Forza, Italia! I love you. Stay strong.

I have a special affinity with Italy, thanks to having met my Italian partner who I have been together with for just over 25 years now. Like millions of people before me, I fell in love with the country almost immediately upon my first visit, and fell helplessly in love with the culture, especially the language and of course the food. Their music, their movies, their art and design. I have been to Italy many times over the years to visit his family, around 20 times, and while I have not been to every single town and city in Italy, every single one I have been to is incredibly, stunningly beautiful and steeped in fascinating history, filled with people famous for their passion and zest for life.

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Bergamo, which I am privileged to have visited many years ago, is the city hardest hit by Covid-19 in Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in the world. Singer Roby Facchinetti was born there and still lives there. He co-wrote and sang this beautiful song as a tribute to Bergamo, but now it has become an anthem for all of Italy, and for many throughout the world who have been affected by the pandemic.

Rinascerò, Rinascerai” means “I will be reborn. You will be reborn.”. If you don’t see the English translation subtitles when playing the video, please click the ‘cc’ button at the bottom of the screen to activate the subtitles.

In an interview with Billboard published a few days ago, I learnt that many of the people featured in the video are doctors and nurses from the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, where Roby’s wife Giovanna is a volunteer. The video also features images from the city, as well as players and coaches from the city’s major league football club, Atalanta.

In that same Billboard interview, Roby spoke of how the song came to be:

It began when I saw the footage on the news of army trucks taking away coffins. This was just 50 meters from where I live here in the center of Bergamo, and so it was even tougher to watch. Two days earlier, two of my relatives had died. It was very painful, and so I sat down at my piano. This is because my whole life has been in music and it has always been the best medicine in the most difficult moments. I simply wanted to play the piano in order to take my mind off things, and the melody and harmony just came. I immediately rang Stefano D’Orazio. I told him about the tune and that I had these two words in mind — “Rinascerò, Rinascerai” — and I asked him, “Could you write the lyrics?” 

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I love you, Italy. Ti amo per sempre. I will always have you in my heart and thoughts. Keep on fighting. Take care. You will come out of this stronger than ever.

To everyone, please stay safe. Love and best wishes from me.

‘Narcissus’ (2019) by Róisín Murphy and ‘Sing it back’ (1998) by Moloko

I came across again after such a long time, the song ‘Sing It Back’ from Moloko, on YouTube. It was first released more than two decades ago in 1998. I was in my 20s then. Listening to it again now, I thought to myself, “Wow, I remember this song, it still sounds fantastic after all these years.” Not everything in pop culture like songs and movies age well.

So that quickly led to a jaunt down memory lane, which can be dangerous on YouTube because it can suck up hours on end, so I had to be careful to snap out of it after around half an hour or so. But it was fun idling there, tickled pink by some of the other songs I liked so long ago.

Among the other videos I watched is ‘The Time is Now’, also by Moloko, enjoying the song all over again.

While I was listening to the song I read some of the comments, and one said:

Moloko still never got as much attention as they deserved. She is a wonderful singer.

I didn’t notice the ‘they‘ and was thinking, “Totally agree with that. Well, you can not let that happen to the current crop of talented but under-rated singers, by giving them more attention.

Start with this girl Róisín Murphy I saw a couple of times on YouTube. She’s amazing, and hmmm, incidentally she reminds me a lot of Moloko, come to think of it.”

In fact, I quickly realized that in the video for ‘Narcissus’ above, she sounds, and looks, a lot like Moloko in the ‘Sing it Back’ video. And both the songs and both the videos have a great sense of fun and humour.

The more I watched and listened to both, the more I’m intrigued by the similarity, until finally I Googled “Róisín Murphy Moloko” to see if anyone else noticed it. And of course that’s when I found out they’re actually the same person, haha. *light facepalm*

Or rather, the lady is the same. Róisín Murphy is her name. Moloko however is the name of a musical duo, made up of Róisín and her former partner Mark Brydon, that was active between 1994 and 2004.

I was really surprised they were not two different people because it meant she hardly aged, to look really similar to her younger self of 1998, even after two decades. Maybe she’s a vampire or something, I don’t know, (a disco-dancing booty-shaking one) but the face and the body are practically identical.

I also find it so incredibly cool that she’s still singing, and with the same vibe and spirit. Obviously I can’t call myself a fan as I didn’t even know she’s the same person as the singer in Moloko, but I think it’s so great she’s still going strong, doing her thing, putting out entertaining songs still and such fun and humorous videos.

Like this one called ‘Overpowered’, for example. Her outfit immediately made me think of Lady Gaga’s crazy outfits, but this was from 2007, before Lady Gaga’s first single was released the following year.

I really should start listening and enjoying Róisín’s discography and check out her past albums.

One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston – 30th Anniversary

I was listening to her greatest hits album just now, just enthralled all over again for the thousandth time by her voice. And sad at the same time that she had gone way too soon.

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Oh Whitney. What a loss.

When I got to One Moment in Time on Disc 2 of the album above, I realised it’s now been three whole decades since that beautiful song was released. And talking of how crazy-fast time flies, it has now been six years since she left us in 2012.

It was recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Every time I heard the song I would always think it was for the Los Angeles Olympics of 1988, but checking it for this post, I realise I had been mistaken all this time. L.A. hosted the previous Games in 1984, not in 1988.

Thirty years on it is still THE Olympic Games Song, hands down. No other song from the Games, Winter or Summer, or any other song from other sporting events like the songs from the FIFA World Cup for example, comes close. Written by Albert Hammond and John Bettis, and produced by Narada Michael Walden, One Moment in Time is just so inspirational and just so perfect for the world’s premier sporting event. You can feel the raw grit, the sweat, tears and blood, the crazy hard work, the prayers and determination of the athletes who the song salutes and empathises with. The song is just so breathlessly beautiful, brought to life and imbued with fierce spirit and soul by Whitney’s voice and flawless delivery.

Oh Whitney. *hand on heart*

Here’s a video of a live performance in 1989, thanks to a Youtube user called MJChristina.

 

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Dorky dancing at its finest

I was watching Drake’s video for Hotline Bling yet again, an excellent and addictive song, and was reminded of how he was teased in the media about his dancing. It made me laugh like crazy too when I first saw it months ago, but I have to say at the same time I find it adorable.

Thinking of that, I’m reminded of the next 3 examples of unique dancing that I guess I find fascinating and endearing as well, because they have stayed in my memory all this time. Of course it helps that I love the catchy-as-hell songs as well.

If you’re watching just to see them dance, I’ve stated below the point in time in the videos where they start dancing, but the videos are in their entirety here because as I said, I love these songs.

Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat. Dance starts at 1:15

Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend. Dance starts at 0.25

Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters. Dance starts at 0:55

Around The World by Daft Punk

I don’t celebrate Halloween. I think in Singapore it’s mainly a party thing, another theme for the nightclubs to provide more fun and variety in entertainment to their patrons. Last night though I was watching Daft Punk‘s music video for their song Around The World and I thought it would be nice to put it here today. It’s a tad spooky and lots of fun, just like what I think of Halloween. I think it’s so cool that the video is almost twenty years old and still awesome!

I’ve loved this video since I first came across it only a few years ago. Love how original it is for a music video, and love its choregraphy, costumes, stage design, everything else about it. From Wikipedia I found out that the choreographer of the video’s hypnotic and highly entertaining dance is Bianca Li, and that its director is Michel Gondry, the guy who directed the gorgeous Jim Carrey movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as one of the writers.

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo. Around The World is from their debut album Homework. Both were released in 1997. More recently they also achieved great success with the excellent song Get Lucky, a collaboration with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers. The album which the song came from, Random Access Memories, won Album of The Year and more at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Oh here’s a cute Lego version too.

No Sleeep feat. J. Cole: The Return of Ms. Jackson

I find myself going back to this time and again these past few days since I first heard it. The tune featuring her distinctive voice is catchy but very dreamy and relaxing. I love soulful slow jams like this.

This is her first single since ‘Nothing‘, which was released in 2010, so that’s a long absence especially from a megastar of her league.

I like the video for ‘No Sleeep‘ too. Especially for a ‘comeback’, it’s very laid-back. Not some outlandish epic production, but just a quietly exquisite effort that provides a good and suitable complement to the song, as what a music video should do.

It also contains a sweet tribute to her father Joe Jackson at around the 1-minute mark, with a black-and-white photograph of a much younger him posing together with baby Janet.

That sweet, famous smile is still a wonder to look at. And her wardrobe here, where she’s all covered up but still sleek and very stylish, topped with that gorgeous mane of hair, is so Janet.

I have read that she married a Muslim businessman from Qatar in 2012, and has therefore converted to Islam. But this is certainly not the first music video featuring a modestly attired Janet. One reason why her music videos that span her long career are so fascinating is her style which is always alluring and interesting, whether she’s sexily revealing or covered up. Of course it also helps that the woman is gorgeous right till today at 49. She can put on anything and still look good.

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I’m including the video for ‘Nothing‘ here since I love that last single as well. A very beautiful ballad that is a nice song to listen to right after the slow and sensuous ‘No Sleeep‘. ‘Nothing‘ is from the soundtrack for a movie called ‘Why Did I Get Married Too‘ (2010) in which she acted as well.

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Related:

 

 

You’re the one that I want, covered by Lo-Fang

There are many things I love about the gorgeous film Australian director Baz Luhrmann did for Chanel, starring Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen. Most of all is the rendition of the beloved You’re The One That I Want from the 1978 movie Grease. The haunting cover is by American singer Matthew Jordan Hemerlein, better known by his stage name Lo-Fang.

I will forever love the original as sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, but Lo-Fang’s lush treatment propels it to another swooningly glorious dimension. He took it to a stunningly unexpected direction, and what blossomed from the effort is a sparkling beauty that taps gently at your heart and quietly asks for a hug.

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I had seen the Chanel film some time ago, was enamoured by the music and meant to note it here but didn’t at the time. Recently, (okay fine, at work this afternoon when I was supposed to be working) I was led to it again when I was browsing through Buzzfeed and came across this post, which introduced me to the name of the leading man. Watching it again I was reminded that besides the music, the suave and oh-so-sexy leading man with the Javier Bardem vibe was another thing that made me go ‘mmm, nice‘.

His name is Michiel Huisman, a Dutchman. He’s only 33. I thought he looked older in the film. Must be the beard. Which adds up to why I think he’s so sizzlingly hot since I tend to find mature men more attractive. Among the shows the actor has worked in are several popular television series including Nashville and Game of Thrones.

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Michiel Huisman, in a still from the video. Image from the tumblr site Daily Michiel Huisman. Click to go there.

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And here is of course the charismatic original version of You’re The One That I Want.

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Related:

Fall at your feet by Crowded House

One of those days again, when I’ve been listening to the same song over and over again, because for some reason a tune drifts into my head and I just start to hum or sing it softly to myself. So I play it a few times. And then it still won’t leave my head.

Fall At Your Feet was released in 1991. Written by Neil Finn, the lead singer of Crowded House, it is from their third studio album Woodface, released the same year. The band was first formed in Australia in the mid eighties, and became well-known with their huge and memorable hit Don’t Dream It’s Over from their debut album. Although the band broke up a decade later in 1996, it reformed in 2007 albeit with some different members and is still active today.

It’s always fun to check into YouTube to enjoy again the music video of the songs I’m thinking of, and end up enjoying not only the song’s original release, but extra treats like live performances and accoustic versions, if I’m lucky to come across them. In addition to that, other versions by other artists as well.

I love the original:

I didn’t enjoy the 2010 version from Australian indie rock-folk band Boy and Bear as much. It’s a bit ‘over-produced’ to me. The first half was captivating and lush, and overall I enjoyed it, but at the same time I feel it’s a bit too grand a treatment for the quiet and intimate spirit of the song.

More my cup of tea is James Blunt‘s version below. I’m not normally a fan of his style of singing, which I find a tad over-dramatic to be honest, but I thought he did alright by this song.

After saying that I think Boy and Bear‘s version too grand and overdone for the ‘quiet and intimate’ song, it’s strange that I find the passionate and spirited flamenco style of Jesse Cook‘s version suits it stunningly well. I just like this one a lot more. It somehow clicks and fits snugly like a tight bear hug. Jesse is the guitarist in the vest in the video, by the way. I read in Wiki that he recorded the song with a singer called Danny Wilde, so I’m guessing that’s Danny singing in the video. An exhilarating performance by them both and the rest of the band! Song starts at 0:28.

And finally the version I love most of all, from the songwriter himself. Just a man and his guitar, his voice clear and sincere, and those haunting lyrics. Simple and unassuming, but cuts devastatingly deep. Just lovely.

 

 

 

Long live Bollywood

Just came across this video courtesy of Buzzfeed. I love it. The song, the colours, the handsome men, and of course most importantly the message behind the video.

The happy ending for the couple is the ultimate wish for those of us who love our parents and want nothing more but their acceptance and continued love. Behind the catchy music and the gorgeous sights, that’s the heartrending desire, but thanks to the festive vibe of the video it’s presented in a fun and sweet way, not as some preachy sob story. Nice.

The song and video, called The Welcome, is by the ‘United Nations Free & Equal’, which is an initiative of the United Nations Human Rights Office. Click here to go their website to learn more about them. I’ll be checking it out too. Looks interesting. The video features Bollywood star and Miss India winner Celina Jaitly, who, according to the page for the video, is their Equality Champion. I guess that’s what they call their ambassadors. Good work, Ms. Jaitly.

I also very much love the lyrics, lightly persuading the mother in the story, and us the viewers, to have love in our hearts.

It is a new look, it’s a new attitude

You might wonder where the old way of living has gone

But who is worried about who likes what

As long as in the world of love two people want to be with each other

You and me, me and you – are now unstoppable

So please don’t hesitate, you are always “Welcome” to my home

I love the colours! The joy and intensity. The jewel tones. They are a big part of why the video comes across as dream-like to me. Presented like a dreamscape, a joyous fantasy. If Bollywood ever does an ‘Alice in Wonderful’ type of movie, this would be a great opening, this garden party.

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A still of the video by the United Nations Free & Equal, via the Buzzfeed article. Click image to go there.

And I must have that green jacket. God knows where I will wear it to, haha! Maybe I’ll borrow it from him and slip it on in a dream later tonight. Would love to join, sing and dance, and get lost in that party. Oh my goodness, the jewel tone of that velvet green jacket. So beautiful. My next sofa will be of that colour and fabric! And of course I just love how there is so much glorious purple in that video. Long live Bollywood!

'Lotus Love' by Halim

Two hearts. This looks at home here in this post. From a visit to the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, which I remember had been more interesting and delightful than I had expected.

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Day 98

Eros Ramazzotti

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Randomly picked a disc to listen to and I got ‘Ali e Radici’ (Wings and Roots) by Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti. One of those singers I probably have ten CDs from. I haven’t counted, but we’ve been fans for a long time. This is his tenth studio album, out of a total of eleven, which he released in 2009. Most of his albums are released in both Italian and Spanish. I remember years ago when I was not aware of this yet, I had mistakenly bought a Spanish version of one of his albums. Which is okay but some time later I went back to buy the Italian one as well.

I haven’t played his music for a while, and forgot how much I love his unique voice and his gorgeous catchy songs. He has written and sang a lot of beautiful ballads too in his career that has by now spanned more than three decades. He was born in Rome in October 1963, so now he’s fifty.

The following is one of my favourite songs from Ali e Radici. Parla Con Me (Talk To Me) is the third song in the album.

I love so many of this songs, but just to pick two more to put here, well I love his two duets with not one but two ladies of music I absolutely adore, Tina Turner and Cher! Cose Della Vita (Can’t Stop Thinking of You) with Tina was released in 1998. The song is a ‘remake’ of a song he wrote and sang solo on in 1993. The beautiful ballad Più che puoi (All You Can) with Cher is from 2001.

Related:

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