Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Almost a year ago I got hold of Adele's new album and wrote about how good it was. I'm not a sucker for overly melodramatic, sappy songs but somehow her voice and her unorthodox music caught me. Yes, I said unorthodox, because while sappy love songs were once the bread and butter of the music industry, for the past decade it has been considered somewhat passé. Chart-toppers of the new millennium are upbeat, catchy tunes full of sexual euphemisms repeated over and over again during the course of the songs. The lyrical poverty and lack of vocabulary are generally compensated with overbearing bass sounds and synthesized electronic noises hinged on well-known riffs stolen from oldies. They call it sampling, I call it easy money. Why bother coming up with new melodies if you can rehash old ones and distort them to make them sound fresh again? Yes, Will-I-Am, I'm talking to you.

So when Adele came in, she caught people off-guard. Not a size zero, no cheap publicity stunts and quirky fashion sense à la Lady Gaga, no sexual innuendos in her lyrics and no overblown marketing. Just simple love songs written from a broken heart and her powerhouse voice that made everybody stop and say, "I missed this music. It has soul."

21 is a gorgeous record. Flawless execution of every song. A normal album would have 3 good singles and 7 filler songs to make it a whole. 21 has 17 perfectly good songs, all potential chart toppers. One and Only has the same top-notch production quality as Someone Like You, and Turning Tables is just as good as Set Fire To The Rain. These days, not many albums have that quality.

Another great thing about 21 is its congruity. The album encapsulates a tragic love story and all the songs are related to one another. It might sound trivial, but I like an album with a coherent storyline. Without it, an album is just confusing. Take Rihanna's latest album Loud for example. She sings about her love for sadomasochism in S&M, and then about a rape victim killing her rapist in Man Down before languishing about an unrequited love in California King Bed. All in the same album. While all of those are relatively good songs (the keyword here is 'relatively' because while I'm not an advocate of Rihanna's music, I have to agree her songs are pretty catchy), they don't have anything to do with one another. What gives?

I just realized that this post about Adele is starting to look like a sad excuse to hate on Will-I-Am, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and to a certain extent, all of today's music listeners whose taste in music is questionable. But seriously, there's a reason why Adele is such a huge success. She is just a simple reminder to people that there was a time when artistes were valued by their pure, unadulterated talent and that we could be entertained simply by a singer with a beautiful voice accompanied only by a piano.

Adele brings us back to that moment in time when listening to music also means appreciating the lyrics, and that sex was something people do behind closed doors and doesn't need to be advertised on top of the Billboard charts.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


I had this long debate with myself this morning, and we (we refers to me and I) started with this one umbrella topic which spawned numerous sub-topics and ended up talking about feelings. Or more precisely, emotions. I (we) saw this documentary about how people measure emotions. Most physicians use ECG responses. Emotions are consequences of hormones secreted from various parts of the brain so they would just localise the area corresponding to an emotion and observe the neuron activity in said area during stimulation.

I found that ridiculous. I mean, it's great that they have found a way into understanding how the brain functions because we know we all could benefit from a cure for Alzheimer's. But the fact that emotions are being put under the microscope makes me feel uneasy. If serious money is being channelled by big companies into research on human emotions, I would like to know why. These companies, no matter how charitable the image they try to project, surely await a greater profit from the results of this research. If they finally found the exact formula for the stimulus that triggers crying in humans, how are they going to exploit this knowledge to their benefit? And at whose expense?

Will we end up being puppets whose emotions can be controlled by global think tanks? If microwaves from mobile phones can alter your brain functions, is it possible that the human brain can actually be remote controlled? Or are they doing it already as we speak?

I can't answer any of these questions, and in a way, I don't really want answers to them. I just like to ponder on them until I move on to something more exciting and I'll forget all about them, you know, the way a cat ferociously plays with feather until he sees a moving laser light and forget the feather ever existed.

One thing I am fairly certain though: one of the best feelings in the world is when you find out the person you like likes you back.

Okay my code has finished compiling so I've got to get back to work.

Somebody Fire This Casting Director

Just saw the cast for the upcoming movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

This is what we call a miscast galore. DiCaprio as Gatsby? No. Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan? I don't know who that guy is, but since Baz Luhrmann is Australian, it's only fair that he puts one of his people in the top billings. Isla Fisher is plain annoying, but that's not the main problem with her casting. In the book, Myrtle Wilson is a plump lady. If Hollywood's idea of plump is Isla Fisher, then I reckon that America's obesity problem is just an overblown affair because the obesity threshold is Tina Fey.

After Aishwarya Rai and Freida Pinto, Hollywood realized that putting bigwig Indian actors in their films is an easy way to tap into a massive market of a billion Indian cinema-goers, which explains Anil Kapoor's lame-ass role in Mission Impossible 4. And now, they are putting Amitabh Bhachan in the role of a Jewish master gambler, because you know, Indians and Jews look so much alike they can play each other in movies if it means big bucks for the producers. Next thing you know they'll be putting Natalie Portman in the role of Mowgli from The Jungle Book.

The only good thing going on for this movie is Tobey Maguire. It's far from a spot-on casting but next to the others, the casting of Tobey as Nick Carraway looks like that of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.

Gemma Ward doesn't count as an actress because she is a languid girl in real life. And she's Australian, so she most probably was personally handpicked by Luhrmann.