In the xkcd post from yesterday Munroe made a joke about driving to Katamari Damacy. I didn’t know what that was (well, I figured it was a video game, of course). It turns out to be a puzzle type game for PS2. Since we have a Wii, I’ll never get to play it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the groovy soundtrack.
The soundtrack to this game incorporates real, interesting music instead of an 8-bit-sounding theme (it won awards back in 2004). And it is really wild and fun.
I’m focusing on the first two tracks, because there’s just too much to deal with here, but the whole things is trippy and interesting (and most songs are over 3 minutes).
“Nanana Katamari” is the opening song. It’s upbeat and bouncy, with a simple Nanana vocal line (with some mild beatboxing in between). It introduced the melody that runs throughout the disc (in various permutations). After the first few lines, an 8-bit synth line comes in, making it seem like it’s a typical video game soundtrack. But this is just the intro–and it lasts for just under 90 seconds. But when “Katamari on the Rock” opens, with some weird glitchy sounds and drums, you have no idea what you’re in for. Soon, the music turns The music is jazzy and boppy with a kind of Esquivelish “wha??” feeling. There’s singing, there’s big flourishes and little comments (yea!) and it just sounds fantastic. I can’t even imagine how this works in the game.
“The Moon and the Prince” is also glitchy sounding, but with some fun spoken (Japanese?) words and a fun beat. There’s also tracks called “Katamari Mambo” and “Last Samba” showing a vast diversity in musical styles. And, this being a (Japanese) video game, there’s also some really weird things like the 3 minute “You Are Smart” which is just a synthetic robot saying the title words over and over on top of an electronic riff. Or “Katamari March Damacy” which sounds like a Wendy Carlos synth song with electronic voices. Or “Wanda Wanda” which is mostly people saying Wandubadubaduba over and over with some really weird and cool synth music accompanying it. And yet “A Crimson Rose and a Gin Tonic” opens with the drums of a classic jazz song (the one that Woody Allen uses all the time) and even seems to reference “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” The Japanese female singer could be singing in Japanese or just scatting, but it doesn’t matter because it sounds great.
There’s even a pretty love song (sung in English) called “Que Sera Sera (not that song, no). I saw someone on a forum say that he wanted to play it at his upcoming wedding (wonder how that worked out). It opens with a pretty piano melody and some nonsense syllables before the lyrics come in:
I know you love me
I wanna wad you up into my life
Let’s roll up to be a single star in the sky
I hear you calling me
I wanna wad you up into my life
Let’s lump up to make a single star in the sky
To you, to you
The fact that on different tracks, the singers sing in both Japanese and highly accented English adds an incredible quirkiness to the mix. As does “Cherry Blossom Color Season” which is sung by children. The penultimate song “Katamari Love” song is probably a cheesy pop metal song but since it’s sung in Japanese (which means I don’t have to know what the lyrics are) and has a total ROCK STAR feel, I love it.
It’s a fascinating soundtrack, one that was not intended to be listened to with out the game (I assume) and yet one which works quite well on its own. And opens up some interesting cultural mash ups.
[READ: February 11, 2015] 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth
This weekend is all about old(ish) books of things compiled from the internet which you can already find for free online.
I love The Oatmeal. Or, as I found out when reading this book, I love the Oatmeal when people send me their favorite jokes. Because The Oatmeal has some simply outstanding jokes, but there are a lot of jokes in this book that I thought were just okay–not as hilarious as his best stuff. Which makes me a judgmental jerk, and I acknowledge that. But the titular joke about punching dolphins is so poor compared to the rest that aside from the shock value, I can’t imagine why it would be chosen for the title.
The best The Oatmeal jokes are linguistic and/or angry. But there is a whole side category of surprising informative cartoons about various subjects: beer, coffee, cheese (disgusting and true) and many other subjects.
If you’ve seen any The Oatmeal jokes, you get the gist–absurdly hilarious simple line drawings of people (most without pupils) engage each other on various topics. Like Why it’s better to pretend you don’t know anything about computers. And each one of these is absolutely true. (The joke about rabbit pee is extraneous and hilarious).
There’s also some of the more vulgar ones like How to Pee Like a Champ, which is quite funny and How to Suck at Facebook (which is very funny) or 8 Ways to Improve your Home using a Human Corpse (which isn’t funny at all).
Then there’s some odd ones that seem like maybe they could have been something but really aren’t like the 9 Types of Crappy Handshakes (with weird alien dudes) or the 7 types of Crappy Airline Passengers. Both of these are funny because they are true but they’re not much more than things that Seinfeld talked about on his show. Or 7 Reasons to Keep your Tyrannosaurus off Crack Cocaine which is just odd.
But then you get some really fabulous ones like Why Nikola Tesla is the Most Awesome Geek Who Ever Lived or 17 Things Worth Knowing about your cat which are funny and true and go beyond things that people generally know. Of course, as I said, my favorites are the grammar ones–Ten words you need to stop misspelling and How to Use a Semicolon are practical, useful and full of insanely funny examples.
So, this book was largely satisfying, but I think I will continue to be fed The Oatmeal by my more discerning friends. Having said that, you know I backed their Kickstarter campaign for Exploding Kittens!