Books, Music, Movies, Youth Issues, Random Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘YouTube

Musician Spotlight: Halo Circus

leave a comment »

Halo Circus, Gone music video

Halo Circus
Screenshot from the music video “Gone”

Authoress Note: This post and some past music posts will be in a new category called Under The Radar Music.

Anybody remember a young vocalist named Allison Iraheta? If you watched American Idol in 2009, you may remember her elimination performance of “Cry Baby” or her duet of “Slow Ride” with fellow Idol contestant Adam Lambert.

Earlier this year, she announced that she would be fronting her own band called Halo Circus. Although their debut album will not be released until 2014, they have already released “Gone” as a single and have been performing at various venues all year.

Based on several  live performances I’ve seen via YouTube, the band has a blues rock vibe to them. Allison’s voice and the fact that she is fronting band is reminiscent of Janis Joplin. Her performances of  songs such as “Stand Up” and “Guns in Your Hands” bring out the best of her voice.

Another remarkable thing about Halo Circus is that thanks to Allison Iraheta, they are bilingual. A couple of the songs I’ve seen live or heard have been sung in both English and Spanish. For instance,  the song “Gone” and its Spanish counterpart “Yo Me Voy”.  This is great because she will have a diverse fan base and hopefully inspire other Spanish-speaking girls.

Hopefully, the album will not disappoint and we will get at least one more single released before it comes out. I’m personally hoping that Iraheta does another duet with Adam Lambert too.

Written by Serena Zola

December 17, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The Nightmare Before Christmas 20th Anniversary

leave a comment »

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just in time for Halloween and Christmas, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas celebrates its twentieth anniversary. Originally released in 1993, the film follows Jack Skellington The Pumpkin King and the inhabitants of Halloweentown as they try to put their own twist on Christmas.

As a huge Tim Burton fan, this is my favorite film he’s done. However, my love for the film didn’t start with the film. It started with a little video game called Kingdom Hearts Ii.

The world of The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of many Disney worlds featured in the game. Needless to say, it became my favorite one.

It was creepy and cool at the same time because you could enter Halloweentown and Christmastown to fight Heartless (one of the evil creatures of the game). Also, the special move that Jack and Sora do when they fight together is awesome.

Aside from the gameplay, I grew to love the characters. Jack was creepy yet fun, Sally was creepy yet caring, and Oogie was creepy and fun to fight against. Sometime before I beat the game, I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time and really enjoyed it.

One of my favorite things about the movie is how Tim Burton combined the two most fun holidays of the year together. It makes the movie great for kids and kids at heart.

The other thing I loved about the movie was its soundtrack. Danny Elfman proves himself not only as an excellent composer, but also an excellent singer.  In the film, he does the singing voice of Jack Skellington.

The soundtrack was so well done that musicians and rock bands decided to do their own version of it.  Entitled Nightmare Revisited, the album features musicians such as The Vitamin String Quartet, Marilyn Manson, and Amy Lee. My personal favorite song is Amy Lee’s cover of “Sally’s Song”.

Recently, Danny Elfman has been performing songs from the original soundtrack live at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve seen four performances via a Rolling Stone magazine article and YouTube.  It’s hard to believe these are Elfman’s first performances in eighteen years.

Happy anniversary, Nightmare Before Christmas!

Here is Danny Elfman performance of “Jack’s Obsession” live from Royal Albert Hall

Why I Love/Hate Being a Geek and Some Favorite Geeky Things

with 4 comments

It’s geek week on YouTube and I’ve recently started reading the geeky section of BuzzFeed. Both of these things come on the heels of an article I read that “vindicates” anyone who was a geek in high school. As such, I’d figured this was a good time to show my geek pride and share some my favorite geeky things.

I like to think that I’ve been a geek since I was seven years old when I realized I loved books and Sailor Moon. Since that time, I’ve had great times and bad times. The great times came with discovering new anime and manga from Japan and reading the Harry Potter series. The bad times were in high school when I felt like the only black geek in existence and was bullied by my black peers.

My personal definition of a geek is someone who is obsessed with something most people aren’t, things like cartoons, sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal television, and comics. They may or may not be a brainiac.  I also think that some geeks (like myself) have eclectic tastes, that a geek can be geeky about many things.

I like being a geek because it allows me to discover new and creative things. Most of the time, being a geek makes for great discussion and fun. However, there are times that I wish people would take being a geek more seriously.

When I was in high school, I found solace for my geek outcast angst in books and alternative rock. However, there were times that I wished there were more realistic representations of a non-white geek in entertainment media. Seeing very few geeks of color in tv shows, movies, and books made me feel like  people like me had no place in society. Sometimes, I felt like it wasn’t worth being myself because the non-white geeks I did see were only made fun of and were not accepted as they were.

Growing up in the early 90’s, the only black geek I ever saw on television was Steve Urkel from the sitcom Family Matters. Since he was pretty much a stereotype and had the guy version of the “geek-turns-into-a-beauty-queen” moment, I loathed him. As I became a teenager in the 2000’s, things didn’t improve much.

During my sophomore or junior year of high school, I saw Akeelah and the Bee. Although I found it predictable, I thought it was a decent representation of a young black nerd and the impact they could have on their community.  Unfortunately, that was the only film I saw that was like that. Today, I still consider this film the only film to feature a black nerd in a decent manner.

In addition to the lack of diverse and realistic geek representation, the article I previously mentioned is complete trash because of the research but its findings. For me, being a geek is not about making a lot money. It is about sharing your interests, knowledge, and passion with others and knowing that other people are interested too. If you do make a lot of money and get sweet revenge on haters, then that’s just icing on the cake.

Now, I present some of my favorite geeky things:

1.  World is Mine AMVA fanmade anime music video featuring various anime and the song “World is Mine” by  Hatsune Miku.

2.  Japanese Sailor Moon Theme (Violin Cover)– A violin fan cover of the Japanese Sailor Moon theme by YouTube user JTehAnonymous.

3. Simple & Clean/Sanctuary Duet– A beautiful fan duet of the songs “Simple & Clean” and “Sanctuary” from the Kingdom Hearts video game series. Sung by YouTube users AmaLee and Adrisaurus.

4. What It’s Like To Be A Teen As Told By Harry Potter– Possibly the best Harry Potter related web post I ever read

Written by Serena Zola

August 6, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Musician Spotlight: Lindsey Stirling

with 2 comments

Source: Wikimedia CommonsWhen she was just twenty three years old, Lindsey Stirling made her debut appearance on the tv show America’s Got Talent. Known then as a hip-hop violinist, she managed to wow the crowd by playing the violin while dancing. However, the judges were unimpressed during the quarter final round. Despite this setback, Lindsey Stirling has found success through YouTube and live performances.

On YouTube, she makes music videos for her own songs and cover songs with the help of cinematographer David Graham. Then, she uploads them her own YouTube channel lindseystomp. Depending on the song and where the video is shot, the video may be beautiful, fun, or exotic. Sometimes, it can be all three. Last year, Lindsey Stirling got forty-two million views for her original dubstep violin song “Crystallize”. She also released her first album of original compositions entitled Lindsey Stirling.

With her covers, they have gone beyond her AGT title of “hip-hop violinist”. Sterling has covered songs ranging from “The Phantom of the Opera” from the musical Phantom of the Opera to “Fix You” by Coldplay. Combined together with a good music video, Lindsey Stirling is very entertaining. One particular video I enjoy is the “Lord of the Rings” medley video, where she not only plays violin in a lovely white dress, but sings a little too.

In addition to her music video covers, she also does surprise covers live. They are surprising because the people attending her concerts have no idea she is going to do them. It is a pleasant surprise to look up these performances on YouTube. One live cover I really enjoyed watching was Evanescence’s “My Immortal.”


“Crystallize” Music Video-

“Lord of the Rings Medley” Music Video-

Video- “My Immortal” (Evanescence Cover)

Written by Serena Zola

June 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Rediscovering The Music of Linkin Park

with 2 comments

Linkin Park’s Band Logo
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This past week, I had the pleasure of rebecoming a fan of Linkin Park, a band whose music I haven’t listened to or cared about in two years.

For those of you who don’t know, Linkin Park is a rock band whose music is considered alternative to most people. Until the release of their latest album Living Things, some fans have been polarized due to the fact that their previous albums  A Thousand Suns and Minutes to Midnight, were a far cry from the screaming heavy metal/rap-rock sound most fans were used to.

I gave the band a break with the latter album, but A Thousand Suns was the album that made me give up on the band completely. When the first single “The Catalyst” was released in 2010, my reaction was “What the heck? Where are the guitars? Why are the lyrics repeating themselves? This sucks!”And so, I smited Linkin Park from my mental list of awesome things and eventually stopped listening to their stuff because being reminded of their old sound made me sad.

It was Google, the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards, and curiosity that brought me back to Linkin Park’s music. I found out that the video for the band’s newest single “Burn It Down” had been nominated for Best Rock Video. The words “rap-rock song” caught my attention.

“Click the video!” an inner part of me screamed. “Click it… CLICK IT!!!”

I clicked it, I saw it, and I loved it.

From there, I ended up looking up Linkin Park’s new album on Amazon and YouTube. Using a very comprehensive review on Amazon, I judged the new album with the open-mind I had gained from developing an eclectic music taste. I even gave A Thousand Suns another chance.

Needless to say, I found Living Things to be Linkin Park’s best work yet and their previous album decent.

With Living Things, Linkin Park isn’t “back.” They never left. They have just gotten better.


Some favorites from Living Things-

Burn it Down (Official Music Video)-

Lost in the Echo (Lyrics Video)-

Roads Untraveled (Lyrics Video)-

Castle of Glass (Lyrics Video)-

Favorites from A Thousand Suns-

Waiting For The End (Official Music Video)-

The Messenger (Lyrics Video)-

Written by Serena Zola

September 14, 2012 at 8:45 PM

How to Develop Your Music Taste

leave a comment »

With the recent release of Katy Perry’s concert movie “Part of Me”, it seems like that concert movies in general are becoming the next big thing with young musicians. However, it has also become the target of constant bashing among many people.

While this isn’t anything new, it seems like the bashing has increased since last year. Even though people have the right to say what they want, it seems unnecessary at times. Many people don’t seem to be aware of the good music that is still around. Therefore, I’ve decided to share some tips on how to find that music.

1. Listen to Internet Radio

If you really can’t stand today’s trend music on the mainstream radio, go online. Sites like Pandora and Lastfm allow you to find new music by musician and genre. It is also important that you pick the right internet radio site to use. If you want to sample music that most people already know (e.g. The Beatles), you can still discover new music because the station will play music that is similar to that musician. However, if you want music that is unknown to the general public, then lastfm is the way to go.

2.  Use YouTube

YouTube is somewhat better than internet radio because it tends to be quicker and more accurate with selecting music similar to what you already listened to. In addition, you get music videos and concert performances that are uploaded by millions of users every day. Not to mention, you can discover new music from independent musicians who upload their material.

3.  Listen to more than just the released songs

Four years ago, I used to think that the band Coldplay sucked. I saw their music videos and heard their music on the radio so many times, I almost hated them. A few years later, I was watching “100 Greatest Songs of the 00s” on VH1 and my ears perked up when I heard the song “Clocks”. Not long after that, I looked up all of Coldplay’s albums. While I didn’t like everything, I did like enough to become a fan.

When it comes to listening to music from musicians, some people tend to judge them based on the songs they hear on the radio or the songs with a music video. However, the fact is that in order to properly enjoy music, you need to listen to the songs that aren’t released as a single as well. Try picking songs at random from an album and go from there.

4.  Keep your ears and mind open

A couple of years ago, I had a psychology class where I had to do a very long survey paper on anything I wanted. I chose music. Before the actual paper came the background information on music. As I researched the history of music, I became fascinated and ended up looking up various blues, jazz, funk, and classic rock songs. Surprisingly, I ended up liking a moderate amount of the first three genres and a lot of the last genre.

Sometimes new music comes from unexpected places. It can come from someone’s online page, a movie, or even work or school.  It is up to you to notice when you are curious about this music and act on it.

5. Do not let anybody discourage you or pressure you

I personally know what it feels like to have people think your music taste is lame. In the past, I’ve also felt like I had to conform to other people’s tastes because it is what –insert person type here– do. If someone is making you feel bad about your taste, ignore them. In fact, just consider them brainless robots and yourself an awesome human being.

Written by Serena Zola

July 9, 2012 at 8:24 PM

%d bloggers like this: