The Playlist | Yuri On Ice by Taro Umebayashi

When I study, I usually listen to one album or one song on repeat. A while ago, that was the Your Name soundtrack, which I played on repeat during midterms.

For finals, I made a playlist of soundtracks from both anime and movies (that I still need to properly refine), but sometimes I would just play one song on repeat because I loved it so much.

And that song is “Yuri on Ice”.

The song shares its title with the anime it was written for, and is a sports-anime following the figure skater Katsuki Yuri, as he tries to redeem himself after a crushing loss at the Grand Prix Final one year prior. Suffering from anxiety, depression, and fear that he is alone, he is surprised by the appearance of his idol, the Russian five-time gold medalist Victor Nikiforov, who arrives at his home and offers to be his coach.

Together, they design his free program to a song composed specifically for Yuri, a musical interpretation of his skating career so far. Yuri names the piece “Yuri on Ice”.

And I can’t stop listening to it.

I’ll admit: I procrastinated on studying to watch this anime. It was constantly on my Tumblr dashboard (another means of procrastination) that I finally gave in and watched it.

I’ve never watched a sports genre anime before, ignoring the hype around shows like Free! and Haiyku!! 

So why did I give in to Yuri!!! on Ice? I’m not really sure. And for the first few episodes, I still wasn’t sure. I could tell there was going to be some fan service, and the plot was sort of weak, but the animation was beautiful and so was the music, which is probably what got me to episode 7.

Episode 7 is probably my favourite, and not for shipper reasons (I see you shippers, just calm down). Yuri makes his second attempt at performing to this song in competition, and after it, I immediately understood  why I liked watching it.

I love character-based storytelling. I’d take it over plot-based storytelling any day of the week. And in sports anime, the athletic plot is sort of a structure, a frame to build characters around. And because sports are sort of repetitive in their nature, it’s the character growth that you follow, not the sport itself.

In Episode 7 it is very clear that Yuri has grown as a person, and you can see that in his thoughts during the performance. He’s relaxed, he’s realized that his idol is a human too, and he’s not worrying about screwing up. It’s my favourite because of how Yuri feels while performing it.

But even without the scene, I would love this song. I love the way the song builds and then quiets itself, only to build once again. I love the way the piano layers on itself and with the violin and drum. I love how it sounds so complex and so emotional and so up lifting.

And I can’t wait for episode 12, where (I hope) Yuri finally nails the program he’s designed for it.

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The Playlist | Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)

Whenever people ask me what my favourite genre of music is, I usually respond by saying, “Anything but rap, country, and screamo.”

And this usually holds true, and then Hamilton came into my life and there was no going back.

“Immigrants, we get the job done,” is one of the most iconic lines in the musical, and it means so much to not just the story of Alexander Hamilton, but that of North America.

I am Canadian, but the idea that the country was built by immigrants isn’t limited to the United States. I am a first generation Canadian, which means my parents moved here from the Philippines to live in Canada, and I am the first generation of my family to be born in Canada.

I learned in school that the Pacific Coast Railway was built by Chinese immigrant labourers her in Vancouver, who had to work with dynamite and horrible conditions for our country to stretch from sea to shining sea.

Which is why I love these lyrics:

We’re America’s ghost writers, the credit’s only borrowed
It’s a matter of time before the checks all come
But…
Immigrants, we get the job done

I love the concept of immigrants being the ghost writers of a country. Because who gets the credit in history? The leaders, the prominent figures, the people who directed the immigrants.

Not the immigrants who actually put in the physical labour that was needed to build the country.

And I’m glad that this song expand upon the line, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” Because it’s the start of crediting those ghostwriters.

The Playlist | Kimi No Na Wa Soundtrack by RADWIMPS

One of the best things to listen to while studying is movie soundtracks. They are perfect background music, enough to keep me engaged, but not enough to distract me.

I recently watched the latest Japanese blockbuster, Kimi no na wa, or, Your Name. If you like anime and are in the mood for a mystery/romance, then I recommend it. The story was interesting and touching and the animation is simply gorgeous. Seriously, if you watch the trailer above and think you might have a fraction of interest, GO FOR IT.

The trailer features one of my favourite songs on the soundtrack, ZenZenZense. But the best thing about this soundtrack is its variety. There’s pop rock, there’s heart wrenching piano and violin, there’s upbeat mellow pop, there’s eerie bass.

And the whole thing is on Spotify!

I have to hand it to RADWIMPS, the sole artist on the soundtrack. I love the subtleties of the songs, especially in the instrumentals. I almost always listen to it with both headphones in, at moderate volume so I can pick up all the intricacies. (And if this blocks out all noise so I can study, so be it).

What’s great is that the songs seem to tell a story without the accompanying visuals. That’s how I know it’s a good soundtrack. I could (and probably have) listened to it over and over again in one sitting.

And given the number of papers and exams I’ll be working on, I know I’ll be listening to it for quite a while.

The Playlist | Shelter by Porter Robinson

I don’t usually watch anime shorts.

But this one is totally worth it.

The story is of Rin, a girl alone in a world that she alone controls with her tablet, until one day she gets a message, the first in seven years…

Saying more would spoil it.

But, suffice to say, the song stayed in my head long after I had watched the video.

It’s such a catchy song. But if I were to listen to it on its own, I don’t know if it would immediately catch my ear.

It’s the fact that it’s in combination with storytelling through animation that really makes this standout to me. I keep watching the video because I have so many questions, and I keep listening to the song because it reminds me of the story.

Seriously, if you can spare 6 minutes, watch the video. It’s lovely.

The Playlist | Amerika by Young The Giant

the short story
Favourite band + New song = the only thing I listen to all Friday

the long story

I’ve made it not secret that my favourite band is Young the Giant. They haven’t made a single song that I disliked, and I have been dying for a third album since my high from their second album, Mind Over Matter, ended. And that was nearly two years ago!

Then, Thursday evening, they released a new song from their upcoming (!) album, Home of the Strange, called “Amerika.”

Is it YTG’s best song ever? No. But “Crystallized” and “It’s About Time” were released before Mind Over Matter came out, and those were, in my opinion, not the best songs on that album.

But it still has that chill beach vibe, that vintage rock sound, and those poetic lyrics. Plus, Sameer Ghadia’s voice.

And when an In The Open is recorded? I might die.