Despacito Conquers America

Forget the ramblings of xenophobes and threats of building walls.

Music demolishes all barriers to Love… Latino culture today is being embraced even more despite the vitriol in our political landscape. The success of this song is a reminder that America is more diverse today than ever. Yes….we may not live in an equal America, or a fair America, but it does mean we have the opportunity to experience America’s many rich cultures, listen to more stories, whether those stories are told in English or not. They still touch us.

Singer/songwriter Luis Fonsi stated on Instagram that “Music has no language”. Actually, Luis…Music is the language of Love…it is and has always been universal. If we want to understand humanity and love…we have to understand music first.

This is the first Spanish song since “Macarena” (1996-1997) to grace the US Billboard number one position for weeks while refusing to give up its number one position in the UK charts. You hear it blasting out of every sound system today in America. With a boost from Justin Beiber (who adds an English Intro to the extremely catchy Spanish lyrics and beats).

Personally for me though I prefer the original without Justin Beiber which has reached over 2 billion views on Youtube:

R.I.P. Robert Miles, Dance Music Pioneer

DJ Robert Miles has died after a brief illness. If you listened to music in the 90s, you can’t have missed the genius of Italian born DJ/music producer Robert Miles, even today DJ’s sample his music worldwide.

“Children” is the most iconic of hits in the history of dance music and really defined his career and revolutionized dance music, creating an entire genre “Dream House” which brought trance music to the mainstream. In clubs they used to have this as the last track of the night.

It is a track that is very moving and brings strong emotions.

After Miles performed this music in a club, a girl approached him in tears. “What music is this?” she asked him. It was a moment he will never forget that moment, realizing that his feelings had been conveyed through his music. His dream turned into reality.

Children:

Fable was another one of his fantastic tracks…featured in the movie “Ever After” (with Drew Barrymore).

Fable:

 

 

 

Disco Pioneers: Indian Born Music Producer Biddu and Tina Charles

Back in the ‘70s Tina Charles was a very talented English singer and at the time doing only backup vocals for groups, and wasn’t getting recognition. It wasn’t until she met Indian born British music producer Biddu who produced her immortal hit “I love to love”. I remember watching this song premier on “Top of the Pops” back in ’76. It still sounds fresh almost 40 years later!

Biddu is considered one of the pioneers of Disco, Euro-Disco and South Asian Pop (Indipop) music. He was hailed as one of the “50 Greatest Music Producers of All Time” by New Musical Express.  His international breakthrough came in 1974 with “Kung Fu Fighting” performed by Carl Douglas; the song became one of the best-selling singles of all time with eleven million records sold, helped popularize disco music. It was the first worldwide disco hit from Britain and Europe, and established Biddu as one of the most prolific dance music producers from outside the United States at the time.

He also produced “Disco Deewane” for Nazia and Zoeb Hassan which went on to become the biggest selling pop album in South Asia and launched an entire genre of South Asian pop music. I lived in Africa at the time, it was heard everywhere from corner shops to clubs.

Ezel – Turkish Series on Netflix

Three of my addictions… I like to read books from foreign authors (Japan and Scandinavian countries mostly but also some South and South East Asian); listen to foreign music (from everywhere) and watch foreign movies and TV series (Korean, Japanese, Scandinavian, Eastern European, Latin American). I find most American music is just noise – nothing really artistic; and American films and TV series are clichéd, predictable and overrated. Made using the studio cookie cutter formulas – rarely something inspiring comes along. These days even here in Hollywood, they are buying rights to scripts and plots from foreign films and TV series and re-making them as American.

Turkey is one such place where the hottest TV shows come from now. Turkey went from nothing to become the largest producer or TV shows.

Angelina Jolie, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nancy Ajram and other celebrities will appear in roles in a new Turkish series about Syrian refugees…that’s the power of Turkish TV. The production values are higher and licensing fees around the world for many of the Turkish TV series are even higher than American ones, that’s how much the demand is for them. As one Hollywood studio executive said “We’re all learning Turkish now”. When the Turkish drama 1001 Nights aired in Chile in 2014, the ratings beat all the Latin telenovelas and there was a sudden rise in the number of children named Onur and Sehrazat – the main characters in the series. In Israel-Palestine, there were reports that between 3-4pm when a popular Turkish drama airs, everyone stops fighting….governments can’t bring peace there but Turkish dramas can it seems. In India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the number one ratings aren’t for Indian or Pakistani shows but Turkish ones. Turkey is mounting an attack on some of the foremost sources of entertainment for the world. Here’s looking at you, Hollywood and Bollywood.

Currently I am a big fan of a slick Turkish series called Ezel. The story is a revenge crime drama inspired by Alexander Dumas’ novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” (one of my favorite books of all time I have read it so many times but still enjoy it so much that I stay up to finish it).  Normally though I get disappointed by the screen adaptations as they don’t live up to the novel.

However, Ezel was a game changer. Hailed as the best Turkish series ever produced, it tells the story in present and in flashbacks. Originally Dumas wanted to tell the story of “The Count of Monte Christo” in flashbacks, Ezel uses time as a tool going back and forth. However the tale of Ezel doesn’t follow the novel. It is set in present day Turkey and Cyprus instead of 19th century Paris and defies genre as it is a revenge crime thriller, drama, action, mystery, romance. The actors are all brilliant in their roles and the story itself is very poetic….Betrayal tears them apart, revenge brings them together.

 The soundtrack is a masterpiece. Every musical piece in the thrilling scenes or dramatic is moving and fantastic. It has one of the best soundtracks by Toygar Isikli who has created a masterpiece of music that lives up to legendary screen music like the ones from “Last of the Mohicans”, “1492: Conquest of Paradise” and “The Godfather”.

 The series was licensed in about 100 countries, dubbed in many different languages and has even been re-made by Mexico (as Yago) and Armenia (as Ancanoty). A Hollywood re-make is also in the works.

 Here’s one of the gentler tracks from the soundtracks that is one of my favorites:

Menu Kehn De – Himesh Reshamiyya (Akbar Sami Remix)

Here is Akbar Sami’s electro-house remix of “Menu Kehn De” with its energetic vibe is sure to haunt dance clubs around the world for years to come!

Out now in stores on T-Series, the album “Aap Se Mausiqui” by Himesh Reshammiya features this track.

Taking a look at the past, Akbar Sami and Himesh Reshammiya Bollywood collaborations have made history;  their partnership has brought us some of the biggest and most memorable Bollywood remixes and dance tracks such as the award winning remix track Aashiq Banaya Aapne and Aap Ki Kashish, Jhalak Dikhlaja, and many more tracks that still set fires to dance floors around the world.

Reshammiya’s debut album “Aap Ka Suroor” in 2007 is considered the bestselling album (that was not a Bollywood film soundtrack) in Indian history. I bought it mainly for the seven dance remixes on the album including the title track which were produced by Akbar Sami – sheer magic!

 

 

Jai Ho to Slumdog Millionaire!

Who the hell would have thought that the best film on Oscar night in Hollywood was an intense, romantic melodrama that delivered satisfaction in a brilliant way, was made in the slums of Mumbai with a mostly unknown star cast, directed by a British director, who made films like “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later”?

“All my life, I’ve had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I’m here,” – Bollywood music director, A.R. Rahman as he accepted two of the Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song – “Jai Ho”.

“Jai Ho” means “May Victory Be Yours” in Hindi….and indeed victory was with “Slumdog Millionaire” last night.

With a whopping, truly deserved, 8 Oscars (from the 10 it was nominated for) “Slumdog Millionaire” the independent film that cost $14 million (compared to Dark Night made for $180 million) topped the list of most Oscar wins (including Best Picture) for any film last night at the Academy Awards in Hollywood, CA.

Here’s the oscars.com link where you can watch some of the highlights from last night’s big wins.

The movie was indeed one of the best films my wife and I have ever watched. It was like watching “Salaam Bombay” meets “City of God” – two of my favorite films of all time in one. A truly brilliant masterpiece of art!

“Jai Ho” song being performed live on the Oscars stage was fantastic!

Here’s the clip from the Oscars:

You can watch the song performed live by A.R. Rahman on the Jay Leno show:

The Oscar Winners are as follows :

BEST PICTURE:
Slumdog Millionaire

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Sean Penn
Milk

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Kate Winslet
The Reader

DIRECTING:
Slumdog Millionaire

FORIEGN LANGAUGE FILM:
Departures

MUSIC(SONG):
Slumdog Millionaire

MUSIC (SCORE):
Slumdog Millionaire

FILM EDITING:
Slumdog Millionaire

SOUND MIXING:
Slumdog Millionaire

SOUND EDITING:
The Dark Knight

VISUAL EFFECTS:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
Smile Pinki

DOCUMENTORY FEATURE:
Man on Wire

ACTOR IN SUPPORTING ROLE:
Health Ledger
The Dark knight

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION):
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Slumdog Millionaire

MAKEUP:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

COSTUME DESIGN:
The Duchess

ART Direction:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
La Maison En Peptits Cubes

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Wall-E

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Slumdog Millionaire

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY):
Milk

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Penelope Cruz
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

[Source : Official OSCAR Website www.oscar.com]

Gaza 2009 – We Will Never Forget

Here is a brief montage documenting the genocide committed by Israel in “Operation Cast Lead”. It also shows the war crimes as well as the the brave and noble people who stood up, who spoke out, who demonstrated (like my dear friends the Viranis and Peeras) against the Israeli Slaughter Machine.

Bear in mind – it is your taxes that are paying for these crimes:

President Obama if you are reading this blog, I’d like tell you that you are siding with the wrong people in this conflict.

“It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.”
— Albert Camus.