#2157 | Moon River

I was listening to Melissa Benoist’s rendition of Moon River in the car the other day. It’s from the CW Supergirl x The Flash crossover musical episode, which basically makes it a shoe-in success in my books because i love musicals and i love my cheesy television. Anyway the episode is great. And also anyway that is not the point. The point is that Melissa Benoist, who plays an adorable and gawky Supergirl, is awesome. And girl can sing!

Here’s where we pick up the thread of the story: I’ve been addicted to her rendition of Moon River for the last week, which means I’m always playing it in the car as the boyfriend drives (quick poll: who gets control of the music in the car – the front seat passenger or the driver who has to keep his eyes on the road anyway?) which annoys said bf to no end since his music taste is trash and he can’t appreciate the dulcet mezzo-soprano tones of Melissa Benoist. As his hands have to stay on the wheel he has resorted to different ways to get me to change the music, one of which was yelling that huckleberry friend alludes to slavery so I should stop singing the song to which i was like huck finn wasnt a slave u doofus (for those of you wondering about Huck Finn and how we should read books like Twain that openly use words that are problematic in the modern context, this piece from The New York Times is a pretty good read).

Aka it did not work. The drive from our homes to the CBD is a good half hour, so that’s half an hour of him trying different methods to get me off the song while keeping his eyes on the road. I had all but won, I could see him being worn down. Victory was so close. If I won rights to play Moon River it would mean rights to music jurisdiction in the car forever. Ten minutes from my office he started laughing and I (regretfully) asked him why. He refused to answer but started laughing again every time the song restarted. Finally, he went:


You’re basically mooing.

What do you mean?

She goes: Moooooooooo-n river.

Shut up.

Moooooo

Shut up!

Moooooooo

Long story short he ruined the song for me with a cow impression.

Modern romance, y’all.

x
Jem

#2141 | March’s To-Listen: 36 Questions – A musical revival of the podcast?

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Hey guys,

So I’m perpetually obsessed with finding new and more efficient ways to manage my time, and a big part of that is carving out time to consume content that i enjoy or that I feel enriches me creatively (see: Five ways to read more daily). And the most recent way this has manifested in my life? Podcasts.

Most podcasts are informational (I like the Freakonomics one) or funny (Weird Work), and I enjoy listening to them so much even if the subject matters have absolutely nothing to do with my life. It’s become so natural for me to tune in to a new podcast episode while getting ready in the morning or to plug in while on public transport. But very few of them have a narrative thread, and that’s something I greatly miss from radio stations in the UK – whole stations dedicated to people just reading stories to you in a comforting, grandfatherly voice.

So naturally, 36 Questions had me at three part musical podcast. It popped up in my recommended podcasts list, and I was like, are you SURE THIS IS FREE. Because how can such amazing content be free?! But the internet never ceases to amaze me.

We’ve become so conditioned to assume that content associated with high culture (art, music, etcetera) comes at a high cost – havent we all complained about Hamilton tickets being prohibitively expensive? – that i think when something similar is offered for free, it just blows our collective minds. When I was backpacking across europe I loved scouring forums for ways to get cheap tickets for musicals and plays, and it was also then that i really started being able to watch and enjoy theatre. That opportunity to really get into theatre would never have been afforded to me in Singapore because shows that travel here are mad expensive, and it’s just not within the price bracket for most people’s (semi?)regular weekend fare. I dont think there’s one easy solution for this because of the differences in cultural priorities for Singapore vs the States/Europe, but I do think that it’s a pity because it is a whole universe of joy and color and texture and magic and it comes at a cost that many people cannot afford.

That is a big part of the reason why here, especially, in the tiny island of Singapore, I appreciate what 36 questions aims to do.

The three part podcast is kind of like listening to a radio drama that occasionally breaks into song – it stars Jonathan Groff (Frozen, Glee, and Hamilton) and Jessie Shelton (theatre trained, but generally a media newcomer), and was written and directed by indie studio Two-Up. The story thread is relatively straightforward, with an interesting premise – a couple falls in love while doing the 36 questions (a psychologist-developed questionnaire that was popularised by the New York Times) and two years later, tries to fix their broken marriage by doing the 36 questions together again. There’s drama in the middle, a lot of rain, a lot of cheesiness, and also, a duck (throwback to season 4 of FRIENDS, anyone?). They often break into solos or have their dialogue phase into vocal harmony, which fires up a little frisson of delight in me whenever it happens.

There are two filmmakers who sit on the production team of 36 questions, and this works very much to the benefit of the podcast because it requires an intimate understanding of cinematic space, and subsequently how that has to be converted to an audio form without losing the lustre that comes with visual spectacle. As a result, listening to the podcast creates the sense that you’re sitting in on an intimate conversation between two people, privy to the tears, the heartbreak, the sighs, the drama, all up close. It’s a whole world carried around and transmitted to you through your headphones. And it’s extremely charming, which makes up for the dips in narrative, which does happen here and there. At some points the plot / acting becomes so cheesy I want to reach through the headphones and smack one or both of the characters, but this feeling is few and far between, and easily forgivable and glossed over by the charisma of the actors.

Overall a solid recommendation. I initially started on the series thinking it would be a great entry point to the world of musicals, but very quickly realised that it holds its own well as an entirely new musical form. You can download/stream/listen to 36 Questions here.

Looking for more entertainment recommendations? You can read the rest of my monthly pop culture recommendations here

x
Jem

#1895| All the giveaways in the world.

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Obviously I’m exaggerating as usual, but hey hey! Christmas season is upon us again, and this dysfunctional relationship we have where you know me and I don’t know any of you always makes it a little hard for me to express Season greetings in a way other than via type. This year though, beyond all the giveaways I’m holding, I wanted to do something a little different:

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1. FREEBIES SECTION

If you look above, I’ve introduced a little fun stuff section in my header above, replacing what was previously Reader Benefits where all my discount codes go. (It’s now a subsection!) I always get questions on my doodles as well as on where I download backgrounds for whatsapp, especially when I post conversation screencaps to twitter (I make them). So anyway, I’ve created three new backgrounds that are fully downloadable for the iPhone, one festive themed, the rest free for use all year round. I’ll continue to update it as and when I’ve drawn new ones, but for now, I hope you like them!

2. MUSIC IS THE BEST

Most of you already know I’m an ambassador for Spotify, and that I swear by/ love the music service via my many mentions of it through my travel posts or as and when I scream song lyrics on twitter (sorry). This year, in the spirit of Christmas, I’ve teamed up with them to giveaway three month Spotify premium codes to ten of you – all you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite christmas song is right now. Mine is Kristen Bell x Straight No Chaser’s new single, Text me Merry Christmas, because it’s adorable and also because I won’t be around for Christmas this year. So text me, friends!



Some of my absolute favorites

Extra points if you link me to your own Christmas playlists on Spotify!

I’ll pick my winners by the New Year, but meanwhile, keep the cheer going and bells jingling!

All my love,
x
♥jem

UPDATE: Winners have been picked and emailed – thank you for taking part everyone!

#1457| Spotlight on Spotify


Swell, thanks.

Audiophiles, rejoice. This is something I’ve been mad excited over from slightly over a month back- the launch of Spotify Singapore. Okay, I’m slightly late in updating about it, it officially launched here April 16th. But! I’ve been raving over it on twitter and facebook, even if i hadn’t actually gotten down to writing a proper post on it. Ever since they announced their plans to expand into Asia last year, the entire net has abuzz in anticipation of Spotify’s Singapore launch- and for good reason, too. The Swedish commercial music streaming site has taken the world by storm, and is poised to revolutionize the way Singaporeans get their daily fix of music. It’s been my absolute best friend (Sorry, fred) this entire hell month, accompanying me right through sleepless nights of essay writing and exam revision, and I’m serious about this: everyone needs to download it stat.

Spotify in a Sentence:

A 2006 Swedish startup offering music streaming services, users have the option of either crafting their own playlists from the catalogue of over 20 million tracks, or discovering new songs via Spotify Radio.

They’ll deliver.
It’s not just empty hype. After approximately a month on Spotify Premium, I’m absolutely, incredibly, and irrevocably hooked. There is something incredibly therapeutic about surrendering your audio autonomy to Spotify while you go about your daily activities, be it reading or working. Ever since my initial brush with Spotify, I’ve all but completely abandoned my iTunes in favor of Spotify’s desktop client. It’s also a huge plus point in an increasingly cloud based world- audiophiles will love the fact that they’ll have the option of streaming their music fix in high definition from a cloud-based app rather than actually going through the hassle of downloading and purchasing tracks- freeing up precious storage space on computers and mobile devices.

It’ll be your best friend.
They get social. Like other cloud based hit services (think Evernote), Spotify is available across all your devices. You can literally take it everywhere with you- it syncs across your desktop, whether you’re on Mac, Windows, or Linux, to all your devices. Available on Blackberry, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone amongst others, users have the option of taking their music offline as well with the Premium accounts. 3G failing you in train tunnels? No problem. At work with no access to your personal music library? Just sign in to your Spotify account on your work computer. There’s even the option of syncing your iPods to Spotify Desktop on premium mode so you don’t have to drain your smartphone batteries to feed your music addiction. And like all best friends, it’s not just comfortingly familiar, it enriches your life too. Spotify Radio crafts playlists for you based on genre, mood, or artists, making every sign in a cacophonous opportunity to discover new music.

It’s not just about the music.
This may seem ironic, but there’s so much more to Spotify than simply music streaming. Like on any other social media community, you can build up your own profile, add friends and create collaborative music playlists with them, or stalk other users and pass judgement on their music tastes. But beyond this, all users have the option of following their favorite artistes or music stations, and be updated immediately via email or in-app notifications whenever new songs are released. In a world where updates are king, this makes Spotify incredibly appealing. Knowing about Bruno Mars’ new song before everyone else does? Yes please. The great thing about the service is, all these other neat features don’t detract users from it’s primary purpose- on the contrary, they complement and work towards reinforcing the appeal of Spotify as the choice music service above all others. Sweet.

Here’s what one of the playlists I’m following looks like:

The most standard- Billboard’s top 100 hits. Because I’m someone who has never had a device that can access the radio, i NEVER know what anyone else is talking about when they start humming the latest ditty from the airwaves or whatever. It took me like five months after every one else to discover who Katy Perry was back in secondary school. Yeah, well, now I do. I’m totez updated on all the music and whatever is new and all that, thanks.

On the left you can also see a bunch of my own personal playlists- it really works like itunes, except much, much better. (I may be biased, but whatever.) & on the right, something like the Facebook ticker- you can see what your friends are listening to and what your bands are saying or something like that.

By far my favorite function: the ability to pull up artists and listen to their entire discography. The nights i’ve had having John Mayer concerts in my room! I’ve been through nearly all his live tours now. Oh, my heart. How is this even legal? I dont know, but I’m not complaining.

Ok so anyway, Spotify runs on two modes- free and premium. The free version is ad supported, which means you get hit by a narrative ad every few songs. I guess it’s a bit like listening to the radio and getting the DJ’s voice instead of the music, i dont know. When I was in the US I used the ad-supported version and it seemed rather ok, but I’ve been using the premium version back home and it’s so freaking awesome I don’t think I’m ever going to go back to the free mode! You can basically sync it to your iPods and handphones, and you get to skip tracks unlimited-ly (from my 8tracks experience this is really important hahaha), and you can also download your playlists so you can listen to them offline!! Now you get why I’ve not touched itunes in forever, yes? Besides, it’s only about ten bucks a month, which is basically a lunch. Recommended: yes, yes and yes.

One of the best things to happen to me this half a year I am thinking. Download it here.

Thank you so, so much Spotify x Lewis PR!

x
♥jem

#1319| behind the seams

Currently listening to:Baby G mini mix by The Jane Doze
Status:Excited and exhausted

Hi Guys,

Looks like the secret’s out. Drea and I are filming a series for clicknetworktv called That F Word, no prizes for guessing what that’s about. I don’t know what to tell you about our shoot today besides that when Andrea stepped into my place she started shouting I WANT YOUR BABIES!!!! at my cat which is pretty awkward behavior. And i thought i was bad with the crazy cat lady thing.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole show thing. Does this mean people are actually going to listen when i talk about my shoes now? Does it mean I’m going to morph into one of those people who are extravagantly image conscious so i don’t get STOMPed wearing the wrong kind of shoes with my lipstick? Ha ha, I’m totally kidding. Mainly I’m trying to figure out if this means i can walk into class in my pajamas and pull the whole this is me starting a new fashion trend and it’s totally legit cos i have my own tv show thing. I’m not even sure if I’m kidding, guys.

Right, so that’s enough talking about me. Other things that happened this week include my baby sister entering her terrible teens, which means .. i really don’t know. She’s such an old lady at heart. My conversations with her mainly include her yelling at me to drink soup, get off Facebook, and do my homework. I really don’t get what they’re feeding kids these days.


I also met XiaoQi after filming today to catch The Vow in GV Tiong Bahru. Firstly, i did not know there was a theater in TB. Secondly, we only paid five bucks for the movie because apparently it was a ‘call back’ movie! Did you guys know there was such a thing? It was like getting the student price after 6pm. I got really excited over this because i felt like i had cheated the system or something although technically i did nothing but look like an idiot when i went huh call what? to the cashier at GV.

Pretty surprised that The Vow was still in theaters, really. I went in with the full knowledge that my entire motivation for the movie was to zone out and gaze upon the perfection that is Rachel McAdam’s face. That girl really is several kinds of amazing. Halfway through the show, though, she did this whole blonde thing with her hair and it looked like she fell into a mixer. That kind of got me thinking, because i felt like Emma Stone’s blonde hair in Spiderman wasn’t too good a look too- is it true that everyone just looks better in dark hair? I don’t know what it says then, that I’m running off to dunk my face headfirst in a bottle of bleach. (I’m exaggerating, I’m talking about my half blonde hair.)

Anyway i would do a long drawn ramble about the movie like i did Snow White but i honestly don’t feel strongly enough about the movie, which i think is the perfect way to sum up the movie- you don’t feel strongly about it. It was all very dreamy and stuff like that but unless you look like rachel mcadams, i highly recommend you don’t take it too seriously.

One more thing- when Rachel (i hated her show name, Paige. Does she look like a paige to you?? Does she??) woke up from her coma with memory loss and got all snitchy with the husband she forgot she had i was pretty much like, girlll are you kidding me, if i woke up with a husband like that i’d just go with it man. Just go with it. But then i looked back upon her gorgeous face and i was like, oh. I guess what i am saying is, when you look like Rachel you can afford to be picky.

Hot tea after the movie because the theater was ridiculously cold.

Lastly, something else i want to spaz about slightly-

The Jane Doze’s Baby G Mini Mix.

This is perfection on so many levels, i don’t even. It makes me do really embarrassing things, like not want to talk to people when i have my headphones on, or purposely not get off the bus because i don’t want to reach my destination and have to stop listening to this. Also, the transition from Bass Down Low to Hello is amazing. AMAZING. I even memorized the exact timing of the transition (31:50 onwards) so i could rewind and listen to that ten seconds over and over again. This mix tape makes me want to cry into my coffee and then run into a wall or something i am not even kidding it makes me lose touch with cognitive behavior. It’s a tough call between Alesso and The Jane Doze for the spot of current favorite DJ is what it is.

Please listen to it and run into walls with me.

x
♥Jem