Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top 10 Songs: August 2017

I'm back again for the second post in this series to talk about the music that I've had on constant repeat this month! This month is kinda interesting, because I actually started listening to a ton of new stuff in the first couple weeks of the month and since then have ended up funneling that huge list down (subconsciously) into a smaller set of songs that I'm absolutely obsessed with. I've listened to several new songs by groups that I've come to really enjoy, and I can feel an obsession with a new group coming on, much like what happened with Got7 last month. 

However, I have to say right off the bat, I'm really sorry for the monotony of this post. The majority of the songs on here come from only 2 groups. Like I said in the last one, I want these to be really accurate representations of the music I listened to throughout the month, and although the list is pretty monotonous, these are genuinely the songs I couldn't stop listening to. I will have a brief paragraph at the end talking about some songs that didn't quite make the cut, as well as what I think I'm going to be listening to going forward (kinda a prediction for next month's list).

Last note before jumping into the list-- I'm still definitely listening to all the songs from last month. All of them are still pretty much on a constant loop, as I expect this month's songs to be. But these are the new ones that have stolen my heart. Also, I've (per usual) left the best song-- the one I've probably listened to the most this month-- is last. Save the best for last, right? And with that, let's jump into my Top 10 Songs of August 2017.

FXXK It by BigBang

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with BigBang. AKA- I either love or hate all of their songs. This one is the one that has most grabbed me. I also like We Like 2 Party and Bang Bang Bang, but this is the one that I've listened to more than any of their other songs. It (and We Like 2 Party) really stands out to me because it's very different from what I expect of BigBang. Not to generalize an entire group, but when you think of BigBang, the first songs that come to mind are their massive hits that sound like party jams for a nightclub or something. Also I know nothing about nightclubs... so take that with a grain of salt. But anyway, my point is that this is more laid back, and I really love their laid back songs. 

Dope by BTS

And now we've gotten to the first of the two groups I've been listening to all month. I haven't completely fallen for BTS yet, but I've really enjoyed all of their singles that I've listened to. I'm pretty sure I'll be stanning them by this time next month. Anyway, this is probably their most well-known song and while it's not my absolute favorite song by them, it's one that I really enjoy and have had on constant repeat all month. The lyrics to this song are also pretty... dope (sorry, had to!). It's pretty much just them getting a chance to brag about all the hard work that they've done to get to this point. It might come off as conceited to some people, but to me it comes off as a celebration of refusing to accept defeat, working hard to reach your dreams, and not being afraid to openly celebrate your achievements and be confident in yourself. 

Fire by BTS

It took me a little while to warm up to this song (I know, my puns are the worst), but at this point, I really enjoy it. It's one of BTS' louder & more abrasive songs, and I know it's one of the more polarizing ones, but I actually really like that about it. The one part of it that did immediately grab me (as repetitive as it is) is the chorus. As a massive pop punk fan, aggressive, less-polished-sounding group vocals are something that I really love, so the chorus immediately spoke to me. 

Blood Sweat & Tears by BTS

I know there are a couple BTS MVs that have more views than Blood, Sweat, & Tears (which is my main judge of popularity), but this is the one that I always view as their most popular song for some reason. The music video is definitely (of the ones I've seen) the most conceptual and artsy of their MVs. Either way, this is definitely one of my favorites by them. Jimin has a really unique voice, and I love the way that it's highlighted on this song, especially with all of the really airy vocals throughout. The airy vocals are beautiful from all of them, but it especially works for Jimin. With most songs, there's one part that really stands out as the best part of the song and the part that I'm always waiting for as I listen, but with this one... that's the entire song. The music video is also super visually stunning. 

Danger by BTS

So far, this is probably my favorite BTS song. Either this one or Blood Sweat & Tears. I'm pretty torn, but those are definitely the top 2. The multiple sections of the verse are all super interesting and catchy. Combined with the really awesome rap verses, this is by far one of the coolest and most musically interesting BTS songs for me. It was the first BTS song that really grabbed me and made me curious to hear more. Something about the chorus just really clicks for me. I should also note that over the last couple days I've been listening to Not Today on constant repeat, but since that's a fairly recent addition to my playlist, I decided to hold off on including it on here. It'll probably make an appearance next month. 

Home Run by Got7

And now, we've gotten to the other major group on the list, AKA the same group that dominated last month's list, Got7. Last month was when I first began to fall in love with them, and I've gotten to the point of obsession. Their music, across the board, is fantastic. They're super talented. And all seven of them are absolutely precious and endearing in their own unique ways and I absolutely love them. Anyway, getting to the song, Home Run was one that was on my radar before this month, but it wasn't until August that I actually began to appreciate it. I re-watched the TYDN dance practice and that was what really sold me on the song. It's just super adorable and it fits them and their overall vibe pretty perfectly. I had it on repeat constantly.

Who's That by Got7

I'm still in the process of making my way through the entirety of Got7's music (not a fan of the quality when downloading straight from YouTube, but my bank account doesn't appreciate constant iTunes purchases), and this month I found myself listening almost exclusively to their most recent EP, Flight Log: Arrival, and last year's full length album, Flight Log: Turbulence. And apart from Hard Carry (mentioned in last month's post), this is probably my favorite song on their full album. That kinda bums me out given that those are the only 2 songs that none of the guys had a hand in producing, but the chorus of Who's That is JUST. SO. CATCHY. Seriously, the second I heard it, I immediately was like "oh. That. That's good." It's got such a cool, chill vibe but it's also just such a jam at the same time. 

Q by Got7

If there's one EP by Got7 that I've completely fallen in love with, it's their most recent one, Flight Log: Arrival. I really enjoy all 7 songs on the EP, but apart from the obvious stand-out (Never Ever), there are a couple others that I've had on constant repeat. Q is probably the one I've listened to the most-- a bit last month, and almost constantly in August. The actual recording is fantastic, but so are the live performances. For some reason, they just cannot control their giggles when performing Q, and they've also made the decision to make Mario (as in the video game) sound effects during parts of the song. It's adorable, on top of the adorableness of the song. It's just got such a cool, chill vibe and their vocals are fantastic. Especially those Jinyoung high notes, which are somehow even better live. Because Jinyoung is perfect. 

Out by Got7

This is another Got7 song where there's one specific part that is just insanely catchy. The pre-chorus bit that JB has after Jackson's rapping immediately grabbed me upon first listen and I absolutely loved it. It happens a couple more times throughout the song and it's one of those sections that I get really hype for as I listen. But the rest of the song is also so much fun. You can tell immediately that it's a song that Jackson wrote. It's just stylistically so Jackson. It was clearly written specifically to highlight his gravelly rap style, and that's exactly what it does. It's one of those songs where you just want to crank up the volume and jam to it. It's so loud, fun, and in-your-face. AKA the auditory embodiment of Jackson Wang. It's so great. 

Tomorrow, Today by JJ Project

Here it is, the MVP of summer releases: Tomorrow Today. I mentioned in the last post that, given that this was released on literally the last day of July, I'd be holding off mentioning the EP until August. And lo and behold, here it is. The entire Verse 2 EP is fantastic and it's been on constant repeat, but this is the clear stand-out. Jinyoung and JB are arguably the two best songwriters of Got7, and they wrote/co-wrote every song on this EP, which is especially clear with Tomorrow, Today. It's not often that I love KPop lyrics just as much as the music, but I almost love the lyrics more because I can relate so much. Seriously, it's all about having to make huge life choices in your 20s and not really knowing what you want to do with your life and if that doesn't hit home with every 20-something, idk what does. The music is fantastic-- so easy to blast and jam to, but also really chill and pretty. It's just across the board really fantastic. The music video is also really beautiful and aesthetic, and the choreo in the live performances is both relaxing and somehow super satisfying. Seriously, everything about this song is beautiful and I had it on constant repeat the entire month and plan to continue blasting it constantly for many more months to come. Also quick shout out to On&On, which is probably my second favorite song on the EP. But like I said, they're all fantastic.

So, that's my list of my top 10 songs of August 2017! Like I said at the beginning of the post, apologies for the redundancy of the artists, but these are the songs I've legitimately had on constant repeat! We're only a few days into September, but I'm pretty sure that September will have much more variety, given a lot of new music being released soon! Either way, I'm really excited to see what I end up listening to for the next month!

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Reading Quest TBR & Updates

FYI, before jumping into the post, this post goes alongside my TBR in video form, which is embedded below. However, given that my TBR is subject to change (and I need a place to keep track of my point totals and how far I've gotten into my TBR), I'm making this post to keep track of everything in a single place.

If you haven't heard of The Reading Quest, here's the link to the original post over on Read at Midnight, with all of the challenges, rules, etc: Reading Quest Sign Up.

Brief summary, for those of you who didn't read that post: Each person participating chooses a character (to start out as) between the 4 listed above. Each of those characters has specific challenges that take up one side of The Quest Board. Your goal is to travel around the outside of the board, completing the challenges for as many characters as possible, while also completing optional side quests. But, you have to fully complete a character's path before starting a different character's path. There are several more specific rules, but those are the basics. Like I said, check the original posts for more of the details.

Below is the quest board. Predictably, I'm going to be beginning as a Mage (and then moving clockwise from there). I'm sure that I'm not going to get around the entire board and complete all of the challenges, but I AM going to create a TBR with options for each and every challenge, which will be updated as I continue along. At the very least, I'm hoping to fully complete the Mage path before the end of the quest.

Now that all the explanatory stuff is out of the way, let's go through my TBR, challenge by challenge. 


A Book With a One Word Title
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors (if not my favorite), and this is one of his adult novels that I have yet to read. It's also the one I'm most intrigued by, since the last standalone I read by him (Warbreaker) was my favorite book of last year. Super hyped for this one. 

A Book That Contains Magic
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A few months back, I announced a series (called YA Bandwagoning) on my YouTube channel where I was planning on reading popular YA books and doing an "as I read" style of video for them. That was like... March/April, and I still haven't done a single video in that series or read a single book on that list. So I'm using these challenges to help me actually get to those books. This is the one I'm probably most excited about on that list, so I'll probably try to get to it pretty quickly. 

A Book Based on Mythology
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Look, I know re-reads aren't supposed to count (if I can't actually get points for this, so be it), but the last time I read this was 7th grade. I don't remember much about it at all. Plus, it's the only book I have based on mythology, and I never finished the series (and want to finish the series), so here we are. I've been meaning to get to Percy Jackson, so I'm guessing this is the best opportunity. 

A Book Set in a Different World
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Like with Six of Crows, this is for my YA Bandwagoning series. I've been meaning to read this for literally 3 years. I've had the book for almost 2 years. And I still haven't read it. I'm super curious about it, given the really mixed opinions on the series overall, but I'm also kinda anxious about it because it's so loved by so many people and I have a sinking suspicion that I might be one of the people who doesn't like it. But we'll see. 

The First Book of a Series
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

I feel like a broken record here. This is for my YA Bandwagoning series. It's the first in a popular YA series. I actually think I might like this more than Throne of Glass. I feel like reviews of this series have been pretty solid across the board (but not outstanding), while reviews for Throne of Glass are all over the place (but generally on the decline as the series goes along). Anyway, I'm intrigued by this one and love when there are multiple plot threads following multiple characters throughout a novel. 


A Book With a Verb in Its Title
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season series is my favorite ongoing series, and (per usual) I have yet to read the most recent release. It's partially because I feel the need to re-read The Mime Order before jumping into book 3, but there's also a summary up on Samantha Shannon's website for The Mime Order, so I might just be able to read that too. IDK, we'll see what I end up doing when the time comes. I'm honestly pretty skeptical about making it to this point, given that I plan to do a few of the side quests before moving on to the Knight path. 

A Book With A Weapon On Its Cover
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

I recently re-organized my bookshelves so that an entire bookcase is devoted to my TBR (well-- most of a bookcase. Fortunately, my TBR isn't as big as it once was). I have that bookcase organized by the year that I got it, and this is on the "2014 or earlier" shelf. AKA the ones I've had for way too long without reading them. So this is one that I at least need to try to read, even if it's one that I don't end up liking. 

A Book With A Red Cover
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

This is another one that's on my "2014 or earlier" shelf. I discovered it on a book recommendation site after reading Ready Player One, and it's one that has a super intriguing premise, but I honestly just completely forget that I own it. It's been on my shelves so long that my eyes just glance over it when scanning for things to read. At the very least, this quest gives me a reminder that this book is still sticking around. 

A Book That Has a TV/Movie Adaptation
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

I feel like a broken record again here. This is on my "2014 or earlier" shelf, and it's one I've been meaning to read for quite a while. And I also forget that it's there because of how long it's been sitting there. So... we'll see. I don't think I'm going to get this far. But... optimism! Yay!

Taking a quick step away from the main quest into the side quests, since I'm much more likely to get to these than I am to the other 2 characters' paths...
Side Quests

Potions: A Book by 2 Authors
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

I tried listening to this during the BookTubeAThon, and I thought it was just alright. I'm hoping to start over by reading the physical book (while listening to the audiobook?) to hopefully immerse myself more in the world and make it a bit more interesting. This is one of the ones I'm a bit less likely to get to. But, it is a YA Bandwagoning book, so... maybe?

Multiplayer: Buddy Read a Book
Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

I'm gonna be real honest here-- I really don't plan to read this. I'll only get to this if it's my last available spot and I'm desperate. Which is extremely unlikely. Anyway, this is the Booksplosion book of the month, and it did sound kinda interesting. That being said, it's not a book I own, which motivates me a lot less. There are only 2 books on this TBR that fall under that category and they're both ones I don't really think I'm going to get to. But I figured I might as well still chuck them on here anyway. 

Time Warp: A Book Set in Either the Past or Future
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

I started the Gemma Doyle trilogy during the BookTubeAThon, and I've been meaning to jump back into it ever since, so this might actually be the first thing I read instead of starting the Mage path. I'm really excited about continuing this series-- the first book was really awesome. 

Grind: A Book With 500+ Pages
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Along the same lines, I'm also hoping to move on to The Sweet Far Thing. Rebel Angels also technically counts here (530ish pages, I think) but given that double-counting books doesn't count (ayyy, bad pun), I figured this was the better one to put here. It's real chunky-- 800+ pages. 

Open World: Read Whatever You Want
I'll probably end up doing this one, but given that I'm a mood reader, I'm keeping this open for now just so that I don't feel like I'm obligated to read whatever I put in this spot. 

Re-Spawn: A Book You Previously DNF'd
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Honestly, I've DNF'd a lot of books on this list, but this one just fit nicely here. I didn't do it because I wasn't interested in the book, but rather that I was in a BookTubeAThon time crunch and didn't have enough time to read the whole thing. I've been meaning to return to it for almost 2 years now, so I think it's finally time to. Plus it's another Bandwagoning YA book, so that's good. 

Expansion: Companion Novel or Short Story
The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

This is a companion to Elantris that's meant to be read after it, so I'll probably end up just reading The Emperor's Soul right after finishing Elantris. Like I said earlier in the post, I mean to get to a lot more of the side quests than the actual character paths. 

Mini-Game: Graphic Novel, Novella, or Poem Collection
Battle Royale Vol. 3 by Koushun Takami

I read the first 2 volumes of the manga adaptation of Battle Royale during the BookTubeAThon, so I want to keep on making my way through the series, so that's what I'll do with this. 

Animal Companion: References Animal in the Title

Honestly, I can't think of a single book on my TBR that fits this. Maybe I'm missing something (I didn't try too hard here) but I'm drawing a blank. I'll update this if I figure something, but... I'm doubtful.


A Fairy Tale Re-Telling
Geekerella by Ashley Poston

I got this back around the time it came out because I was in a reading slump and wanted to read it alongside Booksplosion to get myself back in a reading mood. Unfortunately, that clearly didn't end up happening. But, it still sounds super cute and it'll be a breath of fresh air, given all of the fantasy & darker stuff that I'm planning on reading. 

A Book Cover With Striking Typography
Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

If I'm planning on reading book 1 during the quest, might as well add book 2 to the TBR as well. At this point, I'm really kidding myself if I think I'm actually going to make it this far around the board, but oh well. 

A Book Translated From Another Language
Battle Royale Vol. 4 by Koushun Takami

I'll get to the side quest before making my way all the way here, hence the side quest getting Vol 3 & this getting Vol 4. Either way, I'm hoping to continue the series ASAP. 

A Banned Book
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I actually first got this for a class (my sophomore year of college. Another from the 2014 or earlier shelf) and I never ended up reading it because I just watched the movie instead. But it's always really intrigued me, so I've kept it on my shelf all this time, so I might as well throw it on my TBR, even if we've already established that I'm not making it to this point on the board. 


A Book Published by a Small Press
London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

There are probably a couple other books on my shelves that could fit here, but I figured I should throw in a contemporary to lighten up this super dark TBR. I mean, I've got A Clockwork Orange on here. I'm going to need something happy after that. 

A Book With Less Than 500 Ratings on Goodreads
Gamescape: Overworld

This is the other book on the TBR that I don't own. I'm definitely intrigued by it and it's one that I want to read, but since it's one I'd have to pick up from the library it's a bit lower priority. 

A Book Cover W/ A Partially Obscured Face
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Once again, I'm probably not going to be getting to this, but if I'm going to be putting the first 2 books on here, I might as well throw this one on too.

So, that's my TBR for The Reading Quest! Ultimately, I think that my genuine goal is to complete the entirety of the Mage path and a few side quests, but obviously it would be fantastic if I were able to get all the way around the board (don't get your hopes up!). Overall, I'm just really excited for this quest, and I hope that it helps me to get a lot of reading done and to hopefully crush a good chunk of my tbr shelf!

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Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, I'd really appreciate if you'd subscribe/follow so that I know you're enjoying what I'm posting! See you soon! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Top 10 Songs: July 2017

I've decided to try out something new on here, so we'll see how this goes. I'm hoping to make this a monthly thing, so expect to see more of these in the future!

Anyway, for the past couple months, I've been listening to music a lot more than I usually do. I've always really loved music (I mean, I have a literal degree in it...), but over the past couple years I've been listening to podcasts in the place of music when commuting and haven't really been discovering new music apart from recent releases from my favorite bands. But, in May I started to get into KPop. And ever since then, I've been devouring new songs & bands left and right and decided that I might as well document it. So today, I'm going to be listing my top 10 songs of July 2017-- the 10 songs that I've had on constant repeat all month long.

Given that I tend to get obsessed with musicians and songs for long periods of time, I figured monthly posts were the best way to go. I'm discovering new songs constantly, but the ones that stick always end up sticking for quite a while.

For this first post, a lot of the songs on here are ones that hooked me at first listen. Something about the music just spoke directly to me and refused to let me go. This is particularly true for the last song on this list, which I fell in love with quicker than I've ever fallen in love with a song before. Seriously, it might be the most auditorily satisfying song I've ever listened to. So, without any further rambling, here are my top 10 songs of July!

Imaginary Parties by Superfruit

I'm starting the list off with the only non-KPop song on it. I absolutely LOVE Superfruit, the musical duo made up of Scott and Mitch from Pentatonix. I've been a Pentatonix fan for years, and I've been watching Superfruit's YouTube channel from the very beginning. So, of course, when they announced that they would be releasing not one, but TWO EPs, I was excited and immediately pre-ordered them. And Future Friends Part 1 did not disappoint-- the whole thing is awesome. I've had Bad 4 Us on repeat since they released it in the fall, but the other song from the EP that really grabbed me was Imaginary Parties. It's got such a unique sound and the music video is so aesthetically pleasing that I just couldn't help but fall in love with it. Worth It (Perfect) is another favorite from the EP, but Imaginary Parties is the one I've listened to the most.

Her by Block B

A common theme you'll find among these K Pop songs is that I discovered them through "guess the song" YouTube quizzes. I heard the chorus of this song and immediately needed to know what it was, because it was so catchy. I subsequently discovered their song Yesterday the same way & fell in love with it as well, but Her is the one that I've had on constant repeat. These are the only two songs by Block B that I've listened to, but I need to check out more of their music. Their songs, especially Yesterday, give me a little bit of an early 2000s pop-rock vibe, which is one of my favorite genres. This is a group that I can definitely see myself falling in love with very soon. All that being said, I actually can't watch this music video, because a freaking OSTRICH randomly pops up in the first rap verse and my biggest fear is large birds so I had to actually turn the video off when that came up. Pls no.

Growl by Exo

In July, there was one single KPop group that I completely fell in love with. Apart from songs by that group, this is the #1 song I've fallen in love with this month. I could also easily see myself falling in love with Exo as a group as well (because I've now downloaded several of their songs), but I really need to listen to more of their music and watch some of their variety show appearances before that happens. But this song is possibly one of the catchiest songs I've ever heard-- not just the chorus, but the entire thing. It popped up on a "guess the song" quiz and I was obsessed. I immediately went and listened to it all the way through and loved it. I already had a bit of a soft spot for Exo because Xiumin guested on several episodes of Crime Scene, one of my favorite TV shows, so that probably helped them out too. Either way, this is such an amazing song and I'll probably continue listening to it on repeat for quite a while. 

Overdose by Exo

After Growl (I almost wrote Wolf there lol. Definitely not Wolf. Yikes. I still can't make up my mind about... that.), this is my favorite Exo song so far. Once again, the chorus is incredibly catchy, but the verses are also really interesting. I also have Call Me Baby, Monster, and Love Me Right (and have enjoyed others that I have yet to download), but Overdose is leading the pack (ayyy Wolf haha I'll stop now...). I've listened to my fair share of Exo songs at this point, and I've liked every single one. I'm guessing that by this time next month, I've begun stanning Exo, and I'm perfectly fine with that. No other group I've listened to casually has impressed me like they have. 

Devil by Super Junior

I've been familiar with Super Junior for a bit longer than most of these groups because A- 4 Super Junior members were on an episode of The Genius (my favorite TV show ever), and B- Heechul is like... everywhere. But, I finally listened to some of their music this month, and they're definitely impressing me. Not quite as much as Exo, but close. Devil is a pretty up-tempo song, but it also has this kinda chill vibe to it that I really enjoy. I wouldn't necessarily call it a "catchy" song, like I have with the others, but rather one that just really grabbed me. I definitely plan to listen to more of their music soon.

Mamacita by Super Junior

This is the first Super Junior song I listened to, and this one is super catchy. This is once again a "guess the song" quiz discovery and I immediately found it interesting. I've known for a while that brass instruments (or tech-produced faux brass instruments) are something that I always love hearing in songs, and that's one of many reasons that I really loved this one. I have yet to listen to any songs by Super Junior apart from these 2, but I'm definitely going to be listening to more in the very near future. 

Bad by Infinite

Forget "Songs of July." This is my song of the summer, 2017. Infinite is bae. I've refrained from using that phrase for months at this point, but I can't help myself. I fell head over heels in love for Infinite back in May and they've quickly become one of my favorite bands of all time. From their mega-talent, to their great choreo, to their hilariously precious and dorky personalities, I've gotten obsessed with them. And this song, Bad, is my favorite song by them. It's been on constant repeat since the beginning of May and I'm still completely in love with it. Their live performances of Bad are so epic, the line distribution is one of their best (still not super even, but Sunggyu has one of the most repetitive lines, so it's more even than it seems), and Woohyun's vocals on it are NO JOKE. UGH, this song is so good. 

The Got7 Section

So, before I jump into these last 4, I should probably talk about the fact that they're all by the same group, AKA the aforementioned group that I fell in love with in July-- GOT7! Honestly, I can't believe that I didn't start listening to them until July, because it feels like so much longer. But, here we are. Anyway, I'd seen their videos pop up constantly as recommended videos in the sidebar of other Infinite videos and for some reason, though there were other groups who would often pop up, they were the ones that intrigued me. I actually listened to a song or two back in June and liked them, but didn't quite fall in love. The last song on this list is the aforementioned "most auditorily satisfying song ever" and the song that made me actually fall in love with them in July.  

Note: I'm writing this on July 31st and JJ PROJECT COMEBACK YAY! But, since it just released today, I'm not including it here. It'll probably end up on my August list in some form or fashion.

Never Ever by Got7

Got7's most recent single! On first listen (in June), I thought it was alright but that was about it. Fast forward to July, when I was going through their music and finally listened to this one again (I was worried I might actually dislike it, given my 'meh' vibe the first time). But, this time, I really loved it. The rap lines in this one are especially interesting for me, with the unique inflections that they put on the lyrics. Plus, something about Yugyeom's voice on this one just works super well, as does Jinyoung's, so it's nice to see the lead vocalists shine more (IMO) than the main vocalists, for once. 

Hard Carry by Got7

What can I even say about this? It's just such a cool song. The MV is really awesome and the music is fantastic. Jackson's voice is at peak deep-raspy and it works so well. And don't even get me started on Mark's solo "Hard Carry, hey" near the end of the song. For a group of 7 absolutely precious humans who don't even have to try to be cute when doing cute concepts, this song has such a cool, epic vibe and they absolutely slay the cool concept. Also, Youngjae's high note tho. Also, can we get Jinyoung out of these water case things? lol

Just Right by Got7

This might possibly be the cutest song on the planet. The music video is adorable, and their various dance practices for the song are hilarious because they can't manage to be serious for more than 5 seconds. Like I said, they kill it when it comes to cute concepts. Especially Mark. Like... Stop Stop It (sorry, couldn't help myself with the pun...). The chorus of this song is incredibly catchy, bubbly, and fun. This is probably the song by them that's gotten the most replays this month, and I've watched this video and the other dance practice SO MANY TIMES and I'm still not sick of it (and probably won't ever be). Just Right is honestly just Got7 being completely in their wheelhouse, doing what they do best, and doing it to utter perfection.

If You Do by Got7

Guys. This is the song. THE SONG. The song that (IMO) is possibly the most auditorily satisfying song I've ever listened to. If you haven't heard this song before, do yourself a favor and give it a listen. Watch the actual music video, and then watch the dance practice below. Seriously, the DP is presh but the song is much less important in the video than the adorable chaos going on with these dorks dancing in their living room, with their puppy, in PJs & slippers. 

Anyway, this is the song that made me fall in love with Got7. Honestly, idk if this speaks to other people the same way it does to me, but I fell in love during the first verse. Like I said, it's less that it's catchy and more that it's so satisfying. Everything about it just works so perfectly. Jinyoung's part at the very beginning is beautiful, and JB's part in the chorus is honestly actual perfection. Also, in the real dance practice (as opposed to the silly one below), the stomping of their feet in perfect rhythm with the lyrics during JB's part of the chorus is 10x more satisfying than any "oddly satisfying" video compilation will ever be. I'm dead serious and completely obsessed. I don't like the spoken word parts, but I care so little about them that I just forget they're there. This song is just... perfect. TBH, it's pretty high up there in terms of my all-time favorite songs. It's so fantastic. Seriously, check it out if you haven't already listened to it. And if you have already seen it, enjoy the silly dance practice below, because it's the cutest.

OK, so those are the 10 songs. I did want to briefly mention one "honorable mention"-ish thing really quickly though. So, there's one last song that I considered putting on this list, but decided not to. And that is War of Hormone by BTS. I've only listened to a couple BTS songs, but I've enjoyed them so far. And the music of War of Hormone is far and away above many of the songs I've listened to this month, including several on this list. HOWEVER, I can't stand the lyrics. This is the problem with K Pop-- it's so easy to listen to a song and not realize that the lyrics are awful until you've already fallen in love with the music. It happened to me once with Inconvenient Truth by Infinite, and it happened again with War of Hormone. WoH has such a cool early 2000s pop-rock vibe, much like Block B, and the music immediately made me fall in love with it. But the lyrics are pretty misogynistic and honestly just kinda gross, so I have trouble considering it a song that I like. But, I did want to at least note that the music is freaking fantastic, which makes the lyrics even more of a shame.

So, those are my Top 10 Songs of July 2017! Let me know down in the comments what you think of the songs I've mentioned in this post, and if this is a series that you'd like to see more of in the future! I'm going to keep doing it (or not doing it-- idk, I'm indecisive) regardless, but I always enjoy getting feedback!

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Definitive Ranking of the Winners of RuPaul's Drag Race

A little over a week ago, I posted my rankings of the seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, which you can check out by clicking HERE. It's one of my absolute favorite shows, which of course means that I love ranking anything and everything related to it, so I'm back again to do another Drag Race related ranking. Today, I'm going to be ranking the winners of the show. Like with the season rankings, I'm including both the winners of the main show and All Stars. 

I feel like I need to set up my criteria here just a bit, since this ranking seems a bit more subjective than the season rankings. As per usual, I'm taking a lot of different things into account when comparing these queens. Obviously, the first is their performance on the show-- how consistent they were, how many times they were in the bottom, their Dusted or Busted score, etc. But, another important factor is how they were as a character on the show. Were they one of the more entertaining queens? Were they likable? Were they so unlikable that they were entertaining? Stuff like that. And, of course, personal preference. Even if we can agree on paper which queens were stronger, pretty much everyone is going to vary when considering which queens they gravitate toward, like more, and generally rooted for. Given that criteria, this list is going to be pretty subjective. As always, I have my opinions & you have yours. I respect your opinion, so please respect mine in return by not yelling at me in the comments. I promise, we can disagree without getting in a huge argument. Now, on to the list!

11) BeBe Zahara Benet- Season 1
This should come as very little surprise given my opinion on S1. Overall, I didn't find much about the season compelling, and that includes most of the cast. BeBe was certainly one of the stronger competitors and one of the bigger personalities, but I definitely preferred some of the other contestants like Shannel, Ongina, and Nina. I certainly don't dislike her, but I just don't really have a strong opinion of her. I think that she was up against a cast that was clearly the weakest cast across the board. While she was a strong competitor, she certainly didn't completely dominate everyone, while some other winners did completely annihilate seasons with much stronger casts. My apathetic feelings toward her, the strength of the other queens on this list, and the weak field in her season all combine to land her down at the bottom despite the fact that she's a fierce queen overall.

10) Tyra Sanchez- Season 2
If this list were made after my first watch of Season 2, Tyra might've been all the way at the bottom. The first time I watched season 2, I really, really disliked her. After re-watching the season in May, my opinion turned around on her a bit. Some of the things I said about BeBe still stand for Tyra. Her competition was certainly weaker than modern seasons. The drag was more ready-to-wear. However, I think that Tyra did better in her respective season than she got credit for. Yes, she was a bit unlikable, and yes, she doesn't have as strong of an aesthetic as some other queens, but she was very polished, especially relative to the queens around her. She had a really strong track record-- 3 wins, plus several appearances in the top and only one in the bottom 3. Ultimately, she winds up here mostly because she's not a queen I like very much, and that despite doing rather well in her season, the level of drag that season was still rather ready-to-wear. 

9) Violet Chachki- Season 7
Violet is another queen that I liked more upon a re-watch of her season. Although she was really unlikable at the beginning of the season, by the second half, she'd really gotten a bit of a redemption arc. So upon a re-watch, I saw her in a bit of a different like. I'd never totally hated her, but upon first watch, I'd certainly been rooting for anyone but Violet in the finale. On re-watch, I still preferred a few of the other queens, but I found her to be a much more rootable character and felt like I understood her a bit more. That being said, Violet has some really clear flaws that I think makes her weaker than the queens above her on this list. Violet's big weakness is her ability to perform. She did alright in the lip sync performances, but the acting challenges were absolutely abysmal. That being said, she certainly does make up for it some with her fantastic fashion. So many of her looks have now become iconic, especially the one in the above gif. Like with the last two, season 7 has also been criticized for being a weak cast of queens. While I like the cast quite a bit, I can definitely see that argument, and I think that's a bit of a knock on Violet as a winner. Overall, I like her and think that her fashion is fantastic, but I also think that she has several weak points in her abilities. 

8) Chad Michaels- All Stars 1
I went back and forth on these next two queens, but I eventually ended up with this order because although I think Chad had a stronger showing on her season(s), I prefer the queen that I put in 7th place. That being said, I do really like Chad. Once again, it took a re-watch for me to really appreciate Chad. I've always respected her and her talent and how incredibly polished she is, but it wasn't until a re-watch of season 4 that I began to really grow to like her and root for her. Her personality is much quieter than many other queens, and I think that definitely contributes to the reason that I really had to warm up to her. Chad is one of those people who seems to be almost too perfect. She's so put-together, so polished, and just so perfect that she almost doesn't even seem human. Chad killed it not only in the All Stars Season that she won (in which she basically just demolished everyone), but also in her original season 4. Overall, I really enjoy Chad and I think that she's incredibly polished and amazing, but she's not a personal favorite for me. 

7) Raja Gemini- Season 3
I really like Raja. We're to the point in the list where I fell in love with these people my first time through, and even if they weren't my favorite in the season, I still cheered them on as they won. However, Raja was definitely my favorite in her season, and I really love her outside of the show as well. Of course, I watch Raja and Raven on Fashion Photo RuView, and I usually really like her opinions on things. And on her own season, I think she was also really great. While she was definitely firmly in the "fashion queen" department, she proved that she was incredibly capable in other areas and extremely well-rounded. She proved that she was funny and a competent performer, on top of her amazing fashion sense. While there was certainly a bit of a mean girl vibe to her throughout her season, she was also really fun and snarky and gave interesting confessionals. Like I said, at this point we've gotten to some of my all-time favorite queens and the only knock I really have on Raja is that she was a bit of a mean girl sometimes and that I like some of these queens better than her and think that some of them are even more well-rounded than her and have made bigger impacts on both the show and on drag in general. 

6) Sharon Needles- Season 4
This might be my most controversial placement of a queen, given that Sharon was such a monumental winner and because she's become such an icon for the show. Once again, I see Sharon as mostly tied with the next queen on the list, but for one reason or another, Sharon ended up just slightly lower. Like I mentioned already, Sharon was an incredibly strong competitor, who really made everyone think about drag in an entirely new way. When she walked into the workroom, she was seen as a joke, but she quickly proved that her uniqueness wasn't the only thing that she had. She won an unprecedented 4 challenges throughout the season and did well in many of the other challenges as well. She quickly became not only a strong competitor, but also a rootable, lovable character. She wasn't even really an underdog, but definitely took on that role because of how much people didn't respect her drag aesthetic. Overall, Sharon was just an incredible competitor, a phenomenal winner, and a lovable character. Like I mentioned with Raja, we've gotten to the point where I love all of these queens and the largest difference is just who I like more.

5) Jinkx Monsoon- Season 5
As I mentioned with Sharon, she and Jinkx are mostly tied in my mind. Jinkx edges her out just slightly, for a couple of reasons. When making this ranking, I went back and looked through the Dusted or Busted score cards just to see how they technically compared to each other on paper. That really shed light on how impressive Jinkx was, because she was in the top for nearly every challenge. There were literally only 2 challenges where she wasn't in the top. There's only one other queen who's ever done that, and that queen is also the only person to have a better Dusted or Busted score than Jinkx... but we'll get to her in a bit.

So, given Jinkx's impressive track record, you're probably questioning why she's all the way at #5. If she's that good, she should be all the way up at #2, right? My main reasoning for her being a bit lower (and I think I'm sounding like a broken record here) is just personal preference. There are just some other winners that I gravitate toward a bit more than Jinkx. That being said though, I still absolutely love her. The other slight knock on Jinkx is that she's not the most polished when it comes to her runway. She definitely has a clear aesthetic, and she turned out some amazing looks, but she also turned out some looks along the way that weren't quite up to par. But her performances in the challenges, her personality, and her humor were amazing enough to get her consistently in the top despite some of the lackluster looks. Overall, Jinkx is an incredibly strong queen, a deserving winner, and definitely one of my favorite Drag Race contestants. 

4) Sasha Velour- Season 9
Going into the finale of S9, I felt like Sasha was the underdog. Sure, she had the fan support by A LOT, but Trinity and Shea both had more wins under their belts and were generally seen as the obvious top 2. So, when she turned out those fantastic lip sync performances, I was so excited, just hoping that she would take home the crown. And she did! A look back at her track record proves that she certainly deserved the crown. She was never in the bottom 2 (and hardly deserved her one appearance in the bottom 3), was in the top 7 times (same # as Shea), and probably should've won at least one more challenge than she actually did. But that last one's just my opinion. 

Either way, Sasha was one of those queens who just spoke to me immediately upon the cast announcement. The second she marketed herself as the brainy, intellectual queen, I was sold. And she continued to impress me throughout the entire competition with how well-spoken and witty she was. She certainly wasn't one of the most out-there personalities on the show, but I kinda loved that. I loved that she became the go-to for an intelligent comment on the more serious discussions. I was a bit worried about her versatility at the very beginning, but she quickly proved to be well-rounded, turning out interesting looks, killing the challenges, bringing the humor, and ultimately bringing home the crown with her impressive lip sync skills. Overall, Sasha was absolutely fantastic and I was legitimately cheering when she finally won.  

3) Bob The Drag Queen- Season 8
Let's be honest, S8 should just be re-named "Bob's season." Bob was the front-runner from the very beginning and dominated the competition for pretty much the entire way through. While she doesn't have the same flawless track record as some other queens that got a bit lower than her, Bob completely dominated the entire season in pretty much every single way. She was the clear stand-out personality, dominating screentime both in the workroom and in confessionals. She also got the most wins under her belt, beating out Kim Chi. For me, S8 is a season full of interesting, fun, and likable queens, so it should be difficult for one queen to completely steal the show, but Bob did it with ease. Any comedy challenge probably should've just been handed directly to Bob, because she didn't falter in the slightest. Her performance in the RuCo's Empire challenge is possibly the best single-challenge performance in the history of the show. It was masterful, over-the-top acting and comedy at its finest. Her Snatch Game performance was also top-tier. Pandora Boxx's Carol Channing has always been a favorite Snatch Game performance for me, and Bob did just as good a job, if not better. Overall, Bob was just an absolutely phenomenal performer and character, and while her march to the end was predictable, she was clearly the best in her season. 

2) Alaska- All Stars 2
Honestly, Alaska's All Stars win is the majority of the reason that I wanted to include All Stars winners & seasons on these lists. She's always been one of my favorite queens from Drag Race, and she was also probably my favorite to win All Stars 2. While her tantrum in the second-to-last challenge is still extremely off-putting, she's still definitely one of my long-standing favorites and she absolutely demolished the season. She was in the top for nearly every challenge, and she essentially won half of the challenges. She definitely came to win this season, and she proved it pretty much every single episode with how hard she was trying.

And while Alaska wasn't the most likable in her All Stars appearance, she was definitely my favorite on S5 by a long-shot. Don't get me wrong, I loved Jinkx, but Alaska's personality was so hilarious and so endearing, despite the fact that she had attached herself to relatively unlikable people like Roxxxy and Detox. Although Jinkx clearly had the best showing in the season, if not for the public outcry for her as the winner (due mostly to Roxxxy's bullying), I think Alaska could honestly have taken it. She was such a stand-out queen and character, and so many people just absolutely fell in love with her that season. While I'm a bit lower on her post-All Stars, she's still definitely up there as both one of my favorite queens and one of the best queens that's ever been on the show. 

1) Bianca Del Rio- Season 6
This is pretty much a given, right? Bianca Del Rio is far and away not just the best winner in the history of the show, but the best queen who's ever competed on the show. PERIOD. Not to rely on Dusted or Busted scores too much, but Bianca is the reigning champ on there, due to her 3 wins, 5 times in the top, and 0 trips to even the bottom 3, let alone the bottom 2. Not only did she show her skill in the challenges, but she was definitely the stand-out personality of the season. Sure, Adore was also right up there with her, but the development of their friendship was one of the prevailing storylines throughout the show. Although she markets herself as being hateful, Bianca was never afraid to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it, simply because she knew she could still beat them. 

Sure, she delivered different versions of the same look over and over throughout the competition. But, do you know who else does that? RUPAUL CHARLES. If the looks are put together and polished, who cares if they look similar? Bianca knows what works for her, and she knows the aspects of her drag persona that are important. AKA- her humor, her wit, and her scathing rolodex of hate. Bianca is truly the whole package. She's entertaining, funny, intelligent, well-spoken, and despite being so snarky, she's inherently lovable. Bianca is, unquestionably, both the best contestant and the best winner in the history of RuPaul's Drag Race. 

So, those are my rankings of the winners of RuPaul's Drag Race! Sometime in the near future, I'm hoping to do a ranking of all of the queens in the history of the show, so if that's something you're interested in, let me know!

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