My rant on XPW, or, why you can’t sell the same thing over again. (I’m italicizing my modern comments since this is already bolded. Anyway, fucking XPW man. Originally a terrible, fifth-rate ECW knock-off with some of the worst “talent” in the business and a bunch of ECW castoffs, run by porn producer Rob Black, they SOMEHOW decided to just BECOME ECW, caused a shitload of problems in the Philly wrestling area, then died off when Black was run through the wringer because of “obscenity charges.” This means porn with peeing and I HOPE IMPLIED murder scenes, so, yeah. Anyway, the whole sordid mess is here on Wikipedia, if you’re bored, and apparently Black wants to bring it back AGAIN so God knows, we may be back here in a few years.)
(A note in advance: first, to those of you who know nothing about XPW, though I loathe plugging those I ridicule, visit xpwrestling.com to give yourself a better idea of those I write about here, if you’re curious. Second, if one Mr. Black is to read this: Consider this publicity. If you want to pull a Jay Bower on me, please do, but remember to link me, god knows I could use the traffic.) (Jay Bower was some dude who wrote for Smarks.com, for reference; we’ll get to him in a little bit.)
Let’s finish out this week of weird Asian music with the prince of Visual Key*, Gackt:
You almost certainly have some idea who Gackt is if you like Square Enix games; he’s supplied a few theme songs for their work, and was Genesis in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, so you’d probably be able to pick him out. Even if you don’t, though, he’s somewhat notable in the US, mostly due to his extensive body of work, and while he’s not a musician on the level of popularity of someone like Utada Hikaru, he is notable amongst, well, dork circles for a bunch of reasons.
I tend to like his work because he’s not really pigeon-holed by the fact that his original band, Malice Mizer (seriously) made metal music and dressed like Victorian clown hookers (seriously), as shown above. While he still makes metal music as needed, as well as the odd but expected piano ballad, he’s not afraid to make himself look like Cloud Strife and experiment with horns and goofy pop melodies when the need arises or he’s particularly bored. He’s also dabbled in acting and has a shitload of soundtrack credits to his name, because that’s how he do, and it helps him sell his shit on iTunes I suppose, so hey, more power to him.
* Assuming you consider X to be the respective kings of it, and most people (myself included) do. I like Gackt and all, but Hide was the fucking man, fuck you.
If that sounded like “dork dork dork dork” to you, I’m not surprised, I promise.
Today, Suicide Ali:
For those who are playing along at home, this is the band I didn’t discover through nerdy shit; instead, J. Rose called me up one day and basically said, “YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS SHIT,” and from there, I was on board. I don’t care about the style of the band; it’s a specific style called Visual Key, which I’ve been aware of since I got into X back in the 90’s, so that’s not really a thing (though I appreciate anyone who puts this much effort into their look, I’ll say that much). No, I like Suicide Ali because their name is stupid as hell, and their music is bizarre, even for Visual Key. When your music is so weird even other bands in your genre look askance at you, I’m probably at least willing to give it a try.
WWE Raw 2
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)
Publisher: THQ (We have about one more YHCOR review left before we have to finish up the other content, ugh, which will then bring us into the DHGF content. Lord knows how long that’ll take to get through, but let’s find out.)
Hey, what’s better than wrestling? (These days, lots of stuff.) More wrestling! THQ, the proud parents of the Smackdown franchise of games, have recently released Raw 2, the second in Anchor’s WWE games series for the X-Box. Now, I don’t want to sound negative or anything, but Raw… well… it had some issues, to put it politely, (It fucking sucked, to put it less so.) and Anchor swore they would take great pains to work out the bugs on the second go-round and produce a superior gaming experience in all possible respects.
Did it work? Well, I think so, but to be fair, the game still isn’t as good as it could’ve been. (They fixed everything but the gameplay, basically.)
Today, to continue the theme, 4Minute:
Let’s address the obvious point here: the disconnect between the visual imagery and the people actually performing the song is… confusing to say the least. That aside, compare this to yesterday’s video for a second. While South Korean pop acts seem to have a weird fascination with Western urban culture*, the rest of the video is okay, but not anything new; it’s a bunch of choreography, black-and-white with bits of color, and dance steps. The song though, that’s interesting; it’s got an interesting and non-conventional structure, and the vocal progression is interesting and surprisingly hard to get out of your head whether you like it or not. I don’t have a specific point here, since KARA, 4Minute and f(x) are all super successful in South Korea; I just find the different approaches to production interesting.
* Which is fine, because it’s become so over-saturated at this point that anyone can do it in their music videos, and it’s no longer interesting and doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s funny that a band like 4Minute is using it in a way that seems intent on conveying a specific thing (how crazy they are) when KARA did it years prior to convey a different thing (something about a dude).
My exposure to Japanese singers mostly comes from either hearing something they did for a nerd project (IE gaming, anime, etc) or finding them through that association (with one exception), but my exposure to Korean music almost entirely comes from listening to PSY. That seems weird, but it’s actually pretty basic: every so often, PSY will release a new video, I’ll watch it, and then I’ll go down the clickhole for an hour watching whatever videos pop up as associated to the video I just watched. That’s how I discovered Hyuna and 4Minute*, as well as today’s highlight, f(x), and I recommend it if you have an hour to waste and eclectic tastes in music.
Anyway, f(x) is interesting, in that they have an eclectic visual style to their presentation, but their music is kind of hit-or-miss as pop/hip-hop/whatever music goes. While KARA and 4Minute tend to make videos that are far more basic, their music is a bit more conventionally pleasant. f(x) makes videos that are more interesting color and presentation-wise (let’s be honest, it’s all pop choreography here) but songs I’m kind of eh with. This song is one of the more interesting of the lot, though, and I enjoy it quite a bit, so here you go.
* KARA, oddly, is the exception here; I discovered them through a weird Korean rhythm game, DJMax Technika Tune, which featured a bunch of their songs and videos. I got nothing.