December 7, 2009
Posted by ander025 at December 7, 2009 9:54 AM
Since there was no reading for this week i will mostly be talking about the music videos we watched in class. Since we didn't see any music videos from Flippers Guitar i can't really remember anything about them. I felt they sounded somewhat similar to one of my favorite bands, 'The Pillows'. Cornelius was spectacular, the music videos more so then the songs themselves. While 'Drop' was an interesting enough song, it took on a whole different meaning when combined with its music video. The straight lines and rings pulsating with the music was mesmerizing. Such a simple animation and yet it created a strange sense of movement and change that reinforced the transitory feel of the song. The other songs and music videos were less impressive. The boy washing his hands, while cool slow motion footage, lacked any real interesting physical connection with the music. The second version of this video with the stream placed on its side however was more interesting and i found myself listening to the song more intently.
Cube Juice also sounded a lot like 'the Pillows' and i found that i enjoyed their sound as much as their presentation. Their similarities to 'the Gorillaz' are glaring and i wonder if they were aware of each other. The groups persona is infectiously creepy cute and they back it up with some concrete lyrics and riffs. I will be looking at this band more in the future and hope against hope that for some reason they decide to do something with the 'Gorillaz'
I am writing in reaction to the Cornelius music videos we watched in class on Tuesday. I thought the first one, “Smoke”, was very cool. The popping circles and bars, along with the dark versus light and flashing visuals might cause some people discomfort, but I enjoyed them. I could not help but think people prone to seizures should not watch it. It was very much a synesthesia of hearing and sight; sound was visual and what was seen was sound. In a way, it brought to mind the techno music-video by the Yellow Magic Orchestra which used video-game sounds and thus represented them in like form in their music video. In comparison though, I feel that Cornelius achieved a more noticeably integrated product. I don’t know if that is because of the limits of technology at the time the two separate videos were produced or if it was a matter of artistic choice. YMO’s video fell a little flat, for me.
Next, we watched the two versions of Cornelius’ “Drop.” I did not really like the first version in comparison with the second. The images created a sort of dissonance with what I should be focusing on. In other words, there was too much input of visual and sound information. Altogether there were four things to focus on, two images, and two sounds. The images consisted of the animate (the boy) and the inanimate (the water and various objects). The sounds consisted of the vocals and the arrangement. In “Smoke” it is very easy to focus on sound as represented visually and vice versa. In a way the simple shapes resembled the sounds (the arrangement) and the vocals seamlessly fit in by appearing on the screen in text form. On the other hand, in “Drop” (version 1) there is a causative addition with the sounds produced being represented alternately by the boy and various objects and their effects on the water imagery. That left the vocals floating unattached, but then the causative strain and the element of the boy constantly drew the lyrics back to my attention. As a result I would lose focus on the concert of sound and visual (the arrangement and the water). Another distracting facet of the boy was when they distorted his face; for some it was amusing, but for me it was grotesque and disturbing.
The second version of “Drop” was, in my opinion, an improvement over the first. It had more resemblance with “Smoke.” The imagery was more harmonious without as much of the human element except toward the middle part at which point it, again, became a distraction. The frog splashes made me smile and the waterfall shrunk into a tiny trickle of water was awesome. The lyrics were still free floating, but the lack, for the most part, of directly causative imagery allowed them to be subsumed in the arrangement.
That’s just my take on the videos, anyway…
Um, sorry, not really sure what we're supposed to post, but here goes.
I thought the Drop videos were both really interesting. The first one with the boy in the sink was moreso thematically interesting (I mean, what little kid hasn't done that before?), while the second one was obviously more visually engaging. The feeling of movement was pretty cool, though the combination of music and simple visual elements reminds me more of video games and similar interactive music/visual experiences. Maybe that's just my tainted expectations that can't grasp whatever pure aesthetic they were going for...or something.
I'm having a hard time remembering things from a week ago, but I can more or less see where Tyler gets the idea of linking The Pillows/Gorillaz with Cube Juice. Listening to more of their music, Cube Juice definitely uses more synthesized sounds than Pillows do, and have a more mellow instead of "pop-edge" sound, but there's contemporary similarities.
This week was a little difficult for me since there was no corresponding article to read. I had to do a decent amount of research and I almost quit when I heard Cornelius. His Wiki page says that one of his primary influences was Beck and indeed in listening to his songs, I can hear the similarity (even though I don’t listen to Beck because he is perhaps one of my least favorite artists). I don’t think it’s that I think their music is bad, it’s more that I equate their music to trance-y stuff and that’s just not my cup of tea. However, Beck’s music is a lot less trance than Cornelius’. Their music videos have some things in common (at least the ones I watched)--lots of random images that I don’t know if they have anything to do with the song (see Gamma Ray by Beck and Point of View Point by Cornelius)--Beck’s have a little bit more action and purpose. Then again, the images in Lady GaGa’s music videos/performances sometimes don’t have anything with the lyrics in her song. I did like the dancing robots in Beck’s ‘Hell Yes’ video. They were cute. I guess both artists’ videos could be considered artistic to some (perhaps in the same way that modern “art” is artistic…).
When I first heard Flipper’s Guitar, one of the first things that came to mind was that I liked their sound much more than that of Cornelius. The other was ‘1 2 3 4’ by Feist. So I listened to more of her music and decided that Flipper’s Guitar sounded most similar to her. Incidentally I like Feist a lot more than Beck as well. Although I can kind of tell that they come from different eras--to me Feist has a more obvious electronic sound.
I couldn’t find any information on Cube Juice really other than the band’s music on Youtube, but for sure it is the strangest band we’ve covered so far. Was there a point to the graphic art approach? Also the bear must be their mascot because it (or a variation of it) appears in nearly all their videos. The actual bears in their video “III” were a nice touch though. I can’t say much about their music. I already said I wasn’t much of a fan of trance but if you’re into that stuff then more power to you.
No reading this week, it is kind of difficult to discuss something, but I think the most I can talk about are the videos we watched on the class.
I don’t really have any thoughts about Flipper’s Guitar. But for Cornelius, I’m very impressed by their song’s MV. Circles dominate the song , and different water patterns dominate the song . It is very hard for me to understand what they really want to express through these videos. In general, because the song is not only pure music, lyrics do play important role to help show the theme of the songs. It is different to the pure music, such as original scores for movies. If it was the original scores, we can easier to understand the themes and main stream of emotion changes due to the variations in the music, such as Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and The Last emperor. Besides the lyrics, the video of these two songs are creative. I especially love the one with changing of water drops and patterns. The water transformed with the music theme, which was very interesting.
Cube Juice is more fun. The first most impressive thing is the three lovely bears, one with star-shaped eyes, one with eye-patch, and one with a mask. They made me think of the Bondai Kun in the Japanese anime Full Metal Panic. They are all very cute characters. The second impressive thing is the all anime videos for their songs. The anime videos are all cute-style. During the class, when we were watching these videos, many classmates laughed when they saw the scenes such as big hands pulling off the bears’ heads in the video of . And when the teacher asked for their thoughts of the videos, most of them thought the entire videos are just for fun and have no actual meanings. But I don’t think so. From the video , I saw the three characters’ braveness and willingness to explore the world and chasing their dreams. Although they were beat by many unexpected things, they never give up till they die. I think all the scary images such as separated eye, hands, ears, and skulls represent the crucial reality and obstacles we young people will face as we grows. So what I got from the video was that we need to be strong enough to face the real world, be brave to live a good life and never give up your our hope and dreams.
Out of all the groups we've looked at, and specifically the four I researched that had formed and begun making music at a time when globalization was making it easier to go international, I think Shonen Knife succeeded the most. I'm sure there are other bands who, at that time, were big and made some sort of impact on the international music scene, but out of the one's we've looked at and the one's I know of, Shonen Knife goes far beyond anyone else.
They were kind of an anomaly when they first came out because all-female bands weren't very common at the time, but they took their influence from 1970s punk rock and new wave bands like the Ramones and the Buzzcocks and succeeded in making a place for themselves within the alternative rock genre. They were so successful that they began to get offers from US labels and their songs began to appear on BBC radio, not to mention taking their performances abroad as well.
Maybe I just have studied the Japanese music history in depth enough, but I don't really know of any other band that managed to become at least somewhat known in the US, other than Utada Hikaru, who wasn't very successful in America despite her fanbase in Japan. Shonen Knife toured with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of them, and when I read this, I was really surprised that a Japanese band had managed to garner such appreciation and respect from a US audience. They also went on to appear on MTV shows multiple times as well as write songs for American media such as the Parent Trap and, of all things, the Powerpuff Girls soundtrack. If there are other Japanese bands who managed to be so successful abroad, I'd love to hear about them, but the extent to which Shonen Knife accomplished this was truly surprising to me.
By Eric Michelson
Im going to talk about a solo artist who’s name is cube juice. Cube juice I have heard reference to is a slang term for morphine. Wither this is known to the artist I am unsure, but I think that it would be pretty hard to miss. It puts his style down as electro artist, but he is rather unknown. he made a debute album in 1999. And since then he has done a few other things. He has worked with several bands, one of the most notable was a visual kei band named buck tick. He worked with another artist called Sakurai and he wrote the music for two of sakurai’s solo songs called Fantasy and Tensei. Infact on youtube you can see a video where cube juice shows up to play synth durning a live preformance of fantasy. In 2007 cube juice joined a band called dropz along with one of the people in buck tick named hoshino.
There is a great influence of electronic music in all the music that I have observed from cube juice, it seems to be his major focus. Dropz makes a song called you and me, which is sung in english by someone with a very slight japanese accent. You can hear the electronic music that is no doubt cube jucie’s contribution.
The aniti cute nature of cube juice I find to be very ammuseing. The three beats that represent the band, remind me of other bands that have had a lot to do with visual imagery, like Gorillzas or the even more successful DethKlok which is a metal band that I have listened to and seen in concert. In concert even the real humans play the instruments and on the background a cartoon music video plays in sync to wha is being played by real people. Someone makes me wonder if that is something that Cube Juice also did, or wither they do some other visual thing to accompany them in concert.
I guess we’re just supposed to write about the music videos we saw in class. Between the two versions of Cornelius’s “Drop” that we saw I think that I liked the second one better. It corresponded a lot better, visually, with their other video “Smoke”. The water drops and everything acted as the visual representation of sound, and the different elements of the song. The editing was really cool and I liked how it was a bit simpler than the first version. Not to say that the boy in the first video bothered me, but there was a lot to take in and I felt like my attention was jumping back and forth between focusing on the visual and than on the music. But I definitely think that the pairing of the song with the music videos makes the song more memorable, because they were so creative. I actually liked the song a lot though, since even though it was kind of upbeat it was relaxing at the same time.
Of the songs played in Tuesday's class, I found Cornelius's “Drop” and “Drop (Do It Again)” particularly interesting. The songs' lyrics weren't especially enlightening, but the music videos were captivating. I've always been fond of water since I was young, and have retained this attachment. Perhaps it originates from when I started swimming lessons at a young age or it could simply be the very nature of water that fascinates me. Water is very fluid, always changing shape, and continually flowing. Under certain conditions, it almost attains perpetual motion.
Or my attachment could be because I like water activities. I started swimming when I was young, around the age of 5. Every summer, my brothers and I would take swimming lessons at the town's outdoor swimming pool until we passed all the classes. After that, I became a lifeguard at the same pool, and taught swim lessons myself. Working as a lifeguard, whenever I would get bored on the slide shift, I would spill water from the slides to wet the kids as the walked up the flights of stairs. This would afford me with both enjoyment and a nice long view of the water as it changed shape as it went down. I would do this for most of my shift up top because I liked watching the water as it hurtled towards the ground.
Despite rating the music video very highly, the actual music didn't much impress me greatly. The only reason I would listen to this song would be when I would want something easy to listen to. The light guitar music in the background coupled with the soft voice of the singer makes this perfect for easy listening. However, I would not go out of my way to buy these songs solely to listen to them. The appeal that “Drop” and “Drop (Do It Again)” had over me was the purely the music video. Indeed, it seemed as if the main allure of these songs was the music video and that the songs were there for support. I listen to songs for the express purpose of listening to the music, not watching music videos and listening to the music simultaneously. This is the reason why I don't much approve of the music genre visual kei. Most of the songs that I've listened to were sub par, no matter how good the music video was.
Since there is no required reading for this week my post may be a bit short but I will talk about the videos we watched in class. So far this year, my favorite video is explosion by cube juice (actually I think that is one of the better songs). The fact that they are animated only makes it better (like an anime movie, more themes can be addressed, instead of a regular video). I actually watched this video several times outside of class and tried to buy it online (iTunes) but it seems that they don't have it. Visually these video were aesthetically pleasing, but when we thought about what was happening (bears running over ravers, and zombies) we still get a look at the human psyche. I am wondering if Freud’s writings were huge in Japan, because a lot of things within the Japanese culture have to do with psychology. It is interesting to note that the gorillas have the same type of animation. And Kanye West also uses a teddy bear for his marketing/ alter ego.
here is a link to see the images of kanyes teddy bear
The syllabus states that for our position papers, we’re supposed to present an argument based on the readings. However, as there were no readings last week, I think it might be somewhat difficult to propose an argument. Instead, I can comment on the bands we listened to as well as provide some thoughts and reactions.
In class, it was mentioned that most fans of Flipper’s Guitar were also fans of Weezer, Oasis, the Cranberries, and the like. When we listened to the first song by Flipper’s Guitar, it made me wonder how that could be case. How could people put these “fluffy pop” artists in the same category as Oasis? They didn’t really sound like those other bands and it didn’t seem like they projected a similar image. Listening to the second song, “Cool Spy on a Hot Car,” however, made the grouping of the bands more plausible.
In regard to Cornelius, aka Keigo Oyamada, I thought his music was somewhat interesting, and I liked some songs more than others. “Blow My Mind,” for instance, was interesting to me in the choice of percussion instruments since it didn’t sound typical of the songs we’ve been listening to. However, I don’t think I would choose to listen to this song as I found the melody somewhat monotonous. “Drop,” on the other hand, was easier for me to listen to. It was more melodic, and the music videos presented some interesting imagery that makes you want to keep watching. Nonetheless, I think I actually prefer the “French hot jazz” style of his early Flipper’s Guitar days to his music as Cornelius. And in a very unrelated note, did anyone here know that Cornelius was on the children’s show “Yo Gabba Gabba”?
Finally, out of the bands we listened to last week, I think it’s safe to say that the last one, Cube Juice, was the most entertaining. The music videos were very vibrant, and I think they did a really good job of epitomizing the “kawaii meets grotesque” concept. I had been aware of the popularity of “cute things that are also not cute,” as it is evident in anime and a lot of the merchandise in Hot Topic. However, I never knew where that came from, so seeing the Cube Juice music videos was really interesting in that it gave a glimpse of where the “kawaii meets grotesque” concept originated from. Also, it was mentioned in class that video has been fundamental to the reception of Cube Juice. Upon deeper reflection of this statement, I’m finding how undeniably true it might be. At this very moment, I can’t remember what the three songs we listened to sound like. However, I can visualize the music videos. Furthermore, I’m more likely to share this music with others, not so much for the music itself, but for the videos. They’re so weird and cute, but grotesque that I want others to see and experience what I experienced so that we may all cock our heads to side in confusion together. And finally, the images in the music video make you want to keep watching. It draws you in with the promise of cute and colorful, and once you’re in, they throw in all the craziness that makes you want to know how it will all end or at least if things will make sense later.
The promotional videos for the Cube Juice tracks “Explosion” and “Head Long” were both very interesting. I especially liked the video for “Explosion,” even more than the Cornelius videos we watched a few days earlier.
The video for “Explosion” was very artistic. It seemed to be representing things inside the head. At the very beginning, the camera dove into the mouth of the freaky mouse guy, which gives a feeling of going “inside” to the heart of something. Also, the three characters meander through an ever-changing landscape, much like the ambling of a moving thought process. Those three bears are so cute! The “normal” star-eyed one is cute, the pirate one is kind of cute, and the Jason-mask one is SUPER cute! The story began cute in general, like they’re on an adventure, with balloons, spinning teacups, hills, and tunnels.
At one point, though, it started to change. At first, it was still cute but faster and weirder, but then it started to become outright violent. They were drawn into a war with images of guns, blood, bombs, and barbed wire, a stark contrast to the platonic images earlier in the video. The characters themselves, with their cuteness, act as a foil to the dark imagery. It could represent the conflict within one’s own mind, between something “cute” (innocent, or admiring of innocence) and something very violent. In the end, the words “It’s alright” start to destroy the world the characters are running through, an almost explicit analogy to that conflicting state of mind.
The video for “Head Long” is different. It’s much more realistic and concrete, and has a more straightforward plot. The characters can be more clearly seen, since it’s not black-and-white, and there aren’t sudden changes in the environment. But it still had a similar downhill ride from cute things to shocking things. Even the shocking things were cute in their own way. For instance, when they were hitting the campers, an E.T. flew up along with them. The Jason-mask bear juggling the chainsaws was cute and surprising simultaneously. Even when they were being chased by the cop (who seemed to be doing drugs), it was funny how the bubblegum exploded in the bear’s face, though it was serious at the same time because of the danger. It was also clearly a “journey” of sorts. It was interesting that this video, the more lifelike one, ended with the characters painfully and certainly dead, while in the first one, the imaginative one, the characters seemed to die several times, but in the end it really is alright as far as we can tell.
Cube Juice’s music was very pleasant, its actually very relaxing to listen to their music, and I can really get into it even though it’s nothing like any of the music I tend to listen to (ie modern and classic rock). I think that’s what I liked more than anything else was the music videos they put forth; its fun to watch because everything about them is so laid back and clearly intended just to have fun. A very welcome change considering the melodramatic music of enka we focused on earlier, the various forms of rock with clear messages, and the coming rap/hiphop music (which definitely has an image to put forth too). Cube juice, on the other hand, seems to me to be music just for the sake of music, even to the point of having lyrics that don't seem to have much of a purpose. This is something along the lines of bands like REM-at least their early stuff- where the music is relatively easy listening, the guitar plays in a sort of staccato style, and the lyrics are pretty non-sensical, serving more of a purpose to fill an aural role rather than to imply some kind of meaning-that is to say, the lyrics are more important for creating a soundscape and forming a mood than to convey particular meaning or tell a particular story. I found the music videos to be very original and fun to watch, again sticking to the whole “just for fun” mentality expressed by the music itself. The animation is never too flashy, apparently flash-derived (or some other key-frame/tween derived animation program). In one of the videos I watched for extra research, they even animated by filming a couple of stuffed bears, much like a much cheaper version of Jim Henson’s muppets. These videos, just like a music, have a sense of humor and are fun to experience, best exemplified by the hilarious video for “Head Long.” Great music.
My opinion on each of these groups is not very strong to say the least. I don’t hate them, if one of my friends happens to have one of their songs on the radio, I’m not going to tell them to turn it off. But nor am I going to hop on Youtube and track down every song I can find.
My opinion on Flipper’s Guitar is picky at best. I like a few of their songs, but not all of them. The few I have listened to I think are pretty good and upbeat. Young, Alive, In Love was catchy, the video made me think of the opening of a movie or anime opening. The jazzy pop tune to the song gave it an old-time feel, making it slightly different from others songs of that time.
Of the three groups I have to say my favorite was Cube Juice (despite the gory videos) Explosion had the most interesting tune, almost a soft jazz/electric sound. Ironically the Explosion video was aired on Mtv (I’m sure I was either in school or in bed at that time), discovered this thanks to Youtube.
I don’t really know what to say about Cornelius, the songs videos were mostly all about visual show, and the songs themselves had little lyrics from what I herd (and that isn’t much). They sound good, but I couldn’t really get into the music, I couldn’t get past my confusion long enough.
To save myself from scraping for more, I will end this here.
I thought that the cube juice videos we watched in class were awesome! They were very entertaining and I love that the 3 bears are in all of the music videos that we watched. Like someone mentioned in class, when they looked up cube juice on the internet they come across something about morphine. I came across the same thing before I went to class. I like how he related that to the music videos because they were so different and strange to other music videos we have seen in class. I recently was looking around on the Japanese itunes to see if they had cube juice songs. I listened to all of the samples for cube juice's latest album. The newer songs sounded alot more like techno. They were higher in popularity but when I looked up the songs on youtube, I couldn't find anything. I was hoping for more bears but I found nothing. It was kind of dissappointing. But I thought they were a really neat band and they sound a lot different compared to anything we have heard. It even sounds unique to any American song or genre I know of. It seems like a band they would play on 89.3 the current.
A rather popular way to start the reading, true, there was not much to be said for the reading, but the videos presented a lasting impression. Cube Juice has a rather haunting quality to it, the music is often relaxing, simple constant rythme and even reassuring lyrics in english such as "It's alright" seemed like some sort of children's song or carried a message for troubled teenagers, but by watching the videos, it seemed anything but. I can't help but laugh at their animations and charecters. The thought of three cute bears stolling around, having adventures is something out of Hello Kitty or Winnie the Pooh. But having the concept of the bears being ripped apart or spinning in a blender is just disturbing. Even looking at the bears, you can tell something sn't right, like when one feels fear when looking at a clown. This is intended to be childish and fun, but holds some deeper horror. The lack of eyes, for example, is not cute, they look like blank, empty sockets. The other two bears counter cuteness in their appearance, one with a jason-like hockey mask, the other wearing an eye patch. Neither of these look cute, but bear the resemblance of a dangerous predator. I can understand if they the band is trying to conter the "cute" culture...many of us can't help but gag when we see the over-the-top idea of rainbows and bambi-esque animals hopping around a forest. On the other hand, there really needs to be a middle ground. Many people enjoy these child-like animations because of a feeling of nostalgia. TO see cartoons like this may be seen as an attack on themselves.
I will admit that the car chase scene into the water was funny, using simpson humor to have the bears screaming and falling, hit the ground, only to fall again, over and over and over. That humor, however, stops when it shows the bears in the morgue, Only to zoom out to the faces of the bears driving again...Is that really what society has become, a parody of the jaded, followed by shock value? I can't feel but depressed after watching this stuff. Dealing with reality is one thing, I can handle that,but mind games like these are too much to make sense out of. There needs to be a simple approach to reality, a way of avoiding these extremes that bands like Cube Juice are trying to combat without loss of mental equilibrium.