The Return

I'm returning to blogging because social media happened.

Yes, four years after my last entry, I am resolving to come back to writing on this blog because social media. Since 2010, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the gang exploded in popularity, and along with this development, the shrinkage of everyone's attention span. No one seems to appreciate long-form content anymore. Everything is limited to a few characters as dictated by some program algorithm. On the other hand, people who tend to ramble in their writings (me included) are being threatened of not having an audience because no one reads long articles. It's all about attention-grabbing content these days. Get your readers hook, line, and sinker on the first paragraph, because their attention would be somewhere else by the second. So many websites have adapted a writing style of lists and short paragraphs to make sure their readers don't wander and click on the x icon or swipe down to close the page.

This presents a chicken-or-egg conundrum - which came first, short attention spans or short content? Did one cause the other? Did short content formats cause people to be over anything that requires them to sit down and read for five minutes? Or did people just get used to snippets of information since that's all they have access to every day?

Anyway, as someone who handles both content and social media in the office, I feel the need to write longer for fear that whatever talent I have will continue to deteriorate. With the prevalence of text message spelling and nonsensical trending topics, there is a need to continue writing without restricting the use of vowels and thinking of things other than what North West's sibling will be called or whether those two girls in a viral video are really pabebe, posers, or just downright scary.

So, what has happened since my last entry? I moved to two other jobs, David Bisbal (the subject of my last entry) has had another dud studio album, and I'm now back to what I love doing most - writing. Teaching English to Koreans was fine, but not something I would want to do for the rest of my life. I have met great people, reunited with old ones, and still trying to get the most out of life by doing a lot of sedentary activities like watching foreign film, television series marathons, and reading more.

Speaking of reading, I am resolved to read more, or at least spend as much time reading as watching movies or television shows. I have become more convinced that reading more does improve my writing. I remember this local author claiming that he's not much of a reader, which I thought explains the quality of his work.

Anyway, on with the show.      

Sin mirar atras in Eight Points

Artist: David Bisbal
Released: 20 October, 2009
Genre: Latin pop, pop rock
Three tracks: Mi princesa, El ruido, Al Andaluz
In one sentence: A letdown after the promising Premonicion

There are some albums that require you to listen to them dozens of times before you acquire a taste for them. There are also albums that get old because you've listened to them too may times. Then there's David Bisbal's Sin mirar atras, an unfortunate waste of talent of the reality show success story.
1) The sound of Bisbal has not seemed to mature despite four studio albums (three Spanish ones and one repackaged album which contained previously released tracks from the first two with three English songs thrown in) and two live concert albums. The maturity of Bisbal's material that was beginning to be heard in the third album, Premonicion, has been erased. The sound of this album is no different from his sophomore effort, Buleria, which had more radio-friendly tracks.

2) I felt Bisbal's third album Premonicion was a step in the right direction, with a good mix of fast songs and ballads. The ballads were executed beautifully, and the fast songs, though still bears a healthy dose of cheesiness, displayed the strength of his voice.

3) I really wanted to like the album, as I want Bisbal to continue selling records and keep the Spanish music industry afloat. I am aware that it might be the type of album that would require multiple listens before it grows on you, but alas, it has been months since I downloaded the album and I still find a lot of tracks boring.

4) The first half of the album is really weak. In my repeat listens, I usually found myself looking forward to Al Andalus, the 7th track, which meant I had to go through six songs lest I hit on fast forward, which I almost always did. After the 1st track, the upbeat, first single Esclavo de sus besos, the album suffers a lull, as the songs coming one after another sound alike. Even the album's title track is ho-hum.

5) Things start picking up, as mentioned, in track number 7, the flamenco-tinged Al Andalus, followed by Cuando hacemos el amor, which more or less holds the momentum. In the next track, Bisbal's vocals finally soar in El ruido, a song penned by another Operacion Triunfo alumna, Vega.

6) The next track is the latest single of the album, 24 horas. The '60s feel of the song is a bit weird for me. Not as ghastly as the songs in the first half of the album, though .

7) After another cannon fodder track comes the second single to be released in the album, Mi princesa, a very beautiful song with the sweetest lyrics. I don't know why, but I kind of noticed some weird phrasing/breathing bits by Bisbal in some portions of the song. Anyway, it should have been the last track of the song, just to ensure that the album leaves a good taste in the mouth (or some good notes in the ear).

8) But no! There is a bonus track, Sufriras, a duet with British singer Pixie Lott. I do not really know what to feel about the song. It sounds like a song being played in a really cheesy Eastern European discotheque. What the heck were the record's producers thinking of when they included this bonus track? Couldn't they have let Bisbal work with David Guetta? Or one of 'em Dutch DJs? Totally unnecessary waste of 3 and a half minutes of the listener's time.

This so-so effort led me to the conclusion David Bisbal's best album is still his third, Premonicion. Two or, at my most generous, four songs may qualify as tracks to be included in a David Bisbal Greatest Hits compilation in the future. The more interesting tracks are few and clumped together in the middle. Sin mirar atras is NOT one of those albums you would really like to listen to over and over again. It doesn't even reach a point of some songs sounding old fast. Some of them are just plain boring no matter how many times you've listened to them.

Final verdict: The guy is infintely talented, no doubt. What he needs is a good album producer.
My rating: Obsessed / Love / Hooked / Like / Ambivalent / Irritated / Hate / Avoid at All Cost

Background on the singer:
David Bisbal, known for his curly locks and powerful belting voice, started as a contestant in the first edition of Spain's Operacion Triunfo, Endemol's version of the Pop Idol franchise. He eventually became the runner-up of the competition, and went on to sell a million copies of his debut album, Corazon Latino, making everyone ask who the hell Rosa Lopez is (the winner of the aforementioned competition). He became the latest member of a select group of Spanish male singers (Serrat, Sabina, Miguel Bose, the father and son Iglesias and Alejandro Sanz to name almost all of them) who have established a career across the Atlantic. His latest album, Sin mirar atras, is, as of press time, holds the 10th spot in the Spanish album sales charts, having been there for 47 weeks now. He has, so far, sold over 4.5 million copies of his seven albums worldwide.

(I Feel Like Such a) WHORE!

(That was so liberating!)

When I got into blogging like eight years ago, the thing to do to generate traffic in your blog was to blog hop. That'd mean go to Blogger or Typepad, look who just got something published, click on the link, read through the blog, decide whether you liked the blog or not, leave a message on the blog and hope and pray that the owner of the blog you visited will return the favor.

Well, apparently, times have changed. My old blog which should have contained so many entries already got into a lost-in-translation accident in a web cafe with only a Korean operating system. I accidentally deleted the whole thing. Fast forward to this current blog, which is only a few years old and is rarely updated. I used to have really good blogs in my blog roll, as in blogs that you'd really spend a lot of time reading and lose track of time eventually. So, I am currently re-building my blog roll and my blogging mojo (years in the making).

Facebook has this blog community and I joined it because I want to lurk around good reads and hopefully get the people who write these blogs I frequent come visit my blog too (long shot, but hey). The latter thought is really not as important as the former one, knowing that the visitor to my blog may be bored because of the lack of updates. So I joined Networked Blogs with that mindset. after going through the registration and all, I discovered that there is a discussion board filled with people who start topic threads about their blogs, promoting them and promising to return the favor of following the blog of someone who has followed them.

I was uneasy with the idea from the start, knowing that the whole arrangement can be tricky in a number of circumstances. For example, what if somebody is following you and is expecting you to return the favor, with the other person having a blog that's entirely an SEO marketing tool? Or a blog full of religious entries? As much as I fully respect the reasons behind having an SEO blog (I am a ghost writer for SEO articles, for goodness sakes) and I feel it is any one's right to use a blog to spread religious platforms, I am not really comfortable with following them.

I follow blogs because I actually enjoy reading them. Through the whole follow-my-blog-and-I'll-follow yours process, I also felt like I was cheating some people who were expecting me to follow their blogs when I didn't really appreciate the content of theirs. Honestly, it doesn't take much to make me want to read your blog, just as long as I don't see misplaced widgets and fonts of different sizes and colors (I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive when reading) and the content doesn't read like it was copied and pasted from something I can read in Ezinearticles. If I had the urge to read an informative article about how to lose weight with the help of a miracle drug or how to monetize a blog, then I would go read e-How or Ezine, thank you. Other than that, there is a 95% chance I'll read (and eventually be compelled to follow) your blog. The chances of that reaching a 100% will happen if you keep a blog on books, movies, pop culture or current events.

Anyway, going back to that FB blog community, I got to read some blogs that were in those discussion groups and have actually followed some of them. I also felt like I did some subtle (actually, obvious) whoring of my humble blog, just to get into the "I'll follow you if you'll follow me" bandwagon. I have to say I felt a bit icky afterwards. My only consolation(s) is (are) that I did find some blogs that are really fun to read in these discussion threads, and I feel they are really worthy of a wider readership.

So I think I'll go ahead and click on some more of those threads and those blogs, but I won't be doing the vice-versa-following deals anymore. It just doesn't feel right for me. No judgement here; some people have to do what they feel they need to do. As for me, I feel the need to write more.