Wed. May 22nd, 2024
Love Live Sunshine

After yesterday’s news that Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues had died I just had to make a playlist and listen to it. I called it Mike’s Moodies, and it featured all the songs he wrote during his tenure with the band, including the Graeme Edge-penned spoken word interludes and songs he performed. It took me from Dawn Is a Feeling, from Days Of Future Past, to One Step Into the Light, from Octave. It didn’t hurt that I listened to it in the car on my fortnightly jaunt to Healesville to have lunch with Josh. Such a pleasant day, such beautiful scenery. And Mike’s music. A pretty mellow trip. RIP Mike.

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Conversation With Josh #245

Josh was a bit more taciturn than usual today, so the conversation was pretty one-sided. He did mention his latest open mic gig at The Herd, which was on Anzac Day eve, and which I didn’t attend. He said he did another cover, the Cure‘s Just Like Heaven, accompanied by Isaac on piano. I’m glad he’s stretching out and doing different things, like covers, but I wish he’d write some new songs. This is something I tell him all the time. He also mentioned an old friend of ours, Mike, also performed. We haven’t seen him for years, so I was interested to hear about him. Apparently he’s found ‘true love’, and she was there, and he sang songs written about her. Aww, dat’s nice! But I seem to recall Mike already had a family, so what’s going on? Josh wouldn’t elaborate, or maybe he didn’t know, but something is clearly going on with Mike. I remember the first time I saw him play, he did a Kacey Musgraves cover and mentioned her. I had only just heard about her from singer, Justin Hayward, in an interview I’d read where he’d praised her to the skies. I like her sometimes controversial take on country music, and absolutely love her album Golden Hour. It’s the soundtrack to a film I want made of a book I’ve almost written. Anyway, I asked Josh where he would like to travel to, if he could. He said Ireland. I said I’d like to go there too, and also England. He suggested we go together. Sounds like a plan.

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Kpop girl group NewJeans has just released a new song and video. It’s called Bubblegum, and it ain’t bad. The video looks pretty straightforward, though member Danielle is sporting some pretty amazing hair in it. She looks like a fairy from Oberon and Titania‘s court. The song doesn’t have their signature skittery drum n bass sound, but maybe that’s a sign they’re trying to move on from that style. It seems to be getting copied by everyone lately, including my faves Twice. I read that another of my Kpop favourites, BTS‘s Rap Monster, AKA Namjoon, is releasing his second solo album soon, an exciting prospect. His first album, Indigo, was one of my faves of that year, 2022. I especially loved the single, Wild Flower. HYBE, the label both BTS and NewJeans are on, is courting some controversy lately. It seems to be something to do with its subsidiary label ADOR, and I frankly don’t give a fuck. I just hope it doesn’t affect the bands and the music. In which case, I might give a fuck.

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I finished reading a couple of things today, which always gives me a nice sense of accomplishment. One was a magazine dedicated to that amazing Irish rock band, Thin Lizzy. They’re one of my all-time favourite bands, whose concert in 1981 at Festival Hall remains the best I’ve ever experienced. It had me standing on my seat playing air guitar. And when it was finished, we filed out of there still singing and chanting the songs, like some mad football crowd. Anyway, the magazine brought back a lot of those memories of Phil Lynott and the boys and was chock full of anecdotes and information. It was also filled with reviews of all the albums, and some of the comments had me going back to certain songs for another listen. As usual, there were points of disagreement, especially the notion their second-last album, Renegade, wasn’t very good, when it’s my favourite Lizzy album. It had lots of great photos, too, and will definitely be a keeper.

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The other thing I finished was what’s called a ‘doujinshi’, or fan manga, that I brought back from Japan with me. It was called Heartful Bash by Sekihiko Inui, and featured the characters from the Love Live Sunshine anime franchise. This is a series centered around a group of high school girls’ efforts to become successful idol performers, and its ‘kawaii-ness’ is beyond description. It was all in Japanese, of course, but I managed to read a bit of it using Google Translate. The art was exceptional and adorable, though the text, if my translator was working properly, was pretty dull. I liked the last story, Onegai Numuscle, where some of the Aqours (pronounced Aqua) girls go to a fitness gym and bulk up. The muscle dudes they encountered in the gym looked especially creepy and funny. There was some fan service in the depiction of the girls, but the manga managed to avoid getting into Hentai territory. It was actually very sweet, just like the show it’s based on.

There was so much doujinshi to uncover in Japan, in shops like Book Off and Mandarake in Akihabara and Ikebukuro, and so much of it was porn. And it was so cheap! I only bought a hand full of the stuff, just a sampler to see what it was like. I’m pretty happy with my Heartful Bash (classic Japlish!). No one does Kawaii like the Japanese.

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An article in my Anime Underground newsletter today also touched on the Love Live franchise. It was titled 13 Reasons Why Love Live Sunshine Is Better Than Love Live School Idol Project. For reference, School Idol Project was the first incarnation featuring an idol group called Muse, while Sunshine was the second incarnation, featuring Aqours. My memory of both shows had me thinking the first one was the best, but reading the article, by Leo Reyna, has me doubting that. Some pretty persuasive points are made in favour of Sunshine. The most compelling for me is the fact that Aqours’s journey to success was much more fraught with failure and struggle than was Muse’s. I still think the performance sequences were better in Idol Project (oh, and it was funnier), but the drama and characters were better in Sunshine. I’ll have to go back and check them out again. The Kawaii overdose I’m in for won’t hurt too much!

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And speaking of Kawaii…I also watched some of the Poppin’ Party bluray I brought back with me from Japan. PP are the real-life girl group behind the music for the anime show BangDream! It’s a series of their early concerts from 2015 to 2017 and it’s a lot of fun. I really like the songs, and these girls can rock! Similar in some ways to Silent Syren, whom they’ve played with, but more bubblegummy. Their stage costumes are straight out of Sailor Moon, in keeping with their anime personas. The songs are interspersed with anime segments where the BangDream! characters appear. It’s all very strange – not least because I can’t follow the Japanese, and no subtitles are provided. But I like it.

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