Season of Gfriend – What a Treat for Fans

Confession. I am a huge fan of the Korean girl band Gfriend. It took me a while to tell the girls apart, remember their names and roles, and to recognize their voices. But after many nights of watching Gfriend on YouTube, I am there. I love their story. They came from a small recording company. I don’t think they have done that well during their debut. There had been setbacks. Online comments, some were rather mean. But they kept going. Three years later, they are one of the top girl bands in Korea with a good number of hits, won a good number of awards. Hardworking does pay off, for some. And for Gfriend, I love their choreography the most.

I have been wanting to watch them in concert. Sadly there isn’t one from where I live. The next best thing would be a Bluray recording.

There ain’t many stores in Singapore that sell Bluray discs anymore. Those that do don’t carry Season of Gfriend. In my desperation, I searched online and came across Kpopmart.com. My friend Yudha from Google+ is a fan of Korean music. I wasn’t too sure about the legitimacy of Kpopmart.com – after all, plenty of online scams these days – but he reassured me that the site is legit.

Season of Gfriend (Bluray) cost me US$53.50. There are several shipment options. I went for the ‘cheapest’ express one that cost US18. The cheapest normal shipping would be $9.20 but that would take more than two months.

Two months?!

Total damage was more than S$100. The package arrived at my condo’s concierge in less than a week. It was worth it. I am so glad that my friend Yudha has nudged me into buying it. He is right. This product is selling out fast. For the fans, this is a real treat, a must-have. It is a recording of day 2 of Gfriend‘s very first concert back in January early this year. Both concerts were sold out in minutes.

Now, onto why this recording is a must-have for fans:

  • It has a good selection of their hits.
  • The recording is divided into sections or themes, each is introduced with a short video clip.
  • Great dancing. Great costumes.
  • There is a section on solo performance! I love all six of them. All of them awe me in a different way. I am much impressed by a side of them that I have not seen.
  • Some songs have a different rendition.
  • They do tease each other in prerecorded video clips – which I find entertaining.
  • English subtitles! There is a fair bit of talking. Plenty of emotion tears towards the end. I am so glad that I can understand what they say.
  • The entire concert + video clips + talking on stage lasted more than three hours!
  • The package does come with photocard and postcard too.

I wish that my favorite track Time for Moon Light was in the song selection list. But that wouldn’t be possible because the song was released in April after their first concert. I am looking forward to their second concert recording for sure. By then, they better add that into the list!

CMT Crossroads Taylor Swift & Def Leppard (1998) / RED Taylor Swift (2012)

Once fine day, I saw a video clip posted by one of the Google+ users featuring Taylor Swift and Def Leppard performing Hysteria.  That electrifying performance is tantalizing in so many different ways.  First, as a huge fan of Def Leppard, to be able to see them perform live at this age, I mean, these guys still have it.  They still rock.  Later on, I read that Taylor Swift did this Crossroads collaboration partly because her mother is a big fan of Def Lepard.  That is kind of sweet of her.  Second, as you may have already known, I am a mega fan of Taylor Swift.  I am keen to see what the outcome of this collaboration would be, between a classic band like Def Leppard and a successful young female artist Taylor Swift one generation apart whereby the only commonality is the pop genre.

The main presentation has a total of eight songs.  Four tracks are from Def Lappard namely Photograph, Hysteria, When Love & Hate Collide, and Pour Some Sugar on Me.  Another four are Taylor Swift’s Picture to Burn, Love Story, Teardrops on My Guitar, and Should’ve Said No.  In addition, as bonus materials, there are three more tracks: Love, Our Song, and the all acoustic Two steps behind.

All the songs are nicely done.  Joe Elliott and Taylor Swift duet on each other’s songs.  Two bands are merged, very much like jamming on stage.  While I love all the tracks on this recording, When Love & Hate Collide and Teardrops on My Guitar stand out as my favorite tracks.  Interlaced onto the live performance is a set of interview that lends insight on the musical journey of both artists.  What a gem this DVD is.

RED

I wasn’t too sure if I would love Taylor Swift’s fourth album RED.  But I have a high level of anticipation nonetheless.  I like her country root.  Over the year, she seems to have spilled over to the pop genre.  When We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together first debuted on Google Hangout, I wasn’t sure what to make out of it.  That song does grow on me over time, like the rest of RED.  One good thing about her experimental journey in collaborating with other artists such as Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol is that it shows a different side of her.  A sign of growth and maturity, which in turn influences her own production.

My favorite tracks though as the ones written by her in entirety.  As well as All Too Well that is co-written with Liz Rose.  The Liz Rose and Taylor Swift collaboration has produced 16 songs including White Horse, Teardrops on My Guitar, and You Belong with Me.  I am hoping for more like these in the future.

Has anyone managed to crack the codes in her lyrics by picking out all the oddly capitalized letters?  I have tried but have given up.

Adele – Live at the Royal Albert Hall – It’s Beautiful

Like quite a few Blu-ray discs I own, this Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall recording has been sitting at the shelf in its unwrapped pristine condition collecting dust for more than half a year.  I didn’t even know that this package comes with an audio CD too.  Cynthia and I are huge fans of Adele.  One day over lunch, I bought this live recording thinking that one day we would watch it together.  And that day was yesterday.

In case you don’t know, Adele is a young and talented British singer-songwriter.  She has started recording her debut album 19 at the age of 19.  And 21 at the age of 21.  Because of her mature and confident outlook, it is easy to overlook the fact that she is still very young.  I love her music.  Such power and emotion.  It is said that you can know an artist better by attending a concert live.  Certainly true for Adele.

I have not been to Royal Albert Hall.  It looks like a prestigious venue.  Despite the rather large crowd, Adele appears to stay close with the audience.  She talked about her songwriting journey and gave a brief introduction to some of her songs.  What the inspiration behind the song was.  How some of these songs are still changing her life everything time she performs it.  Her best friends were in the venue too and they formed part of the story Adele told on stage.  The entire concert was charged with emotion.  Off the camera, couples were kissing, hugging each other close.  The ambient appears to be cozy and loving.

Adele’s tone of conversation may seem casual, perhaps a bit too casual in this prestigious venue.  But that is her, in her genuine self.  She giggled, spoke the first thing that came into her mind, cracked jokes, and laughed at her own jokes.  Her vocal performance is pitch perfect.  That is phenomenal.  One song, she did not like how she started it.  So she stopped and restarted again.  I seriously cannot tell what is wrong with her first take.  This shows how much a perfectionist she is.

I have not watched Adele’s performance live yet.  Through this concert recording, I felt as though I know her as an artist a little bit better.  Below is the trailer for Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

Chinese New Year TV Marathon – Seeker, Confessor, Shu Qi, Ayumi, Alice, And More

Contrary to everyone’s belief, Cynthia and I did not spend 4 days in front of our computers playing our favorite online game.  We have hardly touched that game during this holiday.  Ha!  It is for the love of Chinese tradition (hard to explain so we shall leave it there).  It is a rare opportunity to take a break from the game.  And the main reason is because Cynthia has envisaged this holiday to be a TV marathon.  She has magically transformed me into a coach potato for four full days.  Water and snacks were within an arm’s length.  We ate at our sofa every day.  And the only time we moved out of the coach was to answer the call of nature.  She hypnotized me using modern technology.  Some of what we consumed was junks, as in most things that come out from that box.  Others though are worth mentioning.

Legend of the Seeker (Season One)

To be totally honest, what initially attracted me to this TV series was the rather, erm shall I say, revealing medieval clothing that accentuates the beauty of a female body.  Some of the slow motion scenes can really pop my eyes, my heart, and what not.  How fortunate are the men in the old days.  I also find the costume and backdrop pretty authentic, especially since I am a huge fan of fantasy computer games.  When I paid better attention to the story and tried not to be distracted by the eye candies and on-screen chemistry, it is pretty faithful to the genre of fantasy.  Love, friendship, betrayal, sacrifice, good and evil, heroes and cowards, battles, sorcery, quests and more quests, difficult decisions and more love – all checked.  There are some unique hooks that I don’t often find in other fantasy titles.  Sharing more here you may find me insane, as though I am talking to myself.  So I shall leave it here.  We have consumed 5 discs worth of entertainment – the entire season one – in 4 days.  Monsters, we are!

Now, why on earth would they drop the franchise after a merely two seasons of broadcast?  Save the Seeker.  Please.

A Beautiful Life (不再讓你孤單)

At home, we have a rather good collection of DVD or Blu-ray, most are not opened.  I always have this urge to buy and collect.  But I seldom have the time to watch them.  During this holiday, I tried to look for a happy movie suitable for the occasion.  My eyes stopped at Shu Qi.  It is a Chinese movie.  Both titles – English and Chinese – sound positive.  So I jammed the disc into our player, sat back, and clicked play.  Cynthia has started crying way before the movie ended.  I would say “A Beautiful Life” is an art house type of movie, an emotional one.  During the interview, Shu Qi mentioned that making this movie was harder than a martial art one.  Some clips can last as long as 10 minutes, continuously.  Imagine having to do several retakes.  I pity the cameraman who carried that ninety pounds monster.

It is a rather beautiful movie.  A movie about love in difficult circumstances.  What some may see as handicap, in the eyes of the loved ones, they are unique.  It is a movie about finding happiness.  Quite an inspiring one I must say.  Good acting.  Two thumbs up.

Ayumi Hamasaki Countdown Live 2010-2011 A: Do It Again

After a while, I begin to lose track of how many Ayumi concerts I have watched on TV.  Each year, she releases one tour recording and one countdown recording.  I can tell each tour recording by theme.  But I am often confused by the countdown releases.  At the end of each year, Ayumi hosts a concert for the fans.  Usually the song set is pretty mellow in the start.  Then there is a buildup to the countdown and thereafter, you can almost guess what songs she is going to play.  Upbeat, rather happy.  Unlike the tour performance, the song choice for the countdown concert often gears towards her older classic – which is good because it is different from the tour recording.  But that also means that all the countdown recordings are somewhat the same – hence the confusion.  If not for the beautiful duet “Dream On”, I would not have known if I have already watched it some time in the past.  How come “Dream On” has not been released in any album?  How come there is no duet in any of Ayumi’s album?  I have no idea.  One thing for sure though.  Ayumi is single, and available again.

The stage is pretty unique for this countdown concert.  There are a few concentric pieces that rotate and elevate.  And Ayumi has put the stage right in the middle of the stadium.  I thought it is a pretty good design.

Alice: Madness Returns

“Alice” is neither a movie nor a TV series.  It glued me in front of the TV nonetheless.  I am a big fan of Alice in Wonderland.  This is a game adaptation.  A second one indeed.  I bought the PS3 version, at a discount.

Recently, I read an article on how game developers dread the review scene.  If a game is poorly reviewed, or even at lukewarm, that turns gamers away from buying it.  Thousands and millions of dollar of investment go into the drain.  Years of development go along with that.  It is a brutal scene.  This game “Alice: Madness Returns” has not been kindly reviewed.  I hesitated during its release, have forgotten about it for a long time, then I saw the rather attractive price tag a few days ago.  I have always enjoyed playing a game as a heroine.  This version of Alice wields a Vorpal sword (you have to ask Lewis Carroll what that is) and lives in a real dark and twisted world.  Despite the lukewarm review, I have decided to give it a try.  This game is not perfect.  I will probably write a more detail account of my adventure with Alice in the future.  However, from what I have experienced so far, I like it.

Taylor Swift · World Tour Live · Speak Now – A Must Have!

Everybody loves Taylor Swift.  Even those who have not heard of her before instantly fall in love when I play her concert recording at my home.  Including my 2 years old niece who clapped and danced and looked merry and gay.  The most amazing thing is that Taylor Swift was only 21 when she performed the Speak Now World Tour.  She looks very young on camera.  But she has the maturity and musical ability to pull through 18 songs.  A rather lengthy performance if you take into account of the choreography on various stage settings as well.

The bottom line is, by now, with three solid albums, she has more than enough songs to entertain.  Taylor has won awards, broken records and her success factors beside being very pleasant to look at: she writes good songs and sings them well.  She writes songs that are personal and yet, to her surprise, fans can relate.  She writes songs that are meaningful to the youth without an element of angst that may displease the parents.  She has a clean outlook, unlike some of her peer pop musicians.  Her root, I would say, is country.  That is what I gathered when I heard her first album.  I guess in time, all [popular] things transform into pop.  How powerful it is to sing country songs (that in general are more meaningful) in a pop fashion.

There are so-so artists who stand on the same spot throughout the show performing as though they are recording an album.  And there are artists like Taylor Swift who covers the entire stage and beyond, played different instruments in different arrangements.  She incorporated some cover songs into hers as well.  The performance is stellar.  As for the bonus materials, there is a rehearsal recording and there is also a heartwarming home movie.  My only tiny complain is that unlike the US version, this local version is purely a Blu-ray disc without the CD.  The DVD version though comes with a CD.  But who buys DVD these days when there is a better format out there?

There are not many live recordings I would want to have a repeated watch.  This one, I have already watched twice.