Different, with a better story

I’m currently watching The Voice of China. On that show, there’s this singer called Perhat. He’s, in the words of his fans, an “Uyghur Rock Star”. I’m not really a fan. But that’s just me. Many, many others think he’s the next Bob Dylan.

There is something about him. He’s different from the other contestants. He voice reminds me of Tom Waits (whose song The Piano has been Drinking, video below, I fell in love with at first hear).

The thing about Perhat is that he seems really loveable (I remember in an earlier one-on-one round, when he kicked out his adversary he refused to raise his hand in victory. His adversary had actually helped him a lot with the language of the song, as he wasn’t fluent in Chinese,  and he felt bad at kicking out the very guy who helped him win).

He’s also got a really sad backstory (I was almost going to say “blessed with” but if that’s blessed leave me out of the blessing please). Every time he sings, if you’re aware of his backstory, you really want him to win. To do otherwise just seems heartless.

But… BUT…

It just seems odd that he’s gotten this far in the contest, and I’m just wondering if it’s due to his being different.

By remaining uncategorisable, essentially in a different league but not necessarily a better one, Perhat has made it extremely difficult to judge him.

During the one-on-ones, we have singers singing standard songs, with standards of quality we can easily make sense of (“she sings well, but she’s no Adele”). Perhat, on the other hand, sings in a way that we’re not really accustomed to hearing. We have no real benchmark. Because we can’t make sense of how to score Perhat, we might be inclined to think it’s much better than we think.

The proliferation of English songs in The Voice of China has also been a little put-offish. They sing technically well, but because you know it’s their second (maybe third) language, it’s difficult to really believe the emotion behind the songs (I can’t help but think they’re focusing harder on recalling  the phonetics than the singing).

But still, they insist on singing English songs. And it seems to pay off. Of the episodes I’ve seen, those who’ve sung English songs, have managed to overcome stronger opponents who’ve sung in Mandarin. Foreign songs are a novelty for Chinese singers, and difficult to judge due to unfamiliarity. And, like Perhat, because it’s difficult to make sense of how well the song has been sung, we might be inclined to think it’s better than it really is.

Could it be the blue ocean strategy at work?

I’m so going to Iceland

I remember when I was younger watching a Bjork music video, in which I vaguely recall images of, among other things, volcanoes, large barren landscapes, as well as lots of snow and ice. I remember thinking how beautiful it all was, and how surreal. And I remember thinking, I wish I was there. It was a little later that I found out from my sister that the “there” I had wished to be was Iceland.

Fast forward a decade and a half or so, and here I am. Up until recently I’d all but forgotten about that video, and about Iceland.

That is, until I came across Bon Iver’s music video for his song, Holocene, and fell in love with Iceland once again.

How do you tell?

I was just wondering…
how do you tell if a girl’s interested in you?
does she look at you funny?
does she pretend to be looking for others
when she’s really looking for you?
does she even act any differently at all?

Thinking that introspection might lead me somewhere,
I reversed the question…
how do I tell if I’m interested in a girl?
I thought about this for a while.
And for a longer while.
And for yet another.

But answers were as forthcoming
as a parent’s answer to a child’s question
on where babies come from
(and we’re not talking ’bout nationality here)

So I gave up.
And I put on some music.

And right there, on my iTunes playlist…
I found the answer:

We can’t.

Family Planning for the Virgin Mary

I’ve listened to this song called Zoom! (by the band Super Furry Animals) many times, but it was only today that I decided to take a look at the lyrics (as they mumble through their song, it takes more than listening to know what they’re saying). Anyway, here’s the part of the song that I loved best:

Saw the Virgin Mary,
She was crying blood,
Tears congregate
Into a mighty flood,
Gave her some directions
to a specialist,
An eye doctor to help her cyst,
She took the wrong turn,
to the family planning.

Sounds really good with the music, as they totally deadpan their way through it. Fantastic stuff.

Waltz for Koop

I really should be sleeping now. I had just finished listening to the entire album Waltz for Koop (by Koop), when I thought I’d end the night by listening to Damien Rice‘s The Blower’s Daughter. But it seems iTunes had other plans — I had forgotten to uncheck the Waltz for Koop songs.

So after Damien Rice’s number was over, it went straight to a Koop track. I couldn’t help but keep on listening. Really, I wanted to stop, but the music wouldn’t let me.

You see, that’s the problem with music.

It’s addictive.