Ten years ago today saw the English launch of a quirky Japanese puzzler, a sleeper hit that would go down as one of the most endearing, original, and gleefully weird gaming stories of the 2000s: Katamari Damacy. Its fever-dream plot has the record-scratching, Freddie Mercury-esque King of All Cosmos destroy the stars in a drunken fugue, and you, the diminutive Prince, must restore them with the Katamari -- a magical sticky ball that snowballs through cluttered environments, rolling up paperclips, flowerpots, cows, buses, houses, skyscrapers, and continents into new constellations. It also boasts one of the most infectiously joyous soundtracks of all time -- an eccentric, richly produced, and incredibly catchy blend of funk, salsa, bossa nova, experimental electronica, J-Pop, swing, lounge, bamboo flute, hair metal, buoyant parade music, soaring children's choirs, Macintalk fanfares, and the finest theme song this side of Super Mario Bros. Called a consumerist critique by sculptor-turned-developer Keita Takahashi (who after one sequel moved on to Glitch, the supremely odd Noby Noby Boy, and playground design), the series has inspired much celebration and thought [2, 3] on its way from budget bin to MoMA exhibit. Look inside for essays, artwork, comics, lyrics, more music, hopes, dreams... my, the internet really is full of things. [more inside]
O Universo Musical de Baden Powell. A documentary about one of Brazil's most loved musicians.
The Girl From Ipanema Turns 50. The song, not the woman. (Although she's still around, and still making everyone she passes go "ahhhhhh".) Written in 1962 by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, recorded by Pery Ribeiro (here performing the song in 2005), the song gained English lyrics a couple of years later, and became a phenomenon that continues to this day. [more inside]
Elis Regina was perhaps the biggest Brazilian popstar of her time. The clip in the first link is a single song from a TV special she did in 1973, at the height of her powers, and which has been put online in its entirety. The song, Águas de Março, was a Tom Jobim composition, which they sang together on the album Elis & Tom, which also featured such gems as Corcovado, Inútil paisagem and Triste. Over her career Elis Regina worked with a who's who of Brazilian popular music, and there's quite a lot of material out there. The best places I've found are YouTube channels elisetom1974, Eurachel and, though the Elis Regina material is mixed in with other stuff, jordaoqualquer is a treasure trove. Elis Regina died from an alcohol and cocaine overdose in 1982, 36 years of age. Last year NPR had a short appreciation of her as part of its 50 Great Voices series.
Nouvelle Vague covers New Wave and Punk (MLYT) Nouvelle Vague (no, not this one) does Bossa Nova covers of New Wave and Punk songs, including: Dance with me (Lords of the New Church), Master and Servant (Depeche Mode), Love will tear us apart (Joy Division), Making plans for Nigel (XTC), Blue Monday (New Order), This is not a love song (PiL), The guns of Brixton (The Clash), and one NSFW title [more inside]
Three of the giants of Brazilian guitar were Laurindo Almeida (1917-1995; wiki here), Luiz Bonfa (1922-2001; wiki here), and Baden Powell (1937-2000; wiki here). Here is Laurindo Almeida w/the MJQ playing One Note Samba; here is Luiz Bonfa playing the theme from Black Orpheus (which he composed); and here is Baden Powell playing Samba Triste. [more inside]
Henri Salvador died yesterday, age 90. "In his 70-year career, Henri Salvador also gained popularity as a dancer, pantomime artist and TV personality. His musical range included prewar chansons, whispery bossa nova, children's favorites and rock 'n' roll." And his English wasn't bad.
"If the truth was really known about the origins of Jazz, it would certainly never be mentioned in polite society." The expression arose sometime during the later nineteenth century in the better brothels of New Orleans, which provided music and dancing as well as sex. Jazz has been around for more than a hundred years now. It is not the result of choosing a tune, but an ideal that is created first in the mind, and willed in the music, inspired by A Passion for Jazz.
Nihongo Bongo! - Latin music by Japanese artists from the 40s, 50s and 60s. "Mambo, rumba, cha cha cha, bossa nova, calypso, you name it... it was big in Japan. The exodus of Japanese migrants to Brazil ensured a lasting connection with South American culture as many Japanese artists toured Brazil."
The Boss of the Bossa Nova. A very thorough tribute site to Antonio Carlos Jobim, with scores of scores, english lyrics, and rare recordings. The music's greatest interpreter is the enigmatic genius Joao Gilberto. For more on brazilian music in general, there's Slipcue, AllBrazilianMusic, and The Brazilian Sound. (For Portuguese speakers only, there's an excellent encyclopedia on the subject.)
I don't know why, but I can't get enough of Brazillian music (realvideo stream). Not that I can understand a word of it, but damn that's smooth. Note to self: buy more Gilberto Gil records. This person thinks this disc is one of his best, and you can even download digital versions of it from cdnow, although I wonder why each cut is $2.49. Why on earth should digital music cost more? There's no shipping, no customer service hassles, no media to stock in a warehouse. Make the entire disc $5 in digital format, and I'll buy his entire collection (and save from adding to my already loaded down cd rack at home).