I Have Come To Know Him, And He Is Immortal

Okay, music lovers, it’s 2012, which means that by now we know a few things about this crazy ol’ world. It’s generally accepted that the Earth is round, and that the moon is not made of cheese. In the event of a nuclear apocalypse, cockroaches will inherit the earth. Sharks are terrifying unless it’s Shark Week, in which case they are terrifyingly awesome. We also know by now that vampires are really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Oh sure, horror movies dating back to 1922 will try to tell you otherwise. I mean, Max Schreck made a fantastic Nosferatu, but seduction was not widely considered to be his forte. However, literature has taught us over the course of centuries that real vampires are drop-dead sexy. Seduction is their thing; it’s the way they lure in their prey. Ugly vampires are great for scary stories, but they don’t really function well in the real world. To survive over the centuries, vampires would have to either start their undead lives as breathtakingly gorgeous or evolve to become so, because humans are shallow creatures and tend to not automatically kill pretty things. This fact alone first alerted me to today’s topic: Atsushi Sakurai, the lead singer of BUCK-TICK, is actually a real-life vampire.

It’s not my place to “out” anyone here, but surely I can’t be the only one who’s noticed it. I mean, just look at him. (Yes, that is a link to my personal Pintrest board dedicated to Atsushi. Someone had to do it, why not me?) He’s lovely when he’s younger, but what’s really interesting is that he actually seems to be getting better-looking with age. According to Wikipedia, he’s supposedly forty-six years old. No human looks that good at forty-six. No one. It’s almost as though Atsushi is ageless. What kind of humanoid creature is ageless? Well, that’s easy. Vampires are ageless.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “literature is filled with all sorts of immortal humanoid creatures, from faeries to ghosts to gods to, well, immortals! How do you know Atsushi isn’t one of those?” Fair play, and I commend you for being so well-versed in otherworldly creatures. I have more facts that point specifically to vampirism, but for now I’ll share with you exactly what made me 100% certain that Atsushi is a vampire. That, friends, is the English translation of the lyrics to the stunning BUCK-TICK song “Kuchizuke:”

Will you say that we can love… love each other? I’ll cover your lips
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

We can love… love each other surely, stabbing into the nape of your neck
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

I can’t ever return again, but that’s okay
I stare into the middle of the night and drink my wine dry

We’ll love… love each other more, seeming to go mad in our intense thirst
Close your eyes and give me a sinful kiss

Your scent drives me mad
I wake up in the middle of the night and drink insanity and love dry

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll get confused and waver
It’ll turn eternal before long, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

Your scent drives me mad
I wake up in the middle of the night and drink insanity and love dry

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll get confused and waver
It’ll turn eternal before long, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

Come here into my arms, “The darkness over there is bitter”
You’ll smile a little
With this, it’ll turn eternal, “The darkness over here is sweet”
I’ll pierce you deeply

I started to highlight all of the lines that pointed to vampirism, but really, the entire song fits. A sinful kiss, like a vampire’s bite, stabbing into the nape of your neck. Seeming to go mad in our intense thirst…your scent drives me mad (vampires have a heightened sense of smell, as all vamp literature aficionados know)…the darkness over here is sweet (y’know, vampires and eternal night)…I’ll pierce you deeplywith this it’ll turn eternal…it really couldn’t be more clear. This song is Atsushi’s declaration to the world that he is what we’ve suspected: a vampire. He’s the real life embodiment of Anne Rice’s Lestat, a vampire rock star who’s pretending to be a human who is pretending to be a vampire. It’s the oldest trick in the book, and a very good one at that. If you watch any video of a BUCK-TICK performance, you can see Atsushi clearly feeding off of the energy of the crowd. He feigns indifference, but that just makes the audience crave him even more, building up to a frenzy.

BUCK-TICK very rarely play outside of Japan, and I have discovered the reason for this. One time, during a photo shoot in Nepal, Atsushi became deathly ill. He proclaimed that if he was going to die, he wanted to die in Japan, and so he was rushed back to his homeland. Once there, he miraculously recovered. Atsushi was ill, but he recovered once he was on his home soil. Hmm, who does that sound like? Oh yes, Dracula, another fellow who always had to have some of his home soil near him. Dracula kept his home soil in his coffin when he traveled in order to retain his full power. Atsushi simply chooses never to step foot off of his. (For more about this actual event in BUCK-TICK history, please see this article.)

Atsushi enjoys dark music, movies, and styles, yet he’s also secretive and hard to know, according to bandmate Hisashi. He love cats and red wine, both of which are favored by Goths and vampires alike. He also loves Bauhaus and David Bowie. Come to think of it, Bauhaus first hit it big with their single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which was used in the opening to the vampire movie The Hunger, starring David Bowie. Is it a coincidence that vampiric bits of pop culture seem to flock to Atsushi? BUCK-TICK provide the opening song for the anime Trinity Blood, which is about vampires. They also provided a song for Nightwalker, about a vampire private eye. More recently “Kuchizuke” was used as the opening song for Shiki, a horror anime that I have yet to see (but very much want to). Here’s the description for that series: “All hell breaks loose as the villagers discover their loved ones’ corpses are rising from the grave with an insatiable thirst for human blood.” What does that sound like? Yeah, thought so.

Obviously I’m not the only person who sees Atsushi’s paranormal side as plain as moonlight. A quick search for his name on YouTube and a great fan video pops up showing clips of Atsushi set to Lady Gaga’s “Monster.” Excellent song choice, fantastic Atsushi shots, and oddly telling, if you ask me. “He ate my heart,” indeed. Also, have you seen the video for BUCK-TICK’s “Romance?” (Hopefully you have if you’ve been reading this blog, as I’ve posted it before.) Unreal. The man is dark, the man is sensual, the man is, quite clearly, an immortal being obsessed with blood. And I, for one, am here to speak in his favor. If you’ve ever felt bad because you see someone who just seems to be way more awesome than everyone else, take heart. That person is probably not a “person” at all, but a vampire. And those immortal creatures (especially Atsushi himself) are more than welcome to come drink the red, red wine with me any day.

Here’s one more BUCK-TICK song to get you through the week ahead, little earbuds: their dark and delicious ditty, “Gessekai.” Enjoy, and don’t let the vampires bite. (Or do, if that’s your thing.)

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All Hail The Goddess

In my attempt to make the slated vampire post promised in the last entry the best blog post EVER, I have psyched myself out of writing it for several days, to the point that it is now long overdue. (You’ll understand why once I finally get that sucker posted. And it WILL HAPPEN, by Thor!) Last Tuesday I debated putting it off for another week in order to have a ranty post about The Voice, the reality singing show that was supposed to be so different (and actually kind of was during the first season) but is now as bloated and over-promoted as American Idol could ever dream to be. But honestly, who cares? Tony Lucca didn’t win, meaning I can watch season three if I so feel like it. (I swore that if he won I would never watch another season. I don’t know the guy personally, but between his sh*tty smiles and crappy vocals, the guy just comes off like a douche-wagon. Xtina seemed to be the only coach that realized it, too, so watching her call him out on his mediocre song renditions week after week was amusing.)

Even so, I took too long as I waffled between vampires and reality show rantings, and now it’s Mother’s Day. (Ignore my back-dating for organizational purposes: in the States it is indeed Mother’s Day today.) And I just can’t bring myself to finish writing a post about smexy vampires on Mother’s Day. Not that there aren’t some rad mommas out there who wouldn’t appreciate a nice entry with some bite to it! Mother’s Day, and mothers in general, aren’t all about clichéd flower bouquets, heart lockets, and gift baskets from Bath & Body Works that smell of Sweet Pea and Moonlight Path. (Though there’s nothing wrong with it if that happens to be the stuff that she actually likes.) Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and have all varieties of preferences and passions. We need to remember that the term “mother” isn’t a blanket statement that automatically explains every facet of a woman’s life. It’s a term for a female caretaker, but it shouldn’t overshadow the individual person upon whom the title is bestowed. Today is the day to honor all the mothers in your life, especially the ones who really excel at the difficult job in question, be it your own mother, your grandmother, your friends who are mothers, or even yourself. I honor my mother, and all mothers, the best way I know how: with music.

Alanis Morissette’s “Heart of the House” has me in tears every time I hear it. I’ll never forget how it showed the rebellious teenage version of me that mothers are people, too.

And I had to include “I’m A Mother!” by The Pretenders, which reminds us all just how badass you have to be to be a mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there (especially to my own!).

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Every Time You Overdose I Rush To Intensive Care

Hello again, little earbuds. Sorry I’m running a bit behind this week: I got started celebrating Cinco de Mayo early. (By that I mean that I spent yesterday evening cooking Mexican food and hanging out instead of blogging; you thought I meant that I was hungover, right?) Anyway, I had a totally different blog entry I was working on for this week, and it’s still in the works. However, I’ve also been inspired to begin a new writing project. It literally came to me in the night and kept me from sleep early in the a.m. of May first. I love creative projects that take hold of you and won’t let you go until you answer their call. Heaven knows I need an aggressive Muse, otherwise the call of TV, video games, and general internet faff sinks its claws into me and I have massive trouble escaping.

This new writing project is all about a certain quest I’ve had in my life that I’ve now given up on, so I’m exploring what put this fervent desire into my head in the first place. I go on to chronicle the ups and downs, the near successes and inevitable failures I’ve had on this quest. I might publish it online, because maybe some other readers out there will be able to identify with me. Maybe some won’t, but still, it’s something I need to do right now. When the Muse calls, I answer! Well, today, before I began working on the new blog entry, I sat down and wrote about my most recent (and possibly most devastating) failure, the one that shut down the dream factory for me, as it were. I didn’t intend to, but of course I got pretty melancholy as I remembered in painful detail how high my dreams got before they fell crashing and flailing to the depths below. I was writing in silence, and I got so depressed that I had to stop writing and just hit “shuffle” on iTunes to try to drown out the sad memories overtaking my brain. The music was okay, nothing particularly great… and then The Raveonettes just shook me out of my funk completely.

I love this band and I love this song, but for some reason I hadn’t heard it in yons. And then to have it burst forth from my speakers when I was feeling so low, and to be such appropriate music for what I was thinking about, too, was amazing. The situation I was writing about was indeed my “last dance” with this particular dream. I was overdosing on nostalgic bitterness and heartache, and The Raveonettes provided intensive musical care. It’s such a joyful and sweet song, I couldn’t help but feel my spirits lift as I sang along.

So instead of my planned post for this week I decided to bring you yet another true tale of the power of music. When things get crappy, I hope that you have a song or two that you can turn to, dear reader, in order to overcome the crap and get back to feeling awesome again.

Next week: A real-life vampire brought to light! You don’t wanna miss this!

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99 Problems (With Trying To Share Music)

As you know, little earbuds, I love sharing music. In college I had a brief stint as a radio DJ, and though I had to play certain songs, I was allowed to choose my own music about once an hour. It was brief, but delightful, to both hear my beloved songs as well as share them with the world (or the three college kids listening at the time, but still). I’m very grateful that YouTube exists so that I can share even more music via this blog, and yet, it can be a bit dicey. Sometimes there isn’t a video for a song that I’m looking for, and quite often older links are taken down. Hence I was extremely excited when I saw that Spotify is now an option for sharing songs on WordPress. The videos are a nice addition, but sharing the songs is the most important part in my book.

And so, I created a Spotify account and was all set to embed songs… when I realized that in order to hear the songs that I post, you, the reader, must also have a Spotify account. That wasn’t what I had in mind, and I was very disappointed with this realization. I mean, my whole mission statement is about music’s universality! What about readers who don’t have Spotify accounts, or can’t get them because of where they live? This led to me spending the afternoon seeking out “a better way.” I downloaded a new and experimental program that looked great but is so new and experimental that I couldn’t figure out how to add any songs to my blog. I looked into using my Last.fm account to share songs, then, when I wasn’t satisfied with those results, I looked into even more programs of a similar nature. Finally I signed up for Rdio, which is similar to Spotify, except that you can actually hear a thirty-second preview of the songs I share here if you don’t have a Rdio account. (And if you do have an account, you get the whole song.)

I’m not super pleased with any of the results. I like the idea of Spotify most of all, because I can share directly from my music library (no more fruitless YouTube searches!). Many of my Facebook friends already use it, but I don’t want to exclude anyone who doesn’t. Then there’s Rdio, which has a very nice set-up for sharing entire playlists, but with this option you only get thirty seconds of a song. Better than nothing, I suppose. Or I could stick with the tried-and-true YouTube videos until something better comes along. What do you think? Which version of Hugo’s cover of “99 Problems” works best for you?

Spotify: Looks good, but only useful for Spotify members.
http://open.spotify.com/track/7hN5TKSdRb56uytwIpcUES

Rdio: Nice and sleek, but only thirty seconds? Boo.

YouTube: Good ol’ YouTube. If links didn’t disappear so often, I wouldn’t even bother looking elsewhere.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmy113gMds0

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The Vocaloid Army, Or How I Learned To Love The Machine

Before I played TinierMe, I had never heard of a Vocaloid before. I remember looking at people’s trade lists and seeing that they’d written, “My Vocaloid items are never for trade!” and wondering what in the heck that meant. Now, after playing TinierMe for more than a year, I finally know what a Vocaloid is. Technically speaking, it’s a Japanese singing synthesizer that eliminates the need for a vocalist. You decide on the melody and lyrics, and once you’ve added that, the Vocaloid program generates the singing for you using previously recorded vocals from a singer or voice actor. There are many different Vocaloid  programs, and each has a specific voice type as well as a character created for it. For example, the most popular is Hatsune Miku, the first Vocaloid. She’s so popular that she’s actually become a pop idol in her own right.

The way I see it, Vocaloids are like a combination of Garageband and Gorillaz. They can be utilized to create music in a studio environment, or they can be idolized as pop singing sensations and even perform concerts. Some musicians such as Michael Stipe have stated that the idea is brilliant because it would enable a current musician to preserve her or his voice and continue making new music despite the ravages of time. As for me, I’m not so sure. Preserving great voices is a good thing, and I quite like the way that Garageband allows novice musicians the chance to create something special on their home computers without having to access a full band or studio. But when it comes to vocals, I’m a bit of a purist, probably due to the fact that I’m a singer. I like the energy of live vocals as well as the little hitches and breaths that make each singer’s performance unique. Whitewashing all of that away into a smooth and seamless computer-generated voice takes a bit of the fire out of the music for me.

And yet, I now have two songs in my music library that were created using Vocaloids, and I really love them. They crept up on me, as I found them by chance, and when I purchased the first I didn’t even know that it was a Vocaloid until I tried to look up information on the artist. Turns out that both songs feature Megurine Luka, the third Vocaloid, and the one billed as the “cool, somewhat mysterious” character. It makes sense that Megurine Luka would be the one to show me the Vocaloid light. I kept listening to bits of Hatsune Miku’s songs and not really loving any of them because she’s just too precious for my tastes. But since my two purchases I’ve gone on YouTube and discovered several Megurine Luka songs that I rather enjoy. And that’s what I’m sharing with you today, little earbuds. The first is a jaunty little tune called “Hurt,” and I love the opening harpsichord, then the bouncy strings paired with the dark lyrics:

The second is a song called “Love Is War” that has been covered by many different Vocaloids, but I like Megurine Luka’s version the best:

And so I’ve come to terms with the Vocaloid army. I can enjoy both the electronic, somewhat robotic vocals of the Vocaloids as well as good ol’ fashioned singers singing. As long as neither outweighs the other and all options are available to me, I say the more, the merrier when it comes to music.

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K-Poppin’ Fresh Tunes

Hello again, little earbuds. By this point in my blog I’ve written several entries about Japanese music, from traditional to J-pop to J-rock to anime soundtracks. However, over the past few months I’ve begun mixing in some Korean dramas along with my usual diet of all things anime. Just last week I finished an excellent one called City Hunter. (In fact I wrote a review of it yesterday over on Otaku Haiku. Feel free to have a read.) As happens with anime and J-pop, invariably if you watch Kdrama, you’ll start to pick up K-pop along with it. The genre is still very new to me, and everything I have thus far I’ve gleaned from my Kdrama-obsessed sister, but what I’ve heard, for the most part, I’ve quite liked. Hence today’s two videos are some Korean pop songs that I’ve been enjoying lately. The first is a song from the City Hunter soundtrack called “You & I” by Rainbow. The video is a fan tribute to the drama from whence it came. I like that the song is a bit more mellow than a lot of over-the-top pop that I’ve heard, yet it’s still bouncy and upbeat.

The second tune is by DARA, and it’s called “Kiss.” While it’s not from the City Hunter soundtrack, the star of the series, Lee Min Ho, plays the smarmy lead guy in the video. This one is definitely pure pop, and I just don’t know which is more infectious, the glossy video or the song itself. I love that there’s a full story here that you can understand even if you don’t speak Korean. And getting to see more Lee Min Ho is always a bonus in my book.

And that’s all for this week! Stay tuned for more videos, more pop culture tidbits, and of course more music. Same pink time, same pink channel!

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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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In A Computer Fairyland

Hello once more, little earbuds. This week has been much better than the last. I’m still not 100% well, but I managed to eat my favourite sushi on Tuesday, so that alone equals a win for me. I’ve been thinking lots of big thoughts lately about life and ambition and direction and such, and hopefully I can share more of that later on, or at least the soundtrack to my inner monologue. But for now I bring you a classic 80s synthpop song, though surprisingly, it’s new to me. Or is it?

I was browsing iTunes once again, as I am prone to do when I want to waste time online (or have a gift card to burn) when I found Trans-X on a collection of dance songs. As you probably know by now, I love to dance, and I especially love to dance to 80s music. In fact, I already owned most of the songs in said collection. However, I didn’t have this one, “Living On Video,” but its punchy keyboards and robotic beats hooked me immediately. I not only bought the original album featuring the song, but also an updated re-recording of it, both of which are pretty freakin’ awesome. However, the more that I listen to it, the more I get the feeling that I’ve heard it before, perhaps in a goth club. Maybe it’s the Leæther Strip cover that I actually know, or maybe it just sounds like a track from the movie Party Monster. I can’t exactly recall dancing to it, but there’s something oddly familiar about those synths. However, whether it’s a rediscovered favourite or just new to me, I’m totally into this track. I hope you enjoy this electronic flashback of the week!

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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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