You gotta break the rules sometime and today’s theme is no theme! What?! Anarchy! Madness! You say? Well we all need a little shaking up sometime.
Theme or not, I still love all these tracks so give them a shot and let me know what you think!
きのこ帝国 – 海と花束 (MV). I believe this band’s name translates roughly to Mushroom Empire but I’m not expert at Japanese (cough – I used Google translate – cough) so don’t hold me to it! I love their combination of dreamy lyrics set to some amazing guitar. It’s almost like hard rock shoe gaze…or shoe rock if you will. If you like this combo try 東京.
Madjo – Le Monstre. I listen to this and wish that I could sound this sultry in French without trying (or just this sultry in general).
Tree Of Life 生命樹樂團 – I just discovered this Chinese band and I absolutely love this track (I’m a sucker for violins, guys.) I’m hoping to find more by them soon!
Bradio – Fever. This Japanese band is just plain fun plus the lead singer has an afro that inspires my admiration. Flyers and Golden Liar are also must listens.
SALTNPAPER (솔튼페이퍼) – 완벽해요 (Perfect). Do you want your ears caressed and soothed with dulcet Korean lyrics from the inside out? Then do I have the perfect song for you.
Leningrad – Fish. Just because I can. Yes friends. I have found a Russian ska version of Tom Waits singing with a full band. There are sailor outfits, there are fabulous hats, and there may even be a tuba involved (or a sousaphone I never can tell). Want more? Here you go! Фиаско (без цензуры)
Here are some bands to challenge your ideas of nationality as well as give you awesome music. They don’t fit into those neat little categories. Transnational, multilingual, and badass. They all offer thought provoking forays into defining modern identity without causing me to fall into a Hamlet-like spiral of existential angst. Now excuse me while I try to teach myself another language…or three.
Yoshida Brothers and Monkey Majik – Change. The band Monkey Majik is a Japanese Canadian band based in Japan. Their collaboration with the Yoshida Brother’s traditional Japanese shamisen is instantly intriguing. Monkey Majik sings this song in English but many of their songs are also Japanese or a mix of both. Try Alive.
White City – Space Cadet. Throw a Brit, a Swede, and an Aussie together in Kabul and what do you get? White City, that’s what! Like this try Perfect 10.
Ibeyi – Oya. French-Cuban mistresses of haunting sounds need I say more? They also sing in Yoruba a Nigerian language. Listen to River and Mama Says. Kudoos to Abena for bringing these ladies to my attention!
The Royal Pirates – Drawing the Line. Oh hey. Royal Pirates I see you and your meta music video references. This Korean-American band have both Korean and English versions of some of their songs, cause that’s how they roll. Listen to Love Toxic and Fly to You
Add you favorites below!
Are you sick?
Alright then. Consider adding these songs to your convalescing routine. That’s right! In addition to hot tea, soup, medicine, and large quantities of tissues soothe those eardrums of yours. They need love too. Wrap yourself in the fuzzy blanket of sound and forget about that headache and how cold it is outside.
Christophe Mae – On S’Attache. While Christophe’s quirky falsetto may not be for everyone I really enjoy his style (a sort of Jack Johnson jam session sort of vibe.) Plus he’s on a beach. It’s impossible to be sick and on a beach right? Check out Tombé Sous Le Charme.
Akdong Musician (also known as AKMU) – Melted. This sibling duo has taken South Korea by storm. Try Galaxy and Give Love for a more bubbly sound and a reminder that even if you’re sick the world is a pretty great place.
Nujabes – Aruarian Dance. Too sick to process lyrics? Look no further. This Japanese DJ and producer has got your back. These tracks are about as soothing as you can get. Counting Stars and Mystline will provide similar auditory relief.
Carla Bruni – Quelqu’un m’a dit. This Italian lady is a singer, actress, model, wife of Sarkozy. She nails the breathy French sound in this track and in Raphael as well.
Jhameel – White Lie. An all around renaissance man Jhameel has a vast musical range. I love many of his more upbeat rock/pop tracks but for those chill days try Waves, and Poison.
The Chieftains – Sea Image. When you are on the road to recovery this Irish band always puts a spring in my step and me in a better mode. Listen to Boil the Breakfast Early or Chase Around the Windmill just be warned you may be moved to dance a jig or two!
Any comfort songs I missed? Add them down below!
In my high school years I would stumble across the occasional amateur rap battle or two during lunch or between classes. I attribute the excitement of those fleeting moments of grass roots rap to the birth of my love of rap (and previously mentioned amateur beatboxing dreams).
The songs listed are much better than anything I ever heard in high school and way beyond my own ability (oh to be able to lay down such cutting and clever rhymes!). While I still can’t rap (well) I can at least listen to these songs, nod along, and practice a line or two.
Ok or maybe not.
Salome MC – Price of Freedom. Both an artist and a musician this Iranian lady writes some rebellious rhymes covering everything from society, artistry, and ever present existential ambiguity. Like this? Try Gonahe Vojod.
Swings – Fallin (feat Jay Park). The self titled “Punchline King” of South Korea lives up to his name with some hard hitting lines. Feeling this? Try 이겨낼거야 2 (Victorious 2) and 달리자 (which also features many other famous Korean rappers).
Ana Tijoux – Somos Sur (feat Shadia Mansour). This French-Chilean rapper has been all over NPR lately and rightly so! I love her tracks 1977 and Shock as well.
Supersci – All Year Next Year. The 60’s almost Beatles-like electric tune to this Swedish rap group’s song immediately caught my attention. Want more? Listen to On The Grind.
Cut Killer– Nique la Police. This track mixed with Edith Piaf’s classic “Je ne regrette rien” speaks volumes about the tension surrounding modern French identity. Duly famous for the gorgeous shot it was used in the film La Haine (which go see now if you haven’t).
Shing02 with Nujabes – Luv (sic) Part 2. For all you smooth, chill beats lovers out there Shing02 is for you. Anime watchers out there may recognize him from Battlecry the theme of Samurai Champloo. There are six parts to the Luv(sic) set. Check out the full set here.
Whew! I may have bit off more than I can chew. There is a ton of excellent international rap and hip hop to choose from so stay tuned for updates. In the mean time leave your reactions or suggestions below!
Sometimes I fall into dance routine funk. You know. When I’m out on the town and I’m pushed into the dreaded dance circle (or more accurately when I’m dancing around my apartment) sometimes I’m just at a loss. What step should I use? How many shimmies and isolations can I get away with? Fortunately, there is the internet to save me from my choreographic rut. Here is a list of videos that make my dance breaks more interesting.
Gather your dance crew around or try learning these moves solo. Everybody warmed up? Cause once you pop n’ lock the fun don’t stop!
SHINee – Lucifer. This South Korean boy band is well known for their great dances (try learning the dance to Sherlock as well). If this video is too fast try their practice version to help break it down.
Fuse ODG – Azonto. This is a new popular dance from Ghana (brought to you by my excellent friend Abena) is a little easier to jump into. The lyrics break down the moves so all you have to do is follow along.
Heropanti – Whistle Baja. These steps are from the Bollywood movie Heropanti. If you don’t feel up to the acrobatics pulled by our lead dancer you can definitely master the hook step during the whistling. Love this? Try Palat Tera Hero Idhar Hai
P Square – Alingo. Like the Azonto but want something a little faster? Try the Alingo by this Nigerian duo.
Dream Team do Passinho – Todo Mundo Aperta o Play. This dance group is performing the a Brazilian dance style the passinho considered to be a mix of hip hop and funk that is unique to Brazil.
Any great new international dance styles or popular choreographed dances that I missed? Post ’em below!
That’s right folks. This week its all about bands, bands, bands. So break out your guitars and dust off those garage band dreams cause we’re about to rock.
The KOXX – Trouble Maker. These South Korean guys seriously know how to rock a guitar solo plus the awesome kitsch of this video would make the Wyld Stallyns proud. They certainly deserve a post all of their own but I couldn’t make this list without including them. Rock out more with Oriental Girl and 12:00.
Ykiki Beat – Forever. I love this track and if you’re like me and playing it on repeat try listening to Young Life and Garden. When I take my next trip to Tokyo I know who I will be looking up!
340ml – Fairy Tales. Swing away in Mozambique with Moodswings and Australopithecus (ok I may have included the last one because it blatantly panders to my anthropology degree…so shoot me.)
Quest Pistols -Ты Так Красива. Oh, you thought that video was gonna be all rainbows and cuddles didn’t you? Ha! Gotcha. These Ukrainians rocking your socks? Listen to Я твой наркотик
Wir sind Helden – Nuir ein Wort. This song makes me feel like that spending a day exploring Berlin with them would be lovely. Like this? Try Denkmal and Gekommen Um Zu Bleiben.
WHOwho – Her. More music from South Korea (I had to control myself before I got carried away). If you dig their electric sound with a touch of funk check out Bye Bye and Down Below
Kabul Dreams – Sadae Man. Want to rock harder in Kabul? Well this group (aka the first postmodern rock band in Afghanistan) can help. Try Can You Fly? and Shahab
Don’t see the band you love here? Comment below! What other bands from around the world should everyone know about? Oh….and party on dudes!
Do you like
- hard hitting, yet eloquent upbeat French lyrics?
- learning new and slightly eccentric dance moves?
- brushing up on your verlan?
- a mix between rap, spoken word, and singing?
- expanding your francophone horizons? (we’re bringing Belgium back, yeah!)
Then read on!
Unafraid to confront social convention Stromae juxtaposes addictive upbeat (and danceable) songs with some heavy and thought provoking lyrics. He is the very maestro from which he took his name. Not a French speaker? Not to worry the songs are great on their own but I highly recommend looking up translations of the lyrics because Stromae just lays it down!
Below are my top three songs at the moment but be sure to check out his latest album Racine Carrée for more.
Alors On Danse – Do you hate your job? Has the day-to-day drudgery and the farce that is everyday life become overwhelming? Well, this song is for you. This is the track that launched Stromae into international acclaim. And forces me to dance whenever I hear it…which may be the point.
Ave Cesaria – This song is the least synthesized of the three and has an effervescent tropical beat. The home style video can be a little dizzying but is endearing and does a great job of showing different points of view as the camera is passed amongst the party goers.
Tous Les Mêmes – Herein are the fun dance moves mentioned earlier. This music video features Stromae acting out male and female roles while he sings from the perspective of a woman. It is awesome. The demented tango he dances with himself (lyrically and literally) is something I feel like we all can relate to.
Its that time of year when the cold weather starts to get me down and winter seems like it will last forever. Whenever I get the January doldrums watching these videos with a cup of tea perks me right back up. These songs are favorites of mine to listen to but their music videos always increase my smiles exponentially.
So if you need a shot of musical sunshine to combat the winter blues these videos will do the trick!
Elle Me Dit by Mika. The dance moves in this one always make my heart happy. They can move! Look at those hips! The practical jokes between family members also helps improve my mood.
Love Girl by CNBLUE. After this video doing the dishes always seems more appealing. Also I need to go buy some posters immediately.
Fascination by Alphabeat. I like to think of Alphabeat as the Danish cousins of Matt and Kim. It must be something in the smiles. Plus they’re so darn smiley its hard not to smile back.
Do you want
- new beats for that casual dance party?
- to kick up the soundtrack to your morning commute?
- to reminisce about R&B days gone by?
- to impress your friends by throwing out words like mandopop and Chinese neo-soul?
Well, have I got the artist for you! I stumbled upon Khalil Fong, the Hong Kong based artist also known as Soulboy, through one fateful click. When I came to three hours and multitudes of music videos later I knew it was love (I was also convinced I knew enough Mandarin to sing along.)
Khalil, Khalil, Khalil, you have filled a neo-soul shaped hole in my heart I didn’t even know was there. He melds the genres of soul, RB, pop, in a manner that is instantly relatable without sounding generic. Throw in an upbeat retro flourish and I was sold. While he may be news to me he actually released his first album in back in 2005 and has been consistently releasing music since then. With so much music to choose from there’s bound to be one song that catches your ear and has you tapping your feet.
Check out some my favorites (and music videos) below:
Romeo is the kind of song you want to hear at a party to get people up, on their feet, and smiling. Just try not to dance. I dare you. If you like this song check out Eric Nam’s song Ooh Ooh.
BB88 is more laid back than the other two songs shown here but just as catchy. I like to think of it as my boppin’ around town song.
Dangerous World has the most distinctive “pop sound” of these three as well as some electronic elements. I’ve had this song stuck in my head for the past three days.
There are so many more songs available by Khalil Fong! This is some of his later work but his early albums (like Soul boy) as well as his collaborations are also worth a listen. Check them out on Youtube and on iTunes!