The Art of Creative Critique (AKA why I remix)

Shameless plug time? Yes, shameless plug time.

Around early November last year I completed and posted this little thing:

A remix of C-ute’s “Kanashiki Heaven”, which I cleverly renamed “Kanashiki Amen” in honor of the main sample I used; the remix was borne out of a desire I’ve had since the beginning to put my own spin on that particular C-ute song as well as an excuse to utilize that legendary “Amen Brother” drum break in some kind of composition–and with the remixed title merging together the way it did, you could say it was a match made in…heaven.

The end result is a contrast to the original, as I chose to replace an intense high tempo rock sound with a somber mid-tempo funky groove beat that matches better with the song’s vocal flow and sad lyrical theme, and swap out busy layers of instrumentation for scratched rap quotes that punctuate the rhythms and make reference to the performers, their lyrics, and the new beat. It was quite fun working on this, especially with the stereo separation of each singer’s vocals, the samples used, and random experimentation leading to the subtle inclusion of a video game theme right after the second verse, but admittedly it was a bit frustrating as well, with inspiration sometimes hitting roadblocks along with the tedious nature of certain aspects of remixing (sample morphing, sound volume checks, etc.).

More than simply having fun with a song I like, however, this remix was also a statement. Taking advantage of my access to a means of music production, it was my way of saying “I’m impressed by what you’ve done, but here’s how I would’ve done it”. “Kanashiki Amen” was a personal celebration of the awesomeness that is “Kanashiki Heaven”…but at the same time it was also a critique of the song.

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Don’t leave while you’re hot, that’s how Mase screwed up

A fitting title after my brief absence from writing. 😉

C-ute event reaction

At this point I’m kinda expecting Vince McMahon to show up instead

I’m sure many of you have seen it by now. It was like something out of the WWE playbook: the show of the night reaching a climax, the audience at a fever pitch as the performers prepare to hit their finishing moves…then suddenly the company boss music interrupts everything to announce an unexpected stipulation and throw a wrench in everyone’s plans. Of course, I’m not talking about Monday Night Raw but rather C-ute’s single release mini-concert event earlier this week at the Sunshine City mall, where initial panic slowly became sighs of relief and celebratory hugs as Tsunku, complete with his own version of “Crazy Kanzen na Otona”, left a recorded message announcing this year’s big plans for C-ute, namely a performance at Budokan in September as well as their first international appearance in France…though not before leading the girls on about what exactly Up Front management has up their sinister sleeves.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? The girls were panicking and preparing for the worst, with one of the first things out of Chisato’s mouth as the music hit being that dreaded S-word known to cut deep like a sword: SOTSUGYŌ (graduation). With even young Mai Hagiwara finally starting to approach adulthood, is the prospect of graduation becoming a more dominant thing amongst not just fans’ minds, but the former H!P Kids as well?

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H!P All Stars – basketball edition

In the future, all basketball players will be required to wear plaid skirts

In the future, basketball shorts will be replaced by miniskirts

Fun fact: one of the strangest things I did to acclimate myself into the world of H!P in my early moments of fandom was developing a habit of imagining Morning Musume as a sports team, with its members playing different positions based on line distribution and their roles in the group for any given Sunday single. It seemed like a logical thing to do, as Morning Musume operates similar to a sports franchise with members coming and going to carry on the team name, and being an idol requires being in top shape like any athlete in order to keep up with all the singing and dancing and exciting. For some reason I initially picked American football as the analogous sport, maybe because it was football season when I became a fan and had a craving for it in lieu of no longer closely following the NFL due to being disheartened by how that league is run. But later on I realized that basketball was a much better sport to assign to Momusu, as the specialized roles of football positions didn’t quite line up with how these girls work while basketball requires all players to do a little bit of everything, just like idols. Plus basketball is a much more fun sport to watch, play, and think about.

What’s even stranger is that to this day I still do it! Not just positions but also playing styles, and not just with Momusu, but with other H!P groups too. It’s to the point where I actually once had a dream that Ai Takahashi was the starting point guard for the Utah Jazz (why that team I have no idea). Could you imagine her making plays and racking up assists like John Stockton? I can…and maybe you can too after reading what I have in store here.

So, in honor of the NBA’s annual All-Star Weekend coming up, I present to you my Morning Musume and Hello Project basketball all-star teams!

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