Monday, December 26, 2011

All-Time Favorite Songs In Alphabetical Order Part One

iTunes may come with a Top 25 Most-Played playlist, but that certainly doesn't ecompass my actual favorite songs of all time. So since an All-Time Favorites playlist is a must-have, I made one, and here I am to tell you all about it.

Of course, at the moment it has 52 songs, so we'll go over them all in sections so I can do each song justice.

And since it'd be impossible to order them in a best-to-least-best fashion, we're going alphabetically by song title.

First up is Alligator Sky by everyone's favorite pop band, Owl City. I believe that the latest Owl City album, All Things Bright And Beautiful, is the closest thing to perfection on Earth that there ever can be. The only thing it needs is a slow, mournful song. Alligator Sky (played 46 times) is a more upbeat tune complete with a rapper (a never before-heard occurence for Owl City songs), and this is probably the only rapper cameo I like. Alligator Sky talks about rockets and space travel and imagination and it's just so...beautiful.

Next is Already Home by another of my favorite bands, Thousand Foot Krutch. Already Home (played 66 times) is definitely one of their most beautiful songs, full of mournful contrasts such as, "The trouble with peace is it never fights, the trouble with love is it's always blind", and the whole first minute of the song is composed of a heartbreaking ensemble of string instruments. There's something so piercing about a violin, especially in a rock song (Skillet, anyone?).

I'm not really a Josh Groban fan, but Bells Of New York City gets me every time. Maybe it's the fact that I first heard it in ballet class with my favorite teacher and one of my favorite combinations ever. But anyway, "Bells" (played 30 times) is a bit mournful and feels like a lonely winter night spent in an unknown city full of strangers. So, naturally, I love it.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams was the first Green Day song I ever heard (unfortunately, it gave me the wrong impression about the band), and it's still one of my favorite songs ever. Like "Bells", it brings to mind a lonely tale of a traveler in unfamiliar cities. "Boulevard" (played 104 times) has been a favorite for a very long time.

On the other hand, we have Clean Up Your Eyes by the little-known Scottish band The Dykeenies (yes, they are named after the creatures in Willow). This song (played 41 times) has many fond memories, from the music video of one of my favorite movies (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) to using it as an alarm during my Ireland trip. It bursts into life, with Brian Henderson singing out, "Clean up your eyes, and I'll dance alone with you in daytime!" Its a shame all their other songs are crap.

I happened upon Collide by Howie Day only a few months ago by accident, but since then it's become a big favorite. Another slightly melancholy song (are you detecting a trend?), Collide (played 44 times) talks about mistakes and misunderstandings, but how "I somehow find, you and I collide". I think what really made it awesome for me is the line, "Even the wrong words seem to rhyme".

I've always been a bit of a Plumb fan, but the only song I'll listen to repeatedly is Cut. If you thought the other songs were miserable, wait till you hear this one. The story of a depressed girl who only manages to feel anything at all when she cuts herself. It's a heartbreaking story, but Cut (played 50 times) does have a happy ending.

It's rare that I like an acoustic version better than the original, but Die Trying (acoustic) by Art of Dying is so. beautiful. The original version is a rock song completely with electric guitars and hard drumbeats, but the acoustic version (played 24 times) turns it into a beautiful ballad. Whereas the original has a determined tone under the lines "I will die trying", the acoustic holds a promise. "If it takes forever, I will die trying."

Owl City returns again with Dreams Don't Turn To Dust. I love this one (played 29 times) because it's reassuring, promising dreamers everywhere that "Dreams don't turn to dust." It also voices some of my own recurring thoughts with the lines, "I'm sad to see you go, but I'd rather be alone."

So remember that British guy, Alex Day, who read Twilight? Well, he's also a musician, and he recently released Forever Yours (which reached #4 in the UK charts! Go Alex!). I trully love this song (played 44 times). A song of friendship or love, whichever you choose, is like a conversation. "It will be forever mine, and it will be forever yours, that we own the night and it can't be undone. We'll never forget how it feels to be young."

What do you know, Owl City's back again! Galaxies really does talk about space travel. "Armor the airlock, blanket the bed rock, kiss the planet goodbye!" And then you actually get to space, and you get lost! "Dear God, I was terribly lost, when the galaxies crossed, and the sun went dark." But don't worry, you find home. "Dear God, you're the only North Star, I would follow this far." (played 31 times)

I understand that Good Charlotte is known for being bad, but I kind of like them. And I love Harlow's Song (Can't Dream Without You). It's quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs. Ever. "Harlow" (played 60 times) is most definitely a love song (or possibly stalker, but we won't go there), with the dream-like lyrics and chorus, "I don't wanna live this life without you, I don't wanna spend the night without you, I don't wanna know what it's like. I can't dream without you."

If you know me, you know there are two classic stories I'm a sucker for. Alice In Wonderland and Wizard of Oz. While I have plenty of Alice songs, so far Home by Breaking Benjamin is the only Oz one I've found. And it's awesome. It tells the story of Dorothy and her friends of Oz, even going from black and white to full technicolor. Home (played 70 times) also adds a more sinister take to the four Oz characters, with the last lines, "I don't wanna be bold. I don't wanna be cold. I don't wanna grow old. I don't wanna go home."

The next one is also called Home, but, unfortunately, Three Days Grace aren't explicitly referring to Oz. This Home (played 116 times) is an angry song about not having a home, only a miserable little house. "I'll be coming home, just to be alone."

I like most of Florence + The Machine's songs equally, but Howl is even more haunting than the rest. I also can't help but associate it with Howl's Moving Castle. It's hard to beat Florence's voice, and Howl (played 30 times) shows of her talent perfectly. I also get the feeling it's about werewolves, "You are the moon that breaks the night for which I have to howl."

I'll be going through more of my favorites later!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Computer Problems + Anime Review -- Skip Beat!

In my last post, I introduced you to my infatuation with anime and manga, and I mentioned that I was currently watching Skip Beat!. Well, I finished it.


Luckily, the manga continues past the ending of the anime, so maybe I'll get a decent ending after all.

Kyoko Mogami, at the age of sixteen, moves to the big city with her boyfriend and rising star Shotaro Fuwa. She has multiple jobs and supports them both by renting an apartment and fixing all the food. She is happy and madly in love with Sho.

But then she overhears Sho talking about her, saying she's just his "maid" and he doesn't give a crap about her. Enraged, she decides to get her revenge on him by entering showbiz and becoming more famous than him.

But she finds it's not as easy as that. She goes to LME, the company where Sho's rival, Ren Tsuruga, works, and tries to get a job. But when told she's only in it for revenge, the company, and Ren, aren't so enthusiastic. But she gets a job in a new section called Love Me, where she's forced to wear a bright pink jumpsuit and pretty much do anything that is asked of her.

Will Kyoko recover the ability to love and be loved? Will she ever get her revenge on Sho? Will she ever get along with Ren and Moko?

The first four or five episodes were just okay, but after that this anime gets awesome. Kyoko has a fiery temper, and it's always hilarious when she goes into a rage and starts laughing and scheming. She has this little team of "demons" who keep popping up and urge her to exact her revenge. Occassionally there's an angel who tries to get Kyoko to be more kind, but the demons usually do away with her pretty quick.

Plus she wears a pink jumpsuit. And occassionally a giant chicken costume.

The only problem with Skip Beat! is the ending. It's very abrupt, and not at all satisfying. It was kind of like the writers went, "Oh, guess we better end the show now" and hastily wrote in something a little more cheerful. I honestly think it would've made a better ending if Kyoko and Ren were arguing with each other or something, but I guess it's not all gravy.

Plus, there's the manga to look forward to!

Now I'm watching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and I have some high hopes for it. I just wish Kyon wouldn't talk so fast (good thing I read subtitles like lightning). And since I got rid of a pesky little computer virus (I use the term "little" lightly), I can watch ALL THE ANIME I WANT!!

Well, within reason.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Anime + Manga

It's time to address my infatuation with anime and manga.

Okay, it's been addressed, we can move on now.

So yes, I'm a bit of an anime and manga geek, but I'm relatively new at it. But I'm experienced enough to try to read comic books backwards, handle subtitles fine, and know multiple Japanese phrases (thank you, thanks for the food, welcome back, strawberry, right, cheers, sorry I'm late...).

The first anime I ever saw? Well, I supposed that'd be the adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle (epic). Oh, you mean anime TV series? Fruits Basket. My all time favorite anime? Ouran High School Host Club.

Manga, you ask? First I read? Ouran High School Host Club. Favorite? Ouran High School Host club.

Why yes, Ouran High School Host Club is my favorite manga/anime of all time.

Right now, I've watcher 12 anime all the way through, and I'm in the middle of six. My current favorite is Skip Beat!, mostly because Kyoko, the main character, has the funnest temper ever and has to wear a pink jumpsuit. Hilarious.

So maybe you like anime too, but you don't know what to watch next. Or maybe you're dying for more, but can't get your hands on any. Don't worry, I'm here to help *cheerful wink*.

A good source for finding more anime you might like to watch is Anime-Planet. They have probably ever single anime and manga ever created on file, and you can browse them all, read summaries and reviews, and catalogue them according to which ones you want to watch, have watched, are watching, won't ever watch, or whatever else you want to add. I'm unicornconspiracy, so feel free to look me up.

To actually watch anime, you have to go elsewhere. There are several sources I can give you right now, but if you just google "watch insert-anime-name-here online", you're bound to find some kind of anime streaming site. Hulu is a good site and has lots of anime, but rarely keeps up the dubbed versions, so if you prefer dubs, you might want to skip over Hulu as your first choice.

Youtube is also a great place. Funimation, a company that transfers anime from Japanese to English with subs and/or dubs, has an account on Youtube and they stream a few of the shows. And if Funimation hasn't put it up, there's probably some other user who has.

And then if neither of these sites have it, check out Anime Freak. It's a bit glitchy, which is why it's never my first choice, but it has a good collection of anime and usually offers subs and dubs (when there's a dubbed version).

Those are the three sites I'd recommend you look first, because they have the most reliable video players. Other places, like CrunchyRoll, are somewhat hard to use and do weird things. But sometimes they just don't have what you want, so you have to go elsewhere.

If you're real lucky, of course, your local library has what you're looking for, or maybe you just have tons of cash you need to spend. If that's the case, then head on over to Amazon and have fun.
Keep an eye out for manga and anime reviews in the future!