I realized that the music I listen to is not something I have shared with many people. At least not on a level I would like to share it. I’m going to remedy this.
We all have particular music that speaks to us, that will always be something we enjoy no matter how long its been since we last heard it. I’ve been having an issue with music lately, in that nothing I listened to seemed to be enjoyable anymore, so over the last few days I’ve sought to find something worth listening to again. I’ve found it in the music of my adolescence, where I think a lot of people have particular sentimentality.
I’m going to share a selection of songs from probably my two favorite groups of all time. This is by no means an accurate summary of all of the music I enjoy, just what happens to drive me in the moment.
Big Bang – Lies
This has always been one of my favorite Big Bang songs. The video has a compelling plot and the melody is kind of infectious. But this song has a story, too. I got to see Big Bang live in November of 2012, and my favorite member of the group, G-Dragon, (who happens to be the protagonist in this video) actually sang the first line of the chorus directly to me during their performance of it. I was in the front row, holding a little sign with his name on it, and he hadn’t really paid me any attention during the whole show. (I wasn’t upset – the arena was packed and the set was demanding.) But then he stood in front of me at the edge of the stage and bent down and looked me in the eyes and sang, “I’m so sorry but I love you.” I couldn’t breathe. I think I went stark white. Then he smiled at me and continued with the performance. I’m sure it was nothing to him but it was magic to me and I will never forget it.
Big Bang – Haru Haru
Similarly, I also have a story about this song relating to that concert. It was known that for this tour, when the boys sang this song, they would hold out their mics and turn the chorus over to the audience to sing. I practiced the lyrics so I knew I could get them right. When the time came for the performance, everyone was a bit on edge with nervous excitement. As the chorus neared, GD said to us, “You guys know this song, right?” The crowd cheered. The boys got up from their chairs that they’d been seated in during the first verse, and all pointed their mics out to the crowd. An entire arena full of 20,000+ people sang the chorus back at them in perfect Korean, and I very distinctly remember GD shedding tears about it. (Sometimes, when it catches me in the right mood, I cry about this song, too.)
Big Bang – Bad Boy
Last concert story, I promise. Big Bang performed this song as part of their encore that night, after they had all gone backstage and changed out of their elaborate costumes and into street clothes. At the time I was utterly obsessed with this song – I knew most of the lyrics in Korean, and actually can still sing along with the chorus. GD performed this on my side of the stage, literally about 20 feet in front of my face. This song has such a New York vibe and always makes me think of the city when I listen to it.
G-Dragon – Coup D’Etat
GD has put out three solo albums now since he began his music career. His last one – named after this song – is brilliant, and I highly recommend listening to the whole thing if you have the interest and the time. There literally isn’t a bad song on the album. There’s a collaboration with Missy Elliot called Niliria, and You Do is another favorite, but again, the whole album is great.
GD X Taeyang – Good Boy
Yes, it is ironic that I’m including this song along with Bad Boy, but it is a good song and worth noting. GD and Taeyang have been best friends since they were children, and their chemistry is undeniable.
GD&TOP – Zutter
If I include one duo, I must include the other. GD&TOP have been a sub-unit for years now, and their songs are always super catchy and fun. Unfortunately the video for the song I would link here, High High, has been removed from YouTube due to a copyright issue with Playboy. It’s a long story. En lieu of that, this is their newest release.
Big Bang – Bang Bang Bang
When Big Bang goes hard, they go h a r d. This is the perfect song to crank up and cruise to in the summer to annoy all of your conservative, elderly neighbors. It’s the kind of song that would come on in the club or the bar when you’re just considering wrapping it up and convince you to stay and dance for the next few hours.
Other Big Bang songs of note: Dirty Cash, a fun, upbeat cruising song that I always include in my summer driving mixes; Gara Gara Go!, one of Big Bang’s rare Japanese releases; Number 1, amusing because it’s entirely in English, but actually a really good song; Lollipop 2, sadly not from the official channel, but this has always been one of my favorite Big Bang songs; Tonight, some people call this Big Bang’s “golden age,” and though I disagree, this song was extremely popular at the time of its release; Fantastic Baby, arguably Big Bang’s most successful single to date – as I’m writing this it’s encroaching on 171 million views; Baby Good Night, another GD&TOP song that might give you ~feels, if you feel me; Wings, a solo release from Daesung, who has the voice of a literal angel (you’d never guess this is a breakup song); Strong Baby, a solo by Seungri, the youngest of the group – I think he was 19 when this was released; Turn It Up, a TOP solo – if you’re anything like me you may have a crush on him about 30 seconds into this video; Ringa Linga, a Taeyang solo, not his most popular, but his most recent and I love the vocal fry he has in the second verse
I’ve arranged all of these into a playlist for you here. It’s about an hour and ten minutes long.
Unfortunately this next group was, for a long time, signed to a label that doesn’t believe in internet distribution, so none of these videos are from an official source, although they are official videos. This means they may be taken down without notice for copyright violations, or have the audio scrubbed. Apologies in advance if that happens before you get to it.
The GazettE is a band that is near and dear to my heart. They’re part of a genre called Visual Kei, which is renowned as much for its aesthetics as its music; GazettE is tame by the standards of this genre. They got me through a lot of shit as a teenager, and if you know anything about what was happening in my life when I was 14-17, then you’ll understand why I have such an attachment to them. Picking just a handful of songs was difficult. (It doesn’t help that they celebrated their 13th anniversary in March of this year – that’s a lot of music to pick from!)
GazettE – Hyena
This is a classic GazettE song. I didn’t like this so much at first, but it grew on me slowly but surely. I think it’s better live, but for the sake of consistency, this is the video.
GazettE – Taion
Honestly, I had forgotten that this song had a PV. (Promotional Video – the Jmusic term for MV or Music Video) The first time I heard this song, it was this performance from GazettE’s Decomposition Beauty tour, and even though I had no idea what the song was about, I cried very, very hard about it. (I later learned it’s about a pretty infamous murder case in Japan, which made it worse. I won’t inform you of which one because it is awful and it changes you as a person to read about it.) Just seeing how hard it was for Ruki, the lead vocalist, to get through the song (he skips a good portion of the lyrics and you can hear his voice cracking and him catching his breath several times and staring at the ceiling trying not to cry) made me very emotional.
GazettE – Chizuru
There’s something about this song that’s very haunting that I like very much.
Gazette – The Invisible Wall
This may very well be the best GazettE song of all time. I listened to this A LOT when it was released. It’s one that doesn’t get old.
Gazette – Filth in the Beauty
This is another ubiquitous GazettE song. It’s really hard to make a best-of list for this group and not include this song. I won’t tell you what it’s about, because that may ruin the song for you, but it’s one of my favorites. (Fun story, a friend of mine was also really into Jrock at the same time as me, and I would sometimes talk about this song and refer to it just as “Filth,” which confused the hell out of her because her favorite group had their own song that was called Filth and she always thought I was talking about that one, even though I didn’t listen to that group.)
GazettE – Guren
This is another of my favorite songs. It’s just such a pretty song and so sad. The song itself is about miscarriage, and the video is so striking when taken in that context – red, in Japanese culture, being the color of life and white the color of death. So the child in the red room represents the fetus in the womb, and as she paints the room white, it’s a visual metaphor for the loss of the pregnancy. (Gazette has songs about a lot of heavy stuff.)
GazettE – Silly God Disco
I’ll leave the video portion of this post with something much more upbeat. This is the GazettE song to listen to to forget about all of their other songs for a spell. It’s just so weird and so not like the rest of their music at all that it is worth mentioning. (I also very distinctly remember the entire female fanbase being painfully jealous of the girl in this video for her being fed by the entire band.)
Other GazettE songs of note: Toguro, a song I very highly recommend listening to with headphones in – it’s got a fantastic spatial 3D audio thing happening; $OCIAL RIOT MACHINE$, this link is to the recorded version, which just makes me laugh SO HARD – follow this link for the live version which is a little less dramatic; Sugar Pain, I’m pretty much including this just because the opening guitar riff (performed by Aoi, the dark-haired guitarist in all of these videos and my fave) is fuckin’ jaw dropping; Nakigahara, just another beautiful, haunting song that is absolutely worth all seven minutes; Anata No Tame No Kono Inochi, there was a time that I knew every single word to this song, which has since passed, but the amount of it that I remember is impressive; Reila, another disgustingly pretty ballad; Shiver, a fantastic song which a lot of the fandom got really, really upset about – many accused GazettE of selling out because this song was used as the intro for an anime called Black Butler (available on Netflix); Inside Beast, their newest PV, which is a little (a lot) crazy and actually from their official page; Before I Decay, I seem to remember this release being popular, but this is standard GazettE material, hard and fast but still melodic; Distress and Coma, another one of my personal favorites that will never, ever get old; Mayakashi, this song sounds like falling in love; Hana Kotoba, and this one sounds like coming home
Again, all of these are in a playlist here, including the live versions I linked. This playlist is closer to 2 hours long – but several of the songs top 5 minutes.
And there you have it, I guess. This is the music that got me made fun of in high school. This is the music that helped me not give a shit about being made fun of. This is the music that helped me become who I am now. This is the music that I will always have a love for.