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Posts tagged music

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2014 is first year ever with zero platinum-certified records

Joel Freimark writing for Death and Taxes:

2014 will mark the first year since its inception in 1976 that no artist’s album will be certified as platinum from sales. The award is given by the RIAA to mark one million units sold, and with only a few weeks remaining in the year, no album is even remotely close to making the threshold.

The two records nearest the magic number are Beyonce’s self-titled album and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine,” but neither have even crossed the 800,000 mark, with sales of both having tapered off months ago. There is one caveat, and that is the fact that the soundtrack to the animated film Frozen has moved well over three million units; but it being a soundtrack and not a single-artist release places it into a slightly different category.

I’m really enjoying that the top-selling album in 2014 in the United States is a film soundtrack, although apparently this happens more often than I realized (thanks Wikipedia).

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Here’s trio JOMELA—Aaron Boudreaux on drums, Ed Coussan on bass, and Erick Coleman on piano—covering Hirokazu Ando’s “Character Select” from the N64 game Super Smash Bros.

Colin: This is so amazing.

'Ili: Songs you never realized needed a jam until now

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So I was surfing the YouTubes for random live Japanese performances of music, as I am wont to do, when I found this bizarre eighteen minute arrangement of Ravel’s “Boléro” on jazz piano (Yosuke Yamashita) and taiko (Eitetsu Hayashi). I don’t really know exactly what universe this comes from, but according to the description it happened in 1999 in Tokyo.

As you might expect, it’s kinda mathematically impossible to play more than a few rounds of “Boléro” with only two instruments, so they jump the track really quickly, and after that nothing makes sense any more. Hayashi’s faces are gold (check out 6:13 and 8:40), and Hayashi’s top layer of clothing just mysteriously falls off in stages, and Yamashita is literally just playing with his elbows at 13:24, and then look how excitedly Yamashita removes his hands from the piano at 13:46 in anticipation of DRUM SOLO.

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Here’s former Namco composer Junko Ozawa showing off her hand-drawn notebook of waveforms that she used when composing video game music in the ’80s.

This is from episode 1 of Diggin’ In The Carts, an in-progress documentary series by Red Bull Music Academy on video game music from Japan. The first episode covers Namco arcade games and Hirokazu Tanaka (Nintendo NES games), and the second covers Konami and Sunsoft NES games. There’s a lot of pretty good and actually accurate info in there and the photography’s real nice, I recommend it. Listen to bleeps and boops today!

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Today’s music selection: “Swing Star Part 2” by Todd Terje, off his album It’s Album Time. Not much to say about this one, aside from that I hadn’t heard of Terje until a few days ago and I thought this song was kind of neat. Sometimes it’s just a dance music kind of day.

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The Warp Zone, a gaming comedy YouTube channel I’ve never heard of before, has started covering video game music. Here’s “Chemical Plant Zone” from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, originally composed by Masato Nakamura and arranged by Paul Paramo.

Colin: Damn the part where the sax gets really wild at like 1:20 or so wasn’t nearly as epic as I was hoping

Colin: Pretty great though.

None of their other three covers are anywhere as good as this, unfortunately. :(

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On August 16, Janis Ian and Tommy Emmanuel performed “At Seventeen” and “Over the Rainbow” at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Tommy’s improv accompaniment is pretty good.

"At Seventeen" is a famous song so I knew the first couple of lines and general melody of it, but I didn’t really know the song until listening to it here. And I gotta say, the verse 4 lyrics are outstanding. The metaphor is so perfectly bitter and impersonal, and she slips “debentures” into a soft rock song for crying out loud.

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Here’s Bert Smorenburg demonstrating a piano with Yamaha’s new TransAcoustic technology. As I understand it, they’ve taken an acoustic piano and hooked up transducers to the sound board that can play digital samples through it. This means that it can play as a normal piano (no samples), an electric keyboard (only samples), or a hybrid of acoustic piano layered with samples, and in all three cases the sound comes out of the body of the instrument without speakers or anything like that.

I’m linking this half because I think this is cool tech, and half because the guy makes really funny faces while playing. Matt Peckham reviewed the U1TA model for TIME magazine.