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“It has been said that to write is to live forever. The man who said that is now dead.”

The Third Lana – Album Review: Born To Die by Lana Del Rey

I am just so glad that I gave Lizzy Grant a.k.a. Lana Del Rey another chance.

The name Lana has always been a pivotal part of my path towards the meaning of life across this planet Earth. First, Kristin Kreuk forever redefined what erotic exotic beauty means with her ungodly potrayal of Lana Lang in Smallville. That led to my first serious acoustic guitar, the handcrafted LL16, being knighted with the name Lana Lang 16. Now, I have stumbled upon my very third Lana. 3rd time’s not just the charm, it’s the BOMB.

Let’s just start by saying I am relieved I did not get caught up in all the hullabaloo that followed Del Rey’s “2nd coming” into the industry. A year or so ago, I invested my first interest in her sultry vocals during her stint as MTV’s Featured Artist of the Month as a snippet of “Video Games” was played on the pathetic CRT television in my room at Awana Kijal as I was just about to put on my offshore coverall. The video was a poignant picture of Instagram perfection, & she was a vision. She was prematurely & unluckily hailed as the new female revelation in pop even before her full-fledged album arrived.


Then mayhem struck & it all went to hell as I recall. So-called scandals about her pouty lips & the failed history as Lizzy Grant exploded. Her first live performance on Saturday Night Live was panned as (allegedly) the worse ever in the history of mankind. Suddenly, it seemed like the whole world including the Beliebers & the Directioners & the Minajes & the Wankers were against Del Rey. Nobody was really bothering about her music anymore. I gave her album ‘Born To Die’ a first listen, but somehow, perhaps I was in the wrong frame of mind right at that moment, or with the looming heavy shit following her becoming an unfortunate distraction, Del Rey failed to truly stick.

God then gave her, or rather me, another chance.

The Great Gatsby, starring the always-intense DiCaprio & the ever-delicious Carey Mulligan, had what could only be described as a tasteless & embarrassing soundtrack. It was however, blessed for a short interval with the same sultry vocals that are anything but forgettable, belonging to Del Rey. “Young & Beautiful” had equally horrendous lyrics (Oh that grace, oh that body, Oh that face, makes me wanna party – SERIOUSLY?), but the melody? Ethereal. Haunting. Spectacular. It was enough to pique my curiosity to give ‘Born To Die’ another try.


& you know what? I do not care about all her failed attempts prior to adopting the name Lana Del Rey. I do not care about her nervous, weak live deliveries. Oh, & that SNL “worse” live performance? Has anyone seen Taylor Swift at the Grammys? Or Miley Cyrus attempting to hit an actual note within the established musical scale? Or Ashlee Simpson’s lip-synching disaster on SNL? I could care less about her screwed-up videos, her lackluster personality, or her cringe-worthy songwriting skills; simply because ‘Born To Die’ is – in short – the best female pop album I’ve ever heard in the last decade since Holly Brook’s divine ‘Like Blood Like Honey’ (2006 post-Skylar Grey), Dido’s ‘Life For Rent’ (2003) & Sara Bareilles’ exemplary ‘Kaleidoscope Heart’ (2010).

While everybody was losing their marbles about everything else, nobody gave enough time and space to evaluate her album as just that – a musical expression in words & melody. The album is one heck of a solid ride from start to end, & – fact – one of the most cohesive pop efforts in awhile. The melodies are deliriously contagious & beyond gorgeous, & her unnatural range of longing vocal delivery gives the songs a remarkable edge. & I’m not just talking about “Video Games”, the suicidally addictive “Born To Die”, the epicness of “National Anthem” (a personal favourite) or “Blue Jeans”. I’m talking about EVERY SINGLE FUCKING SONG.


Her bonus re-release of ‘Born To Die: The Paradise Edition’ early this year just tops is all off nicely with the additional 8 lovely songs, from the straight-out-of-a-fairytale “Bel Air” to the fabulous “Ride” & alluring “Body Electric”. Yes, consistent too are the lyrics, again the low point, but the tunes are just too beautiful to ignore.

I guess all in all, Del Rey is perhaps the most compelling female artist of recent times, irrespective of your opinion of her. For me personally, her songs have completely overridden my car’s audio playlist & my iPod for 2 months solid now. In other words, in the past year, she’s just about the closest thing to a musical female deity right behind Kim Tae-yeon.

That is, if you can look past her expressing in tune about ‘her pussy tasting like pepsi cola’ or how ‘a man’s body & face make her wanna party’

If There’s A Future, We (Have) It Now: The Return of Paramore, Live in KL 2013

There was no build-up of any suspense, no prolonged intro. Ethereal quiet “ooohs” came on, 4 drumstick beats followed, then BAM – Paramore launches head-long into the opening track, “Now”. The stadium went berserk. Paramore is f**king back.


Personally, there were many reasons for me not to go to The Return of Paramore, Live in KL 2013. Firstly, I’m no longer young. My partial-OKU status, what with my destroyed spine disc, meant I was far from qualified for rock-zone-physicality. Even more, past experiences remind me that I no longer am fit to, for example, fly to Singapore, line up at 12pm, swallowed in hordes of teenage punks submerged in their iPhones, basking under sunshine & rain for a day while awaiting entry till 7pm, then standing, jumping, then getting compressed, violated, pushed & tumbled down by kiasu, over-enthusiastic rock-zone-mosh-pitter-wannabe-monkeys.

But there were reasons to go also. Yes, they are my utmost favourite band, that’s a given. The last time I saw them live was in Singapore in March 2010, & I missed their October 2010 show on our own soil because I was offshore. The bonus this time was that it was held in an indoor stadium, so environmental concerns are removed from the equation. The sound wouldn’t be bastardized too. I was helped by the fact that my favourite woman in the world loved me so much she bought us tickets for the seating zones where fat asses, not-so-loaded kids, free-loaders & OKUs are preferred. In addition, I needed to get out of this whole SNSD-crazed-syndrome, & who better to smack me back to my senses than Paramore?

Most importantly, we had to, for one night, unite & show Paramore that we are still here for them. We had to answer Paramore’s call in their latest single – “if there’s a future, we want it now”. To say the past 2 years have been troubled times for Paramore as a band would be an understatement. The looming vibe & anger that first surfaced & inspired their previous album’s works, Brand New Eyes, finally erupted into a full-blown fiasco that reached its peak when the Farro brothers, so integral to the essence of Paramore from the very beginning, left the band in an emotional fallout. But Hayley, Jeremy & Taylor soldiered on, & judging by the number of us who turned up on February 17th night at Stadium Negara, we are still here for Paramore, & we sure as hell want more.

Then of course, there’s that tiny little reason to rule them all – something that, well…rhymes with Bailey Billions?


Let’s not kid ourselves here. Yes, Paramore is a band. But this confession is coming from the deepest freaking Parawhorish heart of mine – in Hayley Williams, they have the most awesome frontwoman of our generation, & it is her all-round talent, vocal prowess & charisma that sets the band apart.

Yup, that tiny little reason was more than enough to lead yours truly’s veteran ass into Stadium Negara, sitted amongst those kids.

Camera 360

We’re ready!

Opening act mewithoutYou from Pennsylvania kick-started the show at just before 8. Okay, truth be told I didn’t really dig their kind of music style, what with all the sing-speaking-screaming vocals & all, but damn their band sound was pretty darn good. They did however seem to play on forever in what was a longer-than-expected set, which was fine, but my ass & lower back were starting to hurt. Then the heavens parted & God answered in the middle of mewithoutYou’s set when a speck of blazing orange-y red hair appeared from backstage to join in out of nowhere. Sweet Mother of God, it’s Hayley! Prancing around & joining in the singing, wrapped in an over-sized sweater & army pants, she could not have been any cuter. She disappeared backstage right after a song. What a tease.


The band said their thank-yous & good-byes, the stage was cleared, lights were lighted-up, then dimmed. This is it.

There was no build up of any suspense, no prolonged intro. Ethereal quiet “ooohs” came on, 4 drumstick beats followed, then BAM – Paramore launches head-long into the opening track, “Now”. The stadium went berserk. Paramore is f**king back.

Paramore Performing Now Live Kuala Lumpur 2013 Hayley

So there I was in a rock concert, seated down for the very first time in my life. Hands raised, head-banging as much as I physically could to the stunning euphoria that has erupted on stage. The two girls in front of me however could no longer hold themselves. It wasn’t long before they lifted their butts off their seats & started jumping & gambolling wildly (but extremely awkwardly & unsightly too, I might add). Now, afew years earlier I would have not minded it & would probably even outjump them, but that was years ago. As they were blocking the views of myself & the people behind us, I politely tapped on the shoulder of the more-tomboyish-looking lesbian (sorry, I mean girl) & delicately gestured them to sit down. They were visibly surprised & shot me venomous looks that could only mean “Why the f**k are you all sitting down in a bloody Paramore concert.” I completely understood that. Years ago, I would have probably punched this current pathetic version of me in the balls.


Apparently even Hayley agreed because, to much of my own amusement & embarrassment, just a song later she said out loud to the crowd: “I see all you beautiful people sitting comfortably at the back there. & we are all happy & good. But by the end of this if you guys are all still not standing up, then we’re gonna have some real trouble. Yes, it may hurt a little. You guys are going to be sore for a whole week, KL!” (something like that la, as far as I can recall & summarize)

To which tomboy-lesbian-girl perfectly-timed her retort to me: “Hear that, f**ker!”. Oh, to be young & energetic.

I, along with most of those around me still seemed too comfortable, but it became clear it was getting impossible to resist when Hayley hollered out a 2nd invitation to stand up, dance & finger-snap to “Fences”. Screw this, I’m gonna rock out. I spent the rest of the concert standing, head-banging, arms-flapping & jumping (well, okay, jumping is physically a little too far-fetched) like a retarded teenage punk. Yes, for an hour or so, I almost forgot about my back.


I do not know exactly how many songs they sang, probably about 16-18 songs or so. But it was clear Paramore meant (misery!) business, & they were bloody damn in their element. Outstanding moments? Too many. That fiery “Oh, Father” outro at the end of “Let The Flames Begin” that had Hayley singing lying down. The massive singalong during “The Only Exception”, also one of my most cherished memories from their Singapore concert 3 years ago. The epic crowd atmosphere that accompanied “Brick by Boring Brick”, & of course, the closing number, “Misery Business”. The customary Jeremy+Taylor back-flip during “Pressure”. & I absolutely loved the fact that they performed all 4 songs from their last Singles Club album – “Renegade”, “Hello Cold World”, “In The Mourning” & “Monster” – which were all always underrated, brilliant songs. I also loved how “In The Mourning” was delivered acoustically with just Taylor on the guitar accompanying Hayley, as how this song started & was always meant to be compared to the over-produced album version.


I have to say the Farro brothers probably weren’t missed, but Zac’s drumming was probably more impactful. That being said, former Nine Inch Nails & Angels & Airwaves drummer Ilan Rubin did a commendable job on this tour, & I believe he is also the stand-in drummer for the coming album as well. As all good concerts are, by the time the last chorus of “Misery Business” ended (led by invited-onstage-fan Lucy), it all felt too short, but we were left absolutely satisfied. Sure, I would have liked it if they sung their old gems like “My Heart”, “When It Rains”, & “Emergency”. But who am I to complain, when all I feel is an out-pour of gratitude to Paramore for coming back again.


As we walked out of the stadium, I asked my better half of what she thought of Paramore’s awesomeness live, to which she uttered “They really sound exactly the same live & recorded.”

Look, my dearest of all, I love you with all my heart & soul, but this is where you are very very wrong – Paramore, spearheaded by the explosively spectacular Hayley Williams, are one of those rare ones that actually sound better live. They just really need to be experienced live.

With this, thank you thank you thank you thank you Paramore for coming back. & thank you to the tomboy-lesbian-girl too, for inspiring this broken veteran to physical lengths he had no idea he could still reach.

& with that in mind, I think I’m good for 2013. No more concerts, I’m all good.

Unless SNSD decides to drop by of course.

All pictures published are credited to &, since I didn’t even bother to smuggle in a camera this time.

The Never-ending Obsession, Obligation & Oogling

I solemnly swear that this will be my last post about Girls’ Generation.

For the time being.

I apologize, but I can’t seem to stop blabbering about them. Couple that with my furious passion to rank everything within my reach, & here you have an entry where I will, in my most immature, child-like, shallow, judgmental review, rank the best-looking (& mention the worse-looking one too) Girl in 15 of their more noteworthy music videos through the years, from the very beginning. Why? Because it’s fun. Is it useful? Nope. Then why do I still do it? Because it gives me bliss, word.

1. “Into The New World” – The good days when the girls were at their most natural, with almost zero noticeable makeup (gasp! checkout Seohyun’s eyebags!). While my favourite Taeyeon looks farkingadorable & so awesome with aviation goggles working on an airplane’s internal components & then piloting it, Tiffany edges ahead with that outrageous eye-smile, lip-smile & that innocent short hairdo.


2. “Girls’ Generation”Taeyeon, hands-down. This was her prime era, anyone thinks otherwise is retarded. Yoona, a distant second.


3. “Kissing You” – Lollipops! This is a tough one because it was an overdose of cuteness (which becomes tiresome quickly), truth be told I can’t single out the best-looking one, but I know who was the most agonizingly horrendous one. Someone should fire the person in charge of Hyoyeon’s makeover.


4. “Day By Day” – Okay, this is not actually a music video, rather the screensaver by Daum in which all of the girls look endearing. While I liked how Yuri “wipes clean” your screen, a flirty Taeyeon just about redefines the significance of a simple scoop of ice cream.


5. “HaHaHa” – Cute outfits, cute colours. & when you see the word cute, you know who wins. Uh oh, she’s clearly leading the pack…


6. “Gee” – The Holy Grail song that launched them into superstardom. It’s a close tie between the cute-as-a-button Sunny & sweet Yoona, but I do not know why I feel obliged to award Yoona not only for this but for her overall consistency.


7. “Genie” – & the winner is…all of their legs. This is for me the definitive tune for SNSD, & the track that introduced me to their heaven-thy-kingdom-come legs. But if I were to choose one face & am barred from choosing Taeyeon again, I would vote for Sunny, whom I almost forgot does long locks very very well.


8. “Oh!” – Another complicated one. While a highschool cheerleader theme for these 9 girls seem like a sure-overkill, I don’t quite dig the pink+big curly hair section. But enter the next pompons-with-blue-singlets section & Sunny just knocks it out of the park with her desirability!


9. “Run Devil Run” – Outstanding Taeyeon rampages over to the hot-vixen era, leaving behind the cute era. Absolutely explosive stuff. This is probably the easiest win.


10. “Hoot!” – The Bond-girl theme was good stuff, & Sooyoung (who has the strongest cheekbones that complement her very beautiful face structure) rocks the look especially with that perfect hairdo.


11. “The Boys” – Hmmm, wanted to give this to Jessica until I was reminded of Sunny‘s absolutely smashing short hairdo. Her transformation into this hot-blooded-sassy version of her was so enigmatic I almost wanted the other 8 girls to stay out of the picture. Well okay that’s harsh, at least Jessica & Yoona were worthy equals during the intro scene.


12. “Mr. Taxi” – This marked the arrival of Sooyoung who before this started a lil’ rough but has matured into a full-bloomed porcelain beauty.


13. “Bad Girl” – Love the song, love even more the choreography. But truth be told none of the girls truly rocked the bad girl look, so I’ll hand it over to young Seohyun as she made the most improvement & looked most convincing here.


14. “All My Love Is For You” – While I missed Tiffany‘s all-natural look in the beginning & generally detest her recent increase in makeup & hair colour, I have to say, she looks incredibly perfect from every single camera angle in this gorgeous video.


15. “I Got A Boy” –  A clear winner in Yuri! Whoever did her makeover & clothes absolutely hit a homerun. From the aviators, to the blue highlights of her hair, a smoking Yuri takes away the winner’s cheque away from the very consistently good-looking Yoona, whom I have noticed have been placed 2nd many times in my rankings.


Final score:

1. Taeyeon – 4 wins
2. Sunny – 3 wins
3. Tiffany – 2 wins
4. Sooyoung – 2 wins
5. Yoona – 1 win
6. Yuri – 1 win
7. Seohyun – 1 win
8. Jessica – Nada
9. Hyoyeon – Negative 1

So in a surprising twist, Jessica Jung, voted world no. 5 most beautiful face in the recent 23rd Annual Independent Critics List of the 100 Most Beautiful Faces, gets no wins. Unsurprisingly of course, Kim Taeyeon wins everything as always :p.

The Journey Into The Ears

This is a tale about how I got my in-ears.

When these started to feel old & insufficient


I wanted to have a new pair of these


Because I was heavily influenced by the national treasure of Korea


Then I got distracted by these

Monster Turbine High-Performance In-Ear Speakers

& also liked these after testing


In the end I went to the audio headphones store to get these


But ended up with a pair of these!


Simply because, for an entry-level in-ears for daily commute heavy usage, coming from a manufacturer of such repute, I have yet to find a pair that is as impressive. value-for-money & feels as properly-built as these.

Happy New Year – The Koreans Invade Again, & This Time They’ve Gone Mad

Okay, I’m wading waaa-a-a-y deep into dangerous territory here – I actually feel the need to produce a review on a Korean album.

I think it’s time you & I accepted the fact that the previous post was not a fling, it has now grown into a full-bloomed relationship based on commitment & faith. The Mayans did not help me by ending this phase (& the universe as we know it) for me, so hope of salvaging what dignity of mine that is left is lost. I’m officially a new fan of SNSD.


Which can only mean, you can hate the noise of K-pop, but you can’t help but love the Girls. & you sure as hell can’t help loving Taeyeon.

How much more wonderful can this immature misguided child within me feel knowing that 2013 will start with SNSD releasing “I Got A Boy” the single, the music video, & the long-awaited album. Well okay, long for the other crazed fans – I just embraced this freak of nature phase a couple of months ago.

& it’s complete bonkers. The craziest irregular doped-up shit I’ve heard since…“Bohemian Rhapsody”. Yea, so shoot me for sinfully mentioning Queen in the same breath as SNSD.

I’ve seen this more times than I dare to admit. It’s got all the ingredients I generally despise – electro dance, hip-hop, dub steps, that annoying buzzing tiuuutiititiitititiiuuuu tune scattered all around, the ending that should have probably come a full minute earlier. It’s messy, it’s too colourful, it’s overblown.

But not everything can be deduced by science, because the end result of all this concoction & hybrid of, what…5-6 songs perhaps? I absolutely LOVE IT.

It’s beyond crazy, chaotic, confusing, & it sounds like the writers & the Girls are both high & drunk. It is sublimely FEROCIOUS.

I love the out-of-their-comfort-zone zest & ambition. I love the girls’ relentless swagger & confidence. I love how Taeyeon is totally – majestically – owning it from 1:06 to 1:19. Heck, I even love the amateur rapping (Yoona, seriously? How adorable!). & Yuri, goodness she looks terrific! (those Aviators are killing it) That opening show-tunes-like sequence (right up till Tiffany launches them into overblown hip-hop mode) is quite brilliant. & the more energetic choreography is the best I’ve seen since their all-time-greatest, the powerful “Into the New World” & the Swiss-like-precision “Genie”.


Good luck to the rest if anyone’s gonna top this madhouse. What a way to blaze into 2013.

So it is just too rather unfortunate that the rest of the 9 songs in the album fizzles out & does not match the ambition & unexpectedly glorious mess of the first track. Notable ones are scarce – “Express 999” comes closest. Before long I found myself cutting back to track no.1 & replaying that many many many times.

This brings me back to the Japanese album they released just a couple of months back in November 2012, “Girls’ Generation II – Girls & Peace”. Now that was a pretty decent pop album.

Girls' Generation - Girls' Generation II - Girls & Peace - (Limited Edition) (CD+DVD)UPCH-29127

More importantly, amongst the good tracks – from the eclectic “Flower Power”, the cool “T.O.P.”, the catchy “Girls & Peace”, the sweeping cheesy ballads of “All My Is Love For You” & “Not Alone”, lies a hidden gem which I think ranks among the best from the 9 girls. That song, ladies & gentlemen, is called “Stay Girls”.

Now why this did not get released as a single would boggle me (just like the other hidden gem from TTS – “Baby Steps”), but “Stay Girls” rounds up the whole Girls’ Generation music style, theme & journey pretty well. It’s radio-friendly, catchy, & has that anthem-like feel, the kind of song you want them to sing as a final encore in their concerts, & the kind of song you definitely want to hear on the last day of Earth (or the last day before Girls’ Generation decides to retire).

No single? No video? No problem…leave it to the fans. Surely this is a befitting fan-made video for the lovely track.

In any case, “Girls & Peace” might have been the better album compared to “I Got A Boy”, but I will be last person to complain about SNSD. Is one leading single, a quite stunning one at that, enough to save the album & sustain the Girls’ all-conquering hold? I don’t know, but if there’s one thing I’m absolutely sure about, is that I’m damned well pleased to see them return. Welcome back girls!

The Unexpected Korean Invasion

Today, I am going to speak about K-Pop.

No, I’m not having a near-death epiphany. No, as far as I can recall I have not had any recent ear, brain or heart transplant. No, no one has hacked into my blog account & posted this blasphemy of an article.

But before I begin my case, let me slip in a quick word on a song that everyone’s been hyped-up about – Adele doing “Skyfall”, the latest Bond track. If no one is going to say it, then I’ll say it – DISAPPOINTING. I’m gonna get a lot of flak about this (well I’m gonna get even more flak after you finish reading till the end of this entry, but save that for later), because I seem to be the only one who thinks “Skyfall” is not as good as everyone thinks it is. Fret not for this is of no fault of the untouchable Adele, or Daniel Craig (fine, takde kaitan). Listen to it properly & you should realize that the song is just a mundane Bond theme rehash. Yes, Adele’s always-brilliant vocals lends some credibility to it, but the song’s rather ho-hum.


Yea, about that. So back to the world domination of the Koreans. I’m not going to touch on my eternal love for Janice & Sonia of Jayesslee. Nor am I referring to the giants of Samsung, or the emergence of Hyundai’s cheap plastics challenging the equally cheap plastics of Honda & the even cheaper plastics of Toyota. I’m certainly not going to reinforce the impact of the dreaded Korean pretty-boy-disease (you know, that disease that makes men look like lesbian women but women still fall for them, so basically everyone will end up looking like women by the time the world ends?) that’s spreading all the way here. I’m not even touching on a specific topic.

I’m touching on 9.

Yes, the bandwagon has long left & replaced by a giant jumbo plane, but I’ve finally discovered my soft spot for SNSD/Girls’ Generation.


Yup, still me here, completely normal, no brain seizure or anything.

Now, let me be clear. I am completely aware that this is going against all of my beliefs for the past 2 decades of my mature life. 9 girls in a group? Manufactured artists? Cutesy outfits? Generally mediocre vocals? No songwriting or instrumental skill & credits? All check check check.


Let me enter my defense. I do not see SNSD as musicians or singers. Take a step back & look at them as entertainers. Now you get a whole different picture. Dang, here I am, sheepishly admitting that I have to eat my own bloody words. Humble pie is served.

Trust me, they are not just another typical K-pop dancing group. Well okay, they are, but wait, they have something extra – they are really really genuinely likeable. Hmm, not a very strong case point is it? Try multiplying that likeability factor by 9, & you get a better idea. Look at them individually, & all you see are just decent, normal-looking girls making a living doing what they do best. & yes, turns out I’ve been wrong all this while – they don’t all look alike, in fact each of them have charming contrasting individual traits of their own! Humble pie no.2!


Ok, calm down. Strip off those outrageously addictive dance choreography in “Gee”, “Hoot”, “Genie” (well, basically almost all their music videos), those stunning supernatural legs, the whole “cheerleader effect”. Put aside their fluffy pop songs, or the fact that they sound less-than-stellar live except when they lip-sync. I like this group very much. I truly enjoy the girls as people. In fact, I’ve been having even more of a good time watching their heartfelt interviews, their hilarious antics during those ridiculously-addictive variety shows & their many “reality” stories compared to their immensely popular music videos on Youtube. You gotta check out their appearances in shows like Star Golden Bell, Star King, Running Man, Beatles Code, Night Star, Family Outing…the list is really long. My favourite has to be their shout-fest in Intimate Note though.

In case you can’t identify them. Took me considerable effort to. But not they’re impossible to forget.

I don’t even care about all the general hate & criticism splashed on them on their lack of originality, or all that talk about plastic surgery, that everything is staged & gimmicky. Never mind the fact that I don’t understand a word of their songs or when they speak, except “SNSD, fighting!”. BECAUSE I DON’T GIVE A DAMN. THEY MAKE ME HAPPY. PERIOD. Because what I see are 9 hardworking women who are such a pleasing vision on screen, a shining beacon of the female species, a triumphant…ok, you get where I’m going. The point is, they are natural during interviews, laughing (more like guffawing violently, really), making a fool of themselves, poking constantly at each other without an ounce of embarrassment, almost nonchalantly. It might be all just acting, with all the pressure of upholding-the-image & all, but they project no sense of pretension or falseness. & I like that.

Yes, they make me smile. None more than Kim Taeyeon.

The standout – Taeyeon

No, this is not a Bang & Olufsen advert. But it sure is an effective one without being one.

She’s not the most attractive of women, but as you watch & listen to more of her, it is bloody impossible to not fall for her! I struggle to reach out for superlatives other than those that are already over-used by fans who adore her just as much. Dorky, cute, yada yada yada. All true. & it goes without saying she is the best singer of the lot (not saying much, as far as I can tell only Taeyeon, Tiffany & SeoHyun can really sing anyway), & among the best from her country. Queen of the drama soundtracks. I love this girl to bits. I love how endearing & expressive she can be, yet still be reserved & understated; a quiet steely leader. This is a girl who makes the whole group (& the planet) smile when she smiles.When she cries, it’s almost like the end of the world.

The legendary adorable-gawky side of Taeyeon, unleashed. She’s so cute you just wanna put her in your pocket.

& she can look insanely hot too – “Run Devil Run” video

This is truly one of the most invigoratingly fascinating artist I have ever come across.


Her vocals are solid, but they are not exactly out of this world either. Lea Salonga & Fan Wei Qi still ranks above her in my Asians vocal list. In fact, I didn’t even idenitfy her X-factor (for the lack of a better word, I apologize) until I listened to her drama soundtracks & her solo live performances. There are times she does not really hit all the high notes precisely, but they are always breathtaking – it’s the way she casts aside her persona & all the reservations & expected formality, & pours her all into the songs she performs. The sensitivity & delicate poignancy in her chilling delivery during her live performances are just beautiful.

So far, “Closer” & “If” are my personal standouts from her

Of course, in SNSD, Taeyeon’s not the only star. I adore Tiffany’s husky vocals & that stunning eye-smile as much as any other SNSD’s crazed fans. Sweet Yoona is always a favourite with everyone, & I like how honest & humble she is during their interviews. Not a fan of Jessica’s weak vocals, but her slow ‘dumb-blonde’ antics are quite a hoot during those game shows.

Tiffany’s infamous eye-smile & wink

Yoona, probably the one with the biggest fan base

Sigh. On any other day, I would not have believed that I would reach this point in my life. & trust me, even I couldn’t trust myself, which is why I had given myself a couple of weeks to diagnose myself before coming to this unspeakable conclusion. This is not a sudden crush-at-first-sight, as I remember the first time I saw SNSD was 2-3 years back, their hand-made-by-Angels legs on display in their “Genie” video, playing on a 51-inch 3D Samsung LED TV at a Samsung fair in 1Utama, & it wasn’t until now that their spell finally worked on me. My better half has constantly ridiculed & poked fun at me, & friends have not been too kind either. I remember mentioning to San Yin during the first week of this phase that “at least their songs have not entered my car audio”. Because that is the ultimatum. When music gets inducted into my car audio, it’s like winning a Grammy.

Well, serve me humble pie no.3 because it took just another 2 weeks from that point before 17 of SNSD’s bubbly, harmless songs (plus 5 solo tracks of Taeyeon’s & 1 from TTS) survived my QC & auspiciously infiltrated my car USB playlist. Alarm triggered!


Perhaps, this is indeed a phase that needs getting over with. An early-life-crisis of sorts. Perhaps this is just an aftermath of my dreadful spine condition. Perhaps, this is a side effect of all the physiotherapy sessions & medications. Perhaps I’ve really hit rock bottom & gone bonkers. Perhaps my music tastes, something I’ve pride myself with, something of which I have set standards so high, have gone haywire.

Let me check – nope, still despise Bieber & Minaj.

But that’s the thing, I don’t really care. It’s a little like falling in love –  you don’t know why, you can’t explain it, but you are just in love & you feel like the sunshine is shining out of holes you’d never find sunshine in. I’d eat my 4th humble pie right now because at the end of the day, watching & listening to Taeyeon & her 8 wonderful members carves a loopy, guilty smile on my face. It radiates a flutter of warmth to my heart & chest, & exudes significant relief to the burdening pain of my work life & my worrisome screwed-up spine. Now isn’t that what music is supposed to be for? It has always been for an acquired taste, at the right moment & mood. Thus at this point of my life – when playing the piano & strumming my guitar is not enough of an satisfaction anymore, when driving around in Sonia (the car, not the twin) is not quite enough too, when Jayesslee has no new video updates – apparently, 9 Korean girls led by Kim Taeyeon are just exactly what the therapist ordered, exactly I want & need.

This has been quite an eye-opening confession, I must say! Still, it’s not a KV revolution of course, I still detest & do not comprehend the noise of K-pop in general. But let’s just say SNSD (& specifically, Taeyeon) has not only earned my love, even more, they have earned my respect. This online fan quote summarizes the vision I’m having in my head right at this moment best. It was during their pre-debut days more than 5 years ago, when the girls were given a day off. While the rest of the members went to relax & do some shopping,  young Taeyeon walked around alone, standing at a bridge overlooking a river:

“Remember Kim Taeyeon, 2007, just a scared young girl with big dreams, standing at the bridge alone shouting ‘I can do it!’. No one knew who she was and no one would stop by to listen.

Five years later, she is the leader of Korea’s national girl group, a girl who made her dreams come true, standing on the most prestigious stages with eight others as Girls’ Generation. The name everyone has come to know, respect and love. And when she sings, the world listens.

Kim Taeyeon, you did it.”

A bold statement, but a fitting one. Gotta give credit where it is due, these girls are sure hardworking.

I don’t know how long this childish infatuation will last, but I know it makes me gleeful for now. But you should not trust me too much. After all, I do seem like the only person on this planet that disapproves of Adele’s “Skyfall”.

In case you still need convincing of Taeyeon’s awesomeness, here’s a look at her amazing “Devil’s Cry” intro before “Run Devil Run” during their Japan Tour last year. Always gives me the chills.

The 3rd Glee Hit List: 25 Of The Best, Season 3…

& with that, Glee wrapped up 3 seasons. & Finn just broke with Rachel. Again. Snore.

I think I’ve took this long to type out this list for multiple reasons. Chief among them – to calm myself down & look at this with less emotion, more impartially perhaps. & guess, what? No Quinn Fabray solo in the list! Now you know I’m kept this list bias-free, unlike the previous 2 lists for Season 1 & 2. Almost. But now that I’ve mentioned my gorgeous Quinn Fabray, let’s spare a moment to see how they screwed up her character development, again. I mean, sure, they ignored her in Season 2, then gave her much more screen time in Season 3. Which apparently is not such a good thing.

Bang, talk about an entrance! I still have fantasies about this skanky, absolutely spanking look. Me digs Quinn in rebellious mode very much.

Suddenly she’s back in her clean short-blonde look IN THE NEXT EPISODE. Not that I’m complaining, she still looks boner-worthy. But she’s bitching about getting her baby back & gives Puck that death stare of hers that could make his mohawk fall off. This is the phase where Quinn goes berserk, almost bizarre.

Bonkers crazy Quinn lasted a couple of annoying episodes before she discovered a moment of epiphany & went all-wise & mature, BFF-ing with Rachel & gets reinstated as Cheerios captain (hurray!). & still looking insanely sexy.

Then she did something you should never ever do on the road, text while wearing pink & driving a pink Beetle. Because when you’re driving a pink blob of an automotive vehicle, you know you’re gonna get rammed by a truck.

Now she’s on a wheelchair. Paralyzed, but still managing to give the Glee Project winner a boner. Yucks, but am not surprised, who can blame poor Joe?

But hey! She’s miraculously back on her feet during prom night within a few episodes. I mean, WTF? Right after that she’s already dancing & looking f**k-worthy on stage during Nationals. & all end’s well as she sails towards the horizons of Yale. WOW. She had a baby, she went from Cheerios captain to a nobody to Cheerios captain, she dyed her hair pink, she went through four dudes, she was paralyzed, she is always supernaturally hot, & she still had time to study for Yale?!

I love you Quinn, but boy is your story mad as a hat. Poor Q.

Thank God for Santana.

Yes, Season 1 belonged to Quinn, Season 2 had Brittany tied with Blaine. & Season 3’s outstanding character was without a single Lebanese doubt Miss Lopez.


Which brings me to my point, you can’t really be ever satisfied with the storyline of this peculiar series called Glee. In fact, I’ve grown a little tired, so it was with quite some relief to see some major characters embarking on new journeys at the end of the season. Thankfully, you can at least trust Glee to deliver on the music-front, which makes it quite easy to single out 25 performances that I personally deem are the best from the season. & in this particular order, let’s bring out the guns.

25. “We Got The Beat” by New Directions (S3E01 – The Purple Piano Project)

First song to kick Season 3 off & they got it right off the first note of this The Go Go’s classic. I wanna go to a high school with cheerleaders with short skirts who jump, dance & gyrate wildly on top of canteen tables like Santana & Brittany, please.

24. “Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do” by Harmony & prospective NYADA applicants (S3E01 – The Purple Piano Project)

A nod to the clear prowess of Harmony (Glee Project’s runner-up Lindsay Pearce) whose performance was so flamboyantly exciting it led to a hilarious scene of Rachel & Kurt crying in despair after that. It’s funny that Harmony turned out to be more memorable than the other two Glee Project winners, Rory & Joe.

23. “I’ll Remember” by Kurt (S3E22 – Goodbye)

Kurt has had a rather disappointing season, especially as he had almost zero solos during the big competition performances. Fortunately the producers gave him one shot to shine at the very last episode, & like Rachel, he is best when not bellowing at maximum lung capacity. Understated, smooth & steady does it.

22. “Perfect” by Kurt & Blaine (S3E07 – I Kissed A Girl)

I really do like Blaine. His character, his vocals. That’s why a simple number like this becomes a hit, that is if you’re willing to forgive & attempt to ignore Kurt’s weird gamboling & that sweater of his & just let Blaine’s smooth crooning in.

21. “Fly/I Believe I Can Fly” & “Here’s To Us” by New Directions (S3E14 – On My Way)

Firstly, I must admit New Directions got their Sectionals, Regionals & Nationals song choices right, much better than the disastrous Season 2 choices. Here, they did Nicki Minaj’s version pretty well (complete with Santana & Blaine taking up rapping duties), & thanks to Rachel not over-doing it, the closing number, a very basic pop song by nature, ends up getting a decent play count on my car radio.

20. “You Can’t Stop The Beat” by Rachel & New Directions (S3E01 – The Purple Piano Project)

You really can’t go wrong with a number from Hairspray. I enjoyed how Rachel started the first few verses in slow-piano-ballad style before the whole gang launched all-gungho-blazing into the chorus. You just have to check out Brittany, Puck & Blaine’s faces as they go through those lung-busting, constipation-inducing lines!

19. “Roots Before Branches” by Rachel & Finn (S3E22 – Goodbye)

Forcing the whole corny plot twist aside, I must say it was a pretty emotional scene that accompanied this song. Even with Rachel’s extremely distracting crying melt-down face, Finn’s acting was tremendous. Getting the whole gang to meet & send Rachel off at the train station was a nice touch, as Rachel sang her heart out while stepping into New York to embark on her dreams, reminding us that she is still the main character in this ensemble.

18. “My Favourite Things” by Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt & Blaine (S3E09 – Extraordinary Merry Christmas)

Though the whole Christmas black & white act dragged on for far too long, this particular Julie Andrews sequence served as a perfect platform for these four to show off their perfect harmonies. Quite brilliant, really. Besides, Rachel & Kurt were born for such over-acting-ness.

17. “You & I/You & I” by Shelby & Will (S3E06 – Mash Off)

Glee mash-offs are always episodes I look forward to very much every season. They never disappoint, usually producing genius results. This time with the Troubletones separating from New Directions, rivalry goes to a new level. Will, who has had a number of nauseating performances this season (cue his whiny “Fix You” & any of those songs he performed during the Ricky Martin episode, ugh), duets with Shelby & they sound quite heavenly together.

16. “Human Nature” by Sam & Mercedes (S3E11 – Michael)

I have never quite gotten what Sam & Mercedes see in each other, but no one can deny how adorable these two look & sound together. On paper this track from Michael Jackson had the least potential to stand out among the other numbers performed in the colossal “Michael” tribute episode, but strangely somehow, in the hands of these two, it worked.

15. “What Makes You Beautiful” by Joe, Rory, Sam, Artie & Mike (S3E19 – Prom-asaurus)

Boybands are apparently back, & this is acknowledged by Glee with this rousing bubblegum fun at Prom. Despite just falling short of matching the epicness of last season’s prom performance of “Friday” (perhaps because Puck has been omitted for Rory & Joe?), there’s really nothing wrong with head-bopping to some chart-topping entertainment & cute choreography by these dudes.

14. “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” by Blaine & New Directions (S3E04 – Pot ‘o Gold)

In the trusted hands & even-more-trusted cleavage of Katy Perry, the song still sounded unmemorable & a little forced. Replace her magnificent cleavage with Blaine’s suave vocals & you get a really catchy anthem, the kind you just can’t stop singing along to as you skip your way to the beach in your flip flops. Yes, it’s good to remember that Glee is “all about fun” as Blaine pointed out to everyone before he eased in to the song. I REALLY love it when the whole New Directions group joins in a song & dance all together in the rehearsal room. This was the Glee we grew to love from the beginning – such cherished moments were aplenty in Season 1, but were scarce after. On top of that, what truly got me high was the scene of Rachel & Quinn dancing & bouncing happily off each other on top of a piano. They had me gaping like a complete nincompoop – there was just wayyyy too much love, & that stuff is wayyyy stronger than weed.

13. “Bad” by New Directions & The Warblers (S3E11 – Michael)

I believe this was the first time New Directions & Warblers actually sang together, & it worked on many levels. Excellent dance choreography, & that venomous slushie at the end confirms the arrival of Sebastian as the new evil nemesis.

12. “ABC” & “Man in the Mirror” by New Directions (S3E08 – Hold On To Sixteen)

New Directions heads into Sectionals without Rachel, Santana, Brittany & Mercedes (& oh, Sugar). Which means, solos for Tina! Yay! I’m always extra delighted whenever Tina gets a solo, & she breezes through “ABC” effortlessly. Things went downhill during the middle number (“Control” was a weird, wrong choice!) despite having Quinn giving a monologue in the most seductive, orgasmic voice I’ve ever heard in my life. Thankfully the guys picked up the slack with a neat rendition of “Man In The Mirror”, giving New Directions the expected win.

11. “Spotlight” by Mercedes (S3E03 – Asian F)

Asian F was 1 of the best episodes Glee ever produced, partly thanks to Mike Chang finally getting the chance to shine. But it’s also hard to forget this over-powering delivery from Mercedes, singing from the heart about being overshadowed by Rachel for 3 seasons now. I’ve noticed that I rarely acknowledge nor recognize Mercedes for her vocals, perhaps due to it being the generic diva type, so when she’s in my list, you know she’s earned it!

10. “Run The World (Girls)” by Brittany & Santana (S3E03 – Asian F)

Top 10 time! Give Brittany the stage & she gives you this, a freaking WOW. If I had a Presidential candidate delivering a campaign in this manner, pulling off those moves in THAT outfit, I would vote her in pants-down, hands-down. Never mind the fact that Brittany can’t sing, with autotune or not. This was…WOW.

9. “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” by Rachel, Tina, Santana & Mercedes (S3E10 – Yes/No)

A strangely effecting performance as the four, all emotional, sing their heart-felt lines while reliving their respective love-at-first-sight memories. Sigh.

8. “I Will Always Love You” by Mercedes (S3E13 – Heart)

Mercedes & Whitney. Singing Whitney’s greatest love song. Enough said.

7. “The Edge Of Glory” & “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” by New Directions (S3E21 – Nationals)

It’s time for Rachel to seize the limelight again, & boy if there was a solo song meant to be sang by Rachel Berry to prove Whoopi Goldberg wrong, it’s Celine Dion’s heart-wrenching diaphragm-buster. Amazing is an understatement. Strangely though, what stuck in my memory the most was those few seconds of Quinn & Tina, shoulder-to-shoulder singing “The Edge of Glory”. Teehee~.

6. “Shake It Out” by Santana, Tina & Mercedes (S3E18 – Choke)

The last time Glee did Florence+the Machine, it was a colossal success. This time, smartly enough, instead of trying to duplicate Florence Welch’s out-of-this-world vocals in “Shake It Out”, they did a acoustic toned-down version which was just beautiful, intimate & close to perfection. I don’t intend to undermine Mercedes, but this song belonged to Santana & Tina. You know they got it right the moment Santana’s sultry vocals floated into your ear drums.

5. “Without You” by Rachel (S3E10 – Yes/No)

Rachel has not had an easy season, has she. I mean, she has not always delivered, remember the disasters of “Cry”, “I Won’t Give Up”, & some other songs I didn’t even bother to remember. But sometimes we need to be reminded that she really can sing the shit out of a song, & when she gets it right, she REALLY gets it right. Thus, when you turn a whiny Usher+Guetta pile of stinky dung dance track into a power ballad, Rachel’s the one to nail it. I kid you not when I declare this as the best solo Rachel has ever done, ever. Take that!

4. “How Will I Know” by Mercedes, Rachel, Santana & Kurt (S3E17 – Dance With Somebody)

Without warning, they kicked off the Whitney tribute episode with this stripped-down, poignant, acapella performance from the divas of New Directions. Yes, Glee really shines with such commendable efforts, proving that you don’t always need all the extravagant gloss & extra showmanship. From walking the hallways to appearing on stage in the most glamourous of outfits, exceptional & chilling are words that come to mind when describing these four. I’m glad Santana has finally been acknowledged & inducted into the hall of divas by the way.

3. “Smooth Criminal” by Santana, Sebastian & a couple of insane celloists (S3E11 – Michael)

Spectacular arrangement first of all, but what made it beyond just that was the cementing of  Santana’s superstar quality & allure in season 3. Throw in a couple of over-zealous celloists on fire, & some crazy sexual chemistry with evil Sebastian, & Santana is unstoppable. I don’t know if “Smooth Criminal” has ever been done in such sublime fashion, but I’m very sure there’s not another Santana in this world quite like Naya Rivera’s. F**ktastic!

2. “We Are Young” by New Directions (S3E08 – Hold On To Sixteen)

Bearing almost a complete resemblance to their “Dog Days Are Over” performance, this was the Come-Together-Glee-United anthem for this season. When you look at the dramatic events that led to this song, you simply can’t help but marvel at the spot-on choice by the Glee people. The Troubletones & New Directions rivalry ending & reuniting, Rachel being banned from performing in the Sectionals but returns here with some restrained but brilliant solos, & an incredibly inspired speech by Quinn, of all people, to bring Mercedes, Santana & Brittany back to the club. On the front, Fun’s rousing track is the Y-Generation’s anthem of the year 2012, & it’s without doubt that more than half the credit goes to Glee’s stirring performance. On any other season such a classy delivery from New Directions would have easily went top of any lists, but this season, alas…

1. “Rumour Has It/Someone Like You” by Santana, Mercedes & The Troubletones (S3E06 – Mash Off)

Yes, this season, Glee scored big time when they pulled off this stunning feat. Obviously a class above all the other 24 in this list, AND any other numbers Glee has ever put out, I could actually run out of superlatives to bombard upon such distinction. Never mind the fact that this genius decision to mash “Someone Like You” with the thumping beats of “Rumour Has It” – producing UNBELIEVABLE results – arrived at the moment when Adele just happened to be at the pinnacle of an unstoppable wave of stardom. What we have here is Santana on center-stage, right at the point where she was solely carrying the weight of being the outstanding character of the season. & this came at the back of a particularly pulsating episode in which Santana started as an ultra-bitch spouting an onslaught of lines raised straight up from the deepest gates of hell, then broke down in tears (gasp!), before signing off by giving Finn an almighty smack across his face! With polished vocals that completely overshadowed Mercedes, & with the looming fiasco concerning her gender preferences serving as the dramatic background leading to the performance, a fragile – yet fiery – Santana perfectly encapsulated what was her best episode & season with a flawless, all-round delivery of a mash-off song(s!) just oozing with quality of mind-blowing proportions. An ultimately defining moment for both Santana & Glee, this is.

Special standouts that did not make the list include Tina’s “Because You Loved Me” (because we all love it when Tina gets the chance to shine), an emotional almost-tear-inducing short performance of “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat” (Glee’s first ever rehearsal song) by the original Glee members, & the mother of all surprises – Burke Hummel doing “Single Ladies” with Tina & Brittany, for Kurt (I almost fainted with joy).

Check out the previous lists for Season 2 here, & Season 1 here.


To do things a little extra different this time, here’s a round-up of the 5 most disastrous performances/attempts from Glee Season 3, as far as I can recall that is.

5. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Blaine & Cooper (S3E15 – Big Brother)

Just because Gotye’s song is overplayed everywhere till the far corners of the Earth does not mean you have to jump on the bandwagon & force this song into a duet between 2 brothers!

4. “Cry” by Rachel (S3E18 – Choke)

Okay we get it, Rachel choked, but she cries in almost every song she sings anyway. She can bawl all she wants till her nose drops off, but she can never come close to matching the extra edge Kelly Clarkson’s vocals possesses to deliver a song of such magnitude.

3. “Ben” by Rachel, Kurt & Finn (S3E11 – Michael)

What does Blaine’s pirate eye have anything to do with a rat? That aside, the choice was corny, the delivery was nauseating, ahhhh…was just plain wasteful.

2. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Finn (S3E07 – I Kissed A Girl)

After listening to this epic failure of a ballad attempt complete with Finn’s unnaturally dead vocals, girls ain’t wanna have fun, they gonna wanna go jump off a cliff. 10 times at least. This is murder.

1. “We Found Love” by New Directions (S3E10 – Yes/No)

Seriously?! The mother load of all failures. Trash song for any occasion what more a marriage proposal. & there was a swimming pool. With synchronized swimmers. A big float. Finn in a singlet & wet shorts. Words…fail…me.


This random shot speaks more about them than it would seem.

The contrasting colours. Their differing persona & backgrounds clear as day. The bold striking babylon red, a reflection of his apparent inclination towards a more aggressive approach & egoistic pride, perfectly summed up in that F1-like stuck-up nose. Beside; the light quartz blue, a signifying of her pure, more understated & humble outlook in contrast. But look closer & you see something unique – 2 very race-like strips of air intakes on the bonnet that remind you to not be fooled; underneath lies elegance, strength, determination, & confident maturity.

They are both Lions. Yet here they are, side-by-side. In the wilderness of this peculiar thing called life.

The greens recalls the foundations of their acquaintance, the first few years together at the jungles of books, lab coats & concrete. The scattered patches of dying grass amongst the greenery echoes the rocky patches & hard times they have had to overcome, mostly together, sometimes apart. & a drain lying ahead serves as a reminder of the obstacles ahead, & that things are never easy, & never will be.

But it’s good to see, feel & know there’s someone at each other’s side.

Yes, here they are, side-by-side.

Looking in the same direction.

Yes, it’s not just about looking at each other, it’s also about looking onward in the same direction, together.

A simple picture taken at an opportunist juncture. It may not make up to about a thousand words like the over-used phrase claims, but it weighs just about that, doesn’t it.

Nobody’s Home

2 days ago…






My own actual room is becoming a weekend getaway 🙂

Every Boy Needs A Toy: Part V

& this time it took a little more out of his piggy-bank tabung.

But then, he looks up & sees twinkling twinkling little stars across the night sky through the outrageously beautiful moonroof…

(or the occasional “perfectly-baked” bird droppings during the day)

Then there’s that tantalizing tiny whissshh from the waste gate of the turbocharged heart…

(along with the drinking rate of this fuel-aholic)

Well, unfortunately she ain’t this, but it’s close enough for me. 😀

I’ve gone French & I love it!

– Milestone #1, Wife #3 –

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