Lion Babe – Where Do We Go

Would you ever combine Disco House with Hip Hop and Trap percussions? If your answer is no, this track by Lion Babe will break all those fictional musical barriers and exceed all expectations. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this combination would be possible!

Imagine being on a dance floor and hearing the disco elements, reminiscing about those good, old golden times. Then, something about the additional layer of percussion begins creeping in the minds of the unsuspecting dancers…and poof! A brand new creation. The transition between each of these layers, these features of distinctly different genres, is absolutely flawless. In fact, it sounds almost natural, as though they have been mixed together in this pot of rainbow delight for many years.

If you don’t mind having a funky funk every now and then, or if you’re looking for something fresher than the prince, Lion Babe will tell you where to go and you’ll know what to do. Dance, baby, dance!

PS – I really wish this could be one of the tracks that people could dance or sing to for the Aussie Mardi Gras Parade tomorrow!



Tkay Maidza – Switch Lanes

Tkay Maidza - Switch Tape EP

Paces has recently released the track ‘Switch Lanes’, featuring vocalist Tkay Maidza from Adelaide after performing at festivals Splendour in the Grass and Listen Out. This track will tickle your ears with its curiously flirtatious vibes and serve as great background music on a chilled night out.

‘Switch Lanes’ is inspired by a tropical marimba style with tiny little twists in percussion. A few instances of trap percussion and build-up methods peek in during the midpoint and towards the end, but not for long. The lyrics give off a laid-back kind of attitude which not only adds to the playful tone, but also subtly empowers the listener. The tone is casual and personal like a conversation between good friends. Give it a listen!

Percussion 7/10
Melody 8/10
Lyrics 6/10
Vocals 7/10

G-Dragon – ‘Heartbreaker’ and EXO-M – ‘Wolf’ | Holiday Review Series: Post 19

Here’s a post to officially introduce a new category added to this blog, because I now find existence of electronic K-Pop undeniable and essential to acknowledge. Better late than never, aye? However, only the ones that are explicitly electronic are going to be featured on this blog. Hence why I added the word ‘electronic’ in front of the word ‘K-Pop’.

‘Heartbreaker’ was the first electronic K-Pop track that got my attention back in 2009. I was pleasantly surprised by how well produced it was. The layers seem to build then pop with every beat, creating a pulsing sway that’s just as snap-worthy as the literal snaps in the piece. I recently found the English translation of the lyrics, and I was even more surprised. Such a devilishly haunting and hypnotic melody was accompanied by bitterly sad lyrics of resentment. In fact, I was so surprised, that I wanted to re-evaluate my thoughts on the track. Yet, I still decided to write a good remark: I consider it very innovative to combine the different emotions that both track and lyrics create, because it accurately represents the complex emotions involved in the word ‘heartbreak’. After that, G-Dragon collaborated with Diplo and Baauer for ‘Coup D’Etat‘. Then, he and another K-Pop star CL from 2NE1 went to work with Skrillex and Diplo for ‘Dirty Vibe‘. All that just proves, once again, that electronic K-Pop should be considered part of E/DM.

Now, allow me to introduce you to EXO, who had two wins and one nomination at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2013. EXO includes EXO-K and EXO-M, the difference being EXO-K focuses on promotion in Korea and EXO-M focuses on promotion in Mandarin/Chinese-speaking locations. EXO-M even have members from China, and do covers of originally Korean songs in Mandarin Chinese. Evidently, in both music production and promotion, the Korean entertainment industry fully harnessed and expanded their influence in the Asian music markets by creating relevant content for both Korean and Chinese fans.

When I first the Chinese version of their song ‘Wolf’, I found it quite funny and odd. After all, it’s a bit odd to hear them saying: “I’m a wolf, a wolf, a-woo~”. Also, they sang their lyrics in a fairly monotonous fashion, eliminating many crucial tones required for comprehension. Along with the foreign accents of the Korean members in EXO-M, some of the lyrics became quite difficult to understand unless one decides to look up the lyrics on a search engine. I guess that’s one of the many problems with singing in Mandarin. Consider this: No matter how people sing in English, the pronunciation is still there for people to understand. Unlike English, in most cases, the tones in Mandarin have to be spoken properly for the listener to understand what was spoken. For the sake of comprehensibility, I would rather hear EXO-M rap this without following the original, monotonous melody. On the other hand, removing all that monotonous chanting takes away the hypnotising element of mystery.

In terms of production, I’ve got nothing negative to say. This song crawled its way into my head like an ear worm because of its descending notes, Dubstep influences, and a tiny bit of Trance kicks in the breakdown. In fact, I have to give kudos to the Korean pop industry for incorporating electronic music into pop correctly and innovatively. I’ve heard too many American and Chinese pop producers incorporate Dubstep in very lazy ways, thinking that ear-piercing wobbles automatically makes a track relevant in popular culture, with no consideration on harmonious balance. The wobbles in this track are quite clean, and do not dominate the layers of sound unpleasantly at all. That’s why it’s brilliant.

If you have any electronic K-pop tracks that you would like me to review, feel free to submit your suggestions through the contact form.

Frontliner and Sway – Just Film It | Holiday Review Series: Post 12

Frontliner and Sway - Just Film It

This Hardstyle and rap combination is quite unexpected, especially when it’s coming from a producer like Frontliner. With tracks such as ‘Halo‘ and ‘I’m the Melodyman‘, the man is undoubtedly one of the icons of Hardstyle, known for making marvellous melodies.

I actually have mixed feelings about ‘Just Film It’. Let’s start with what I love about it. I like how Frontliner incorporated siren-like beeps, operatic choruses, and violin segments. They give the track a whole heap of attitude and swag that I just can’t get enough of. Not to mention, just have a listen to the way the operatic choruses come in with the kick each and every time. That’s not something I’d hear every day in a Hardstyle track, so every time it happens, it just pumps energy into my veins.

Now, for the part that I’m confused about: The lyrics. “They don’t make” what “like this” anymore? Hardstyle? Well, from what I can hear, Frontliner’s methods are quite new, so it’s not like he has done this before, and it’s not like other producers have done this before many times. Sway can’t be referring to Frontliner, right? When Sway says “record” what are people supposed to “film”? How are listeners supposed to immerse themselves in a context that they can’t understand?

If people watch the music video, they might get the hint that this is about drifting on a highway, but I have no incentive to remember the rap for this reason: As far as I know, the only thing that Hardstyle lovers have in common is their love for raves and partying, but not necessarily for drifting. Not everyone is going to understand this rap in a snap, and I doubt that most Hardstylers would start to go drifting after listening to this either. With lyrics like “let me see your lights like you’re Edison”, the dead man would be rolling in his grave if he heard his name associated with gangster drifting. Also, if this rap was about drifting, why enter a password? Live by what code? The password for someone’s phone is a code that people live by? When did that ever happen? I find the rap too difficult to understand.

Anyway, despite my confusion about the lyrics, I still love the music production style. You can buy this track through Frontliner’s label ‘Keep It Up Music’ on Beatport.

Die Antwoord – Cookie Thumper

Die Antwoord - Cookie Thumper

This review was originally written for Purple Sneakers but never got published.
The published version is by Lauren Payne.

Die Antwoord - Cookie Thumper

DIE ANTWOORD has released the music video for ‘Cookie Thumper’. Just like how it sounds, this track has a special, sweet crunch that only Die Antwoord can pull off. DIE ANTWOORD always tell interesting stories. Or, perhaps, they should be called edgy, urban, gangster fairy tales.

The intro begins with a narrative song is about a little girl who goes to boarding school, and has a relationship with a drug dealer who went to jail. It has the same deepness that fairy tale narrators have, and a magical twinkling sound. However the lyrics twist it until it flips upside down, and there’s that bagpipe-like sound in the background which somehow just makes everything electrically charged and dangerous. This introduction acts as an excellent hook. It even foreshadows the chorus!

Male dominance and female attraction to male power are quite explicit in this song, but it also includes a fair amount of girl power retaliation. It starts off praising Anies the male protagonist, but Yolandi also boasts about her own style. When they start talking about Anies’ preferences in sex, Yolandi doesn’t even pretend to like it as porn stars do. As a result, male and female genders become equal in power.

Yolandi makes special mention of Zef when she says “my Zef accent is very foreign”. Zef refers to a culture which empowers the lower-middle class to be proud regardless of poverty. Yet, in referring to it as a foreign language, it intelligently describes those who embrace this subculture as special, proud outcasts. The middle-upper class might be inclined to marginalize them, but people of Zef understand each other and live a Zef life.

DIE ANTWOORD‘s ‘Cookie Thumper‘ will make people forget about stereotypes!

Words by Angie Ngie.


Thunder (Evil Activities and E-Life Remix)

Thunder (Evil Activities and E-Life Remix)

Thunder (Evil Activities and E-Life Remix)

‘Thunder’ by Yellow Claw & The Opposites is a Rap-Rave track. The original mix deserves some attention in a mention before the remix review. Its melody has a gorgeous, daring decline down the scales. However, fans of the Harder styles might find a flaw. The Hard kick lacks some substance and sparkles, so it gets a bit dull towards the end due to the lack of interesting layers. Nonetheless, it has an inspirational fusion of genres, and provides a great base for the Hardcore artists to build on in the remix. Have a listen to the original below, and keep reading for a review and preview of the remix.

If E-Life was the short way of saying Evil Life, he and Evil Activities would have matching names. Evil Activities produces melodious, uplifting Hardcore pieces. Though he is fearless when it comes to including vocals, they are hardly ever out-of-place and annoying in his tracks. This style is evident in ‘Broken‘, ‘It’s OK‘, and ‘Point of No Return‘. E-Life’s releases are mostly made in collaboration with other Hardcore producers. For instance, E-Life and Tha Playah collaborated for the Harmony of Hardcore 2013 anthem.

In the remix, Evil Activities and E-Life add some much needed grey clouds to complete the sinister flow. The introduction has an organ-like sound underlying the muffled, synthesised version of the melody. It is similar to the operation or utilisation of a Hardcore kick, which is probably why it foreshadows the intensity that lies ahead. After this point, Evil Activities and E-Life’s variation of the chorus is much more mechanical, burned, and rusty. This industrial sound serves as a complementary backdrop to the original melody. To add another genre into the mix, there are parts of the track that slow down to give off a Dubstep vibe. Finally, the chords are played clearly, and level-up to a screech in the end.

It’s interesting to note that Hard Dance adds an excellent edge to Hip-Hop, Trap, and Dubstep. The fusion of Hard Dance and Hip-Hop subcultures was noted in the original music video, where the rapper rapped against the backdrop of a rave and monster trucks. Yet, much of the mainstream Hip-Hop artists have yet to embrace this controversial combination in production. It’s revolutionary. Yet, the amount of time it will take to overturn what is heard by most, and transcend into a more acknowledged existence, remains a mystery.