Music

I’m Listening to Sakura Nagashi A Lot

桜流し (Sakura Nagashi) is a song by the Japanese musician Utada Hikaru. Utada is most known for her songs in the Kingdom Hearts video game series and the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime franchise. This song is one of my favourites from Utada as it stirs up a lot of emotion in me whenever I listen to it.

Sakura Nagashi (Utada Hikaru Cover) by Sugar Joiko

One of my YouTube channels, Sugar Joiko uploaded some new videos and that got me reminiscing about her older work. Sugar Joiko is a musician who started out her YouTube channel doing cover songs of Utada Hikaru. Now she writes her own originals and does more mainstream covers.

The song that I love the most out of her entire catalogue is Sakura Nagashi. When I first heard this song, I was in awe of her emotional prowess and control in her voice. The production was extremely high quality and professional. And her Japanese pronunciation was great, which was a bonus. I was immediately hooked.

Sugar Joiko’s interpretation is a lot more optimistic compared to the original version, despite not changing the words one bit. This doesn’t bother me much. I like to take this version as an emphasis to keep moving forward but there is still that hint of leaving something behind.

Sakura Nagash (English Utada Hikaru Cover) by Mikutan

To those who don’t know, Mikutan is a popular YouTuber who covers Japanese songs in both English and Japanese. I’m not a huge follower of Mikutan but I had watched some of her videos in the past before (I think I pretty much listened to all of the Sayoko covers ever done on YouTube back in 2013). After listening to Sugar Joiko’s version, I went to go search up more covers on a whim. When I saw Mikutan covered this song, I knew I was in for a treat.

Normally I would complain about translating Japanese lyrics to English for the purpose of singing them because a lot of meaning may be lost in translation and the lyrics might not flow just right. There are some weird hiccups in this translation but it is by far the best English cover of Sakura Nagashi out there right now.

On my first listen, I legitimately teared up. I still really struggle trying to get a strong grasp on what this song is about. This song is, undoubtedly, about the loss of a loved one no matter what kind of interpretation you take on it. However, I can’t pin point the relationship of the loved one. It could be easy to say a lover but there are strong themes of motherhood and protection in this song. This could be due to the fact that this song was written for an anime series with those very same themes.

This overwhelming feeling of lost time is prevalent in this song. It feels heavy. But there is promise in the song such as in the images of childbirth both in the song and the original music video. There’s still hope and life inevitably continues.

Music

Learning the Guitar: Week 1

I have been following Justin Guitar‘s lesson plans for learning the guitar.

This week I went through the first 15 beginner’s course lessons, BC-101 to BC-115. I learned the basics of choosing a guitar, posture, etc. In terms of actually playing, I learned the D chord, A chord, and E chord. The first two chords were incredibly “easy.” The chord that really stumped me was the E chord. I could not press down on the strings hard enough so that it didn’t sound muted. It got easier in the middle of the week because my fingers hurt less from pressing down on the strings so often.

The lesson I’m working on right now is trying to get the most chord changes in one minute. The idea is to aim for 30 changes in one minute. Speed is the main factor here and not so much how good it sounds.

Here are the results of my first two tries:

Chord Round 1 Round 2
D chord – A chord 17 changes 27 changes
D chord – E chord 21 changes 31 changes
E chord – A chord 26 changes 30 changes

The next couple of lessons will be more chords, I predict. I’m not quite sure. Hopefully I can stick to this for another week!

Music

I Listened To: Electra Heart by Marina and the Diamonds

Disclaimer: Lyrics relating to suicide is mentioned in this post.

Another disclaimer: I’m not good at writing reviews but I do like expressing my opinions. This is in no way a professional review but rather how I personally feel about this album.

I know Marina and the Diamonds’ album Electra Heart is one of her personally least favourite works but I like it a lot. Many people think Electra Heart represents an alter-ego but it’s rather a personality that Marina holds in disdain. I actually kinda love it. While some songs do resonate with my own personality, the overall theme of the corrupted American dream doesn’t coincide with my reality. But you have to admit that there are some catchy tunes on this album.

The album starts off with Bubblegum Bitch, which I was really apprehensive about at first. It turned out to be a really high energy song with a fun and catchy chorus. The guitar ripping througg the song really made it for me. It added a certain ironic feel that set the tone for the rest of the album.

The much loved Primadonna comes right after. It’s a little jarring to think about two different types of people as the topic one after the other (although, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive personalities). However, this was the song that got me sucked into Marina and the Diamonds. I hate to say it but Marina’s voice is perfect for capturing the entitled persona in this song and I fall all over it. Even though you know she doesn’t deserve anything good, you can’t help but give it to her.

Unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of Lies. I like slower songs but I really hate that cheesy drum clap thing going on. It’s not you, Marina, it’s me.

Homewrecker is a favourite of mine. I love the image a stereotypical American woman casually destroying marriages. Okay, that sounded bad. I don’t condone that at all but I just find it amazing how well this song captures the stereotype. It’s so easy to picture this person in your head.

The next track on the album is another one of my favourites: Starring Role. While thinking about this song, I realized how self centered all the songs on the album are so far and this is no exception. This song speaks about being the number one in someone’s life and not willing to take second place. However, it’s not as selfish as it sounds and I can sympathize with it. I also can overlook the cheesy clapping because I get chills whenever Marina sings “The starring role.”

I will have to admit that I don’t have any strong feelings for The State of Dreaming. I like how it picks up during the chorus and they way Marina sings “My life is play” but in between those moments, it’s a little boring. Ultimately, it’s a song that I would skip sometimes.

Power and Control is true to its name and Marina’s voice just exudes the song’s theme. There’s something about that booming voice that portrays confidence that the song calls for; someone ambitious who wants to get as much as possible with as little work as possible.

A lot of people seem to like Teen Idle a lot but I think this is one of my least favourite tracks on the album. The teen angst is just too much for me. Much of this album is over the top and extravagant but I can’t seem to enjoy this. I find the song a little bit boring but I like the irony in how the line “feeling super, super, super (super!) suicidal” is executed in a cheery way. But this song doesn’t jive with me at all.

The slow songs continue with Valley of the Dolls. While this isn’t a super favourite, I don’t mind this song much. I like the chorus a lot and the lyrics are pretty relatable. In my opinion, this song speaks of donning multiple personalities but ultimately not knowing who you really are at the core. It’s a pretty dark and speaks of death. Death of another personality or the physical person, I’m not sure.

I understand that the album is essentially a concept album that is operatic and has a story arch in the fashion as Green Day’s American Idiot but it’s a little bit draining to have so many slow songs in a row. There are theories that this album’s second half indicated the dying of the Electra Heart persona. This is not to say that Hypocrates isn’t a good song but I prefer it when I’m not listening to the album as a whole. I really like the mellow guitar and and the twinkling strings and Marina’s voice taking a softer and less abrasive tone. This is another song that I don’t mind much but don’t like it enough to save it to my Spotify library.

The album finishes off with Fear and Loathing which marks the end of Electra Heart. I do not like this song much. However, I am impressed with Marina’s higher register even if I still prefer when she reaches those lower notes. Conceptually, it isn’t a bad way to end the album.

Overall, I drastically prefer the first half of the album. I like this album but it’s not one I’d go out of my way to buy but rather buy select songs off of it. The concept is interesting and Marina doesn’t play around when it comes to her lyrics. It’s pretty cohesive as a whole. I really admire Marina and I like how she is continually trying out different things. Let’s see where she goes next with her music!