Category Archives: Artist Love

A Black Sound Selection

Kuroshitsuji II (aka the second season of Black Butler) is finally available this week here in the States. As you can imagine, yours truly is pretty freakin’ stoked. I’ve seen the subbed version, but I can’t wait to hear J. Michael Tatum’s smooth English version of Sebastian as he battles a new boy and his butler. To celebrate, today’s video is a live performance of “Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa,” by Kalafina, which is used in season two. I think it’s fitting since the first season of Black Butler introduced me to this fantastic Japanese band, and my love of one keeps fueling the other. I could listen to these glorious ladies sing all day (and many days I do just that). This video proves that they are just as incredible live as they are on their albums. You can be certain that if the chance ever arises for me to see them in concert, I’ll take it in a black and bloody heartbeat.

Happy hump day, little earbuds. May you find something in this week that gives you just as much joy as this music and my new limited edition DVD give me.

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Acetaminophen, You See The Medicine

I finally made it out to the doctor yesterday to get my sickness taken care of. Unsurprisingly, my ailment is still a mystery. They took some blood (a lot of blood, actually) and they’re running some tests. Hopefully I’ll have an answer soon as to why my digestive system seems to hate me. Until then, I decided to cut the chatter short and bring you a Top 5 list, which I haven’t done in yons. Today’s musical medication: Top 5 Medicinal Songs. Listen twice daily for best results.

5.) Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine

I’ll admit that I’m not a huge Bon Jovi fan. Most of their songs are too “stadium rock” for my tastes. However, this song is pretty rad to blast in the car on a warm summer day with the windows down.

4.) Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!

The Thompson Twins have so much more to offer than just a good song to make out to while sitting on a table above sixteen flaming candles. This is classic new wave awesomeness.

3.) Hooverphonic – Shake The Disease

I was torn between posting this version of Depeche Mode’s frustrated love song or the original. However, I was smitten the first time that I heard Hooverphonic’s excellent cover, so as much as I enjoy any and all things Depeche Mode, I had to give props where props are due. Plus trip-hop is so damn sexy!

2.) The White Stripes – Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine

Arguably the best song on a really stellar album, this track reminds me why I was completely obsessed with The White Stripes for a good chunk of my twenties. And the lyrics are killer.

1.) Garbage – Medication

Garbage are undeniably fierce (I dare you to deny their ferocity!) so as soon as I decided to make this list I knew that this song would be my number one. It really is the perfect musical embodiment of how it feels to be sluggish and in a drug-induced haze, still sick and perhaps even worse off than before you took the pills that the doctor prescribed. One listen is all it takes to hear that Shirley Manson really gets it.

And that’s my Top 5 Medicinal Songs. Being sick really sucks. But great music makes everything just a bit better.

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Musical Grab Bag: It Never Rains

Hello once more, little headphones. I’ve been behind on pretty much everything this week, partially due to illness and partially because I just couldn’t be arsed. Hopefully that second part is due to illness as well and will dissipate as I get better. All of that aside, I had earmarked a delightful musical treat to share with you this week, then I discovered that not only could I not find a video for it, I could barely find any information on the artist! So I decided to make my own YouTube video in order to get this great song out there and onto the internet… but then we have the sickness coming into play, and the tiredness, as well as constant storms keeping me off of the computer. And so, after getting halfway done, once more I just couldn’t be arsed. (Having zero energy and being unable to eat seriously super sucks.)

So for this week’s video I once again decided to play musical grab bag, and only a few clicks in my lovely iTunes provided me with this classic Siouxsie and the Banshees song, “Happy House.” This was one of the first Siouxsie songs that I heard knowing it was Siouxsie; perhaps the very first, now that I think about it. I received it on a mixed tape, and I instantly loved how maniacally playful and creepily happy it was. As I listened to the song again today and heard the line, “It never rains,” I knew that this was my destined tune of the week, as it’s currently quite dark and stormy in my little corner of the world. The video is clearly ancient (in terms of music videos) but we do get Siouxsie Sioux dancing around with her punk/soccer mom hair, harlequin clown outfit, and ugg boots, which certainly makes for an amusing visual. All in all, it makes for a fitting end to a strange week that for me has been filled with insomniac daydreams and tiny cups of watery, unseasoned rice for dinner. Here’s to the end of another week, and may the next one be more fruitful, or at the very least more pleasant.

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Cheer Up, Sleepy Jean

Y’know, I must admit that I was never a huge Monkees fan. Their heyday was a bit before my time, and since I grew up on a remote farm with all of five TV channels (one of them not being MTV) and my parents didn’t get cable until after I left for college, I missed any opportunities to watch reruns of their television show. At present it’s almost difficult to imagine growing up in an era before YouTube and smartphones, but I most certainly did. Luckily I’ve spent my years at college and beyond catching up on all sorts of anachronistic pop culture, though still never checking out the other fab four. In high school I had a friend who was really into The Monkees, and in fact kept insisting that she and I (plus two other friends) needed to begin a similar television show of our own. I just nodded and smiled, because I had no idea what kind of show that would be. And I still don’t, truth be told, other than I imagine it would involve music. Perhaps bell bottoms as well.

Even so, I felt that this week’s video should mark the passing of Davy Jones. When I finally did see a picture of The Monkees, I remember thinking that he was pretty darn cute. Then, after reading up on his life, I can dig where he was coming from. He was a theatre kid who saw The Beatles at the start of their stardom and wanted a piece of the pie for himself. And by gods, he got it, going on to be named the number one teen idol of all time by Yahoo Music in 2008. Not that Yahoo Music necessarily holds much sway in the world of pop culture (at least no more than any other music outlet) but the fact that even a girl on a distant farm who only listened to classical music until she was fifteen years old had heard of him and his band speaks to how far-reaching his stardom was (and still is, and will probably always be).

Sure, everyone’s heard “Daydream Believer.” It’s one of the only two Monkees songs that I can actually name off the top of my head. But damn, I really do love it. It’s simple and sweet and summery, hearkening to some innocent teenage years that never really existed outside of retro movies and Brady Bunch reruns. But we all kind of wanted to go there at some point. That opening piano is so familiar that it kind of lights up your heart from the get-go. You almost have to nod your head or tap your toes or even sing along under your breath as soon as you hear it. It’s universal and far-reaching and incredibly memorable, just like Davy Jones himself. May he rest in peace.

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The Only Girl I’ve Ever Loved Is Andrew In Drag

I’m trying to remember how I first got into The Magnetic Fields. They’re one of those seminal indie bands that you feel like you’ve known forever. I think perhaps I received a few songs on various mixed CDs over the years, but it was the film Pieces of April that made me seek out their albums. I say “their,” but The Magnetic Fields is mostly the genius of one man, Stephin Merritt. The Gothic Archies, The 6ths, and Future Bible Heroes are all his creations, too, but The Magnetic Fields is really where he shines. The simple instrumentation and Merritt’s deep voice highlight the pure poetry of the lyrics, but everything works together so well that it doesn’t feel preachy or boring. Each song is a story, and The Magnetic Fields write some of the most unique and interesting ones in music today.

The newest single from their forthcoming album, Love At The Bottom of the Sea, is no different. This is a song that illustrates how fragile gender lines really are, and how much false facade is involved in what we consider to be “feminine” and “masculine.” However, true to form for The Magnetic Fields, this is also a really sweet and wistful love song. Be warned that there is nudity, so this video is probably NSFW. Without further ado, I give you “Andrew In Drag.”

The lyrics flow in a rhyming poetry, but the story, which is sentimental while making a statement, never gets lost. That’s the beauty of The Magnetic Fields: everything works together, and no one aspect outshines another. Their entire catalogue is full of gems like this, beautiful short songs that are so much fun to listen to. I’ve been a big fan of Merritt’s work for many years, and this video makes me extremely excited for his newest album, which comes out on March 6th. Leave it to one of my favourite musicians to poke fun at gender norms while singing an actual love song!

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One Year Later: I Still Wanna Be Adored

Hello again, little earbuds! Hard to believe that a year and a day ago I began this, my first public blog. (I’ve had various personal blogs, kept private save for close friends, on and off for several years.) I’ll admit, there have been times when I’ve debated shutting it all down in order to concentrate on other writings. Besides that, my anime blog, Otaku Haiku, gets many more hits than this one every day. But I think I’ll keep Hot Pink Headphones going for a while yet. I love music so very much that it’s nice to have a wee place to gush about the videos and artists who bring me such joy. And while passions come and passions go, music was one of my first true loves, and I can never stop listening.

There have been so many amazing artists and songs that I’ve discovered in just the past year alone that it would be difficult to name a favourite. BUCK-TICK spring readily to mind as a huge new and vibrant musical love of mine. Since I first heard their sexy opening theme song for Trinity Blood I’ve been completely head-over-heels for this Japanese visual kei band (and especially for Atsushi Sakurai, their enigmatic David-Bowie-as-vampire lead singer). Just last night I was watching (for the billionth time) the video of abingdon boys school in concert covering BUCK-TICK’s “Dress,” and when special guest Atsushi hits the stage, I get chills as though I’m in that audience, too. Come to think of it, anime has introduced me to all sorts of new and wonderful music (158 new artists, to be exact, according to my iTunes library). Writing my Music For Otakus series was definitely lots of fun, and something that I’ll probably expand soon, seeing as how I watch new anime practically every week.

But it’s not all in with the new and out with the old here. I continue to discover new albums by bands I already love as well as re-discover beloved albums from a few years ago (or even a few decades). And seeing those much-loved artists in concert is always a thrill. I went to many great shows last year, but finally seeing Dolly Parton in concert is probably closest to my heart, and a memory that I’ll always treasure. Then there’s all the amazing fan-made videos, such as this one for “Keep You” by Class Actress (which is my current fav-of-all-time-omg-I-can’t-stop-watching-it fan vid). Come to think of it, with so much incredible music to be seen and heard, how could I ever think of stopping this blog?

Today’s video is, in my humble opinion, very fitting for my one-year anniversary. When I first heard the original song by The Stone Roses back in college, my immediate and only thought was, “This is my life’s theme song.” It was so mellow and cool, but never pleading; the lyrics were a demand, not a request. To this day it remains an important and beloved addition to my musical library. However, just a couple of years ago, one of my favourite modern bands, The Raveonettes, covered the song. The Danish indie rock duo made something already amazing into a dreamy fuzz-fueled haze of musical bliss. To top it all off, if the excellent video doesn’t make you want to hang out with your grandmother or even just have a picnic and lie in the grass, nothing else will. And on that note, I give you The Raveonettes’s version of “I Wanna Be Adored.”

Thank you to any and all little earbuds for reading, and thanks for listening and sharing in these great tunes with me.

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Gone Is Another Day

Another Wednesday, and honestly, all I can listen to is Class Actress. “Keep You” is amazing, but so is the rest of Rapprocher. Even so, another Wednesday calls for another music video. So, in keeping with the electronica vibe, today’s song of choice is a dream pop ditty that I haven’t listened to in a while but recently re-discovered it thanks to the glorious shuffling of my iTunes. I remember that I couldn’t stop playing School of Seven Bells when I first got their debut album, Alpinisms. This song, “Half Asleep,” was the reason for that initial purchase. After I saw this video on Logo’s NewNowNext video block, I was immediately entranced with the dreamy vocals and upbeat synths that sound like showers of glitter exploding at every chorus. There’s so much movement in both this video and this song that it always makes me want to dance or swim or fly on an airplane; basically it feels like diving into the great flow of life. It’s completely enchanting, which is why I’m sharing it with you today.

I had the fortune of seeing the band members in concert when they were touring with Interpol in 2004, though at the time Benjamin Curtis was with Secret Machines and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza were part of On!Air!Library!. Later on I was lucky enough to see them together as School of Seven Bells at Moogfest in 2010 (sans sister Claudia, who had recently quit). Let me tell you right now that they are just as glorious live as on their albums. It was a powerful performance, one that commanded attention even in the hippie hustle and bustle that is Moogfest. I adore their second album, Disconnect from Desire, and I eagerly await their forthcoming release, Ghostory, due in spring of this year. However, this song was the initial seed from which my undying love for this amazing band bloomed, and no matter how many times I go running after a new musical crush, I always find it blissful to return to the dreamy waters of “Half Asleep.”

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I Wanna Keep You In My Heart

Happy February, little earbuds! The one-year anniversary of this blog is fast approaching alongside V-Day. I can hardly believe it!

Today’s video of choice isn’t just a gem, it’s an absolute diamond in both visuals and sound. I first came upon Class Actress when it was simply Elizabeth Harper, when her sweet and lovely ditty “Let Me Take You Out” was featured on a random collection of indie songs that I found on iTunes. Fast-forward to hearing the same song on The Vampire Diaries, only this time the artist was listed as Class Actress. I enjoyed the song so much that I had to download the rest of the EP, Journal of Ardency, and let me tell you, if it had been an old-fashioned record, I would have worn through the vinyl. As light and charming as “Let Me Take You Out” was, that’s how retro-electronic and sexy the other four songs were. After a year’s wait, Class Actress finally released a debut full-length album, Rapprocher, and the stunning first single is today’s video: “Keep You.”

I’ll admit that I wasn’t immediately taken with the song, but after only a couple of listens the snappy bass lines and 80s synths had firmly wriggled their way into my brain. I find myself thinking of the song and humming it (both aloud and in my head) quite often. It’s slick and insidious and completely addicting. I thought that it couldn’t get any better, but then I found this fantastic fan-made video featuring clips from a French 60s movie called Anna. I’ve never seen the film, but the colourful mods, random dancing, and dark looks from the leading man all fit the song incredibly well. I love awesome fan videos, and this is one of the best by far. It just makes the song that much more intoxicating, and the only cure for this hangover is listening to more Class Actress! I sincerely hope that synthpop is making a comeback, because if this is the wave of the future, it’s truly music to my ears.

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The Lovers, The Dreamers, And Me

Due to NaNoWriMo I got behind on my trips to the cinema, but last weekend I finally made it out to see my first film of 2012, The Muppets. I was so glad that I took the time to see it in the theatre, because it brought back so many great memories of being young and loving Kermit, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy. Yet thanks to the numerous star cameos and song numbers, it was the same Muppets that we all know and love, but updated for a modern 2012 audience. They even included a fresh version of the classic Kermit ballad “The Rainbow Connection,” which was originally from the first Muppet film, The Muppet Movie.

I’d forgotten how poignant and amazing this song is until I saw it performed again in the movie. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1979, which was also the year that I was born, so I have literally had the Muppets in my life throughout my entire life. The most recent Muppet movie made me think yet again about how much I miss Jim Henson. His creative, innovative, and distinctive work plays a role in every film and television show that was wonderful from my childhood.

From Sesame Street to The Muppet Show to two movies that remain in my top ten films of all time, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, his stories and creatures remind me of everything awe-inspiring that I, as an adult writer, try to recreate in my work today. I try to write stories that are inclusive of everyone, and magical, and innocent, and full of wonder. Tall order, I know, but that’s what Jim did, and if I can manage to impart to the world even a fourth of what Henson instilled in my own life, I’ll consider myself a blazing success. Listening to “The Rainbow Connection” is the same feeling I get when I pet my cats, or hang out with my dad, or visit Disney World with my family: those hopeful, joyous times.

Anime gives me some of that magic, as do many of the musical artists that I’ve found over the years. But I’ll always come back to Jim Henson whenever I need to remember what it is that I’m doing and what message I’m trying to share with the world. Jim Henson read my heart, and the best way that I know how to honor his visionary art is to share my heart with the world.

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In The Shining Future

So it’s now 2012. Some say it’ll be the end of the world. But in tarot, the Death card doesn’t symbolize an end, just a new beginning. Perhaps that’s what the Mayans foresaw. Personally I wouldn’t mind changing a few things in my own life. But as we all know, change is hard. At least it is for me, as I’m quite the sentimental type. But I want to change my life for the better. I want to accomplish so much, and the time for waiting for things to fall into place is long gone.

For my first video of 2012, I’d like to share Kanon’s beautiful ballad to friendship, romance, and new beginnings. “Brand New Breeze” is the opening to La Corda d’Oro: Primo Passo (a shoujo anime that I just finished watching today, and I must say, it’s already become one of my favourites).

At first listen it sounds kind of retro and pop-sweet, but the more that I listened to it, the more enamored I became with both this song and the phenomenal Kanon (whom I have gushed about before on this blog). I find myself singing it often, and I especially love listening to it whenever I’m melancholy. It cheers me up instantly and gives me that hopeful feeling that anyone who has previously read this blog knows I crave every now and again. I feel as though I need a brand new breeze in my own life, especially as an air sign. I need to clear the atmosphere and finish projects and begin new projects and get things done and move forward. It’s a terribly daunting task for me, but whenever I hear this song I feel as though it’s okay, I can do what needs to be done.

La Corda d’Oro inspires me to pursue my passions, and this song is a gentle and lovely reminder that anything can, and will, happen. Happy new year, little earbuds.

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