“May nananalanging kayanin niya sana ang pagsubok na dulot ng bagong mundo.”

「桜の花びらたち」 (Filipino Version) by MNL48 | While we were embarking on a bit of a sidebar adventure, the girls of MNL48 have quietly released their first song. I say “quietly” because, to be honest, I was expecting a bit more hype around this group. I mean, they’re the Filipino version of the iconic Japanese group AKB48; that should be easy to sell, right? (Yeah, some stan will tell me I should be paying more attention.) After months of billboards and auditions, they finalized their line-up on It’s Showtime, and are now doing almost-daily web shows while they prepare to, I guess, be sent off to Japan to train, and finally return here to properly debut. Maybe they’d amp it up with a proper television show, but I am pushing thirty, and what do I know about what kids these days prefer, other than how the Internet has both democratized and fragmented everything? On the other hand, there’s Produce 48, the third season of the gigantic Korean survival series Produce 101, which will launch in an expectedly grand fashion tomorrow. (Here’s their “Pick Me”.) All right. I shouldn’t complain. What right do I have? MNL48 should be interesting in the coming weeks and months, although hopefully they can spread the appeal beyond Japanophiles and/or weeaboos. Here’s my first take, then, on their version of AKB48’s very first single: it sounds warped, because I have grown accustomed to Japanese female idols sounding so high-pitched. [NB]

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“Hell yeah, we will ride again.”

“Ride Against the Wind” by the Magic Numbers | This is the first time in this blog’s six years that I’ve written about the Magic Numbers. This, despite this blog being designed to occasionally feature the songs I’ve always loved; this, despite how often I played “Undecided” or “Love Me Like You” when I was in college, and after it. And then I fell out, and that meant despite the band releasing a bunch of albums (and taking breaks in between) I was stuck with the British group’s first two albums, popular when the isles were swept in guitars. They’ve just released a new album, Outsiders, and it feels like being reacquainted with long lost friends. “Why is the chorus not as driving as the verses?” And then, “well, this feels very familiar.” It sounds mature, but it still sounds like the Magic Numbers I’ve known. (Romeo Stodart, ladies and gents.) And then I spot Ren Harvieu on the music video – she’s also been out of my radar for a while, mostly because that brilliant debut of hers never got a follow-up… [NB]

“…and while you gladly take them, you never use them.”

“Love Me Right” by Amber Mark | More Monday morning music? I’ll say our recent thing for smooth choons (sorry) on our first outings for the week has been accidental. I would’ve dropped these songs in any time, that said. Also, I heard this song on a Saturday afternoon – driving – and can’t help but put a marker on this, because Amber Mark’s voice is beguiling, and “Love Me Right” is slyly beguiling. The 24-year-old’s based in New York; she’s half-Jamaican and half-German (or so her Facebook suggests); and her new EP Conexão (now that’s… Portuguese, right?) which dropped last month is filled with these really groovy bits. I feel taken, and I want you along for it. [NB]

“내일은 우린 없는 거야 너.”

“Latata” by (G)I-DLE | Let’s set aside the fact that this rookie group’s name is so complicated people end up looking them up on Google with the word “girdle”. I’ve had my eye on this group for a while solely because of Jeon So-yeon, who made such an impression on the first outing of Produce 101 it’s a crime she didn’t make the final eleven. But that’s where the unintentional downside to most groups featuring that show’s best contestants come in. Weki Meki is “Yoojung, Doyeon and friends”; Pristin is “Nayoung, Kyulkyung and friends” (sorry, Xiyeon); gugudan, despite how much I love Sejeong, is still lost. I was ready to call (G)I-DLE “Soyeon and friends” – she did co-write and co-produce this single – but then this Yuqi girl began to sing and oh, my, goodness, that voice. I love me a delicious voice, and hers is reminiscent of Lee Hi‘s. Never mind some saying this group is just a Blackpink rip-off. This one’s got satin wrapped around it. Now – upon Shalla’s prompting, admittedly – twe spare a few moments for their labelmates CLC, who started off as a typical girl group before flirting with HyunA-assisted swag, and later, what I call beerhouse music, and are now very much lost themselves. [NB]

“I’ll follow you if you’ll follow me.”

“Follow Me” by the Shacks | I’ve been on a French state of mind this past weekend, for some reason. Well, French radio state of mind. Saturday, I listened to FIP while waiting for Shalla at the usual Tim Hortons (all right, that is Canadian). Sunday, I listened to Radio Nova on our way home from a birthday party that transitioned to a movie date. I heard this song on the latter, and, yes, it’s not a French band: the Shacks are from New York, but their sound just evokes the right amount of (admittedly stereotypical) French: that 60s wall of sound thing, the hazy production, the feeling you should be listening to this with coffee. (I did have an iced coffee.) The album this was off of just dropped a month ago, and I think I have something to add to my queue. If I get to it. [NB]