In a world where video streaming has become all the rage, it may come as a surprise to some that video, in fact, did not kill the radio star. Quite the contrary actually! With our work culture taking a 180-spin to have us all working from home, many are now catching up on the luxury of listening to their favourite tunes out loud while clacking away on their keyboards.
If anything, the confined nature of the last year has allowed us to not just enjoy our favourite music but also catch up with new releases. Some have even taken the opportunity to broaden their auditory worldview by giving podcasts and audiobooks a shot.
And while there are a great many things to listen to out there, some have captured our hearts, and our ears, more than others. Here’s what peaked in February!
Downfalls High by Machine Gun Kelly
For just about anyone who is a fan of Michael Jackson’s work (that’s everyone, right?), his extended music videos were an indulgent experience. Featuring full narratives building up to a musical number for its climax, those videos were no simple feat, often boasting the directorial talents of Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and even the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb!
And while the art of such endeavours may have died off with Jackson, many a modern-day artist still venture that path. And Machine Gun Kelly may have just left his mark on the artform with Downfalls High.
Following a teenage romance, the short film tells the story of an outsider who finds love in a popular high schooler. The film stars relative newcomer Chase Hudson and The Handmaid’s Tale’s Sydney Sweeney, along with Machine Gun Kelly himself (credited by his real name, Colson Baker), and the absolute drumming legend Travis Barker of Blink-182 fame.
Downfalls High is also co-directed by Machine Gun Kelly, along with his Sublime collaborator Mod Sun.
Not All That Glitters Is Gold by Masia One ft. General Ling
Greater than anything else is the power music has in expressing ideas and motivating change. A good song can do a lot more than just bringing people to a dance floor to turn the beat around – sometimes it can also inspire its listeners to make a difference and fight for a cause. And it’s all that much better if it’s a good piece of music.
Having experienced sexual assault during the Australian leg of her tour, Masia One took to her music to impart a message that has only become increasingly necessitated in these times. As stated by Nusantara Records, “The single proclaims a poignant message, speaking out against gender-based violence and sharing a real life experience addressing a sexual assault that happened while on tour in Australia.”
While the song was released in 2020, it has gained additional attention recently due to its subject matter and the importance of its message. You can also check out the live rendition of this song performed for AwareFest 2020, opening the panel “#MeToo in Asia”.
Timeframe by Iman Fandi
While most would have you believe that talent is not genetic, it would be hard to accept that given the track record of local football icon Fandi Ahmad’s and model Wendy Jacobs’ family. In addition to their ball-kicking sons, is daughter Iman Fandi who has journeyed from model to singer with Timeframe.
Written by Iman and produced by Flightsch and the Grammy-winning John Hanes, the song seems to be a tad by the numbers, but is sure to please the audience of its genre. If nothing else, it promises to leave an indelible mark on the progress track that local music has made in recent years.
Saga by AWARE
In a relatively quiet island-city like Singapore, very rarely do we come across community-shaking incidents, let alone any which could unironically be referred to as a “saga.” Unfortunately, things were not very quiet for the members of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) in 2009.
Saga follows, in intricate detail, the attempted coup of the secular, volunteer-run organisation by a collective under the guidance of senior lawyer Dr Thio Su Mien, and supported by the Anglican Church of Our Saviour’s pastor Derek Hong.
Expertly and engagingly narrated by acclaimed former journalist Bharati Jagdish, this 12-episode series is the epitome of audio documentaries and the zenith of potential for podcasts.
Valentine’s Day in Hell by Audio Up
If the idea of a horror-comedy didn’t already make you ponder the nature of the mixed genres, imagine one that is also a musical podcast, and touting itself as a Valentine’s Day special, no less.
The sequel to October’s Halloween in Hell, which featured the music of Machine Gun Kelly (that guy seems to be doing a lot), Valentine’s Day in Hell is a four-part podcast that can be heard on Spotify.
Aping a reality show gone wild, the series follows a group of artists as they venture into the depths of hell to rescue a fictional version of singer Jxdn, who has lost his soul to the devil. The premise alone promises a wild and wacky fun ride, while also fronting music by the artists involved.
Rules of Justice by Sarah Noffke and Michael Anderle
Delving into the classic nature of narrated fantasy, the Rules of Justice explores the ideologies of good and evil, and their unending nature.
Realising that the crushing of evil only spreads its influence instead of ending it, the Dragon Elite are forced to protect the demon dragons in their quest to prevent the spread of evil. Sophia Beaufont has to come to terms with the truth that good cannot exist without evil, and that fear stokes irrationality even among the wisest of men.
Rules of Justice is available on Audible, and can be sampled for free before you decide to commit to a subscription.
KG: A to Z: An Uncensored Encyclopedia of Life, Basketball, and Everything in Between by Kevin Garnett
Bringing sports to the world of audiobooks, legendary Minnesota Timberwolves basketballer Kevin Garnett delivers his memoir in an unfiltered take on his life celebrating his upcoming induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame!
One of the most dominant players in his time on the court, Garnett recounts the adversity of his upbringing, detailing the arduous journey he’s taken. Expect a no-holds-barred take on everything from basketball and family, to racism and music.
KG: A to Z can be found on Audiobooks for US$23.99 (or about S$34), or can listened to for free with a 30-day trial.