Ever-changing lightstick colours and throngs of fans chanting along to high-tempo beats are clear-cut signs of a Japanese anime song (anisong) concert, generally only seen in Singapore during the I Love Anisong segment at the annual Anime Festival Asia (AFA) convention. Months before the convention is set to return this year, [email protected] played host to one of anisong’s most popular groups – this time, for a solo show.
While Japanese pop-rock duo GARNiDELiA (consisting of vocalist MARiA and sound producer toku) is no stranger to our shores, their stellacage Asia Tour 2019 ”響喜乱舞” (Kyoki Ranbu) show on 13 April was their first solo performance in Singapore as well as the only Southeast Asian tour stop, as remarked by MARiA.
“Since our [Singapore] debut five years ago at AFA, it has been our dream to perform here solo,” she said to the nearly sold-out concert hall. Clearly, fans had been waiting for this moment for a long time – VIP and VVIP tickets, which came with fan benefits such as a hi-touch session and autographed posters, were snapped up within a day, with only scant few general admission tickets left when the pair rolled into town.
And we reckon their popularity is well-deserved. From the start to end of the 90-minute set, petite powerhouse MARiA and the quiet but no less charismatic toku – both decked out in alternative Japanese outfit with hints of traditional elements – kept the crowd up on their feet with infectious earworms such as ‘Tougen Renka’, ‘Rebel Flag’ and ‘Pink Cat’.
It’s a testament to MARiA’s stage presence that all she needed throughout the performance were two backup dancers, who had followed the twosome through their Asian tour to cities like Hong Kong and Beijing. Effortlessly switching between dance props such as umbrellas and flags while belting out high notes song after song, the singer kept fans waving their light sticks (which they manually changed to match the stage lights and song vibes) in tandem to the Eurodance-style tracks throughout the entire night.
This isn’t to say that toku didn’t put out some impressive moves of his own. While the keyboardist in his signature wide-brim hat was mostly stationary during the dance parts, he also made his way to the front with a portable version to jam with MARiA during ‘G.R.N.D.’ – much to the excitement of concert-goers across the hall. His wordless piano key replies during MARiA’s talk-sets were particularly well-received, as the lead vocalist and their fans collectively agreed that he was “kawaii” (cute).
When the pair disappeared off-stage after what was to be their last song, the audience was not ready to let them go. Cries for an encore went on without pause for five minutes, before MARiA, toku and the dancers reappeared in casual clothes to perform the upbeat ‘Aikotoba’ and the banger that propelled them to the forefront of the anisong scene, ‘Gokuraku Jodou’. The duo led fans through a lovely fanchant practice that the crowd performed with great gusto all the way to the last note – a fitting send-off for GARNiDELiA’s first of many concerts to come.
If you missed his Illuminate World Tour in 2017, you’re in luck – Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes is making his return to Singapore as part of the Asian leg of his 2019 headlining tour!
Since his Vine days back in 2013, Shawn Mendes has come a long way from an undiscovered talent to a bonafide megastar. Apart from completing two massive sold-out tours, the 20-year-old has also gained several accolades which include his coveted spot on Time Magazine’s 2018 100 most influential people in the world.
Now, the ‘In My Blood’ singer is heading back to our sunny island for his latest tour in support of his self-titled third studio album, which still has a permanent place in our playlists despite being released last year. Get set for a magical night as this swoon-worthy heartthrob sweeps you off your feet with his chart-topping tunes!
Shawn Mendes: The Tour 2019 Singapore Date: 4 October 2019 Time: TBA Venue: Singapore Indoor Stadium Tickets: $88, $128, $148, $188, $228
Tickets will go on sale 2 May, 2pm via www.sportshubtix.sg, Sports Hub Tix Box Office and all SingPost outlets. But if you’re a ShawnAccess fan, you can get first dibs at the ShawnAccess Fan Presale on 25 April, 10am.
Meanwhile, check out Shawn Mendes’ latest music video for ‘Lost In Japan (Remix)’:
Music is said to bring people from all walks of life together, but it’s not often that you see a fully inclusive cast of singers all in one song – and even featuring in the same music video.
As part of the National Council of Social Service’s See The True Me campaign for disability inclusion, ‘Fire in the Rain’ presents a colourful mix of local star power and burgeoning talents who overcame obstacles to shine on stage.
We had the opportunity to speak to one of the featured artistes, homegrown rapper ShiGGa Shay, about how it was like working with director Royston Tan, singer-songwriter Don Richmond alongside the ensemble of impaired yet talented performers – which includes visually impaired lead singer Adelyn Koh and rapper Danial Bawthan aka Wheelsmith who has muscular dystrophy – for this meaningful project.
Hi ShiGGa! How did this collaborative effort for ‘Fire In The Rain’ come about?
Director Royston Tan approached me about collaborating with Don Richmond to create something that could change the misconceptions that society has about people with disabilities. I’ve always wanted to be part of a meaningful cause like See The True Me, so I’m really thankful that they roped me in for this project. It’s also been a while since I’ve put out new music.
There’s still a social stigma towards people with special needs that they wouldn’t be able to function normally as others. Having worked closely with Adelyn Koh and the rest – all equally talented at what they do despite their disabilities – how was your experience like working alongside them?
It was inspiring! A lot of people don’t realise the amount of talent and potential that people with disabilities have. I learned a lot while working with them.
Has your perspective in life and music changed after meeting these amazing people?
It has definitely motivated me in many ways. I want to be able to share the stories of persons with disabilities in every way I can. The best way to help would be to help bring awareness and slowly remove the social stigma that society has placed on them.
What do you think youths can do to make society more inclusive towards people from all walks of life?
We should seek to understand them. With a better understanding of our differences, we will realise how much we actually have in common.
If you could spearhead an initiative – be it in music or arts – to include disabled people one day, what would it be?
I would love to work on a project with Wheelsmith. His story is incredible!
What’s a piece of advice you would like to give young aspiring singers who wish to pursue a career in music?
Never lose passion for what you love no matter what other people tell you. Always believe in yourself, follow your dreams, work hard and stay focused.
Watch the full music video for ‘Fire in the Rain’ starring ShiGGa Shay below:
Having just concluded their massively successful Love Yourself tour in Bangkok, the boys are back to begin a new era of world domination with their comeback EP, Map of the Soul: Persona.
Despite the ambiguity of their sixth mini album throughout the month-long wait, our patience has finally paid off when it officially dropped on 12 April. Upon the availability of the EP, the group’s seven-track masterpiece quickly catapulted the boys straight to the top of the charts on iTunes, while also making them the first Asian act to surpass five billion streams on Spotify. In addition to clinching number one on six major Korean music sites with their title track ‘Boy With Luv’, its accompanying official music video had also made history with over 130 million views (and counting) garnered worldwide.
Hot on the heels of their SNL comeback stage, here’s our track-by-track review to see if the first album in the Map of the Soul series lives up to the hype.
1. ‘Intro: Persona’
Though it has been a good four years since RM last created an intro for a BTS album, it’s suffice to say that the leader hasn’t lost his touch as he marked the beginning of a new chapter for the group with a special intro using a beat sample off their 2014 track, ‘Intro: Skool Luv Affair’.
Ahead of the album’s official release, fans were given a full track preview of the song in its entirety alongside a music video where we saw RM looking old-school dapper as he consistently spit verses that depicts him exploring his identity that might be influenced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theories on the human psyche (“Persona, who the hell am I / I just wanna go, I just wanna fly, I just wanna give you all the voices till I die”).
2 ‘Boy With Luv’
Almost three years in the making, the long-awaited collaboration between BTS and Halsey is finally here! Described as a song about finding happiness in simple love (“Love is nothing stronger, than a boy with luv”), it was easy enough to predict the likability of this instant earworm after the release of the two MV teasers which left us wanting for more.
Although the ‘Without Me’ singer had lent her voice to ‘Boy With Luv’, she didn’t let her star contribution overshadow the boys as she blended in seamlessly with a mix of English and Korean lines. In addition to the creation of the track, Halsey also made her appearance in the music video where she absolutely nailed her debut dance scene with the BTS members.
In sharing stories of their time on set with the international pop star, J-Hope had nothing but compliments for Halsey, “I think it was her first time doing a choreography, and she had already practiced before arriving in Korea for the filming. She really worked so hard!”
Lovingly dubbed by the boys as the ‘soju’ song (because of its Korean title), this electric-pop tune surprisingly offers a sense of calm that makes it the perfect track to listen to at night after a long day. Getting its namesake from the Greek word for microcosm, this Greek philosophy toys with the concept of each individual being their own world – perhaps RM was influenced by this very idea in his rap (“One star in one person / Shining with seven billion lights, seven billion worlds”).
4. ‘Make It Right’
In yet another big-name collaboration, BTS partners up with British pop singer Ed Sheeran to bring us a co-written track that showcases the unique style of both acts, although it’s got a tad bit more of the ginger-haired crooner’s vibe than we preferred.
Backed by synths with a simple repetitive instrumental, the septet sings of a desire to make this world a better place through kindness and human connection (“I could make it better, I could hold you tighter / On that long road, oh you’re the light”). Even though we haven’t had a cameo from the ‘Perfect’ singer on this track, we’re pretty sure it won’t be long until a BTS featuring Ed Sheeran remix is released.
BTS has always been priding themselves on their deep connection with ARMYs and much like how ‘Magic Shop’ is penned with their fanbase in mind, this R&B track is yet another affectionate dedication that the boys have prepared for their beloved fans. In spite of the perception that naysayers and critics may have about them, the members describe their fans as their home, where they can seek comfort, love and support whenever they’re tired or lonely (“I’ll be comfortable even if nothing is said / If I have you, everywhere is home”). If this doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, we’re not sure what will.
6. ‘Jamais Vu’
Voted as the go-to karaoke song by the members themselves, this emotional track is the product of a new sub-unit made up of Jin, J-Hope and Jungkook. Already a hit with fellow ARMYs, this poignant ballad comprises heartfelt lyrics that detail the hope of salvaging a relationship that has lost all feelings (“Please give me a remedy, a remedy that will make my heart beat again”).
As if we’re not already sold when the boys serenade us with their complementary blend of rap and vocals, it’s also especially hard not to react to the feels we get from the flawless harmonisation of Jin and Jungkook.
Probably our favourite track off the album is this head-banger, which gets its title reference from the Greek God of wine. A throwback to their old-school hip-hop days, this 80s-inspired anthem is actually co-written by J-Hope, who had painstakingly written almost half of the track. Amidst the heavy beats and rapid-fire rap verses, the members celebrate shrugging off media criticism as they transition from idol to artiste; which is evident during Suga’s portion (“Born as a K-pop idol / Reincarnated artiste”).
If this album is any indication, BTS could certainly lay their rightful claim to being one of the most revolutionary artistes in history – and they will only go higher from here.
BTS’ new album Map of the Soul: Persona is now available for streaming and purchase. And in case you missed it, watch the music video for ‘Boy With Luv’ here:
What’s your favourite song from the album? Share with us in the comments below!
The music billboard doesn’t lack any pop singers or need anymore sad love songs, but Anne-Marie’s signature tropical bubblegum pop brimming with attitude is exactly what we need.
With a hefty dose of goofiness and equal amounts of sass, pop songstress Anne-Marie dominated the stage with her chart-topping tunes and infectious charms at her Capitol Theatre concert on 9 April. She even makes breakups seem contentious, almost a happy thing, as she enthusiastically bopped around the stage hi-fiving fans and exchanging gifts – a lucky fan managed to swap a plushie whale for a drumstick. If you could hear doodles and scribbles, that’s exactly how Anne-Marie sounds like.
On the back of her highly acclaimed debut album Speak Your Mind, Anne-Marie blasts through hit singles like ‘Alarm’, ‘Ciao Adios’ and ‘Bad Girlfriend’. Every song has its own story, and more likely than not, it was about a cheating boyfriend. She’s been the wronged one, been cheated on, or just fell out of love. The singer joked that she had a penchant for picking the worst men to date, but it’s okay since she got a couple of good songs out of it. Well, maybe she’ll be the next Taylor Swift…?
It’s not just all about cheating exes though. ‘Perfect To Me’ was born when the singer realised that she didn’t feel good about her own body after watching inspiring talks on YouTube, resulting in an anthem for acceptance that reminds us that it’s okay to have anxiety all while inspiring us to feel confident in our own skin – a message that resonated well with Anne-Marie’s diverse crowd of fans.
The night ended on a high as the versatile singer launched into more EDM-fueled tracks from her high-profile collaborations. As much as Anne-Marie has been hurt by failed romances, she has also friend-zoned her fair share of guys, as told by the feisty ‘FRIENDS’ with Marshmello. And who can forget ‘2002’, the ever so addictive smash that sees Ed Sheeran lending his songwriting prowess to.
The only letdown that left fans wanting more was the clearly noted absence of ‘Rewrite The Stars’, the massive duet that Zac Efron and Zendaya sang in blockbuster movie The Greatest Showman – although she did tease us a little with a short snippet of it before launching into her last song of her set. Guess she has to come back again soon to perform even more songs!