Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WHITNEY HOUSTON'S I LOOK TO YOU - FREE DOWNLOAD

Yes, one of her songs can be downloaded for free from her official website (whitneyhouston.com). Until Friday at least. I did that this morning before I left for work and I've been listening to it endlessly. I actually downloaded it from youtube a few days ago but it is not of good listening quality. The song itself is simple in arrangement without any fancy orchestration or lavish production. The song showcases Whitney's deeper and more mature vocals and I guess the reason for the lack of elaborate arrangement and production is simply to prove the doubters, haters and critics wrong. There have been many who say that she has lost her voice and can't sing anymore. As I wrote in one of my earlier post, her voice has changed but it is still a powerful voice that can and will put many other singers to shame. Her phrasing is different but still as clear as ever and you can really feel the emotion in the song. This song is obviously about turning to the Almighty for strength, guidance and hope. It sums up everything that she has been going through without going into details what her trials and tribulations were. It sounds almost like a prayer to me. This song will never make it to the top of the pop chart since the current music scene is dominated by a different music genre but who needs another pop song which will be forgotten once its 'freshness' is over? This one is definitely going to be another classic and timeless Whitney Houston's song.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ANOTHER DIVA FACE-OFF!

Whitney Houston's new album will be released soon and so will Mariah Carey's. Their fans are expecting another diva face-off to see whose album will sell more and who will have more hit singles. On a more local level, another face-off will be taking place too. The exact time and date are still undecided but this time it's going to be between me and my buddy, Fooart. Everybody knows how much I love Whitney Houston and he Mariah Carey. The time has come for us to hit the karaoke boxes (again) and try to outsing each other (as if we can really sing)! Most of our friends know that when the two of us get together, something strange is bound to happen. Both of us have a tendency to choose songs nobody wants to sing. We are also notorious for choosing songs that make people want to say 'WTF is that'? And just wait when we do our own version of 'When You Believe'. You won't believe it when you see our hands and fingers flying everywhere (either to get the 'feel' of the song or to diverge people's attention from our bad singing). Of course, we will give the other the not-so-subtle look of superiority when one of us makes a blunder or croaks like a toad. Don't expect too much from our performance since none of us can actually reach the original notes but you can bet that we will be lowering the keys a few notches!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MORNING SICKNESS

I'm not sure whether any scientific studies have been done on animal's morning sickness but my cat sure looks like she's having one. She's pregnant for the first time and has been throwing up from time to time. She looks a little bit groggy and has been spending most of her time resting. I understand morning sickness occurs in humans due to the hormonal changes in their bodies and certain smells and tastes can trigger this condition or even make it worse. I don't see it any different where animals are concerned since their bodies also go through certain changes. Some people say that morning sickness is nature's way of protecting the embryo in the womb and should be seen as a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Well, I'm no scientist so I'm not sure whether this is true or not. If this is so then I shouldn't be complaining and bitching too much even though I have to clean up the mess. Bring the mop!

p/s Thank God she doesn't have any weird cravings...

Monday, July 20, 2009

WHITNEY HOUSTON - I DIDN'T KNOW MY OWN STRENGTH

This is definitely not the official version that will be included in her new album and as I predicted, her voice has changed. I don't think she will be able to reach those really high notes anymore but that voice is definitely her voice. There is no mistake about it. One listen is enough to tell you that it belongs to her. It is just a more mature voice and there is nothing wrong with it. Whitney has said before that she needs to identify with a song before she can give meaning to it and to me, this song speaks volumes about what she had to go through. The lyrics might not appeal to the younger generation (they might find the words too cheesy to their liking) but once you listen to the song, you know that there is a story behind it. She is leaving her past behind and embracing a new life. And just like Whitney, her fans also need to embrace her 'new' voice without comparing it too much with the one she once had. I know it will be difficult but I also know I will have to.

video

Sunday, July 19, 2009

MY WHITNEY HOUSTON'S COLLECTION (SMALL BUT PRECIOUS)

Last night was 'The Bodyguard' night for me. I had nothing to do so I ended up watching the movie again. I can't even remember how many times I have watched the movie but one thing for sure is I still enjoy it from the beginning until the end. Today, I took out some of the items in my Whitney Houston's collection and took a few pictures. I can't believe that it has been more than 20 years since she made her debut on the music scene. Her new album will be out soon and during the mean time, I don't have any choice but to listen to her old songs. It doesn't really matter to me whether the album is going to be commercially successful or not. I'm sure her voice has changed too and her current repertoire will have to reflect that change. It is foolish to hope the 'old' Whitney to be back. My Whitney Houston's collection is small but very precious to me since most of the items have their own stories. I bought my first Whitney Houston's cassette tape when I was still in college and I played it to death until the the tape broke and came off the reel. CDs were still a rarity back then and definitely out of the question for a struggling student like me. I bought her first and second CDs as soon as I got my first paycheck from my first 'real' job. I was going through quite a difficult time in my life when her single 'I Learned From The Best' was released. The song never reached the Top 10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 but the song and video remain one my personal favourites till today. When her 'Just Whitney' album came out, I asked my friend, Zurina, who was visiting her sister in Paris to get a copy for me. I was surprised when she came back with not one but two copies of the same CD. One of them was a special edition that came with a limited edition DVD. These are a few 'love stories' behind my Whitney Houston's collection. There are more, of course but I think I'd better keep them to myself during the meantime..

MY FAVOURITE OLD-FASHIONED MUSIC STORE

This is one of my favourite old-fashioned music stores and when I say old-fashioned, it is REALLY old-fashioned. The shop is small, hot and dusty but this is where I would go from time to time to source for my Malay records and cassettes especially from the 80s. Four your information, the shop doesn't sell any CDs, only records and cassettes. The owner of the shop is a soft-spoken Chinese man in his late 60s and he can usually be seen sitting outside the shop playing 'erhu', a type of Chinese musical instruments with a few of his friends. The shop has been around for quite a while and unlike other shops neighbouring it, it just refuses to die. It still retains its old look and its old layout. It's not air-conditioned and like other old shops from the last century (sounds truly ancient, doesn't it?), it doesn't have any proper door. Everything is a little bit disorganised in the shop so you have to be patient if you want to look for something. Despite all these inconveniences, it has reached an almost 'cult' status among local music lovers who are always looking for rare and hard-to-find records. I'm not even sure of the exact name of the shop. It can either be Nang Yang or Nanyang since the shops's plastic bag (definitely from the last century) and signboard do not use the same name. Leaving that matter aside, I still think it is a great place (at least for me). Every time, I go there, it's like tasting a piece of my past when life was carefree and without much hassle. If you have seen the movie 'Field Of Dreams' starring Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan, I'm sure you will know what I mean. But as people often say 'you can always visit but you can never go back.' So if you happen to come across any situation that brings back pleasant memories, hold on to it as long as you can since those precious moments will never repeat themselves.

Friday, July 17, 2009

WHITNEY/MADONNA FASHION FACE-OFF

The Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print dress as advertised by Neiman Marcus.

The same dress worn by Whitney and Madonna.

I'm sorry, Madonna but you lose. No competition at all. Your complexion is too pale and you look too muscular in that outfit. Despite your vigourous workouts, your triceps still look flabby and the veins on your arms are a real turn-off. Your shapeless muscular legs look like two huge tree stumps beneath the ankle-length dress. Whitney, on the other hand, looks real classy in that dress. Matching it with sheer hose and heels that accentuate her slim and shapely legs, she looks regal at the same time. Her unobtrusive black crystal (I think) necklace fits her dress perfectly unlike Madonna's silver crucifix which is barely noticeable at all. Way to go, Whitney gal!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MICHAEL JACKSON'S PEPSI COMMERCIAL ACCIDENT

OMG! He didn't not even realize that his hair was on fire! He kept on dancing for a while, definitely oblivious to what was happening to him. You can see how his hair started to catch fire and the bald spot on his head at the end of the footage. I know how painful a burn can be (I accidentally burned my finger while ironing my shirt once) and the trauma it can inflict on a person. This shocking video footage was provided by US Weekly on its official website and nobody knew how they got hold of it. In my opinion, the video had never been shown until now since some people would have made a massive joke out of it. I know some insensitive stand-up comedians would love to use this as part of their comedy routines. Pepsi would have suffered too and I guess that is why they paid MJ a huge sum of money. The commercial was never completed and I'm sure die-hard MJ's fans will stop drinking Pepsi after seeing this. As for me, I've never really liked the taste of Pepsi that much and will always be a loyal 'Kickapoo' drinker.

video

WHITNEY HOUSTON : I LOOK TO YOU

They are taking it real slow and I pray that the album is going to be worth the wait. Whitney's new album will be released on September 1 and I can hardly wait for it to hit the stores. I went to her official website this morning and there it was, the cover of her album! Somehow, it reminds me so much of her debut album. After looking at it real closely, I finally realise that it is not only the pose and the one-shouldered dress that are similar but also the typeface used. There is something about the eyes and that enigmatic smile which suggest experience and serenity compared to the look and pose on the first album which, at least to me, portray innocence and naivete. My only complaint is the colour. Somehow, I don't like the greyish background which looks a little bit dull and out-dated to me. A little bit of colour won't hurt I would say but I don't want to be too judgmental. I'll let the album speak for itself. After all, never judge a book (or should I say album) by its cover.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

MONDEGREEN

We often come across people who mishear certain words or phrases especially from song lyrics or movie dialogues. To make matters worse, they confidently repeat the wrongly heard words to other people who then convey these malapropisms to others. This never ending repetition of wrongly heard phrases can be quite funny and humiliating at times too especially if you are corrected in front of the public. This condition, called 'mondegreen' is not exclusive to non-native speakers of English only but also to native speakers. One perfect example of 'mondegreen' can be seen in the movie '27 Dresses' starring Katherine Heigl and James Marsden (did I write earlier how I simply love love stories?). Both of them (definitely feeling the buzz after a few beers) step on top of the bar counter and start singing 'Bennie And The Jets'. I think that scene is one of the most hilarious parts in the movie and I couldn't stop rolling on the floor when I first heard their rendition of that song (especially that 'electric boobs' part). I remember when I was still in primary school, I would often sit by the radio to write down the lyrics of popular songs in my notebook. One particular song that I remember listening to was 'One Way Ticket' by Eruption. Disco was all the rage back then and as little as I was at that time, I wasn't spared from its influence (that was how I learned English and how to boogie by the way). It wasn't until I was in high school when I discovered that I had been singing the wrong lyrics all along. Confidently, I would chant 'one way ticket to the moon' instead of 'one way ticket to the blues' each and every time the song came on the radio. Fortunately, nobody seemed to notice my 'mondegreen'. The word 'blues' and its exact meaning had not registered in my mind back then and the word 'moon' seemed much more appropriate to me. I also remember a cartoon strip published in 'The Kampung Boy' by Malaysia's most famous cartoonist, Lat. He reminisced about his younger days when he and his friends entered a singing competition crooning Elvis Presley's Devil In Disguise and changed the lyrics to 'devil in the sky'. I'm sure everybody has his or her own story of mondegreen and one of my naughty friends purposely changed the lyrics of Tina Turner's Private Dancer from 'have a husband and some children' to 'have some husbands and some children'. And talking about naughty, I'm sure you have heard the joke about how the planet 'Uranus' got its name...

A LOVE STORY : A DIFFERENT STORY

In the first movie, he stayed on her deathbed until her last breath. In the movie sequel, he was still unable to let go of his memories of her. In real life, it's a different story altogether. On her deathbed, he said he would marry her and held her hand until the end. A few days after her death, he could be seen frolicking on a beach with another woman. I am truly devastated and I don't know why I feel betrayed. I'm sure whatever love Ryan O'Neal had for Farrah is long gone but to be seen having fun like that is just plain disrespectful. I thought he was mourning the loss of his life-long partner though they had been living apart for quite some time. After she was diagnosed with anal cancer, he went back to her to provide support. I see some similarities here and there as in the movie but they end there. Well, I guess I just have to stop romanticising everything I watch since it's not healthy for me emotionally. From now on, every time I see or smell love in the air, I will tell myself that it is too good to be true. But I know old habits die hard and before long, I will be the old fool for love once again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF PPSMI

The decision is now official. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. This is what I think if I were in the policymakers' shoes. You can never satisfy everyone and to find a solution which can be accepted by everyone is definitely an arduous task enough to leave one unable to sleep properly for months. I always believe that a person should stick to his or her beliefs no matter what they are. As long as enough concrete evidence and solid facts can be produced to support the beliefs and decisions. There is no certainty in life and even if we are proven wrong, it's not the end of everything. Life is about taking chances and in life, there will be conflicts, potentials, opportunities, challenges, constraints and threats. Every shrewd businessman and manager knows that all these factors exist together and not separately. Despite all these, it is sad to see there are still certain quarters who believe that doing something new and revolutionary can be a threat to a certain status quo. Sounds more like a cop-out to me. My question is what do you do to strengthen what you believe in. The world doesn't revolve around us and we are not in any position to command others to do the way we do things. The journey to the top is not always an easy one but can't they see the potentials and opportunities that await them? Most of the time, these are the same people who think that the world owes them while they are sitting comfortably on their hibernating asses. Come on, wake up from your false pride-induced slumber and smell the competition out there. If we want people to learn lessons about life, we had better let them see its harsh realities. Being tough comes from learning to be tough. Personally, I must commend the policymakers for trying to find a middle ground in solving the conflict. The emphasis on grammar and composition is long overdue and I salute the man who is brave enough to say that there is a need for students to learn grammar. Personally for me, teaching grammar in context only works if you use a certain language as your first or second language. It doesn't really work for those who treat it as a foreign language and in our country, especially in the rural areas it still is. Maybe after they have become more comfortable using the language, grammar in context can be incorporated into the lessons but again, maybe. Nothing is ever definite. I'm sure more conflicts will arise but that is part and parcel of life. How you deal with them is what makes you a stronger and more competent person. Now, PPSMI will only be a lost fragment of something that could have been great.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

TRASHY MADONNA'S TRIBUTE TO MJ

I'm being very judgmental here and I can't help it. Madonna could have chosen a better song for her MJ tribute during her London concert. That's what I think. MJ's picture was shown when Madonna was performing 'Holiday' before the music was changed to the intro of 'Billie Jean' and 'Wanna Be Starting Something'. How inappropriate and insensitive! Tasteless and crass. She could have chosen 'Man In The Mirror' or 'Heal The World' for goodness sake! I guess a slower and much more meaningful song would only dampen her 'Sticky & Sweet' tour and divert the audience's attention. I also believe that she did not have time to include a new routine in her concert since everybody knows that Madonna's concerts are meticulously choreographed and she always lip-syncs. Her whole concert would have to be rearranged if she were to do that. The easiest way out was to show a picture when she was performing and dance with an impersonator to a couple of MJ's songs. She did not even sing any of the lines! During her 'Virgin Tour' back in the 80s, she borrowed part of MJ's moves and lyrics from 'Billie Jean' and incorporated that into her 'Like A Virgin' routine. It looked sweet back then but I now realize that it was her way of cashing in on MJ's popularity and fame. The 'King Of Pop' is dead but Madonna now is officially crowned the 'Queen Of Trash'.