5 Workout Songs To Get You Going

One good thing about being stuck at home for close to two months?I have much more time and energy to work out (coz I don’t have to be stuck in traffic for three hours every day)! I’ve been doing it quite consistently since the start of the quarantine, and although things kicked off slow, there have been some encouraging results (which I will document in another blog post! :))

Copyright-free photo via Eduardo, Pexels

Most people listen to music while exercising, as it not only helps to relieve boredom, but also enables us to improve on the quality of our workouts. It provides good distraction (if you’ve ever had to plank for over a minute with no music, you’ll notice that it gets considerably more difficult lol) and good beats can help us to maintain a regular pace. Research has also shown that high-groove beats make us want to move our bodies, so that’s definitely a plus.

Some people prefer relaxing music as they do yoga or Pilates; others like the heavy, aggressive chords of rock music, or the upbeat sounds of a pop track for running or aerobics. As for myself, I find that I work out best with EDM and rap, which gets my heart pumping and my body moving. Enjoy!

 

Calvin Harris & Alesso – Under Control ft. Hurts

Starts off light then builds up to a heart pumping chorus.

There’s a reason why Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” has been used multiple times at various sporting events: it’s just catchy, adrenaline-pumping and makes you feel like you can push through anything. Boxers such as Shane Mosley and Shane Carwin used this song as their entrance theme during matches, as did Major League Baseball pitcher Jesse Litsch. It was also the official soundtrack for the bot-fighting film Real Steel.

Funny video of twerking bot butts aside, the beat from Basement Jaxx’s Never Say Never is great for working out.

Another song that provides excellent motivation, with uplifting lyrics and a catchy beat.

I am a giant (ooh)
Stand up on my shoulders, tell me what you see
‘Cause I am a giant (ooh)
We’ll be breaking boulders, underneath our feet

Something a little softer – Tokio Hotel’s Phantom Rider. I like to listen to this while running. The ethereal, breathy vocals and melancholic melody take me to another place, and nothing else seems to matter except my breathing, the pavement underneath my feet and the pounding of my heart.

What’s On My Playlist Vol. 5 : Quarantine Edition

Hey guys!

It’s currently day 36 of the movement control order here in Malaysia. To be honest, I’ve been way more productive with work than I was at the office. Some people find it difficult to work from home due to distractions or family commitments (parents with kids, for example – I can imagine how difficult it is to video call your boss while you’re trying to calm a screaming toddler). Thankfully, I don’t have that problem, so the only issue is discipline.

To make sure I don’t roll around on the bed when I’m really supposed to be working (my workspace is in my bedroom, I’ve set a schedule which I follow strictly: work from 9 to 5 on weekdays, and unplug on weekends. And because I don’t have to be stuck in traffic for three hours everyday, there’s much more time to relax and unwind – which in turn keeps me refreshed and more productive overall.

The other good thing is that I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on books, movies and music. One of my favourite websites for entertainment is openculture: you can find everything from virtual tours of famous museums and art galleries, to book readings, podcasts, language lessons, and of course, music.

My Analog Journal is a Youtube channel dedicated to exploring rare grooves around the world on vinyl. The music selection is eclectic, and covers everything from Brazilian grooves and Japanese jazz from the 70s, to UK 80s and 90s Soundsystem and even Turkish Anatolian Rock. Rather than put up a generic album cover or illustration, you get a video of the channel’s founder, London-based music producer, DJ and filmmaker Zag Erlat (aka Zagor), playing the records on his setup. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Zagor’s love for analog film can be seen in the sepia-toned aesthetics of his videos, which give off a chill retro/vintage vibe. Perfect with a mug of coffee and a nice book.

I stumbled across Skinshape while listening to music on Youtube (thanks, Youtube recommendations!). A project by British musician William Dorey, the music is inspired by many genres but in particular 1960s – 70s funk, soul, reggae, psych, folk and African music.

Been a fan of Khruangbin‘s music for a long time now. (Khruangbin is Thai for ‘flying thing’, or aeroplane). This Texas trio is a true testament to the saying that ‘music is universal’ – their first album, The Universe Smiles Upon You, draws inspiration from the psychedelic sound of Thai surfrock from the 1960s, while 2018’s Con Todo El Mundo has influences from Spain (a tribute to the lead singer’s Spanish roots) and the Middle East.

British musician Hope Tala‘s music is characterised by its mix of R&B and bossa nova, to produce a uniquely chill yet groovy beat. She writes and produces her own music, and has a mature, soulful voice that is way beyond her 22 years.

Remember when he was ‘Pink Guy’? How far you’ve come, Joji.

 

What’s on your playlist? Share them with me in the comments so I can check them out! 🙂

 

What’s On My Playlist Vol.4 – February 2020

Hello and welcome back to another edition of What’s On My Playlist ! (does that sound like the opening of a game show of some sort? lol).

I don’t know if it’s nostalgia, but lately, I find myself listening to a lot of songs that I used to love back in my college days. I was a self-professed ’emo’ : all-black get-up, heavy eyeliner, long side-swept hair, a MySpace account with band wallpaper and an MP3 with the likes of Alesana, My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds to Mars and Saosin. College was a difficult time, and I was a very angry and rebellious teen. Music helped me get through all the emotional turmoil.

Now that the future seems uncertain, there is a measure of solace in the familiarity of these songs. There’s also that saying: “You can take the girl out of the emo, but you can never take the emo out of the girl”. Okay so I made that up from Sweet Home Alabama, but you get my drift. 😛 

Without further ado:

Does it feel like we’ve never been alive?
Does it seem like it’s only just begun?

Once upon a time, I loved 30 Seconds to Mars. This was before Jared Leto became the Joker and the band changed their sound into something more Christian worship-py. Their new songs are not bad; they’re just not what made me fall in love with their sound in the first place. I understand that like everything else, bands have to evolve with the times, but I do miss their A Beautiful Lie days. (I watched the MV for From Yesterday on MTV, back when MTV still played real music, and was blown away by the artistry and the production).

Dear Agony Just let go of me Suffer slowly Is this the way it’s got to be? Dear Agony

Breaking Benjamin has amazing songs, not just in terms of melody but also the beautiful angsty lyrics that they write, which seem to speak to lost and hurt souls. They’re also one of the rare few that have maintained their style, despite being on the scene for over two decades and having numerous lineup changes. Dear Agony is one of my favourite albums by the band. There’s a story about how the lead singer, Benjamin Burnley, was battling chronic illnesses from alcoholism, and Dear Agony was the first one he produced while entirely sober. The cover photo of the album features Burnley’s brain scan.

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground Try this trick and spin it, yeah Your head will collapse If there’s nothing in it And you’ll ask yourself

The original is great, but Placebo‘s cover of Pixies’ Where Is My Mind (from Fight Club) has such a melodramatic yet haunting quality. It’s not an understatement to say that Placebo saved me from a very dark place. Their songs may seem depressing af but they’re actually really cathartic to listen to.

Moving on to newer songs, I’ve been listening to more metal lately:

My hands are painted red
My future’s painted black
I can’t recognize myself, I’ve become someone else
My hands are painted red

Apparently this song was inspired by Randy Blythe’s time in a Czech prison, after he was charged with manslaughter for allegedly pushing a fan offstage, which led to the fan’s death from injuries sustained from the fall (security members and promoters failed to stop the fan from climbing onto the stage uninvited, not once but several times). He was eventually acquitted of all charges, and LoG fans will no doubt say Blythe was not at fault because the fan had invaded a space he was not supposed to be on in the first place (and also allegedly pushed Blythe while he was playing), but I’m not going to argue about the morality of Blythe’s actions. That being said, 512 is one of my favourite LoG songs, not just in terms of the lyrics, but also the melody and vocals (the growls and screams at the chorus always gives me chills).

Above my head, they’re circling
The vultures want what’s left of me
I sacrificed it all and I will fight​

Trivium’s Until The World Goes Cold is best listened to on full blast with headphones – there are lots of nuances that you might miss if listening on speakers. I love the energy on it and the message is  inspiring – it’s telling someone to continue fighting and hoping for the best.

Fun fact: Heavy songs relax me more than calming ones (?) I don’t know why lol. I guess it’s cathartic ? I usually have a lot of pent-up tension when I’m stressed, and it tends to explode so I need a way to get rid of it so listening to heavy beats helps. Anyone else experience the same?

BONUS throwback from 2016 @ Escape The Fate Live in KL with Danial. I’m too old to mosh with the kids these days.

Let me know your song suggestions in the comments below!

 

 

 

MUSASHI: Music From The East – A One Night Only Performance In Kuala Lumpur

Curious about the sounds of traditional Japanese music? Four master musicians will be in town on February 11 for MUSASHI: Music From The East – a one-night only performance at Rex KL.

MUSASHI_ Music From The East Poster

Here exclusively on invitation by The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, the four are Nobuto Yamanaka on the tsugaru-shamisen (a three-stringed instrument with a distinctive lilt, inspired by the Chinese sanxian), Satoshi Katano on the shinobue (bamboo flute), and Taka and Junya Tsukamoto on the Wadaiko (Japanese drums). The show will feature a wide range of Japanese songs, from traditional to the contemporary.

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Nobuto Yamanaka (tsugaru-shamisen)

After graduating from intermediate school at the age of 15, Yamanaka became a live-in apprentice to the late Tsugaru-shamisen master Yamada Chisato for four years, before becoming a master of the tsugaru-shamisen.

In 2018, he was inducted into the hall of fame after becoming a three-time winner in the A-class division of the Tsugaru Shamisen World Tournament, as well as three time champion of the Tsugaru Shamisen’s National Competition. His powerful style of playing and well emoted sounds has earned him a reputation that transcends the shamisen, and he is frequently involved in performances of different genres. To date he has performed in over 38 countries.

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Satoshi Katano (Shinobue – Bamboo Flute)

Born in Chiba, Katano began playing music when he was just nine, influenced by his father. He started a solo career as a shinobue player in 2008 and won the National Yokobue (Cross Flute) contest in 2013, and the All-Japan Yokobue Contest in 2017 and 2019, among other accolades. Currently based in Fukuoka, he continues playing the Shinobue while working as a boatman.

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TAKA (Wadaiko – Japanese drum)

TAKA is an award-winning Wadaiko player and Japanese calligrapher. He started playing Wadaiko since he was seven years old. After graduation, he started to work as a solo Wadaiko player in earnest, and opened a Wadaiko class “DAGAKU” in 2009. In 2013, he formed a performance group “Wadaiko Akatsuki”.TAKA won the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award as the best Otaiko (large drum) player at the “World Wadaiko Uchikurabe Contest” in Okaya Taiko Festa in 2015. In 2017, he won the same prize in the ensemble taiko drumming section. In 2019, TAKA was awarded the Prefectural Governor Award as the best drummer in a single drumming contest in “OTAIKO HIBIKI Festival”. He is currently studying tsugaru-shamisen under master Yamanaka Nobuto.

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Junya Tsukamoto (Wadaiko – Japanese Drum)

Tsukamoto started playing the Wadaiko when he was just five.  In 2012, he performed with Kanjani Eight (a famous Japanese boy band group) on Kohaku Uta Gassen, a famous Japanese TV show. He then joined
“Wadaiko Akatsuki” in 2013 and won an Excellence Prize in the soloist division of “Fujisan Otaiko Uchikurabe Contest” the following year. In 2018, he toured three countries in Central and South America and has performed in over nine countries to date. Not one to rest on his laurels, Tsukamoto is studying both the tsugaru-shamisen and shinobue instruments.

MUSASHI: MUSIC FROM THE EAST 

Date/Time: 11 February (Tuesday), *8:30 PM
*Time subject to change

Venue: REXKL, 80, Jalan Sultan, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur

Admission: RM45 (General), RM25 (Students, Senior, Disabled, JFKL members) via peatix.com

For more information, visit jfkl.org.my/events/musashi-music-from-the-east/ or fb.com/theJapanFoundationKL/

 

The Singer Who Spoiled Every Other Song For Me – Dimash Kudaibergen

People who know me know that I’m impartial to musical genres: I’d just as much listen to metal as I would classical, pop, alt-rock or dance, as long as the melody and/or the voice suits me. And while I do have favourite songs, I’ve always been able to enjoy them each as separate entities – it’s not fair to compare a band like Placebo with Andrea Bocelli, for instance : they’re both brilliant in their own way.

Dimash Kudaibergen, however, has stumped me.

If you have never heard of Dimash, drop everything and go watch one of his performances on Youtube – you WILL be taken to another planet.

Hailing from Kazakhstan, Dinmuhammed Kanatuly Kudaibergen (or Dimash as he is popularly known) shot to fame several years ago, when he was featured on a Chinese TV show singing Vitas’ Opera No.2 – a notoriously difficult song to sing due to its crazy high notes. Not only did Dimash smash through them like they were nothing, he did his own rendition that went even higher than Vitas’ original. And with a voice that covers six octaves (!!!), his vocal control is nothing short of incredible – you won’t hear anything jittery or pitchy.

Watch (if you’re impatient, forward to minute one):

The thing about Dimash’s voice is that it can sound breathy and ethereal one moment, then deep and sonorous the next.  The transition is breathtaking – often times he sounds like he’s two people, like in one of my favourite originals from him:

Beautiful cinematography and message.

S.O.S – a cover of a popular French song. Not only did he make it his own, his perfect control is injected with so much feeling and intensity. It’s hard not to feel moved listening to such an angelic voice. (typing this while listening to the song gives me goosebumps)

As if life wasn’t unfair enough, man has the looks to go with his voice. He’s 1.91m tall (6’2), with dark hair and flawless fair skin – if a character from a bishoujo came to life, he would probably look like Dimash and sweep the MC off her feet.

So, if you’re unacquainted with Dimash Kudaibergen, look ‘im up. I think he’s the kind of singer that only comes once every few hundred centuries, lol. But thanks to the Internet, people all over the world can be blessed with his amazing voice.

You can thank me later. wink

 

AC/DC Lane – Melbourne’s Tribute To Rock And History

One of the things I like most about travelling is exploring neighbourhoods solo.Experience has taught me that when travelling in a crowd, everyone has diverse interests, so walking around on my own gives me the freedom to focus on things that I like, without feeling rushed. That being said, it’s also important to be alert, since you are in a foreign land – but I felt super safe walking around Melbourne during the day, as there were lots of other tourists.

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I touched a bit about Melbourne’s laneways in a previous post, but let me take you down the city’s most popular one – AC/DC Lane.

Laneways have a long history, dating back to Melbourne’s early days during the Gold Rush. Narrow and often flanked by old brick buildings with walls sprayed over with colourful graffiti, the laneways were built as quick thoroughfares for horses and cargo. They quickly gained a reputation as slums, before gentrification saw it being filled with cool eateries, bars, cafes, indie shops and more. AC/DC Lane, formerly Corporation Lane, is one of these.

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Named after Australia’s most successful rock band, AC/DC Lane reflects its rock n’ roll roots. Both sides of the street are plastered over with colourful posters, band and gig announcements, alongside rock n roll / music-themed mural art.

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The star of the lane is Cherry Bar. Opened in 1999, it was a popular venue for rock bands and their crew, including Airbourne and Jet, both of whom wrote songs referencing the Cherry. You can say the Cherry Bar is to Melbourne what The Cavern Club is to Liverpool.

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Take your time checking out the fantastic street art on the lane.

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Bonus: View from the hotel room on Collins. Now this is a view I’d gladly get up early for!

 

Review: The Phantom Of The Opera Live In Kuala Lumpur 2019 @ Istana Budaya, KL

It’s not often that we get an international theater production to play in Malaysia, so I was understandably excited when I got two tickets to watch The Phantom of the Opera live at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur. The musical is based on the book by French writer Gaston Leroux, with music by world-renowned composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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The Ed and I got there early to beat Friday evening traffic and had dinner at Istana Budaya’s cafeteria, which is open til late on show nights. The lobby had been spruced up to fit the Phantom of the Opera theme, the central piece being a staircase with the Phantom’s iconic mask projected onto the steps. There was a long line queuing up to take photos so we gave that a skip. There was also a booth selling Phantom merchandise, although tbh these were overpriced.

Note: Do NOT; I repeat, DO NOT buy any snacks or drinks from the booth next to the entrance. They don’t tell you that you’re actually NOT ALLOWED to bring any food or drinks into the theater, so you’ll have to leave all of that at the entrance. They should at least put up a sign; but I guess they’re just happy to take your money.

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You are not allowed to take photos once the lights have dimmed, even if the show hasn’t started – we learnt this from the overzealous usher (unfortunately for us she was assigned to our section). We were also not allowed to scoot over a few seats despite those seats being empty, as she loudly and rudely told us to “RETURN TO YOUR SEATS”.

Once the music came on and the curtains were unfurled, though, it was a magical show from start to finish.

Photo via Base Entertainment

SYNOPSIS 

Young soprano Christine Daee gets her big break when Firmin and Andre, the new owners of the theatre, decide to cast her for the main role in a play to replace Carlotta, the resident primadonna. During Christine’s debut, her childhood friend Vicomte Raoul recognises her and delightedly asks her out backstage. Christine is torn, and as her friend Meg Giry comes to visit, Christine shares about how she owes her success to her ‘angel of music’, who has been teaching her behind the scenes. After Christine is left alone, the jealous Phantom appears in the mirror, leading her down to his secret lair underneath the opera house. As he composes music on his organ, a curious Christine rips his mask off and is horrified by his terribly disfigured face and runs off in fear. Initially furious, the Phantom doubles over in anguish, stating that he just wants to be loved. Christine takes pity on him and returns the mask, after which he escorts her back above ground.

The Phantom’s obsession with Christine escalates, and he makes more demands – to have Christine replace Carlotta in an upcoming show, for the new owners to keep Box 5 empty for him, and that Raoul stop seeing Christine – or else. Of course, they ignore this, to devastating consequences; as Carlotta’s voice becomes that of a toad during the show, and the stagehand, Joseph Buquet, is hanged from the catwalk. Christine escapes to the roof with Raoul and tells him the entire story, to which he promises to protect her. Unbeknownst to them, the Phantom has overheard everything and now vows vengeance for this ‘betrayal’.

Six months later, the Phantom appears at a Masquerade, announcing that he has written a new opera, and demands that Christine takes the lead role. Raoul wants to spring a trap to catch him, but Christine refuses, torn between her love for him and her awe for her teacher. Eventually, she takes up the lead role and in a scene, realises that the Phantom himself has come onto the stage to which she rips off his mask, exposing his face to the horrified public. He drags her down to his lair, pursued by Raoul and armed policemen. There, he catches Raoul in a noose and demands that Christine marry him or watch her lover die. Christine takes pity on his wretched existence and kisses him, showing him compassion for the very first time in his life.

The Phantom realizes that he cannot win Christine by force and sets them both free. The pair escape, and as the mob arrives in the chamber, the Phantom has disappeared, leaving only his mask.

VERDICT 

Photo by Base Entertainment

With a 37-strong cast, a 15-piece live orchestra and over 200 elaborate costumes and set pieces, the Phantom of the Opera is a truly wonderful spectacle not to be missed. I was blown away by the quality of the performances, especially from heroine Christine and the Phantom, who portrayed the melancholic, tortured soul of the character to great effect.

Not only was the singing and music excellent (although the lyrics were hard to discern at times as it usually is with opera), the costumes and sets were dazzling and very well executed. I loved how the chandelier soared up to the roof from the stage in the opening act, and the Masquerade scene, where the theatre members were dancing in full regalia on a wide sweeping staircase, was equally enchanting. Another great scene was the part where the Phantom brings Christine to his subterranean lair, and the boat ‘glided’ on the ‘water’ – achieved through clever use of props and stage lighting. Of course, you get to enjoy all the classics, such as the original Phantom of the Opera theme, All I Ask of You, Think of Me and The Music of the Night.

The Phantom of the Opera live in Kuala Lumpur did not disappoint, and is well worth the price for fans of opera and theatre. The Ed, who has watched the original 20 years ago at West End, said it was comparable to the quality of that show – so it’s definitely world class! They’re running until July 7, so there is still time to catch the show. Ticket bookings can be made at ticketcharge.com. 

What’s On My Playlist: Vol. 3 – May 2019

Time flies when you’re having fun. Heck, it flies even when you’re not.

So it’s been almost a year since my last What’s On My Playlist? video. Someone once told me that the older you get, the less likely you are to listen to new songs. I find that to be true, given the stuff they’ve been playing on the radio these days. That’s not to say everything is bad though – I’ve ‘stumbled’ across a couple of nice new tunes lately while channel surfing.

Without further ado:

CALVIN HARRIS & RAG N BONE MAN – GIANT 

When I’m not listening to rock and screamo, I find EDM mildly enjoyable – and they work best for running (when you need to pace yourself to the beat). Calvin Harris’ Giant is one of my recent favourites, thanks to the addictive trumpet hook and Rag n’ Bone’s husky vocals. Does the guy down 10 shots of rum to achieve that kind of scratchiness?

I would be nothing
Without you holding me up
Now I’m strong enough for both of us

AARON SMITH FT LUVLI – DANCIN 

Okay, so this isn’t new, but the song resurfaced for Musical-ly or Tiktok or some shit recently. The one that caught my eye was this vid of some guy dancing with his cat, which was both creative and hilarious. The original video is pretty cool as well (let’s just say it involves mannequins coming to life and people with TVs for heads).

Get up on the floor
Dancin’ all night long
Get up on the floor
Dancin’ till the break of dawn

SENSUAL SEDUCTION – SNOOP DOGG 

I was just randomly clicking things on Youtube and somehow ended up with Snoop Dogg’s Sensual Seduction. What a blast from the past. PS : Did you know that the ‘explicit’ version actually says “Sexual Eruption”?

All that we ever do is play in the sheets, sheets, sheets
Smoke us a cigarette, then go back to sleep, sleep, sleep

Childish Gambino is one of my more recent favourite artists – I loved the video for This Is America (so much symbolism and layers to interpret!). The original version of Redbone is woke, but the beat mashes up with anything. I’ve seen Tupac & Gotye sampled into this, among others.

Daylight
I wake up feeling like you won’t play right
I used to know, but now that shit don’t feel right
It made me put away my pride

Of course we can’t end this list without my favourite genre to listen to – screamo. Short but sweet, 6 di 6 is taken from Raein’s Ogni Nuovo Inizio album.

Let me know in the comments if you have any great music/bands that you think I should listen to! 🙂