Up Tops with Nat, part one: Kali Uchis

“Loner” by Kali Uchis | Last weekend I was in Cebu for a work trip, which also meant a chance to hang with Nat (you know her from this one) who promptly made me stay up early in the morning (we met at one and split at five) up the Tops Lookout. In between the usual deep-ish conversations we were discussing some of her new favorites, which were of a different genre. How to feel old: talk about artists kids these days like. Then again, the first time I heard of Kali Uchis is from her, never mind that she appeared on the new Gorillaz album and had one of her songs on the American Horror Story soundtrack. That song is “Sycamore Tree”, which sounds necessarily creepy, because she went for a child-like voice at the beginning, but the Colombian singer does channel a bit of Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse – without the anthemic tendencies – elsewhere. Take “Loner”, which does fit in to my sensibilities. And yet I, inevitably, missed her entirely. [NB]



「恋するフォーチュンクッキー」 by AKB48 | Yep, an AKB48 song. An old one. And it’s something I only found because Shalla and I decided to try the cheese tarts at Pablo at Greenbelt 5, and it was playing the same three songs over and over, including this one. One, I feel bad for its staff, particularly considering how there’s definitely more than three Japanese pop songs out there. Two, I have only properly listened to two AKB48 songs (and a bunch of others, likely for that J-pop series we did two years ago, but it all blends now) and yet I’m surprised I easily identified that as an AKB48 song, perhaps because of the “whoooo!” sound that pops up on the still-groovy “High Tension”. Like, I have not listened to every single one of them, or not even a quarter of them. Perhaps it’s because it’s one of their iconic songs? I don’t know. [NB]

“Yes we can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can!”

“Because We Can” by Fatboy Slim | This song comes to me from Shalla, who, from remembered this song out of the blue last year (well, technically, two weeks ago). She danced to this back in elementary school. Or was it high school? But you know those days in those small private schools where every student has to dance during foundation day or some other anniversary? You had forty-something kids on a field dancing the same steps, and nobody would see the whole thing – the parents would only focus on their kid, and everything else is a blur. And you, as a kid, would practice this for weeks, if not months. And chances are one choreographer is doing the routines for the entire school. I had that, too. We called it “field demonstrations”. One year I danced to “Build Me Up Buttercup”, the Torch remake. Another year a flamboyant guy named Michael did the choreography. He had jogging pants with his name embroidered on. He always seemed to be angry – it’s hot, and he’s dancing for everybody. I get it now. [NB]

“I can’t stand this indecision.”

“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Joseph | This is the third cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” that I have written about on here. (There’s this. There’s this.) I am now honestly curious about the song’s appeal. I shouldn’t, to be honest – I was drawn to the original as a kid. But I was a kid, so I have little idea of how ubiquitous, or how inspiration, this song is, that it’s been covered by so many people. This one’s from Portland band Joseph, a band I should’ve heard of earlier, considering “White Flag”, a song built for me the same way Churchill’s “Change” was, was relatively everywhere – but I was listening elsewhere. But this cover’s of a different character – less jubilant, less rowdy (not that those adjectives really capture them), more contemplative. It’s the end of the year and we need time for that. [NB]

“…but my home was never on the ground.”

“No Roots” by Alice Merton | Here’s damning proof that I have been terribly out of the loop these days: Alice Merton’s “No Roots” was released early this year (the music video dropped on my birthday, even – and that’s January) and it’s the sort of song I should be hearing in all the places I listen to, from the Americans to the Canadians to the Europeans to, perhaps, the Aussies. Instead, I only really heard it last week, and then, in rapid succession – I switch radio stations often; this is everywhere. Apparently it’s reached that point of everywhere-ness. I get it, though. It’s an aggressive, driving song. Also, she’s not Canadian and she’s not American: she’s half-German, half-Irish, and is currently based in London. No wonder the appeal cuts through. If there’s anything I learned from jumping stations all too often, it’s that there are minor quirks in musical preferences – you can tell whether one song will be a hit in Europe or across the Atlantic. This one has that, but then it’s also… universal. You know. Music. [NB]