Entry 1: It’s Just Emotions

Why: As the premise of my blog went, I believe that music invokes emotions within us. It’d be interesting to know the type of songs that make people emotional.

Entry 2: The Study of Music

Why: The weekly topic for Net Comms is the internet as a distraction. For me, I listen to music when I study and it helps me concentrate. I hope to reach out to people who do the same, and possibly share our study playlists.

Entry 3: Talkin’ About A Revoution

Why: Social media for social change was the topic, which reminded me of Playing for Change’s efforts. I appreciate the backstories and the music. But more than that, I hope this will introduce people to this fantastic philanthropic opportunity and still enjoy good music.


It’s Just Emotions

There was something spectacularly tragic about Adele’s hit “Someone Like You”. Even people living in pineapples under the sea have heard it. Some probably locked themselves in a room and cried their hearts out to it.

I love this parody by Saturday Night Live. (I can’t seem to embed the video so here’s the link!)

But why’s everyone emotional? Is it possible that the human race synchronised their hormonal imbalance? Apparently, there’s a scientific reasoning behind the song’s ability in unleashing those tear ducts. I kid you not.

A quick summary of the science behind why music can make someone emotional:

  • certain notes create a cycle of tension and release
  • a surprise in volume, timbre and harmonic pattern can send shivers down your spine
  • emotionally-intense music has the same effects as food, sex and drugs – the more emotions the song provokes, the more we crave it.

Here‘s the Wall Street Journal article if you are interested in the slightly more technical details of why “Someone Like You” makes you cry.

The voice has to work too I suppose, otherwise we’ll get the same kind of music all around us. Those familiar with Korean dramas and pop culture will know Kim Soo Hyun.

His voice is apparently attractive. It has worked on one too may friends of mine. I think it’s also a quality that works for radio jockeys – that “radio voice” which I never seem to have. And there’s also a science behind it. (If it’s a voice that a rational woman loves, then it’s a voice I’d love to have.)

So with a good voice coupled with the right song, you could be the next Adele and break tons of hearts by just singing.

What songs have given you that great rush of emotions?

Not many songs have made me shed a tear, and this is my sole claim to a perceived masculinity. The songs in my list probably don’t follow the science, but they’ve tugged a couple of heartstrings. Here’s the list:

1. Wish You Were Here – Storm Large

It’s a cover of a Pink Floyd song. My heart aches every single time the guitar solo commences. Maybe it’s the backstory, maybe it’s seeing Jason Newsted tear up. Maybe it’s a combination of everything. That for me, was the first time a song reduced me to a sobbing mess. I was really thankful i watched it alone.

2. Heaven – David Archuleta

This Bryan Adams classic was performed by David Archuleta (eventual runner-up) in Season 7 of American Idol. Strange choice for me – Paula Abdul didn’t cry and I did? It was also weird because I got so mesmerised by the singing I didn’t realise tears welled up in the eyes.

3. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton

You should read up on the backstory of this song if you haven’t already. Doesn’t that make your heart wrench already? Apparently if you ever hear Eric Clapton play this live, you can feel the raw emotion of every note.

4. I’m Gonna be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers

It’s only right to end this on a happy note. This song gets me dancing. So play it, and dance on.

The Study of Music

Hands up if this blog is one of the many tabs you have open in your window right now! (It would be really funny if your hand was really up, and since I highly doubt anyone would actually raise their hand, this introduction has been rendered humourless.)

We live in a information overloaded world. It doesn’t help that we’re wired up at every single waking hour. So how do we “log out” of this world when we need to focus, e.g. study, work?

For me, I plug out of my computer and plug in to some music. Is it really helpful though? There’s a pretty interesting entry that segments work into two types — memory work and repetitive tasks. Music can be distracting for memory work as it adds a layer of distraction and throws you off your concentration. But listening to music you like can stimulate your in completing your repetitive tasks.

Beware of this “multi-tasking” though. Here’s the thing I’ve learnt in my course. Multi-tasking is as real as the lochness monster. It’s just something people tell themselves to feel empowered — like they’re special. We just switch between tasks really really quickly. Unfortunately, the part of the brain that trains memory and deep thinking suffers. (Our generation and beyond are going to be shallow people with goldfish memories!)

Still, if you’re like me and you need some music in the background, then classical music is scientifically your best bet. This goes beyond the Mozart Effect. Personally, I just prefer lyric-less tunes so the text you’re reading and the music aren’t vying for your attention.

Read on for my study playlist! I won’t guarantee it’ll be music you like, but these are some tunes that I listen to while studying.

Continue reading

Powerpuff Girls

There are many voices in each generation. The pleasant ones, the croaky ones, the raspy ones, those god-damned sopranos, and the voices that speak to the people.

My current earworm is the new Alicia Keys’ single: Girl On Fire. I could do without Nicki Minaj on this track, but this track is (for the lack of a better description) on fire.

Song: Girl On Fire
Artist: Alicia Keys featuring Nicki Minaj

I’ve been a fan of Alicia Keys since way back when, and her The Element of Freedom album helped me through rough times. (Disclaimer: I’m a guy. I know this is a weird topic for a guy. And talking about how girl power brings me through tough times. But I am indeed male.)

A Girls Guide To DJaying has a good list of female girl power artistes.

The list got me thinking: Would Aretha Franklin still be relevant now? Sure, her songs were great. Her signature song “Respect” came out of the 60s. It was a time that had the African-American civil rights movement and gender equality. We don’t quite have the same issues now, do we?

But I do believe that songs such as these contain timeless lyrics. We are always fighting for something. Maybe it’s something off the Maslow Hierarchy of Need. We might not be fighting for equality, or the right to find a job. But we are looking to be heard. And then there’s always a fight for gay rights in some part of this world.

Yeah, I think we are programmed to fight, else our adrenaline won’t have a thing to do (geek moment!). And empowerment gives us that extra boost we need. Even a little could lift us up from a really crappy day. Besides, I think having songs of empowerment beat songs about mindless one night stands. Or this.

Now where are those songs about boy power?

p.s. I apologise for the cheesy title but I like them puns.

Spot the pun in “The Beatles”

What’s the mark of a great songwriter? Clinching a number one hit? Having that number one hit stay on the charts for 52 weeks?

I think the mark of a great songwriter is having your songs covered over, and over, and over again.

I came across a list recently, on the Top 10 Most Covered Songs in history.

And well, I suppose The Beatles were one of the best songwriters in pop culture. (whether they were the best band ever is an argument for another day)

I love covers. For me, it shows the versatility of songs. And strangely enough, I think a singer is most unique when he/she covers a song.

So instead of debating with facts and figures, here’s my list of my favourite covers.

1. Womanizer – Lily Allen (Originally by Britney Spears)
The British (or rather Bre-ish) accent gets me every single time.

2. Mad World – Gary Jules (Originally by Tears for Fears)
This was featured in Donnie Darko. I think this song defined the movie, and it’s the one thing that people remember most from it. The song was finally released as a single by popular demand.

3. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor (Originally by Prince)
You know how a song rockets a person’s career? Sinead O’Connor has Prince to thank for this. This song is now forever hers.

4. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley (Originally by Leonard Cohen)

5. Crazy – Ray Lamontagne (Originally by Gnarls Barkley)

I think you can kinda guess my music taste through these songs. You probably also noticed that Glee isn’t in the list. I like the show, and I love their mash-ups (Massive shoutout to the I Feel Pretty/Unpretty mash-up). But their fans are a turn-off. No, most of Glee’s songs are covers, don’t stop believin’ in reality!

Check out this long list of songs that have been covered, and the artist that arguably covers it best.

You should also follow BBC Radio 1 to get your covers fix. Some musical gems get featured from time to time.

p.s. The Beatles was a pun on “beat music”, aka UK pop and rock. geddit?

A Whole New World

Help me out here: Name a song from each of these films.

  1. The Lion King
  2. Pocahontas
  3. Tarzan
  4. Mulan
  5. The Little Mermaid

That was probably easier than speaking up in tutorials huh? I went on a roadtrip with 2 French, an Aussie, an Uzbek (who has been living in London for the past 8 years) and me, the Singaporean. Throughout the trip, we had Spanish, French, Yiddish, Arab, Korean and of course English songs. But the most fascinating thing was whenever someone put a Disney song on, we all sing along. I remember learning “La Belle et la Bête” (Beauty and the Beast in French) during the trip. The languages were different, sure, but that’s the fascinating part.

Song: Colours of the Wind (in 28 languages)

That’s the magic of Disney, isn’t it? It’s a business conglomerate and it creates industrial products for an international audience. Yet, it’s cemented in our childhood no matter which part of the world you’re in.

I actually consider the 90s the golden era of Disney’s soundtracks I’m not even including the more recent Disney works into this (High School Musical, Hannah Montana, etc). Strangely enough, it’s before the era of YouTube and social networking.

Who knew that at the other side of the world, someone, somewhere, is listening to that song. It could be in a different language, but it’s Ariel’s, or Belle’s love story unfolding all the same.

It’s quite funny really, an industrial entity transcending time (childhood) and space (country borders). I don’t know of any other commercial product that has captivated the world’s childhood quite as much as Disney did.

Yet, strangely enough, I’m not particularly fond of Disney’s products in recent years. Take back Ne-Yo and give me more Peabo Bryson. And this got me thinking: am I too hung up on my childhood. I grew up with these classic songs and seeing a new generation of children growing up with pop music-inspired soundtracks — could Disney be making progress while I’m just stuck in a rut?

Talkin’ About A Revolution

Song: Stand By Me
Artist: Various Artists for Playing for Change

In 2004, a duo lugged a mobile recording studio around the world, recording local musicians singing the same song. This was the basis for a documentary on music that’s deeply rooted in its communities. This was the birth of Playing For Change.

The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.


Through the production of these music videos, the crew become involved with the music and the community. Playing For Change Foundation was set up to provide music education to less fortunate communities. The programmes not only provided education opportunities, but it opened up jobs. Teaching resources are locally-sourced, and the teachers are sought locally.

The Playing For Change Foundation is dedicated to the fundamental idea that peace and change are possible through the universal language of music.


Why’s music education so important? (I got this off PBS.)

  • Music aids in the language development in a person’s early years
  • Those with music education have, on average, a three-point
  • Improve spatial-temporal skills
  • Learning music trains discipline

It’s not just about setting up a school and teaching people algebra and photosynthesis. I think music education really helps the growth of an individual, which would possibly impact the community and society.

What can we do to help?

This might be social media for positive social change. Sound out if you know of any other social movements that helps with music education!