Digging Deep into My Dark Past: Top 30 Vocaloid Songs

Today’s post is borne of a trying personal experience for me. See, I’m a person who relies on music. If I accidentally leave my earbuds at home when coming to school, I feel like I’m missing an arm. Or a leg. Or a beating heart. For this very reason, my phone is always loaded with 300+ songs and almost always has a pair of earbuds wrapped around it. You know, for safety.

Still, accidents happen, and a few months ago my phone’s SD card corrupted unexpectedly. I managed to recover most of the files, but when I tried to put a new SD card in, that one corrupted too, and the next one too… and soon enough I figured it was my phone that was the problem. In the time period between realizing the problem and fixing it, I was without my handy dandy collection of music, so I ended up having to rely on YouTube and other non-SD card reliant sources for my daily fix of tunes.

I started out just listening to my regular music, but then, unexpectedly, a related video link led me down a path I swore I’d never walk again. I relived a time period in my life I tried to forget – my Vocaloid phase.

For those completely uninitiated, Vocaloid is a voice-synthesizing software created by Yamaha. It allows users to create their own songs by putting in lyrics and notes, the former of which are sung by a synthesized voice. These voices are generally given appearances and names, although their personalities and details of their stories are usually dictated (or not) by the people who use them, meaning that they can play many different contrasting roles in many different stories presented by many different songs.

mikuThe most iconic and easily-recognized Vocaloid is the Japanese Vocaloid Hatsune Miku, who has become such a recognizable face in Japan that she’s also appeared in many other places all over the world. For your convenience, she’s pictured to the left, although to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if you recognize her, because she’s appeared in a few Toyota commercials here in the West recently.

Anyway, I was really into Vocaloid in middle school. It actually led into my embarrassing weeaboo phase… actually, if I’m being honest, it was my embarrassing weeaboo phase. As I got older, I lost interest in these songs, but my phone breaking led me back into the world I left. And actually, I found a lot of great stuff. The songs I used to love were still just as good, and now there was a host of new songs to enchant me.

The cool thing about Vocaloid is its versatility. The fact that the “singer” is not real means that the producers who use them have a lot of leeway, and a lot of power. A lot of the Vocaloid characters’ most recognizable traits and quirks came from the fans who use them to create music. In fact, officially licensed Vocaloid products reference and use songs made by fans. There are huge hologram Vocaloid concerts that perform these songs. It’s absolutely wild, and something I really would like to see make a more worldwide impact in the years to come. (I’m not ashamed to admit I would definitely go see a Vocaloid concert.)

So here’s my Top 30 favorites. Before I start, though, I should mention a few things. The songs in this list are organized as follows:

Title – Producer (Vocaloid Used)

A lot of Vocaloid songs are attributed to the Vocaloids that “sing” them, which is ridiculous, because the real work is done by the producers who actually use the Vocaloids to create music, so I list them first.

Secondly, if I ever refer to a “PV”, that simply means the visuals in the YouTube video I’ve linked. Vocaloid music is very tied to its visuals, because usually the producer gets a heavy say in what they look like. PVs range from still images to fully animated music videos, but all of them are important and fun to take note of.

Thirdly, for all the songs I’ve tried to link to a subbed version if possible. I will also usually try to link to dubbed versions I enjoy, if they exist. There are also two totally English songs on this list, so if you’re worried about language barriers, don’t.

And lastly, (I promise I’m almost done), a lot of Vocaloid songs deal with some… ahem… sensitive material. I’m not in the business of disturbing anyone, so anytime there’s something suspect in a video or song I will say so after a “TW:” underneath the video.

And all that aside, enjoy!

30. Virgo – Nantoka-P (Megurine Luka)

I start out this list with a song from my favorite Vocaloid, Megurine Luka. I have to say that outright because if you go by the composition of this list, you’ll think it’s Miku. (I do love Miku, though. Who doesn’t?) This is a weird song, but it’s undoubtedly catchy and has such an atmospheric, spacey sound that I just love. Also, this version isn’t subbed because – surprise! It’s not Japanese. Or any other actual real-life language. It is total gibberish. Cool, right? No? Okay, fine.

29. Lynne – Hachi (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: Implied self-harm, symbolic strangling, and most grievous of all, wordplay)

If you know me, you know anything with wordplay immediately gets lots of points in my book. Lynne plays around with its title a lot in the lyrics. This fact is what first endeared me to this song, but what kept me coming back was the stuttering yet intense music mixed with the real heartbreak in Miku’s voice. I gotta hand it to any producer that can convey emotion in the voice of someone who is not real. This song has a lot to do with trains, and I’m gonna put a train counter at the bottom of this description. Don’t worry about it. All will become clear in time.

Trains: 1

28. Secret Police – Buriru (Hatsune Miku)

If you like songs that get your heart a-pumpin’, look no further than this intense, up-up-up-UPBEAT song. I can’t tell if this is meant to be based on a real life organization, or is just some fantastical storytelling. I feel like I’m not exactly qualified to figure it out… I mean, the Secret Police was a real thing at one point, but somehow I’m not sure this song isn’t actually talking about that. Oh well, no matter. This song is a joy to listen to, exciting and fun, with lots of loud guitar and Miku rapping and singing really fast and high notes and all that good stuff.

27. Cyber Thunder Cider – EZFG (VY1

Okay, so this song is absolute nonsense. Absolute, catchy, dance-able nonsense. I’m not the sort of person who likes to call songs “nonsense,” but listen, sometimes we all have to admit defeat. And anyway, it’s such a jam that I don’t even care. Maybe there’s some super in-depth meaning trapped in endless Japanese puns… I wouldn’t know, but I kind of like that idea. (Also, tiny dancing stickman!)

26. Deja Vu – VocaCircus (Hatsune Miku and Megurine Luka)

(TW: Implied abuse)

A fairly recent development in the Vocaloid community is the sudden surge of well-produced English Vocaloid songs. Personally, I think Engloid is a great way for new fans to jump in. I totally understand the learning curve of listening to songs in another language. VocaCircus is not the last primarily English producer on this list, but I highly recommend his work. All of it is deeply personal and emotional, but this one is my favorite. Based on the producer’s real life experiences in a abusive relationship, this song uses the hard, brash vocals of Luka against Miku’s soft ones to protray the never ending cycle of relationship abuse. It’s really sad, honestly, but it’s so admirable to see someone open up on such a tough issue in such a gorgeous way. Plus, there’s a happy ending. As VocaCircus states in the description box of this video:

“I’ve broken the cycle.”

25. Blindness – Treow (Megurine Luka and Hatsune Miku)

Luka and Miku have my two favorite voices in Vocaloid, and gosh is this song beautiful for it. The swelling piano and grand, ballet-like instrumentation. Plus, the faltering melody keeps the listener engaged. It’s lovely! The PV is also abstract and lovely. I wish I had more to say about this song besides it’s loveliness, but… it’s just so lovely!

24. Matryoshka – Hachi (GUMI and Hatsune Miku)

(my favorite english version)

Okay, so, this song is weird. It’s got weird lyrics, weird visuals, and in fact seems to celebrate the idea of weirdness in its meaning as well. Still… it’s just such a good song. Look past the creepy dancing Miku and GUMI and the Japanese wikipedia article copyspam in the PV and take a moment to enjoy the dense layering of the vocals and the instrumentals. It’s also super catchy. It’s good. Give it a chance.

23. There’s Supposed to Be a Cheat Code for Happiness? – Utata-P (Yuzuki Yukari)

(TW: A character puts a gun to her head at the end of this video. It startled me on my first viewing, so jusssst letting you know. Obviously, by extension, suicide.)

(my favorite english version)

I realize that TW is probably alarming to a lot of folks out there. I would say it’s not as bad as it sounds but I actually did jump at the end of this song. It’s a testament to it’s quality that it still made the list! I’m usually not all that forgiving of songs playing with my trust like that. I hate to call this song relatable because it’s very depressing and very negative, but I can’t help but understand what the singer is going through – likening the careful balance of life’s stress to a long, complicated cheat code. This song is intense and darkly funny. There’s something deeply critical about it also – a harsh look at the way modern society stretches the limits of many to a breaking point. It’s worth your time, but if the themes within are disturbing, I totally understand giving it a pass.

22. Clockwork’s Swallowtail – Kots Beirne (Hatsune Miku)

The most notable thing about this song? It was the first Vocaloid song I ever listened to. Okay, that’s probably not entirely true, but this is the first Vocaloid song I listened to separate from the animated videos I so often watched as a kid. I love the hard rock feel of this song, and the way the music itself seems to suggest some sort of mystery. I’m actually not sure what this song is about, but judging by the police tape in the PV, it probably is something mysterious? Ah well, who knows. Also, interestingly enough, this song has so many different English names I went back and forth on which one to use in this post. I first knew this song as “Mechanical Butterfly” but soon learned it was actually “Clockwork’s Swallowtail”. Then, while doing research for this post, I found this song listed simply under the name “Swallowtail.” So… I have no idea.

21. 1925 – T-POCKET (Hatsune Miku)

But anyway, how about some actual history. Who here likes history? Of course you do, history is interesting. This song, interestingly enough, describes the changes occuring in Japan after WWI. I’m… not an expert on this topic by any means beyond just stating that that’s what this song is about… but, uh, it’s interesting, right? It’s hard to describe exactly what I love about the instrumental – it kind of sounds like something you would play on a pirate ship, minus the vocals, of course. I feel like this song is an epic voyage in itself.

20. Drop Pop Candy – GigaP (Kagamine Rin and Megurine Luka)

GigaP is well known for those fun, danceable feel-good songs he makes, and Drop Pop Candy is probably the most pastel of them all. I cannot lie and say that my enjoyment of this song has nothing to do with the super cute PV – I mean, come on, look at the colors! The shapes! It’s all just so adorable! Plus, the song itself is upbeat and bouncy. Rin and Luka’s voices aren’t a very common pair, but they work out really well in this song. A good time for all.

19. Unhappy Refrain – Wowaka (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: I think implied suicide? I’m actually not sure on this one. There’s a gun though.)

(Note: The version above does not have subtitles, but this particular PV is important to the meaning of the song. I feel the other PVs don’t do it justice… but if you want english lyrics, there’s a version here.)

One of the biggest problems in the Vocaloid fandom, one I was unaware of when I was younger and have come to realize with age, is that the Vocaloids aren’t the creative minds behind these songs. I know that seems obvious, but when you’re young, it’s easy to associate these songs more with the Vocaloids who sing them because in all other ways they might as well be the “artists” as well. Yet, this leaves many of the real talent in Vocaloid, the producers, in the dark. “Unhappy Refrain” is one producer, Wowaka’s, struggles with being recognized for his work.

The ironic thing is, for the longest time I had no idea that this is what the song was about. The original PV I used to watch all the time for this song was just a still image. It was only when I got a little older and stumbled upon the PV I linked above that I realized I had been just as bad as the ignorant fans the song is referencing. All that being said, this is a great song even without it’s meaning.

18. Death Should Not Have Taken Thee! – Jesus-P (Kagamine Rin and Len)

(I… can’t actually find the PV with the original audio on YouTube at all?? It’s weird. Although this English dub version has the PV and English lyrics so)

I’m not the biggest fan of the Kagamines – they’re probably two of my least favorite Vocaloids mostly because I don’t usually like how they’re used. These two were packaged as a pair, and their voices are meant to be together. Story-wise, it’s unclear whether these two are meant to be siblings, lovers, or mirror images (or sometimes a combination of all three), but for some reason these two always seem to be used in the most cliche, melodramatic songs possible. Plus, Len specifically has a legion of young fangirls who like him just because he looks twelve…

All that being said, I really love this song. I usually find myself liking the Kagamines more when they’re played as bickering siblings, and while they don’t play this role specifically in this song, it’s close enough. Plus, the lyrics are humorous and I gotta love that video game flair.

17. All You Need are the Things You Like – PinnochioP (Hatsune Miku)

PinnochioP is a new favorite producer, and this will not be his only appearance on this list, mark my words. I love his songs because they’re super real. Even his most out-there premises are so grounded and honest that I can’t help but find myself relating. This one is probably one of his more fantastical works, but the philosophical question it centers around is still awfully relatable. So, what would happen if everyone in the world only got what they liked and wanted? Well, the world would surely explode. Yes, this music video and song are a little silly, but I love that this song also mixes in elements of unrequited love and loneliness to give the more ridiculous parts of it a little depth. Plus, it’s got a fun 8-bit flair to it that I enjoy.

16. Campanella – sasakure.UK (GUMI)

(TW: Grief)

If you look up “subtle” in the dictionary, there’s a link to this song right next to it. “Campanella” is beautiful in just how simple it is. The instrumentation is quiet, and the innocence in GUMI’s voice is played up to match the tone of the song. Subject-wise, this song is probably the most likely of any of the songs on this list to make me cry. After all, it’s the tale of a young girl who has lost a best friend and is trying everything she can to find her way to him again. It’s heavily implied that her best friend has passed away, and that her efforts will always end in failure… and IT’S SO SAD. IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL, BUT SO SAD.

15. AaAaAaAAaAaAAa – Nashimoto-P (Hatsune Miku)

Yes, I know the title is a bit ridiculous, but give it a chance, it’ll surprise you. With it’s heavy guitar instrumentation, this is a gritty rock song through and through despite the title and the… well, Miku. In fact, I don’t think her voice takes away from this song at all. The simple, barebones vocals from Miku gives the instrumentation room to breathe. There’s a lot of heartbreak in this song, communicated through soft verses swelling to the… should I say screaming chorus? I mean, it’s not really “screaming” per se… eh whatever. It’s good. You’ll like it. Give it a listen.

14. Leave in Summer, Yet You’re in My Fluffoughts – Baker (Hatsune Miku)

Electroswing is one of the greatest musical genre fusions to ever exist, and you can imagine my excitement to find a Vocaloid song that fell under this category. This song tells the story of an on-again off-again romance in the best possible way – with alpacas. The whole symbolism of the alpaca’s wool being sheared off to represent getting back into the relationship is kind of genius in a silly way. I also love how interestingly turned Miku’s voice is here. It’s barely recognizable! You could almost imagine the alpacas themselves are singing… and dancing… how adorable…

(PS: My crazy swing dance friend Marie has informed me that the alpacas in this video are actually swing dancing, which makes the whole experience all the better, I think.)

13. Crime & Punishment –  DECO*27 (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: Blood, bandages, implied suicide, cartoony decapitation)

Since we’re diving so deep into my dark past, I’m gonna let you in on a secret. Does anyone remember the Warriors series? Of course you do, it’s the children’s book series about cute feral kitties murdering each other over territory disputes and the rules of their own starry ancestors. Well, once upon a time, I was really into an animated YouTube tribute to one of the characters in Warriors set to this song. I’ll spare you the gory details but it was really angsty. I’m pretty sure even the cat had emo hair.

And yes, this song is pretty angsty, but it’s still one of my favorites. The little heartbeat sound effect in the background tying it all together along with Miku’s soft vocals as she describes the brutal heartbreak she’s going through… I mean, how can you not enjoy it, at least a little? Come on, bring out your inner emo kid and enjoy this song with me.

12.  Love Trial – 40mp (Hatsune Miku)

“Love Trial” is one of my newer favorites, and I found it at just the right time. See, a lot of Vocaloid songs are pretty depressing, as I’m sure you’ve gathered from a lot of the subject matter on the list. A lot of murder and suicide and lost love and horror… sometimes it’s nice to just stumble upon a real feel-good number. And okay, this one is still about a guy under fire for cheating on his girlfriend, but it’s so fun I can excuse it. Maybe it has something to the swing-y sound and brassy instrumentation. Maybe it’s Miku’s cute little judge outfit. Maybe it’s listening to Miku sing “Oh Jesus!”  No matter what it is, though, this song just brings a smile to my face.

11. Meltdown – iroha (Kagamine Rin)

(TW: Symbolic strangling, implied suicide via nuclear reactor??)

I’ve said my piece about the Kagamines, but hoo boy when Rin sounds good she sounds good. “Meltdown” is a really emotional song about facing the demons in your past and coming to terms with it, and it’s a gorgeous ride from start to finish. Those pianos, the echoy quality of Rin’s voice… it all comes together to really bring out the emotion in its subject matter. This song is one of my oldest favorites, and it’s not hard to see why I keep coming back to this one.

10. Sweet Devil – Hachiouji-P (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: Nothing too bad in the video unless anime characters dancing provocatively upsets you. Although, the robot Mikus are pretty creepy…)

Rounding out the top ten is “Sweet Devil”, which I love for very shallow reasons. That’s probably fitting, considering it’s a pretty shallow song. Anyway, when I was younger and I first discovered this song, the music video reminded me so much of the sort of music video you’d see from a real human American pop star, it set me imagining Hatsune Miku as a real human pop star, and that just made me very excited. I mean, come on. I love Miku, you love Miku, the whole world loves Miku. She’s a star.

(Plus, this PV was made in MikuMikuDance, and… I’m not gonna go on a tangent about this, but MikuMikuDance is an animation software that is a laggy, inefficient nightmare and I’m amazed someone could make something look this good in it.)

Though, looking back on this song, there’s a lot more than just wishful thinking and high quality animation to celebrate. It’s super atmospheric and has some really dynamic dips and crests. Miku’s voice is tuned to highlight it’s robotic qualities, and it works out really well for this kind of song, giving it that perfect pop polish. (Autotune, anyone?) It’s catchy and fun and doesn’t make you think too hard, and sometimes that’s just what you need.

9. Coin Locker Baby – maretu (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: Implied infant death, implied pregnant woman death, symbolic sexual imagery, trains)

Based on a real type of child abuse common in China and Japan, “Coin Locker Baby” is the story of a teenage mother who, desparate and unsure of what to do with her infant child, leaves him in a coin-operated locker at a train station in the hope that he will be found and taken in to a loving home.

As one might guess, that does not happen. Instead, the child dies and his confused, vengeful spirit is left behind to haunt the train station. Many years later, his mother returns, older now and happily pregnant with the child of her husband. In his rage, the spirit pushes her onto the tracks, and…

I’ll be honest- I established the trigger warning thing in this post almost solely because of this song. I’m sure all of you just read that little synopsis above and gave me a look like, “…Really? This is one of your favorite songs?” But let me level with you. Coin Locker Baby deals with some… challenging themes, I get it. But this song deals with them in possibly the best way it could – with a real attention to the emotional weight of the story.

It would be easy to languish in the gorey details of this very gorey tale, but it doesn’t. Instead, the lyrics concern the conflicting emotions of both the mother and the child.  It focuses on the mother’s desparation, naivety, and later regret for the mistakes she has made, and the child’s confusion, loneliness, and rage. I also love the touch of social commentary, how the absent father is constantly ridiculed in the lyrics, but it’s the mother, in the end, who is punished, making the listeners feel she has been unfairly wronged.

Plus, the frantic, almost optimistic sounding beat of the song becomes downright unsettling when the listener understands what the song is trying to say, but the scares never feel cheap. Plus, it’s super catchy.

Also, Trains: 2

(Also, a note: After the music cuts out in the PV, I suggest clicking away from the video. The ending is, from my understanding, based on a Japanese horror movie, and the last minute or so of the video is just a black screen and the… rather gross audio from that movie. If you’re into that sort of thing, keep watching, but it’s not really worth the time or squickiness imo)

8. Two Faced Lovers – Wowaka-P (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: Some symbolic sexual imagery and implied abortion.)

One of the cool things about Vocaloid is that it allows for some crazy experimentation with vocals that just wouldn’t be possible with a real, fleshy human being. “Two Faced Lovers” is a testament to that. Many have tried to sing this fast-paced song but most have failed. Don’t feel bad, though. Once the robots take over Earth, not being able to sing faster than them will be the least of humanity’s worries.

Jokes aside, this is actually a really deep and interesting song if you take a moment to look into it.  I’ve seen a lot of debate over whether the sexual symbolism in this song is literal or figurative. Personally, I see this song not as a story of one character’s experiences but more as an exploration of the dangers of power imbalances in romantic relationships. There’s some pretty strong ideas about gender roles in romance, especially pertaining to the way women tend to lose out in the end when relationships go sour (i.e. unwanted pregnancy, etc.)

Even without the meaning though, the speed of this song alone is enough to communicate desperation and a lot of feeling.

7. Just Be Friends – Dixie Flatline (Megurine Luka)

(my favorite english version)

“Just Be Friends” is a classic. If you ask me, it’s the classic to end all classics. It’s one of those Vocaloid songs that just about everybody who knows what Vocaloid is knows and also hopefully loves. I mean, after all, there’s a reason why this song is so iconic.

First of all, despite the fact she doesn’t show up in this list very often, Megurine Luka is probably my favorite Vocaloid. She has this really deep register that I’ve always loved listening to. Plus, she was Crypton’s (the biggest most well-known Vocaloid company) very first bilingual Vocaloid, having both a Japanese and near-complete English voice bank. She shows it off in the chorus of this song. It’s maybe not perfect, but hey, when I was younger it was SUPER cool to hear my own language sung by cool anime robots.

This song is a sad one, the heartfelt story of a relationship ending amicably. It’s actually told in the perspective of the guy, although… I’m not sure why that distinction needs to be made?  Eh, anyway. I love how honest and real this song is. It’s basically textbook bittersweet, and ties it all up with a great beat and singable chorus. The PV is colorful and eye-catching and just as iconic as the song itself. It’s well worth your time.

6. Housewife Radio – GHOST (GUMI)

(TW: Implied murder, depicted suicide. Cartoon blood.)

One of the coolest things about Vocaloid is that because the “singers” are essentially fictional characters, it allows a lot of songs to tell really unique stories you wouldn’t see sung by real life people. “Housewife Radio” is my favorite song from producer GHOST’s excellent Communications series. If you’re interested in listening to the whole series (and really, why wouldn’t you be), check out the playlist here. There’s also a synopsis of the story in the description of each video, so don’t worry about having to figure it out yourself. (I also don’t really want to write it all out here, since it’s a multi-part story and I couldn’t possibly do it justice.)

I love the Communications series as a whole, but this part is my favorite because it’s such a complete package. The story told in this particular song is really unique, mixing elements of old timey 50s gender roles with ideas about love and mental health. Plus, the PV is visually stunning, created by GHOST themselves, and is well worth a watch even if you’re not entirely sure what’s going on. Plus, this song is a lot more structured than I feel is the case with the other songs in this series, and while the unstructured feel works sometimes, I like having traditional verses and a chorus.

Plus, that ending? Really emotional. The music plus the visuals just serves to hit you right in the soul.

Also! This song is in English, and most songs produced by GHOST are as well. Like with VocaCircus, if you’re squeamish about listening to foreign language songs, these songs are a good starting point. Vocaloid is primarily Japanese, but in recent times there have been a lot of really good English songs created as well, and they’re very worth checking out.

5. Rolling Girl – Wowaka-P (Hatsune Miku)

(my favorite english version)

(TW: Some believe this song is about suicide. I don’t think it is. Doesn’t show anything. There is some cartoon blood, bruises, cuts, bandages and the like.)

I first really got into Vocaloid when I was in middle school, which means it’s a fandom that’s associated with a lot of childhood embarrassment for me. In fact, before this year, I sort of denied ever having been a fan, probably because the fandom was (and continues to be) filled with very young, very… to say annoying sounds mean, but honestly, very annoying fans.

But even in those months I spent denying I was ever a fan, I have always had this song downloaded to my phone. It transcends embarrassment, because every time I turned it on I was reminded of the fact that as weird and awkward as I was back then, I was still a person. I HARDCORE identified with the lyrics of this song.

Vocaloid music isn’t always super up front with its meaning, especially considering a lot of it is in a different language, which means there’s usually a hearty amount of leeway for interpretation. So, I put a lot of personal experience into my interpretation of the song. To me, it was a song about a girl struggling to understand her place in the world. A smart, talented girl who felt isolated from her peers for being smart and talented. To me, the colorful ending was her finding a friend who saw her for more than just her brain and abilities, and let her be herself outside of her studies. To me, this was a song about me.

A lot of people think this song is about a suicidal girl, and consider the ending to be her finally embracing death or something, but this interpretation continues to disappoint me to this day. Is the suicide idea true? Probably. But for me, this song is important because it was the first time I ever placed my own interpretation of something above the accepted one, which is now what I do for a lot of songs.

Art belongs to the people who consume it, and so too do the meanings of art. This song reminds me of that.

4. Mrs. Pumpkin’s Comical Dream – Hachi (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: General spookiness? Idk, this one’s not too bad, but does imply some sort of train-related death? WHY IS IT ALWAYS TRAINS. Also Goat Satan? I’m not really sure. You’re probably fine.)

If you had asked me a few years ago what my favorite Vocaloid song is, I would have told you this one without hesitation. There’s just something so charming about this song – maybe it’s the whimsical Halloween vibe, the practically singable lyrics (even though they’re not, they’re in Japanese, a language I, decidedly, do not speak), the adorably crayon-esque art style in the PV, or the ever-present feeling that something terrible is happening to these characters.

For real though, for how much I care about lyrics and song meanings and all that jazz, I have no idea what this song is about. Something could be said about how goats are sometimes associated with Satan, and also trains seem to have this weird connection with gruesome death and ghosts, and… really that’s all I have. I mean clearly something is going on in this song, but I can’t bring myself to care what it is. It’s too fun to listen to for me to worry myself on the details.

This song has such a clappable beat, and a really memorable and unique structure and I just love it inexplicably???

And, look at that. Trains: 3. Why are there so many trains in this list? That’s one train for every ten songs! What’s the deal?

3. I’m Glad You’re Evil Too – PinocchioP (Hatsune Miku)

Boy is this ever a beautiful song. I’ve already talked a bit about PinocchioP’s talent for really getting deep and philosophical in his music, and… gosh this song just takes my breath away. It’s a quiet and contemplative love song that explores a concept that really appeals to me – that of two lovers cynical about everything but each other.

It’s a unique take on the ideal picture of love being flawless and good and beautiful. Instead of going along with this very common idea of love making people perfect, this song presents two misfits who struggle to stay optimistic, and find hope and strength in each other. It’s just so sweet.

Plus, I really like love songs with a personal flair, and the listed activities the lovers do together seems to me to come from a real life relationship. It immediately endears you to the subjects of the song, who have a lot going for them considering they’re already loveable rogues (I mean, they’re evil. Just look at the title.)

The quiet piano swelling to its climactic finish, the simple, yet colorful visuals… just listening to this song feels like being in love. (In fact, in some ways, for me at least, this song is me being in love. But, uh, that’s enough of that.)

2. LUVORATORRRRRY! – GigaP (Kagamine Rin and GUMI)

(TW: This whole song is sexual innuendo. It is not shy about it, either. The video doesn’t show anything but cutesy dancing though.)

(my favorite english version)

I think the appeal of a lot of Vocaloid is that it’s just so catchy, and “LUVORATORRRRRY” is maybe the catchiest of them all. Don’t be fooled by the anime flair, this is a genuine pop song through and through, complete with a danceable beat and, ahem, overtly sexual lyrics.

The verses being a bit more rapped than sang sets this song apart from other vocaloid songs, and keeps it driving. This song never slows down for a second (okay, well, it does at the bridge, but whatever).

I love how Rin and GUMI sound together, and the way their voices play off of each other, always keeping the lyrics fast and bouncy. This is honestly such a fun song, and it’ll get stuck in your head, mark my words, and drive you crazy considering you won’t even know the lyrics. You know, except for the random nonsense English thrown into the chorus.

“LOVE ME BABY BABY, GIMME VERY VERY *unintelligible muttering* BEASTY GIMMICK GIMMICK, KNOCK OUT, GIMME GIMME *unintelligible muttering*”

1. Love Me. Love Me. Love Me. – Kikuo (Hatsune Miku)

(TW: Some interpretations say this is about suicide. I don’t personally believe that, but I’ll put that on here anyway. Some cartoony gore. Overall pretty creepy. Also, the music video is very trippy but I love it.)

(my favorite english version)

I first heard this song on the bus coming back from a late night marching competition. It was almost pitch-black and I was tiredly browsing YouTube when, for no particular reason at all, I clicked this video. And when it’s dark and your tired eyes can barely focus on your bright little phone screen, even a few flashing lights can get trippy.

Needless to say, the near constant movement of this song’s PV paired with the frantic xylophone accompaniment stuck in my mind like some sort of curse even after I got some sleep. And then I actually read the lyrics.

If “Rolling Girl” was the song I most connected with as a kid, this song is the one I relate to most heavily as an “adult.” To explain exactly why would take a whole post (one I am actually currently writing), but tl;dr, this is a song heavy in both visual and lyrical symbolism, a lot of which connecting to themes I relate to.

Kikuo is probably my favorite producer because he presents very simple stories (in this one, the story of a young girl struggling with expectations that have been set for her from a young age) but communicates the emotion through unique and often downright creepy imagery. He presents a world that is horrifying because of how much AND how little it resembles ours, and that’s pretty cool. Plus, the tuning of Miku’s voice is dynamic and at times seems filled with pain. It’s haunting.

Hands down, my favorite Vocaloid song.

On Otome Boys

**Spoiler Warning for Mystic Messenger

I recently completed Yoosung’s route on Mystic Messenger. Now, Otome Games like MM aren’t something I find myself spending much time on often (just out of personal preference) and while I found myself enjoying Yoosung’s route and the rather unique form of gameplay MM provides, I also faced one of the biggest issues I have with games like this one that I want to address.

In my experience, in these sort of games where the characters are what you’re meant to be motivated by never seem to make them all that great narratively. While most of them are really pretty and appealing, I usually come away from them feeling rather unimpressed. I think part of the reason that is is because creators of these characters focus too hard on making them likeable in a real-world sense, and forget that they’re still characters in a fictional world.

What I mean is that a lot of characters in Otome games would be impossible to dislike if they existed in real life. They’re physically beautiful, they have easily understood personalities that make absolutely nothing they say or do surprising to someone who is familiar with character tropes, and what flaws or tragic pasts they have only serve to heighten their appeal rather than give them any sort of downfalls to pursuing their stories or paths. They’re appealing to the eye, of course, and have personality traits that would endear you to them, but also won’t surprise you with any unwanted emotional baggage. If I were to meet any Otome character in real life as a real person, I would have no trouble at all liking them, or even falling in love with them.

In any other story besides the wish-fulfillment-oriented story of an Otome game, these characters would never work. In order for a character in a real, fully fleshed out story to work, they have to have actual flaws. They have to have obstacles to overcome. While they should probably be somewhat likeable, they also have to be human (or at least close to human). Characters in Otome games are not usually like this, because they exist to be perfect, to fulfill a fantasy of the person playing them. (This is the main reason I’m not a big fan of these types of games, mostly because I like flawed characters and also am not too motivated by self-insert romances, although I know a lot of people who are, and that’s okay.)

However, a lot of recent Otome games have attempted to go against this formula, and present a more complex story with more flawed characters. There are actually a pretty good amount of these, and I usually quite enjoy them, but most of them aren’t really huge mainstream successes. In fact, MM is the first really popular Otome-style game I’ve seen to exemplify this new movement, and I’m happy to see it gain success.

While I only played one route, I’m pretty confident that I’m not interested in any of the others due to the huge amount of effort that would require and what I’ve heard from the friend who got me into this game in the first place has said to me about what the other routes entail. But I overall really liked the characters as they appeared in Yoosung’s route. I thought they were all believable and well-thought out and I could honestly see all of them being appealing characters for someone to pursue… except… well…

707.

707, or Seven, or Luciel, or whatever his name is, is probably the most popular character of all the options, and on the surface it’s not hard to see why. He has a striking design, done up all in reds and oranges and yellows. The game itself seems to push his appeal pretty hard – his good ending is known as the “true ending” that reveals the most complete image of the story in its entirety, and there’s a popular and decently supported theory circling the fandom that he is self-aware of his role in an Otome game, and “waits” for the time the player gets around to playing his route. In addition, his route is harder to get to and usually requires the player to have completed at least one route before attempting his. AND on top of that, he gets the most attention from official merchandise and art of the game.

You might have noticed I have said nothing about his personality, and that’s because, well, as far as I can tell, he doesn’t really have one? I know, I know, I’m maybe not at the best position to judge because I haven’t played his route, but god, what is his personality? I mean what is it? Who is he?

As far as my initial impression, he seems like the hacker/tech savvy guy of the group. He possesses pretty impressive technical ability, almost to the point where it’s unrealistic, but that’s something I can excuse if it’s the only crazy thing about him. But… it’s not. He’s also some sort of world traveler. One conversation involves him just dropping that he once was stranded on an island with a civilization who worshipped him as a god because he… gave them a Nintendo DS? I think? It was really just such a random detail that it left me confused. On top of that, he has some deeper stuff going on with the main antagonist of the game being his brother, and the darker past there, and he’s also caught up in the religious cult of the surprise antagonist character Rika and… honestly, it’s confusing.

He possesses so many different faces and aspects of his character that it left me just dumbfounded. Maybe he’d fit in better with a different narrative, but compared to the other characters of MM, it’s downright odd how unfocused he is.

Let me use Yoosung for an example. Yoosung is the youngest character, and as such his innocence and naivety is important to his role in the story. Because he is young, he has the unique struggle of balancing schoolwork with his responsibilities as an RFA member. In addition, going right along with his juvenile nature, he’s obsessed with video games, which is simultaneously one of the flaws he has to overcome in his route. Finally, he is the cousin of Rika, and her death left a permanent scar on his psyche, one that was never able to fully heal due to the older members of the RFA refusing to talk about it outright, because, among other things, they wanted to protect him as the youngest member of the RFA.

Yoosung is a pretty multifaceted character, and he develops throughout the story in a way that was really interesting and engaging for me. Along the way, he learns to focus on school, to lessen his unhealthy obsession with video games, and ultimately, he learns how to move on from Rika’s death and find happiness. He has definite flaws that he overcomes with the help of the player, and that makes him a pretty successful character.

At the same time, however, he is a very simple character to understand. Basically all of his personality traits and conflicts stem from his youth. He’s in school, he plays video games, and he hasn’t quite gotten over the death of a beloved figure he looked up to. He is innocent and naïve. All of these traits fit in with his overall character of being young, and because of this, he makes sense as a whole.

Seven, on the other hand, draws personality traits, experiences, and obstacles from a bunch of wildly different ideas. His hacking ability should mean that he’s a smart guy, but he also uses a lot of “lol so random” humor that makes him seem more juvenile and dumb. This also conflicts with the worldly, mature ideas his many exotic experiences across the world paints him with.

Now, yes, it’s okay for characters to have contradicting traits sometimes. Often, this can be really interesting. But for Seven, it just makes no sense in the context of the other characters. NONE of the other characters in this game are quite as contradictory and all over the place as he is, and that, on top of the other traits I’ve mentioned about him, makes him stand out really strangely from the other characters in a way I didn’t really appreciate.

I think part of the reason this bothers me so much is that I feel like he’s closer to the classic Otome character I was describing before, where what flaws he possesses doesn’t really serve to make him deep, but rather just makes him more likeable. He has a tragic, complex backstory of which he is the victim, but at the same time, that doesn’t seem to make it more difficult for him in any real way. He just feels… cheap. I feel like his path is being pushed at me as the correct path for the story to go, without giving me any reason to care about his story. I mean, he doesn’t seem that affected by his past, so why should I be?

And yes, I know he’s hiding his true pain behind a mask, and he’s more affected in his actual route. But it’s harder to get to that route, so why should I bother? He didn’t give me any meaningful reason to pursue him in the basic routes. He’s a weird and unfocused character that doesn’t deserve being put on such a higher pedestal than the other characters. Why is he so much better than the other characters, who make sense and have natural flaws?

In fact, why play Otome games with characters like Seven at all unless I want to play with the fantasy of dating a perfect human?

I guess what I’m saying is that all the other characters of MM are the sort of characters I’d like to see in Otome games going forward, but it bothers me that Seven, who shares more similarities with more classic Otome characters, is the most popular one. It bothers me that aesthetic appeal is being put above character depth when the other characters clearly show that you can have both!

But, eh, whatever. If you like him, I don’t blame you. The game certainly seems to want you to.

Fire Emblem Direct Reaction: Nintendo DiWRECKED

Hey guys, did you see that Fire Emblem Nintendo Direct today? WILD, right? Four new upcoming titles – whodathunk? (Not me, I was just expecting two.)

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re out of the Fire Emblem loop, but that’s okay. Until very recently, so was I. Before I get into this GENUINE reaction for all the crazy news we got today, I’m gonna give you newbies a quick rundown on what Fire Emblem is.

Part 1: What is Fire Emblem?

Good question. Fire Emblem is a tactical role-playing game franchise published by Nintendo and developed by Intelligent Systems. It currently boasts 14 main series games plus a handful of spinoffs, which is a crazy number for a game franchise that is only just now finding footing in places that aren’t Japan. The first game was released in 1990 and the most recent one, Fates, was released last year. (And it was great.)

Currently, the series is in a bit of a boom right now, which is surprising considering just a few years ago it was basically almost confirmed dead. Quite a few factors have contributed to its sudden popularity, but tl;dr you could probably trace it back to the Smash Bros games, which made the characters playable, thus sparking the interest of overseas Nintendo fans who demanded localized versions of the games.

The games themselves involve running around in a medieval fantasy-esque world of swords and dragons, following a storyline and usually winning a war while recruiting pretty anime waifus and husbandos and directing their movements and actions throughout several battles. In addition, the older games had a permadeath feature – that is, if your characters die on the battlefield, they’re gone forever and don’t respawn. In the newest two titles, this is an optional game mode.

If you pair these characters off often on the battlefield, they get stat bonuses. If they fight together enough, you can unlock conversations between them. In the older games, the endgame of these conversations varied from pair to pair, but in the most recent games you can get characters married and recruit their kids. (This is explained and makes sense in-game sometimes… sometimes it’s not. It’s okay, though, the kids are one of my favorite parts of the game.) You can also have your player character get married and have kids.

No, that’s not weird.

It’s a really great series, and if you’re so inclined, I highly recommend it. If you’re looking for a good game to start out with, I suggest Awakening for the 3DS… it introduces the mechanics really well and isn’t too terribly difficult. Plus, a solid story line. The newest game, Fates, is really good too, I just don’t know if it’s the best pick for a newcomer, since its two branching story lines gives you the option of either “punishingly difficult with a great story” or “way too easy with a dumb story”.

Part 2: Cool, Now What’s New?

WHAT’S NEW, YOU ASK.

Well, a lot.

In today’s Nintendo Direct, Yuri Lowentha-I mean, uh, Nintendo, announced four upcoming Fire Emblem titles. FOUR! For a series that was dying a mere six years ago, that’s kind of impressive.

I’m gonna go in order of their announcement, and provide my reactions.

First on the ticket – Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, a remake of Fire Emblem: Gaiden, the second ever main series game.

fire_emblem_echoes_shadows_of_valentia

Real talk – I’m not too familiar with any of the Fire Emblem titles before Awakening… but honestly, even though I’ve never played the game Echoes is a remake of, I cannot deny that this looks stunning. The character designs have a modern Fire Emblem quality while also retaining a very classic look. I’m a big fan.

Because I’ve never played the original, I don’t know exactly how this game differs from the others, but from the trailer and from what I’ve heard, it has a free-roaming dungeon element that sounds super cool. Plus, from the game footage it looks like it’s going to retain the same top-down tactics mode that I love so much, just with some fun twists that I’m looking forward to playing around with. All in all, I’ll definitely pick this game up. I’ve been sort of meaning to familiarize myself with the older games anyway…

Secondly, and most mysteriously, we have the currently unnamed Fire Emblem game for the Switch. We know nothing about it except that it’s probably coming sometime in 2018, but I was honestly so shocked to get a confirmed main series game so soon after Fates that I don’t even need any more info. Plus! I’m already very excited for the Switch, and this just furthers my resolve to get one once it comes out. Cheers to future blog posts about this game to come, once we get more info.

Thirdly, we have Fire Emblem Warriors.

fire-emblem-warriors-chrom

And you know what? I was a little disappointed. Yeah, okay, it was nice to see Chrom again, (Hi Chrom. I’m sorry you didn’t get to be in Smash. Congrats on the new game though!) but I was sort of hoping we’d get confirmation of other characters that would be playable, but nooope! Just Chrom. It’s cool. This series owns me, so I’ll probably end up getting it, just, please, please put Owain in it. Oh my GOSH he’d be so GOOD for this kind of hack n’ slash game oh PLEASE.

tumblr_n822dazbcv1s94qg1o1_500

I mean, just look at him. He’s ready.

And finally, the thing I’m most short-term pumped about, Fire Emblem Heroes.

mobile_fireemblemheroes_illustration_03

Guys, are you seeing this? With your own two eyes? Look at this. I am dying to get my hands on this.

They announced they were going to do a Fire Emblem mobile game a while back, and I kind of shrugged and said “Oh well at least they’re paying attention to this franchise,” but I was NOT prepared to get this.

New art for all the characters? New VOICE ACTING for all the characters? A HUGE roster of characters, both old and new? These STUNNING new character designs, plus the fact you have to basically Love Live-style scout to get them? I’m gonna get wrecked by this game, guys. And it’s coming out SO SOON! February 2nd… I’M SO EXCITED.

And it’s coming out for both Android phones and iPhones, and if Pokemon Go is any indication, this means LOTS of new fans are going to be able to experience this game series for the first time via this free app! That’s majorly exciting. I am so excited. I’m dragging all of my friends into Fire Emblem hell with me, they better get ready.

The way they adapted the classic gameplay for mobile looks attractive and makes sense. I love the cute little chibi sprites for the map view. I love the full body art during the criticals. UGH. I was not expecting to be so floored, and yet here I am, on the floor. Dying.

PLUS, they’re holding this huge event to vote for which two characters are going to get special appearances in the game and… here’s where I begin my campaign.

If you’re so inclined, click here to vote among basically every character in the Fire Emblem series. They’re organized by game. If you really love me, you’ll click “Choose by Game Title”, click the left arrow to scroll to “Fates”, and then choose “Silas”… this is what he looks like:

Silas.PNG

Now I’m not here to tell you what to do, but Silas here is my most favorite character. I’ve been low key planning to do a post all about why he’s great. In fact, considering all the crazy news we’ve gotten, I think that blog post might come sooner rather than later. Sparing you the details, he is highly underappreciated and I would cry many tears if he won.

So if you want to… maybe vote for him? I will give you many thanks. Many internet and/or real life hugs, if you want. Or vote for whoever. I’m not here to make your life decisions for you.

(…But please?)

Part 3: Oh My GOD You’ve Written Over 1000 Words Already Are You DONE???

Yes! Actually. Thank you for reading. I usually only post on Sundays, but this was too much for me to keep locked inside. I’m sure this won’t be the last I’ll say on… any of these games, honestly. Keep your eyes peeled for more to come!

My Podcast, My Podcast, And Me

If you’re at all close to me I’m sure I’ve already chewed your ear off about “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” at least once.

If I have, I do not apologize.

See, one of the things I wanted to do with this blog is make recommendations and steer people towards great things they might not necessarily know about. And I want to start by talking just a bit about my new absolute favorite thing in the whole wide world.

“My Brother, My Brother, and Me” (henceforth abbreviated as MBMBAM), is a weekly podcast created by and starring brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. It is technically an advice show, and each week the brothers answer questions both from listeners and from random Yahoo Answers users, but to describe it only as that is to do it a great injustice. It is also one of the funniest things I’ve ever listened to. I now usually do my workouts at the Monon Center to the dulcet tones of these brothers, and I’ve had to desperately stifle my laughter as to not appear completely unhinged to my fellow exercisers so many times that I think my abs are more defined because of it.

As I often do when I get totally obsessed with something, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is about this podcast that charms me so much, and I think I’ve figured it out.

First of all, their goofy, inside-joke laden style of humor is very familiar to me. I’ve gotten a few of my friends into McElroy content. Two of the brothers have a hilarious gaming series on YouTube known as Monster Factory, which I have repeatedly subjected my friends to at various parties and social fuctions, and the jokes in this series as well as in the podcast have integrated themselves seamlessly into my friends and my inside jokes.

It’s obvious why – they’re the same sort of jokes we would cook up. “Slendy playing the bongo drums” is pretty much indistinguishable as a joke from “Backpack for his applesauce” to an outsider, but one of them is an inside joke between several of my friends and one is an inside joke created in a YouTube series by Justin and Griffin. I’m sure some readers of this blog know the difference (Hi guys!) but to those who don’t, it’s essentially the same indistinguishable word salad that still, without fail, makes us laugh.

For that reason, it’s obvious why this style of humor would appeal to me, because it reminds me of my friends. The way we take a concept and verbally beat it until it’s somehow become a new concept entirely, one that is simultaneously hilarious to us and nonsense to outsiders, is something that happens on MBMBAM all the time. It’s familiar. It never fails to make me smile.

Second of all, the McElroy brothers are just… genuinely good people. I’m a pretty picky person when it comes to comedy, and I very often dislike comedic movies just because I don’t really trust the people who make them not to make impolite and insensitive jokes. Whenever I try and watch your run-of-the-mill blockbuster comedy, I spend so much time stressing about what awful offensive thing could be rounding the next corner that I can’t really enjoy myself.

But McElroy brothers are just honestly such nice guys. For reals. They make stupid toilet jokes and sex jokes sometimes (a lot of the time), sure. But at the end of the day, they’re very open and accepting of everyone, and it’s so refreshing. Their jokes have never made me cringe or feel uncomfortable.

I remember an exact moment in an episode where they were responding to a listener asking for advice on how to deal with a coworker who calls them “asexual” because they couldn’t get a date. I was fully and honestly prepared to grin and bear the usual reaction I hear whenever asexuality comes up, that sort of “oh you’re one of those special snowflakes, huh?”

But the brothers. Honest to god. Called the coworker out for it. Said that people actually describe themselves as asexual for a reason, and that it wasn’t an insult or a term to just throw around. And then they made the situation genuinely funny, made it into a lighthearted joke at the expense of this rude coworker and not the asexuality.

Yes, I know. I’m a dirty politically correct millennial. I get it. But it’s really nice to just be able to laugh and have a good time and not have to look past the mean, low-blow humor that seems so common nowadays. Plus, they’re never preachy about it. They too make mistakes, but they apologize for them. They’re aware of the very potent power they hold over their audience, and they use it only for good.

Okay, maybe I’ve done kind of a bad job at recommending this podcast to anyone except a very specific type of person. But hey, that’s what this blog is for, right?

However, if I have somehow managed to sell you on MBMBAM, give it a listen for yourself here. It updates with a new episode every Monday. I highly suggest you just listen to the most recent episodes, because they’ve been doing this for like six years now and the quality has MAJORLY jumped since the beginning.

You can also follow Justin, Travis, and Griffin on Twitter too! Or if you wanna check out Monster Factory, which is just as good, head over here.

Anyway, I’m your extra-est blogger, Gillian Paxton, and this has been my recommendation for MBMBAM. Thanks for reading, and kiss your dad square on the lips.

(…Yes, that was a reference to the podcast. I swear.)


(This is one of my favorite goofs on this podcast. Parental advisory warning: there’s some swearing. But it’s hilarious, I promise.)

(Introduction) Why Writing a Blog is a Terrible Idea

Why, hello there. Welcome to my blog. This sort of introductory thing probably would have been better to be the first post, but as is a constant in my life, I put the music first. If you’re here reading this, thanks. I appreciate it, despite everything I’m about to say.

But first, introductions. My name is Gillian Paxton. As I’m writing this, I’m eighteen years old. Currently, I’m a senior at Carmel High School, but I’ll be attending Indiana University’s Media School next fall, probably studying journalism, although if what I’ve learned from most of the adults in my life is true, that’s subject to change. This world we live in is a sphere of chaos and uncertainty, anyway.

However, what isn’t uncertain is the fact that I’ve always been a fan of words. Not spoken-aloud words, definitely not. Spoken words involves, like, looking at people, and while there are some people in this world I enjoy looking at, they’re still all exhausting to me. No, I’ve always been a fan of written words, words on papers and books and cereal boxes and webpages, and now, these words here on my very own blog.

My decision to start a blog has been a long time coming. My mother has been urging me to write one for years, but I think that’s because she thinks writing a blog is the secret to becoming a millionaire. I guess I wouldn’t know, but hey, maybe this could work out? Maybe in a few years I’ll be reading this post on a yacht, drinking an expensive but non-alcoholic beverage and laughing about how young and poor and naive I was.

I resisted writing a blog for years for a lot of reasons. Logically, starting a blog made no sense for me. My opinions are vast and complex, but they’re also rather niche and don’t tend to stick to one topic. If I wrote a blog, what would even be about? I care about so many things. Music. Dogs. Media. Video games. Anime. Music. People. Words. Music. Books. Music. Music.

And sure, I have things to say, but who cares? I mean, I have lovely friends and family who will probably post encouraging things on my blog posts, but I guarantee they won’t be sticking around once I whip out my in-depth analysis of side characters in the Fire Emblem series, or start ranking my favorite Vocaloid songs, or wax philosophical on the lack of female characters in sports anime (all very real ideas for posts, I’m warning you now). Why should I put work into something, realistically, no one will read?

Also, what would I even call this blog?

However, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by the page you’re looking at right now, I eventually overcame these concerns. How?

It mostly comes down to our school newspaper. See, my sophomore year I took the prerequisite class for joining the staff of my high school’s newspaper, the Hilite. It was a class I assumed I’d enjoy, but I was unprepared for how much I’d enjoy it, and be challenged by it. My junior year, I joined staff, and quickly found a love for writing for the opinion section of the paper, Perspectives. And now, after several columns, a lot of copy-editing, and a hearty amount of schmoozing with the past editor, I am now one of the two editors of Perspectives. I’ve learned a lot from the experience, but here’s the most important thing:

The art of good opinion writing relies heavily on a lack of care for your audience.

I know that sounds terrible, especially since you, reading this, are my audience. I do care about you. And yes, opinion writing involves wanting to help your audience see things in a new light.

But also I don’t care about what you think.

It takes a certain lack of care for your audience to put your own opinion out there. To say, “Hey, you might think differently, but you’re wrong and here’s why.”

See, writing for a school paper quickly teaches you that there’s value in what you write even if no one pays attention. And yes, people will ignore what you write. People have busy lives, and they won’t always pay attention to what one person has to say. But it doesn’t matter. It’s important to say those things anyway, because you never know when someone will be out there, listening. And even if they’re not, one person is there listening, and that person is you. Er, me. I’m writing this. Uh, yeah.

So honestly, this blog is going to be disjointed. It’s not going to stick to one topic. It’s going to get pretty niche. And most likely, not a whole lot of people will read it. And that’s okay. This blog is ultimately for me. If you’re here this far, thanks, but this isn’t for you.

Don’t take it too personally.

But all that being said, I also want this blog to be for you. For all of you. And by “all of you”, I mostly mean my friends. I have the incredible pleasure of befriending a host of deeply fascinating people who are passionate about a lot of things. Some of those things I’m also passionate about, some of those things I’m not, but regardless, I love hearing about those things.

I have friends who love history, who love crafts, who love science and god forbid, math. I have friends who really like thinking about how terrible politics can be. I have friends who play video games with lots of fanservice and don’t even mind it. I have friends who deeply analyze the lighting of scenes in blockbuster movies. I have friends who have more than a casual love for Broadway.

I feel like too many of these passions go unnoticed, so what I want this blog to be is a place to celebrate the weird, beautiful, niche things I and my friends love. I want this to be a place where I can scream my small, unimportant opinions into the vast void of the internet, and I hope to bring others along for the ride to scream their small, unimportant opinions too. And maybe people will hear us, or maybe they won’t. Either way, I think it’ll be fun.

For that reason, I plan on getting some guest writers and personal friends on board to write things every so often! I think it’ll be a nice change of pace from just lil ol’ me all the time.

Expect weekly posts (most likely every Sunday), and thank you so much for reading, as always.

(Oh, and I almost forgot! The title. It was ripped shamelessly off of the title of a jazz chart Jazz 2 played last year for our annual pie and jazz event, Jazz a la Mode. I thought it was clever. Please don’t sue me.)

 

 

I Guess There Were *Some* Good Things – Top 30 Tracks of 2016

Let’s face it. I agree, you agree, we all agree. 2016 was… terrible.

But look, there’s no need to dwell on it. In fact, I’m of the belief that we should move on. And the best ways to move on is, of course, to celebrate of the few gems 2016 had for us.

As is the case with most “Top ___” lists, this one is a bit loose. It’s hard for me to rank songs definitively, so aside from the top 5-10 or so, take the order of these tracks with a grain of salt. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

30. Bad Decisions – Two Door Cinema Club

I was really happy to see the return of Two Door Cinema Club this year, they’re one of my old favorites. Unfortunately, their new music didn’t quite live up to their old music, at least for me, but this is a pretty good song. It’s got a good groove, and was enough to make both my dad and I turn our heads the first time we heard it on the radio. Possibly the reason it’s so low on this list is because I wish it lived up to “Something Good Can Work” or “Changing of the Seasons”, but it stands on its own fairly well.

29. High and Low – Empire of the Sun

This song very quickly became a family favorite, partially, I admit, because of the appeal of Empire of the Sun’s earlier minor hit, “Walking on a Dream”. We had a bit of an inside joke regarding how difficult it was to make out the lyrics of “Walking on a Dream”, although the bright atmospheric pop never seemed to leave our heads. “High and Low” has a lot of the same great qualities, but with approximately 80% more enunciation! Amazing.

28. River – Bishop Briggs

“River” is one of those songs that makes me wish I was a better singer because GOD are the vocals of this song ever powerful. If you want even further proof of how top-notch these vocals are take a listen to the live version. That’s pure talent right there. While the vocals do steal the show, they’re only enhanced by the loud, boisterous electronic sounds played against the quieter acoustic sounds in the verses.

27. Welcome to Your Life – Grouplove

I love Grouplove. Their song “Tongue Tied” will forever be my quintessential summer song, and they’ve managed to charm me track after track over the years. And with “Welcome to Your Life” they’ve done it again. This bouncy, positive song maintains a careful balance between a traditional rock sound and a poppier beat. The chorus is simple but meaningful, and I love both lead singers Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi’s opposing but still harmonious vocal performances.

26. Youth – Glass Animals

If you’re looking for a group that’s truly unique without straying too far into the weird zone (a zone I nonetheless often find myself occupying, honestly), I highly suggest Glass Animals. This is not their last appearance on this list, and it’s due in part to how incredibly solid each new track they’ve put out this year has been. “Youth” specifically is atmospheric, combining soft vocals and unique electronic sounds to craft a truly pleasant track. I loved this song the moment I first heard it.

25. Somebody Else – The 1975

Speaking of soft, atmospheric tunes done by solid bands, here’s “Somebody Else”. This song has an unmistakably sad quality to it, which I think is one of its strengths. This song is subtle and lovely, and I wish I had further to say about it than that. Honestly, it speaks for itself. Go give it a listen.

24. Favorite Liar – The Wrecks

I talk big about appreciating subtlety and artistry in music, but lets be honest. Sometimes you just want to put on something loud and angsty and a little tongue-in-cheek to scream the lyrics at the top of your lungs to. “Favorite Liar” hits that spot so well. It’s loud and unapologetic in both its instrumentation and its lyrics, and honestly, that’s all it needs to be. If you’re a fan of early Fall Out Boy, I highly recommend this track.

23. Life Itself – Glass Animals

Aaaand it’s Glass Animals again! I feel like talking about this song would be repeating a lot of what I said earlier, so I’ll skip it and talk specifically about this track. “Life Itself” is smooth and quiet, with rather blunt and honest lyrics that I really enjoy. If you like the song, please give the lyrics a read – they’re so very unique and simultaneously sad and hilarious at the same time. I’m a big fan of lyrics in general, but this song is a winner all around.

22. HandClap – Fitz and the Tantrums

Here’s another band constantly putting out great stuff. It’s such a joy to listen to Fitz and the Tantrums, they have such an incredible energy. This song in particular is so danceable but never takes away from the beautiful leading vocals from Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs. It also doesn’t hurt that the lyrics are kind of… memorable? My friend and I still can’t quite figure out what the titular “Handclap” is an innuendo for, but it’s definitely an innuendo for something. Maybe it’s best we don’t know.

21. Move – Saint Motel

Every year, I choose one band to listen to the entire discography of over Spring Break. This year was Saint Motel! While I honestly enjoy their older stuff a bit more than the tracks on their newest album, Saintmotelevision, “Move” is a driving, fun track with a memorable chorus. It’s not deep or particularly meaningful, but it honestly doesn’t have to be – it stands on pure simplicity alone. Also, horns. Thank you Saint Motel for always including the horns.

20. Go! – M83 ft. Mai Lan

Time for the Top 20! And bottoming out the best of the best this year is this fun, spacey track from M83. I liked this song the first time I heard it on the radio, but it was only after I listened to it a few times that I realized that it has a lot going for it. I like the use of saxophone and other horns, the whimsical, stuttering lyric delivery, and the juxtaposition of the quiet verses and louder chorus. And, of course, the guitar solo.

19. Toothbrush – DNCE

There’s always one or two pure pop songs that make it onto my favorite list every year, and I gotta say, I’m happy it’s this one. DNCE is led by Joe Jonas, yes the Joe Jonas. (Fun fact: The Jonas Brothers was my very first live concert experience, a fact that mortified me until this year, when Joe Jonas made liking him cool again with this band).

“Toothbrush” is a fun little love song. Sure, it’s not all that incredibly deep, but it’s certainly got a distinctive sound compared to some of the other pop music 2016 gave us this year, with that high pitched falsetto crooning and up-tempo guitar. It’s a feel-good tune and it makes me feel good! It accomplishes what it sets out to do, and isn’t that the most important thing?

(Also, just a note, this isn’t a Top 30 music videos list, but the music video for this song is one of my favorites purely because it’s got a love interest that isn’t model thin. Check it out. Support body positivity. Bless.)

18. The Sound – The 1975

This year was my last year being in marching band. I’m gonna miss a lot of things about being in the band, and one of those things is our stretch routine. At the beginning of every rehearsal, our drum majors would put on a song and the whole band would do a choreographed stretch routine to it. While a lot of songs make the rounds every year, I really liked having this one to start practice to every so often.

“The Sound” combines The 1975’s usual echoey sound with a bit more of a driving, uptempo beat carried by the piano and synth parts. I also am a big fan of the lyrics – they’re equal parts cynically hilarious and also kind of sweet?

17. Roll Up – Fitz and the Tantrums

Ah, Fitz and the Tantrums. They always know how to get me wanting to dance, and I think of every song on this list, this one is the happiest, party-est track of them all. The lyrics are so dang catchy and that just enhances the already infectious beat and instrumentation. I’m surprised this song hasn’t hit the pop stations yet – at least as far as I know – because it certainly dips into the pop genre to great effect.

16. Cocoon – Milky Chance

Milky Chance tends to put out a lot of sleepy-sounding music. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, per se. I loved “Stolen Dance” when I first heard it, sleepy vocals, trance-like music and all, but it was really nice to hear “Cocoon” pick it up a little bit. The vocals are still very chill and laid back, but they pair surprisingly well with the snappy beat, and it’s refreshing to hear a little more power and intensity in the vocals.

15. Call Off Your Dogs – Lake Street Dive

I’m waiting for the day these guys make it big so that I can flaunt my hipster cred and talk about how I heard them first and yadda yadda. Lake Street Dive is one of those hidden gems that puts out consistently great tracks. Please check them out.

Specifically, “Call Off Your Dogs” has a very retro vintage feel that immediately sets it apart. I also am a huge, huge fan of lead singer Rachael Price’s powerful and pure vocals. If you listen to this song for nothing else, listen to it for her incredible talent and control.

14. Vice – POP ETC

Speaking of powerful control, this song is entirely that. “Vice” is a driving track with a distinctive sound I just adore. Honestly, I’m sitting here listening to it at a loss for words at how else to describe it. It’s just really great. I claim to be so good at words but I’m not good enough to figure out what it is I like about this song. It’s just a genuinely good song.

13. Silvertongue – Young the Giant

Where were we? Ah yes, the english language, being used to describe music that I like. Young the Giant is a strong contender for my next Spring Break band, and considering they also have the next song, I think this is fate trying to tell me I should give their whole discography a try. If this song had hit airwaves a little earlier I feel like it could have edged out the next song, “Something to Believe In”, but as it stands I’m just now getting to know this unapologetically powerful track. It stuck in my brain from the very first time I heard it. I love how it balances out a spacier sound with more straightforward rock sounds.

12. Something to Believe In – Young the Giant

Here they are again! My favorite part of “Something to Believe In” is the vocals. While I get the general idea that the song is about religion and faith systems, what exactly it says about them is a bit more up in the air. Personally, I’m in the boat that this song is commentating on the fact that belief in oneself is just as powerful as belief in a faith system, but if you go to the genius article about this song, you’d find the complete opposite interpretation. Maybe it’s just personal opinion? Who knows. Regardless, the vocals are convincing and the delivery has such an angry, bitter quality to them that it’s hard not to take notice. The instrumentation and inclusion of a choral background only serves the emotion in the song.

11. The Less I Know the Better – Tame Impala

If we’re talking about emotional music, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned heartbreak song and “The Less I Know the Better” is a top notch example of this. The guitar riff is distinctive, and the vocals strike that balance between empathetic sadness and realistic bitterness over its situation. I’m a big fan of the complete blunt honesty of these lyrics, especially the line where it talks about not wanting to wait forever – it seems like too often these sorts of songs paint love as a selfless thing, while in reality it has its roots in selfishness as well. This song chooses to focus on that idea, making it stand apart.

10. Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance) – Silversun Pickups

I’m always immediately a fan of songs that get very personal, and “Circadian Rhythm” is definitely an example. According to singer Nikki Monniger, this song was written for a close friend of hers who passed away, and that knowledge only serves to make the emotion of this song more potent. This song is just beautiful. It tugs on the heart strings with its lovely lyrics and dark-sounding instrumentation.

9. Good Grief – Bastille

Have I mentioned yet how much I love wordplay and puns in lyrics? It just combines so many of my greatest loves together. “Good Grief” is a song about grief, but it would probably take a few listens for anyone to get that, since it seems like such an upbeat little number. (Coincidentally, this makes this song a prime example of lyrical dissonance, which is another song trope I adore).

I love the childhood motif of this song, and I think it really adds to the emotion it sells. This is not a happy song, and the innocent hide-and-seek references juxtaposed by the very adult themes is really powerful. Lead singer Dan Smith tells it well.

8. Ophelia – The Lumineers

This will not be The Lumineers last appearance in this list (spoiler alert). Their newest album “Cleopatra” is really solid overall, but there’s a reason why this track is the most popular tune off of it.

The lyrics are mournful and lovely and they’re performed with real emotion by lead singer Wesley Schultz. The instrumentation is echoey and beautiful.  Plus, it’s got a distinctive piano riff won’t ever leave your head. Not to mention the chorus, which is super catchy and easy to remember, and the inspiration for thousands of hipster edits.

“Heaven help the fool who falls in love…”

7. My Trigger – Miike Snow

Laugh it up, but this song is high quality, even if it can be a bit ham-handed with the innuendo. Surprisingly enough, the obvious phallic reference in the title is not indicative of the rest of the song – in fact, some of the lyrics are downright clever (but still dirty, sorry in advance).

But I’m not here to only talk about the innuendos. Let’s talk about the striking falsetto vocals and playful piano accompaniment. Paired with that Miike Snow electronica polish, this track is clean and simple (even if its subject matter is not).

6. Lowlife – That Poppy

A lot has been said on the internet about That Poppy, how she is the quintessential new pop musician, how weird she is, how she might be connected to the illuminati…

Is this song just a mishmash of pop song tropes that work in order to commentate on how mainstream music is no longer original? Maybe. I don’t really care. Whether I agree with that assessment is a topic for another post, but all of that doesn’t matter. I love this song. I think it’s great.

I love the subtle pun in the title. I love the clever lyrics. I love the Gwen Stefani-esque slow jam sound it has. Maybe pop music is bad and unoriginal, but this is a perfect pop song anyway. It will be stuck in my head for the rest of my life, and I’m happier for it.

5. Genghis Khan – Miike Snow

Okay, I need you to do something for me. Watch the music video for this song. All the way through.

Did you do it? You better have, because this song has the greatest music video ever and I’m not exaggerating.

Unfortunately, this is not a “Top 30 Best Music Videos” list, but that’s no matter, because this song is excellent as well. Catchy as all-get-out, it grabs you immediately and never lets go until it’s over (probably fitting, considering this song is about an overbearing ex-lover). The hard piano chords in the background give this song a violent, jarring sound, but also provides some definite melody and harmony that provides interesting contrast that is so very distinctive and works so well.

4. Tearing Me Up – Bob Moses

You know those songs that make you feel 100% cooler just by putting them on as you walk down the halls? You know, those songs that make you feel like you can crush your enemies underneath your boots just by keeping in step with the beat of the song? Yeah? This is one of those songs.

This song heavily focuses on its bassline and percussion, and it picks up such a great groove that it’s honestly a crime that the radio version of this song cuts out so much of the instrumental opening. It’s a little long, sure, but it pulls you into the mood in a way unmatched by any other song from this year.

Once it actually gets into the vocals, the excellence continues with soft, catchy lyrics that never let up on the groove already established by the opening. There isn’t too much depth in the lyrics themselves, but I don’t mind it too much, because the simplicity suits it. Nothing complex here, just some good beats and a great track.

3. Death of a Bachelor – Panic! at the Disco

Technically speaking, I first fell in love with this song last year, when it was released as a single, but by god, this song is so good I’ll put it on every list. Every list. It’s beautiful.

Lead singer Brendon Urie’s gorgeous voice is just the cherry on top of this vintage-sounding track. Heavy on the brass (just like I like it), this song is the epitome of class. It swells and flows and is just a joy from beginning to end.

Plus, because I always like to point out the lyrics and meaning of music, this one is actually kind of adorable. Shoutout to the guy who told me he thought this song was too depressing – buddy, it’s about the singer getting married. No tragedies here, just high quality tunes.

2. Send Them Off! – Bastille

This. Song. Is. Hype.

I mean, for obvious reasons, the brass line in this song is enough to get me MEGA HYPE but honestly the lyrics certainly help too. THOSE GOOD, GOOD, SHAKESPEARE REFERENCES. Also, the well-written and well-thought-out lyrics I’ve come to expect from Bastille. This song is a deeply personal look into the feeling of jealousy, but don’t let that description fool you into thinking this is some sweet, mournful tune. Nope. This song was my go-to “get ready to kick brass” song before marching band competitions this year.

All of Bastille’s new album was incredible, but this one is hands down my favorite. Lead singer Dan Smith has the perfect voice for this song. Low and rich and powerful, but with an unmistakably light and beautiful quality at times, going right along with the swagger the instrumentation of this song brings. It’s perfect. I love it.

1. Cleopatra – The Lumineers

In so many words, I’d have a tough time explaining just why “Cleopatra” so thoroughly stole my heart this year, but I’ll try my best.

This song captures all that is charming about the Lumineers – the soft, folksy instrumentals and vocals – combined with an incredibly touching story. Now, I won’t lie, I love songs that tell stories (I’d love to write a whole dissertation on songs that tell stories, honestly), and the story of “Cleopatra” is definitely one of my favorites. It’s about a woman, represented by Cleopatra, who, in a bad time of her life, rejects the marriage proposal of the person she loves. As a result, they leave and marry another, and Cleopatra laments how she missed her chance to be with them, and speaks on her acceptance of the fact that she will likely die alone.

And what’s even better? It’s a true story. According to lead singer Wesley Schultz, the song was inspired by a taxi driver he met in the Republic of Georgia.

Yeah, okay, it’s depressing, I know. But this song is surprisingly hopeful for its subject matter, and leaves me with such a bittersweet feeling of calm. It’s an incredibly written, beautifully symbolic retelling of a moving real-life tale, and it’s my favorite track of 2016.