enjoy. That’s right: about 90% of my music collection comes from soundtracks, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I am basically a hipster. Sorry for not telling you sooner.
Because music is such a tricky, ephemeral thing, I will be making no attempt to put this list in any kind of order. Trying to rank music is like trying to play Mario Party without getting angry: Basically impossible. In a similar vein, this list will be wholly inconsistent. As you may have noticed, the name of this list is “Music”, rather than “Songs”, or “Artists”, or “Soundtracks”. That is because it will probably include all of those things, which is just another reason that I will be making no attempt to list them in ascending or descending order. In addition, despite the fact that this whole list thing is supposed to be about the best stuff of 2012, I will am barely even attempting to include music that’s actually from 2012, because I don’t know much that is. This will be more of my personal list of music that I discovered in 2012, because the world exists only in my mind, and you cannot prove otherwise. And because 2012 was the year I became a weeaboo, I suggest you buckle up, buttercup, because there’s a good chance this will devolve into me talking about anime.
Song: Kyoumu Densen (Another opening theme)
Well, that didn’t take long. I figured that I would list this song first, as it holds a special place in my heart as the opening the first anime I watched, “Another”. Because this list is meant to be about music, and not the various ways in which I was affected by scenes of gruesome death, that’s all I’ll say about the anime.
“Kyoumu Densen” translates to “Nightmare Contagion”, which means that I think we’re off to a pretty good start. It takes some doing to get a song title that sounds more ominous than that. In addition, Wikipedia lists the genre of “ALI PROJECT”, the band(?) that composed the song, as “Neoclassical Darkwave”. Despite having only heard three or so songs under this category, I maintain that it is my very favorite musical genre, just because of how ridiculous the name is.
Well, it just wouldn’t be a real Havoc Mantis post if I didn’t find some way to shoehorn in the “Zero Escape” series. “Virtue’s Last Reward” had a pretty decent soundtrack, but it was mostly good at setting the scene, rather than being the kind of music you listen to in your off-time. The main theme, aptly named “Virtue’s Last Reward” is not like that. Like most great themes, the contents of the song accurately reflect the contents of the source material. For example, both the song and the game are super good. I hope you get used to me describing songs as “super good”, because when it comes to music I like, I usually don’t really have much else to say.
Song: Ave Maria
Most of the songs here, while not being from 2012, are at least pretty recent. Within the past couple of years, at least. Well, that is not the case of Ave Maria. You see, the song was first transcribed in the year 1853, making it even older than your mom. (Way to keep it hip with the kids, Havoc) It was actually played earlier than that. And to make it even more impressively old, it was actually built on top of a song that Bach (His friends called him “JS”) published in 1722 by the catchy name “Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846”, like a clichéhorror movie on top of an ancient Indian burial ground. 
So, why am I including such an old song, if this list is supposed to be about 2012? Well, if you accidentally clicked the link at the beginning of this entry, then you already know the answer. It was in an anime soundtrack, obviously. When my Music Theory teacher played the Bach Prelude as an example of chords or whatever in class, and asked if anyone recognized it, it took all of my awkwardness to prevent me from saying that I recognized it from a cartoon about magical girls. 
Artist: Caravan Palace
And this is where I get to the hard part. Because Caravan Palace is not a soundtrack, I am forced to actually talk about the music, and talking about music is not something that I am qualified to do. So this entry will probably contain copious amounts of beating, and most of it will occur around the bush. 
Caravan Palace is an “Electro-Swing” band from France, because while I may occasionally listen to non-soundtrack music, it absolutely cannot be from America, because that would be letting The Man win. If I had to describe “Electro-Swing”, I’d say it’s kind of like a cross between jazz and dubstep, except I’m not entirely sure what either of those things are, so your mileage may vary. Of all their songs, “Brotherswing” is probably my favorite, which is why I linked it. Caravan Palace was recommended to me by a friend, and it remains one of the only examples of successful music sharing that I have ever observed. They are one of the few entries on this list with English lyrics, though only occasionally does that happen. They seem to be studied disciples of the “Random Word” school of band naming.
And now, I’ll discuss what is likely the only song on this list that you recognize. Because you do recognize it. There’s no reason to lie. Everyone knows this song. There are more people who know this song than there are who know Jon Lajoie, and he is very super famous. More people know this song than there are who know how to eat. Its music video was the first, and so far only, video to hit one billion views on the Youtube. That’s 10^9. That’s more than one view for every 8 people on Earth, and it doesn’t include all the times it’s been viewed on places other than Youtube. Gangnam style was, without a doubt, the most popular song of 2012, and probably one of the most famous songs of all time.
So, why was it so popular? Well, there’s the fact that it was a pretty great song, but quality often has little to do with a song’s popularity, so that alone isn’t enough. Most scholars on the subject agree that the song was propelled to fame by the music video. Specifically, how ridiculous it was

The “horse-dance” also played a large part in Gangnam Style’s meteoric rise to fame, because it’s as easy to do as it is nonsensical. Some K-pop fans claim that this song really brought their genre to the mainstream, but I’m sorry to report that it didn’t. The vast majority of people who saw it considered it a one-off thing, and never investigated any further. I mention this because I enjoy crushing the dreams of K-pop fans, if only because they are a sub-set of the human population.
NOTE: The song that I linked to is not the original Gangnam style. But I’m sure that you didn’t need me to tell you that.
Song: Lilium
Now, it’s time to get back into the swing of things with more soundtrack music. If, for whatever reason, you decide to not follow my link, but Google this song up for yourself, be warned: This is the opening theme for an anime, and that opening has naked female bodies in it.
Is this song great because it has Latin in it, or is Latin in it because it is great? I couldn’t tell you, but I can say with great certainty that Latin vocals are positively correlated with song quality. For another example of this property in effect, listen to the Super Smash Brothers Brawl Main Theme. As we all know, two data points are more than enough to constitute a trend.
Soundtrack: Cowboy Bebop
If you know anything about anime, then you probably know something about Cowboy Bebop. And if you know anything about Cowboy Bebop, you probably know that its soundtrack is masterclass. It might be my favorite soundtrack of all time, its throne contested only by Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and a mystery challenger that you’ll learn about soon. I’m getting pretty tired of writing this post, so I’ll just say “It’s super good”, and leave it at that.
Song: Parity Jam
“Parity Jam” is a mash-up of the Space Jam song (you know the one) and “Parity”, a song from Katawa Shoujo, a “game” that I will likely vehemently deny having ever played if you bring it up to me in real life. In mathematics, “parity” refers to whether a number is even or odd. So the parity of the number “9” is odd. This mathematical definition is relevant to the song for reasons that don’t exist. Now, I could have chosen the original “Parity” for this song, or even just talked about the soundtrack, because it was pretty outstanding. But I didn’t, because this song is an exemplary specimen of mashing up. There’s another mashup of a different KS song that’s pretty good, but I’d prefer not to post it, in honor of MLK day. It’s called “Daylight Like it’s Hot”, if you’re interested.
(Just in case my MLK joke was too subtle, the song contains words that some would find offensive. Words that begin with an N. N-words, if you will. But you didn’t hear it from me.)
Soundtrack: Nichijou
There is no reason for me to include this on the list. This soundtrack is not from 2012; the anime premiered in 2011. I didn’t even first hear it in 2012. I only watched a few episodes before this year. So why am I including it? Because I think I might be in love with this soundtrack, which is more than I can say of any person I’ve ever met. Particularly with the opening theme, the song I linked to. I want to shout the greatness of this soundtrack from the rooftops, but the jury has ruled that I keep it on this blog, instead. The craziest part is that half of what I’m calling the soundtrack never even appears in the show. (I’m assuming. I, um, haven’t actually finished it yet) The totally-reputable source from which I downloaded it included a bunch of “character songs” which, as far as I can tell, are songs sung by characters. And they’re stupid-fantastic. The fact that this song has only about 20,000 views, while many songs that don’t even align with my musical tastes have far more, is a grievous transgression against my soul.
Hyadain, if you’re out there reading this, contact me, and I will find some way to pay you for this. Shut up and take my money. I’m being so sincere right now.
Artist: Kirby Krackle
WARNING: The name “Kirby Krackle” is NOT a reference to Nintendo’s more-hardcore-in-America video game character. It is a reference to Jack Kirby, a comic-book illustrator who was good at drawing dots. Like, good enough at drawing dots to have a technique named after him. So I guess he was as good at drawing dots as Bigby was at having hands.
Unfortunately, I did not have the above warning when I first found Kirby Krackle. You see, I was once the kind of person who had hopes. And one of those hopes was that I could find video game music on Spotify. Now you understand why I am no longer the kind of person who has hopes. Anyway, I typed “Kirby” into the search bar, and found “Kirby Krackle”. One song in particular, “Up, Up, Down, Down”, caught my eye with its video game referencing. I loved video games, and I loved referencing, so I decided to check it out. I was kind of curious as to why more of their songs were about comics than video games, but by the time I learned the awful truth, I liked their songs enough that it didn’t really matter. So remember kids: even if your relationship is predicated on lies, it can survive if you’re good enough at singing. Metaphors are easy.
As you can see, I am the kind of person that likes music, but only if I can use it to feel superior to other people. I could probably go on and on about the opening to every anime I’ve ever watched, but this post has already gotten far too long, even by my terrible standards, so I’ll have to play myself offstage pretty soon. However, before that happens, I’d just like to point out that I thought Gun’s and Roses was a good enough song that I forgave their egregious apostrophe error. If you know me, you know that that’s a big deal.
I’ve burnt up all my memories of 2012 for my lists so far, so it’s likely that this will be the last “Favorite Things” list. However, there’s always the possibility that I’ll find a few spare memories under the couch cushions, so another entry is not entirely out of the question.

Also, if you click all the links, and listen to all the songs, you’re eligible to receive a special prize! To claim your gift, just edit every Wikipedia page to say “Two milkmen go comedy”. Once every page has been vandalized modified, you’ll find your major award in the mail within 3-14 business days.

No comments:

Post a Comment