Who doesn’t like a good cover of Super Mario Bros. music? We’ve seen this with just about every sort of instrument imaginable– using a piano, using the guitar, using a harmonica and even using wine glasses.
So what sort of instrument can produce the best cover? As it turns out, the most fitting instrument may be something we didn’t expect at all. A traditional Chinese instrument called the sheng may be our top contender.
You may be unfamiliar with the strange device, but it has actually been around since 1100BC. The sheng is a mouth organ made of wood, metal, or a gourd with a blowpipe and at least 17 extending pipes made from bamboo or metal.
Although the sheng is used primarily to play Chinese classical music with other traditional Chinese instruments, there seems to be room for its beautiful sounds here in modern times.
In the video below, a Japanese student is seen doing a sheng cover of the Super Mario Bros. theme song as well as many of the songs and sound effects from the original game. We even get to hear as Mario accumulates coins.
Needless to say, this impressive cover is on its way to viral fame. Check it out for yourself.
Although Kina Grannis is often known as a YouTube personality, she had recorded and self-released two albums prior to the debut of her YouTube channel. Of course, we have to give credit to YouTube– it not only catapulted her into fame, it helped her land a contract with Interscope Records.
The Japanese American guitarist and singer-songwriter released the official music video to her song “Valentine” in 2010. It won the hearts of many and has gathered over 16 million views on YouTube so far. Clearly, it has turned into a holiday favorite.
Now, Grannis is giving fans another treat just in time for the romantic holiday. Just a few days ago, she released a beautiful a cappella version of “Valentine.” The song is only a few days old and it already has over 100,000 views.
Why create a new version of the beloved song?
“It’s Valentine’s week,” Grannis explains. “I always feel like I just need to go back and show a little love to Valentines because why not.”
Check out the a cappella version below. If you haven’t seen the original music video, be sure to check that out as well.
Two beautiful princesses, an adorable talking snowman, and a slew of catchy musical numbers that you find yourself humming unconsciously — the animated film Frozen has all the right ingredients for the perfect Disney movie. But in Korea, this particular film has a specific, older audience applauding on their feet.
Among the thousands of theater patrons who visited their local movie theaters to experience this Disney winter tale since its Korean release on Jan. 16, women in their 30s largely constituted the viewing audience in Korea. This particular age group made up 29 percent of the entire admitted audience, larger than any other demographic.
The film, now the highest-grossing animated feature ever in South Korea, has struck a chord with the older, female crowd. The two princesses, Elsa and Anna, don’t perpetuate the damsel-in-distress narrative — instead, they take the initiative to solve their problems and restore the kingdom on their own terms. Additionally, Kristoff’s character as the common man undercuts the “charming prince” archetype saturated in many Disney films; young girls viewing the film gain a more realistic and grounded idea of love.
But Frozen has left the audience with more than just a positive message; after the credits rolled, the soundtrack behind the film has left a lasting legacy. Covers of the chart-topper, “Let it Go”, originally sung by Idina Menzel, have taken over YouTube, but two in particular stand out.
Korea’s Sonnet Son, currently studying at Berklee School of Music in Boston, gives Idina Menzel a run for her money. Sonnet makes belting and sustaining high notes and musical phrases look like a piece of cake; and her passion for singing, so tangible through this video, will leave goose bumps all over. It is definitely apparent that Sonnet has a promising musical career in sight.
From a completely different music genre platform, 32-year-old Korean singer Park Hyun-bin makes his mark by transforming ‘Let it Go’ into a Korean trot-style pop song. Trot, also known as ppongjjak, is a genre of music that is associated with an older generation of Koreans, but it’s still leaving an impression today. Park’s enthusiastic and almost goofy demeanor accompanied with a very skilled and talented voice distinguishes him from the many covers that pervade the Internet.
Along with other Korean female singers, including Ailee, Lee-Hae-ri, and Lee Yu-bi, who have famously covered the song, Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’has given many Korean musicians a chance to showcase their voice, talent, and musical ability.
There are many reasons to love singer-songwriter and record producer Bruno Mars. Within these past few months alone, Mars has shown us a number of impressive achievements. He recently won best pop vocal album for “Unorthodox Jukebox” at the 56th annual Grammy Awards. While accepting this award, Mars won our hearts over with a heart-felt dedication to this late mother.
Additionally, Mars was nominated for three more Grammys including record of the year, song of the year and best pop solo performance.
If his talent isn’t enough to win you over, maybe his humor will. Mars recently joined Ellen Degeneres to take part in one of her famous hidden-camera pranks. Mars had to say and do everything Ellen directed him to do through an earpiece.
The victim of this prank? A nurse who had to deal with the fussy singer’s sore throat. Aside from dealing with Mars’ ramblings about potato chips, the nurse also had to deal with a patient who refused to be touched. Mars, of course, was adorable as he hid his face to hide his laughter. Watch the full prank below.
After the prank, Mars joined Ellen for an interview and addressed criticism he had received from the New York Times. Apparently they did not think of him as a top star because of his lack of presence in tabloids and the fact that he doesn’t have a fragrance. Rather than let these comments get to him, Mars gave an inspirational response which made us all love him more.
That was by far the most disgusting thing I think I’ve heard. Not because it was taking a shot at me … but I was just thinking about aspiring young musicians who wanna do this … Any young aspiring musician out there if music is what you want to do, music is what you love, your passion, it doesn’t take a fragrance, it’s not about the tabloids, its about you putting in the work, practicing everyday… and hopefully one day you write a song the whole world wants to get down to.
And I promise you, one day you will have your moment to shine and you’re going to have a lot of people who are going to tell you can’t do it,” Bruno continued. “I promise you, if you sing and put your heart and soul into it, one day you will be sitting next to Ellen DeGeneres and talk about how you broke records and rocked the Super Bowl!
Frozen has captured the hearts of millions. In fact, this beloved Disney animated film is even spreading its popularity worldwide. For instance, over the weekend Frozen has become the highest-grossing animated feature ever in South Korea with over 6 million admissions. The film has grossed $44.17 million in South Korea so far.
Aside from the entertaining storyline and the quirky, lovable characters, Frozen has captured many hearts because of it’s music.
The voice actors of the film (Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana) all lend their singing talents to the catchy music throughout the animated feature.
As expected, YouTube has been swarmed with covers of Frozen songs. People have done everything they can to make their cover stand out. One man proposed to his girlfriend after a cheerful cover of “Love is an Open Door.” Another blew us away with a talented violin version of “Let it Go.”
And now there’s Sam Tsui’s Let It Go/Let Her Go (Frozen/Passenger MASHUP).
This 24-year-old Chinese American musician rose to fame thanks to youtube. Talented? You bet. While attending Yale, Tsui was part of The Duke’s Men of Yale, an all-male acappella group.
Bruno Mars recently won best pop vocal album for “Unorthodox Jukebox” at the 56th annual Grammy Awards. Additionally, Bruno Mars was nominated for three more Grammys including record of the year, song of the year and best pop solo performance.
Mars is clearly off to an amazing start for 2014, but his most recent achievement certainly takes the cake.
His much-anticipated Super Bowl performance alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers became a historic moment. The performance attracted 115.3 million viewers — the largest audience in Super Bowl history.
Prior to Bruno Mars, Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime performance held the record at 114 million. Beyonce’s performance last year had an audience of 110.8 million, but Bruno Mars was even able to beat Queen Bey.
This year’s Super Bowl game had an average viewing audience of 111.5 million viewers. Once again, this is the largest number in Super Bowl history.
“An old-fashioned charmer with old-fashioned talent, Mars is probably the most wholesome star in Top 40 pop right now,” LA Times writes. “Not to mention the one whose skill set most readily overlaps with that of the legends of yesteryear. He’s not afraid to sing about sex, but he’s also deeply unlikely to flash any skin — a reassuring prospect to NFL brass still haunted by a glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple 10 years ago.
Among the talented artists that performed at Audrey Magazine and KoreAm Journal‘s annual awards gala, Unforgettable, indie band Run River North definitely stood out.
This six-member band is a force to be reckoned with when they’re together and luckily, others are beginning to notice. Run River North was recently featured on Last Call With Carson Daily.
The band discusses how they came together, how they lost a competition to a yo yo player and even how fun playing music in the back of a Honda can be.
During the interview, the band pointed out that they are all children of immigrants and with that comes a certain expectation and responsibility. Many of us can relate to the pressure of repaying our parents for their sacrifices.
“This [life as a musicians] is a very interesting choice for our parents. Having that family background makes doing this music seem very challenging. Our parents grew up wanting us to have a stable American Dream life. And we’re doing this which hopefully will be that, but in a lot of those first couple of years, sometimes even your whole career, you wont know what success looks like so having to juggle our own hopes and aspirations along with trying to honor our parents rightly — that challenge is something that we face everyday.”
You probably know Jun Sung Ahn through his violin & dance cover of EXO’s hit song “Growl.” With nearly 300,000 views on his video, Jun Sung Ahn was thrown into viral popularity and found himself performing at events at like KCON and Kollaboration.
The young artist, who claims his specialties are violin, dance, film, video, photography, producing, editing and performing, seems ready to keep his popularity going.
A few days ago, the talented artist released a violin cover of “Let it go” from Disney’s popular animated film Frozen. Although its only been a few days, the cover has already generated nearly 150,000 views and for good reason!
Among the hundreds of “Let it go” covers, Jun Sung Ahn powerful and shiver-inducing version clearly stands out. As the video makes its way around social media, many are claiming that this is the best instrumental cover of the song.
Hear it for yourself and check out his violin & dance cover of EXO’s “Growl” below.
Nujabes was a Japanese hip hop producer and DJ. The name “Nujabes” is the reverse spelling of the DJ’s birth name, Jun Seba. Aside from owning Shibuya record stores, T Records and Guinness Records and founding Hydeout Production, Nujabes is most known for his blend of jazz with hip hop music.
Some of his more notable works include the “Luv(sic)’ hexalogy as well as his work in the anime Samurai Champloo.
In 2010, Nujabes died in a traffic accident leaving his many fans to grieve over the 36-year-old.
Of course, much of his work remains popular today. Recently, some students in Korea have been reaching viral popularity due to their impressive cover of Nujabes’ “Aquarian Dance.” The best part about all this? The students are 2nd graders.
Check out the talented students of an elementary school in Daegu, South Korea. For your reference, you can hear the original Nujabes version below.
There is nothing in life quite like family. Your parents are the source of your being, and it is family members who can offer support and comfort, unconditionally. But those same people can also cause stress and frustration to the point where you wish you were dead. And no matter how much they piss you off or cause you grief — like the umpteenth time they nag you about being single into your late 30s — there’s no escape from them, because they will always be family.
For the Hernandezes of Honolulu, there is something else that binds them: music. And there’s one fortunate son who’s made quite a name for himself doing just that: Peter Hernandez, better known as Bruno Mars. But now his four sisters — Jaime, Tiara, Tahiti and Presley — want to demonstrate just how deeply the musical talent runs in their brood. Together, they’re The Lylas, and their journey to hopefully becoming the next pop stars in the family is documented in a new non-scripted series that premiered on WEtv in early November, simply titled The Lylas.
Now, before you start to roll your eyes about another gaggle of girls from the same family having their lives captured on camera, this quartet of women had some of the same thoughts. “Before we signed up to do a reality show, we weren’t 100 percent behind it. There’s a stigma with reality shows,” says eldest sister Jaime. “Are people going to laugh at us? Is it going to flop? Is it going to do well? Are we going to take it seriously?”
Watching the first episode, you’ll recognize some of the tropes that characterize these types of shows. First off, the four daughters of Peter Hernandez, Sr., and Bernadette Bayot certainly all have the prerequisite telegenic looks. And there is plenty of bickering to go along with the alcohol consumption.
But tragedy would befall that would change their outlook on the reality show experience: their mother, also known as Bernie, died this past June of a brain aneurysm in the midst of taping. “We’re so grateful to have documented our last few special moments with our mother,” says Jaime, “that all of [the concerns of doing a reality show] are out the window.”
The series premieres with the sisters coping with their loss, and then flashes back in time as they prepare to move from Hawaii to Los Angeles to pursue their musical dreams, with their mother’s support. There are some chilling moments as you hear Bernie say, “I’m just a baby star-maker,” as well as her making references to life and death.
As a child, Bernie and her family emigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii in 1968. She, along with some of her siblings, grew up to be a performer, including a hula dancer, as part of Honolulu’s many shows. That is where she met Peter Hernandez, who is of Puerto Rican and Eastern European Jewish descent, who is also an entertainer.
“When [our father] met our mom, he taught her how to sing. My dad cannot sing at all,” says Jaime. “But he’s an amazing producer. He can arrange harmonies beautifully.”
One of the projects in Honolulu Peter started was a revue called the Love Notes. “My mom ran the girl group, and he ran the guy group,” says Jaime. “Shows [and our parents’ rehearsals] were a part of our lives. For us, that was like going to soccer practice.”
“Have you seen The Sound Of Music?,” Tahiti chimes in, the second youngest sister and a mother of two boys. “That’s what our family was like, minus the whole Nazi thing. [The Von Trapp family is] what we aspired to be.”
Talking to all four sisters at once over a conference call is a daunting experience. They have fun at this writer’s expense when asked for their ages (in their 20s and 30s is all they would reveal; Presley’s the youngest). They certainly gab like sisters, interrupting one another and finishing sentences. And soon enough, the barbs are flying as they all poke fun of each other, even while they reminisce about their mother.
“My mom could dance hula, she could boogie dance,” says Tahiti. “My mom was the best dancer. Yes, Jaime, better than you. Way better than you.”
With music such a huge factor in their lives, perhaps it was inevitable that the sisters would form their own girl group (the sixth sibling, Eric, is the drummer in Bruno’s band). The Lylas, which stands for “love you like a sister,” came about when a nonprofit charity organization that Jaime founded, called 4 Mama Earth, was going to put out a benefit record to raise money for an orphanage in the Philippines. The sisters wrote a song called “Headed Home.”
“It’s all about going back to your roots and never forgetting where you came from,” says Jamie. “It was going to be a ‘We Are The World’ type of song, and we had a bunch of [Filipino American] artists on the song. And I called the girls and was like, ‘We need to do this together. Let’s just do a little bridge or a hook on the song.’ So we did, and it was just magic in the studio. And then we were like, ‘let’s work on another song,’ and so we started writing together and recording and it just sort of happened like that.”
They’ve released one single thus far, “Come Back,” a song about realizing you’ve dumped the wrong man. While it may not speak directly to Jaime, a married mother of two, she says, “but as sisters, when one person goes through something, we all kind of go through it together. It might not apply to all of us at the same time, but it applies to us at some point in our lives. When you date one of us, you date all of us.”
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” adds Tahiti.
“Mostly it’s a curse,” Tiara quickly responds.
Being related to Bruno Mars, too, has both positives and negatives. “It’s difficult because a lot of people think, ‘Bruno’s their brother, so it’s just going to be so easy for them,’” says Presley. “Actually, it makes things a lot harder because we have a lot more barriers to break. We have to get out of being ‘Bruno’s sisters.’”
“It’s been helpful in that it’s gotten us in the door,” says Tahiti, “but it doesn’t take us anywhere, really. We’ve got to do that ourselves.”
They are already making an impression on people, especially through social media. It was their fans who started urging them via Twitter to do a television series. “I think they’ve seen the chemistry that me and my sisters have together,” says Tahiti. “And everyone after that petitioned, ‘please have a reality show; open the doors and let us into your guys’ world.’”
Of course, mixing family and business can be a volatile combination. When asked if they like working together as sisters, Tahiti jokes, “I got to go, my phone’s cutting out.”
But, ultimately, just like family, being in a group together “has its ups and downs,” says Jaime. “But if we weren’t sisters, I could see why girl groups break up. It’s not easy. Just because we’re sisters doesn’t mean egos aren’t involved. We do fight. But at the end of the day, we’re still sisters, and we have to get over it. It makes us closer.”
This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here.
Audrey Magazine is an award-winning national publication that covers the Asian experience from the perspective of Asian American women. Audrey covers the latest talent and trends in entertainment, fashion, beauty and lifestyle.