Ghost Stories in San Diego

On the fateful evening of Monday, Feb. 17th I ventured out into the wide expanse of San Diego and traveled far to The Observatory, a venue as tasteful as it is secure (which is to say very). The massive wooden doors to the establishment opened promptly an hour before the show began, but you, dear reader, are likely wondering what show I am referring to and with good reason, as I have not yet revealed that to you.

The live show I had waited weeks to attend was titled “Ghost Stories” and put on by “Welcome to Nightvale”, a podcast, community and home to everything weird and wonderful. The show itself was nearly identical to one of numerous podcast episodes which can be found here. The show began with an introduction by Meg Bashwiner, who told us the rules for the evening and pointed to the exits, all in a humorous and engaging manner. Throughout the performance, there was an intimate sense of unadulterated joy and serendipity. The actors and musicians kept the audience focused on everything they did and said as we hung on every note, every word, every humorous smirk in between lines of dialogue.

Special Musical Guest Erin McKeown’s performance before and during “Ghost Stories” was incredible. The song she played for the weather segment, “Queer Gospel,” brought back fond memories of late nights listening to “Welcome to Nightvale” and of good times with my other LGBT friends.

I do not wish to spoil anything, but from what I experienced on that fateful evening, I can say with the utmost certainty that for those hours I was transported to a place where the worries of everyday life seemed but a distant memory, fading away as I was embraced in a warm calm. Overall, “Ghost Stories” was an incredibly moving experience, and though “Welcome to Nightvale” is certainly not for everyone, it is definitely something to many.

Featured Image by Violet Friudenberg.

A Look at the Moana Soundtrack

Disney has a new princess. Moana hit theaters a few weeks ago. With a stellar cast and an even more stellar soundtrack, the film does two very cool things:

1. It features a non-white female protagonist with no romantic story line as the lead character

2. It features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson singing.

The film has a lot of really fantastic elements, including animal sidekicks, beautiful animation and some really funny bickering between Maui (The Rock) and Moana (Auli’i Cravalho).

The Moana soundtrack is full of original music written by Hamilton composer and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.  The soundtrack also features music by Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i.

Newcomer and Hawaaian native Auli’i Cravalho shines in the part. The 16-year-old’s voice conveys a passion and strength unexpected in someone so young. Her best song, How Far I’ll Go, gives Frozen’s Let it Go a run for its money.  The soundtrack does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of Hawaiian culture and adventure in the music.

Miranda not only led his song-writing skills, but his vocals to a few songs as well. The soundtrack is full of talented musicians. Jemaine Clement, one half of the Flight of the Concords duo, lends his voice as well. Although Clement’s strange giant snail character seemed to be an unnecessary and even distracting addition to the film, his singing is catchy and well done.

With such an impressive amount of musical talent in Moana, I was surprised to find that my favorite song of the entire film was actually performed by The Rock.

His voice is unexpectedly fantastic and although he may not have as strong a voice as some of his cast mates, his energy and goofiness won my heart. The Rock has a confidence and an undeniable energy that’s absolutely contagious. His egotistical character Maui sings a song called You’re Welcome to Moana, essentially spending three minutes singing about how awesome he is and telling her “you’re welcome” for his very existence.

Check out the soundtrack. Not only does it have all the catchy songs from the film, but also includes some cool covers by various artists and demos performed by Miranda.

Moana–the soundtrack and the film– are absolutely fantastic. Go hit the theater and enjoy Moana’s musical adventure across the sea to try and save her people with the help of a self-absorbed demigod. The film is charming, heartfelt and very entertaining. Disney did not disappoint on this one.

 

MUSICOLOGIA FEMINISTA: Mitski

Image by Scott Troyan via Flickr

For my last blog this semester I have chosen to feature Mitski Miyawaki. Mitski’s family moved quite often. From Japan where she was born, she moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Malaysia to China to Turkey, among other countries, before coming to New York City. Her music reflects her cross-cultural identity of being half Japanese and half Amercian, but not fully either.

Mitski studied music at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. During her time there she released two albums. Se has released two albums since leaving school. Her fourth album Puberty 2 released in in June has staked out her territory as a compelling voice in indie rock. It was recorded over a period of two weeks and features an array of music styles.

 Her music videos are just as interesting as the lyrics in her songs. Check out the video for “Happy” above to see what I’m talking about. She has been featured in multiple publications such as Pitchfork, New York Times, NME and Rolling Stone. Hope you get a chance to check her out. That’s it for me! Catch ya next semester.

Exploring the Work of “Westworld” Composer Ramin Djawadi

Calling all Westworld and Game of Thrones fans! I know this has been on your mind every night this week: Who is Ramin Djawadi? Don’t worry, I’m here to give you the low-down on who he is and why he’s absolutely magnificent.

Ramin Djawadi is a musical composer, meaning he creates the background and significant music pieces for our favorite TV shows and movies. He composed the soundtracks to many popular blockbusters & TV hits such as Iron Man (2008) (which got him nominated for a Grammy), Pacific Rim (2013), Warcraft (2016), and what he’s known best for: Game of Thrones, as well as the new hit TV show, Westworld.

Djawadi created most of the songs featured in Game of Thrones. The show, in a nutshell, is about medieval families all vying for the “Iron Throne” and power over the Seven Kingdoms. The music Djawadi makes for Game of Thrones depends on what scene or what mood the episode is in. For example, the mood was more solemn at the end of Season 6, therefore the score was more solemn and simple rather than having it as dramatic as the show’s opening theme.

Game of Thrones

(Photo Credit: Game of Thrones’ Facebook)

Included below is the song for the Season 6 finale (“Light of the Seven”), as well as the the main theme of Game of Thrones.

“Light of the Seven”

Game of Thrones Main Theme

Djawadi was also offered the task of composing songs for the new HBO hit series, Westworld. Based on the 1973 sci-fi thriller film of the same name, Westworld is about a Western-themed amusement park that features robotic “hosts” that suddenly develop consciousness. For the score of Westworld, Djawadi ditched the dramatic sound he previously used for the Games of Thrones score and instead showcased a more minimalistic and classic sound. Westworld features many piano renditions (some are even on an old-school, western piano) of songs including Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”, and The Rolling Stones“Paint It Black”.

westworld

(Photo Credit: Westworld Facebook)

A few of these piano renditions as well as the opening theme for Westworld can be heard on the videos below!

Westworld Main Theme

“Paint It Black”

“Black Hole Sun”

You can check out some of his GoT work at the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience in Inglewood, CA on March 23rd!

You can also check me out by listening to my radio show live at 11 pm on Tuesdays.

Ashley Bajet, signing out.