Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Next Top 15 Songs from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

So over the past year or so, a couple of people have been commenting on my list of top 15 songs from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic about how I left certain songs out of the list. But what they didn't understand back then was that the songs they brought up came long after I made that list, so naturally they aren't there because they weren't even out yet. However with that being said, they do bring out a good point in that there is more to bring up now. It's getting close to 2 years since I made that list, and since then Hasbro and DHX Studios has given us more My Little Pony stuff to enjoy with My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, season 4 of the show, and most recently, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks, all in that order. And through that we've been give more stories, new characters, deeper morals, more enjoyable comedy, bigger and better animation and of coarse, more music. As the show has been progressing, its music composer, Danial Ingram has continued to give us some of his best work yet. So with so many new songs to talk about on top of the last list becoming such a hit that more than 1/9th of the total views for this blog consists of people viewing it, it's time for another list. Keep in mind that this only consists of songs from season 4 and both Equestria Girls films. I have said my piece already about all the music from seasons 1-3, so there's little else to talk about the music from that time. Nevertheless, these are my next top 15 songs from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

15) Better Than Ever
As I stated in my review for Rainbow Rocks and when I talked about it on my list of top favorite films from 2014, just about everything in the movie was a bajillion times better than Equestria Girls. And one of the improvements I was happy about the most was the music. When it came to the music in the first movie, the soundtrack as a whole (under the big exception of one song that will be brought up later in this list) was generally bland. True, some of the songs like the intro song and This is Our Big Night I admit to enjoying anyway. But in the long run, you can tell that Daniel Ingram had little to work with, with a genre like pop, especially with a film where the setting is basically all the characters as teenage humans in high school, thus all the more reason why the film is so controversial among the fandom. Thankfully, with the genre being more on Rock among other things, Ingram was more able to play his strength as a composer in that he gives a good amount of variety in his music. Sure there are still a couple of songs that are bland, but even with the bland songs, you can tell there is so much more heart put into them. And to be Better Than Ever is the best among those particular songs. This song is in some respects bland, but at the same time it has a stronger and more cheery feel to it that makes it fun to listen to regardless. This song is played very early in the film, and it is mainly about how things in Canterlot High have improved since the events of the first film. Up till now, everyone has basically been going their own way or following their own kind because of Sunset Shimmer ruling the school with an iron fist. But (spoilers for those who haven't seen the first film) She has since been defeated and is currently trying to become a better person with the help of the human Mane Five who sing this song to express how basically everyone is friends with everyone now. A very simple concept, which calls for the song itself to be very short, but it's still very enjoyable. The chorus has a very happy and uplifting feel to it that really sets the emotion of how great it is to see the other students get along with each other as the main characters play. Everyone saying hi to another, a group invites someone to sit with them at lunch, and even Photo Finish taking pictures with Big Mac, The Crusaders, Trixie and Snails. Again, a very simple concept of what they're both singing and showing to us, but at the end of the day, there is much more heart to this song than is expected compared to the first movie, that it really captures how uplifting everything is to the point that things really are better than ever. 

14) Make A Wish
Now we start touching on the music from the episode Pinkie Pride, or as some Bronies like to call it: My Little Pony: The Musical. And trust me now when I say that it lives up to its nickname, and so there's a good amount of songs from it that are on this list. To start off, we have the very last song from the episode, Make A Wish. Everything between Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich has solved, and now we finally get to everypony in Ponyville celebrating Rainbow Dash's Birthaversary. Yes I know it's odd to move to a new town on your birthday, but I guess Rainbow Dash couldn't schedule her moving from Cloudsdale to a time not so particularly special. Anyway, the party itself is huge enough with the roller coaster, a giant Rainbow Dash balloon, and even a giant fruit punch bowl to swim in. But then they top off both the party and the episode with its last song, and holy crud can I not get enough of it. I mentioned earlier in my last list how some songs in the show are catchy-above-all-else and in some cases are so good that you may repeat the part in an episode with that song over and over again until you've had your fill with it. And Make A Wish is definitely another one of those songs. It may as well be cruel how much this song is so exciting and fun to listen to. Andrea Libman, who does the voice for Pinkie Pie does a fantastic job in giving so much excitement to everything that is happening in the scene. It makes me just want to sing along as I watch all the characters dance and do all these different activities. The only problem I have with it is the problem I had with a few songs from the last list in that it's too short, so naturally, that gives me all the more reason to just watch the scene over and over again almost every time I watch the episode. But at the same time, this song does have an extended version, and while it's not a full length song, it succeeds in giving a much better fill of the song...unlike some other extended editions of songs i.e. Love is in Bloom. But I digress. Make A Wish is an incredibly fun tune that goes big in the excitement of celebrating Rainbow Dash's Birthaversary. I've listened to it more times than I can count already, and it's just the first song to bring up from Pinkie Pride.

13) Find the Music in You/There's Music in the Treetops (Reprise)
Okay so I'm kind cheating in putting these two songs in one spot, but they're from the same episode and the music is similar, so it kind of makes sense. Throughout the episode, Fluttershy has been trying to deal with her stage fright in a way where she can still express her love of singing. So when Big Mac loses his voice, she uses Poison Joke to get the deep masculine voice (or the Flutterguy voice) to sing for him on stage when the Pony Tones perform. Eventually she accidentally reveals who she is and is so embarrassed that she decides never to sing again, but then her friend convince her to join the Pony Tones and to take "baby steps" when it comes to performing in large crowds. The majority of the episode has the Pony Tones singing Find The Music In You, which I've heard from song Brony Analysts that it's kind corny as far as a barbershop quartet goes. And...yeah, while I have no experience with being in a barbershop quartet unlike my brother, Tommy, I can see how it is a little corny. But at the same time it sort of fits with what is happening. Well...okay, the story is more about Fluttershy finding how to express the music in her rather than finding it, but it still falls into the concept about expressing yourself. And while it's no Winter Wrap-Up, it still has an all around catchy tune to it with Rarity, Big Mac, Flutterguy, and two ponies whose names we never get and have yet to ever be seen again. Then there's the Reprise of There's Music in the Treetops which starts with a nice mix of the song from the beginning of the episode with the beat to Find the Music in You, but then finishes with Fluttershy starting to put more emotion into the concept of finding the music in you. While there's some songs that I listen to a lot more than this one, I've come to appreciate it and even admire Fluttershy a lot more as my favorite among the Mane Six because of how deep she goes in wanting to express the music inside her and how she really does so in both songs. Even before she started getting carried away with her performing for Big Macintosh, she is putting so much heart into her singing with the Flutterguy voice. And even though this is kind of a tie, I am more fond of the reprise of There's Music in the Treetops because we get Fluttershy's real voice and so get to hear the real her go all out in expressing her love to sing. This particular track makes me hope that we get more of this from Fluttershy in future MLP stuff, because I really want to see her go bigger and deeper with her passion. But while I don't have that yet, there is a part of a song that I will get to later that I will argue does have her go at least a little more big deep, albeit more subtly. Until then, somewhat Find the Music in You but more especially the There's Music in the Treetops reprise are two great songs that give me one more good reason to root for Fluttershy.

12) Bats
Despite the fact that this is both a Fluttershy and Applejack song, I like to think of this as mainly an Applejack song. I mean I like Raise This Barn and another Applejack song that's coming up later, but I love how this is such a different from her usual music. Applejack is telling the Mane Six about how horrible the Vampire Fruit Bats are and claims that they need to be stopped. But Fluttershy is trying to make the bats seem less monstrous by explaining how they're just innocent animals that are hungry. The instrumental music and animation just does so much to this scene. You have Fluttershy making her argument with the music coming of as so nice and light and everything looks sunny and happy with the bats looking so adorable. But for really most of the song it's Applejack with a cold look in her face singing a dark tune and everything is colorless with her trees destroyed and the bats look very old and heartless. Actually, Daniel Ingram describes the song as "a banter style musical theater song inspired by Danny Elfman/Nightmare Before Christmas." (Daniel Ingram's Facebook page), and listening to it again, yeah I totally see it. Just from the choice of instruments this song gives a sort of Halloween-like theme to it that it does play a really nice tribute to Elfman's work in that film. My personal favorite part of this song though is the very end where everyone else in the Mane Six agree with Applejack and start chanting to stop the bats with angry looks in their faces except for Pinkie Pie who is as bright and smiley as ever. It's just a great Pinkie Pie moment. What more else to say except "Stop the bats! Stop the Bats! Make them go and no come back!" ...oh yeah, and FLUTTERBAT IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!!

11) Music to my Ears
This song is actually from one of the prequel shorts for Rainbow Rocks, but does not mean that it should not be recognized. For those of you who don't know, part of the popularity in the Brony community revolves around background characters - or background ponies as we call them - from the show. And if there's one particular member of the six most popular background ponies that is loved the most to the point where it's practically morally wrong to hate...that would be Derpy Hooves by a landslide (I mean come on, she's just so precious!), but I think it's a safe bet to say that the second most commonly loved background pony (and apparently the most marketable for Hasbro) is Vinyl Scratch, a.k.a., DJ-PON-3. And if making us happy during the last film wasn't enough after taking off her shades and showing her magenta-colored eyes, then they took things several steps further in Rainbow Rocks, starting with the first prologue short; Music to my Ears. During the short, Vinyl is listening to some dubstep music and dances to it while walking to buy a pastry at Sugercube Corner and then to school where her headphones are taken by Principle Celestia, only for her to put on her spare earbuds and the music just continues. There's no lyrics to the song, she doesn't say a line - heck the only one who says anything is Mrs. Cake - it's basically just Vinyl listening to dubstep music while everything around her moves and is synchronized with the beat of the song from birds, to a crossing guard, to a couple of students during the end. The song itself - while arguably simple in the ways of dubstep (or at least I assume that as someone who doesn't listen to a lot of it) but it does have a very fun beat to it that makes you want to dance along to it with Vinyl. But the real heart of it is honestly Vinyl herself. She is a DJ - thus the stage name DJ-PON-3 - and so the song is enjoyable mainly because despite the fact that she's a background character, we get to see her in her element just the way so many of us love her. Because since they are indeed background characters, certain ones like Vinyl usually don't have much of a focus in what happens in the show. Heck, despite her popularity, she has only appeared in about six episodes in the entire show - that's six brief appearances in a show that is soon to reach a hundred episodes mind you. So naturally, we Bronies tend to somewhat treasure and - depending on the appearance - exploit the few moments we have of these characters when they're actually in the show. So when someone like Vinyl goes so far as having her own short from DHX and Hasbro, pff, who could not be happy to see that. I know I'm making this more about the character than the song itself in this particular slot, but that's because it's the character that brings a lot of the fun in listening to this particular song. There are some things we can't help treasuring when it comes to our background ponies, and so Vinyl makes it too big of a deal for me to not at least put this particular song on the list.

10) Apples to the Core
Coming back to songs that are more Applejack's style, we have the apple family singing a country road trip song with Pinkie Pie. Here, they recently discovered that Pinkie Pie might actually be related to The Apples and thus part of the family. But in order to find out for sure, they go on a road trip to visit Goldie Delicious to see if it's true. During the trip, the Apples decide to get Pinkie Pie even more excited in being part of the family and sing about how strong of a family they are. What makes this song much stronger in comparison to Raise This Barn right off the bat is how the lyrics are a lot better. Because like I said in the last list, as fun as that song is, the lyrics where a little childish, at least by the normal standard of the music in this show. Also, the melody is very catchy, but not in a both love and hate way like Raise This Barn. The beat to this song is slower but it feels so much more exciting and uplifting. And a lot of that comes from it being a song that is about family. Almost everypony has their own part in the song that expresses how loving the Apples are such a family that it's no wonder Pinkie is so excited to be a part of it. I remember when I went to a Brony convention a few months back and they where playing this song during the first night there, and I remember just about everyone having so much fun dancing to it. As far as Applejack or Applejack related songs, it's arguably one of the strongest. It's catchy, it's fun and it's just an enjoyable song that keeps it in your head that they're Apples to the core. (Eeyup)

9) Shine Like Rainbows
Okay this is the last one on the list that takes place during the end of an episode or film. I promise. Anyway, this is played during the end credits of Rainbow Rocks where The Dazzelings have been defeated, Twilight's back in Equestria, and Sunset Shimmer is officially in The Rainbooms as a new singer and guitarist. Thus we get the final song in the film; Shine Like Rainbows which, in short, just gives a very sweet and happy final touch to both the soundtrack and the movie as a whole. During the song, we get a montage of Sunset Shimmer finally getting to join with the group with playing in the band as well and clips of her getting along with other students in Canterlot High both of which is just fantastic to see after all of her struggling. And the song gives a strong sense of unity, particularly during the end of the song where it builds ups during the bridge and then the entire cast sings along about shining like rainbows...which sounds a little sillier just saying that, but it's much more powerful here. Also, the sequence gives us these wonderful character illustrations that where drawn by Katrina Hadley from the art department for the film. It's sweet, it's fulfilling, it gives a perfect ending to the story after everything all of the characters (especially Sunset Shimmer) goes through.

8) The Goof Off
I think this is without a doubt the favorite song/scene from Pinkie Pride for almost every single Brony in the fandom. But even though there's still some songs from the episode to come that I like better, that does not make me ignorant as to why so many people really love this. Pinkie Pie challenges Cheese Sandwich to a Goof Off for the right to headline Rainbow Dash's party and be recognized as the ultimate party pony. So with Rainbow Dash to judge who is the goofiest, Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich go all out in their... Pinkie and Cheesie-ness... okay, maybe we Bronies need to create an official term for what exactly to call their... random, breaking the 4th wall and destroying physics abilities. But I digress. One of the biggest strengths of this song is Cheese Sandwich, primarily because he is voiced by Weird Al Yankovic. And when it comes to both the music and the character itself, they take possibly every single advantage with that. A lot of the music in this song is content from some of Weird Al's other polka's songs. In fact the funniest part of the song (arguably) is when he briefly sings a polka rendition of The Smile Song and denies it when Pinkie Pie calls him out for using her song. But what makes the song even more fun is all the goofiness that Cheese and Pinkie do...and boy do they go all out. You have Pinkie Pie turning a fake mustache into a cupcake, Cheese playing the accordion on a giant cheese wheel, followed by dancing with cheese on his back hooves, and two live-action cutaways of Cheese's rubber chicken Boneless and Pinkie's pet baby alligator Gummy. This may not be my favorite part of Pinkie Pride, but man, that doesn't make the song any less fun with giving us so many things that are just so incredibly...well...goofy.

7) The Cafeteria Song
Speaking of songs that are catchy and tend to be listened to over and over again, Make A Wish is practically a mercy compared to this one. As I said before, the soundtrack for Equestria Girls is mostly bland, and the film itself has a ton of controversy. If you want more detail on that, just read my review for the movie. But if there can be only one thing that even a good amount of Bronies who hated the movie admit was good, it would be the scene where this darn song takes place. The human Mane Six are all trying to get students in Canterlot High to vote for Twilight as the princess of the Fall Formal so that she can get her crown back. So they eventually decide that the way to do that, is to put on a show at the Cafeteria and sing about friendship and why they should vote for Twilight. And thus we get The Cafeteria Song, also named Equestria Girls, or otherwise known as Helping Twilight Sparkle Win The Crown. Lot of people either love or hate this song - mainly for the same darn reason: it is so mother freaking catchy to the point that it's dangerously addicting. In fact, it's so good that only hearing a little bit of it in the second trailer to the film gave some Bronies like me a little bit of reason to not be so scared about the movie coming out. You see the first trailer for this film gave us the basic premise with a song that was used ONLY for that trailer. In short, I for one pretty much thank heaven that, that particular song wasn't used again, because it was so bland and commercially girly that it should be little wonder that the trailer scared to many of us into thinking that the movie was going to ruin everything that is great about the show. But then the second trailer came with the last half of it playing this song, and people started to lower their defenses over the movie and even began to highly anticipate what the full version of the song was going to be like. So when we finally got to this scene during the first time watching this film, man, it really hit those high expectations and then some. First it starts off simple with Twilight's friends starting a beat with their trays and clapping hands, and then the real music begins to start with the characters singing in a very slow pace. But then the music starts building up with the pace going faster and faster and you start to get goosebumps all over your arms from all the build up... well at least I do. And from the moment Applejack takes off Vinyl's shades to show us her red eyes all the way to the end, the rest is giving us a song is basically Let It Go for Equestria Girls. I don't know if I'll ever forget the first time I watched the scene where this song took place, because from the moment Vinyl's shades where off to the end, I had the biggest smile on my face that I had ever genuinely given in ages. This song has so much excitement and joy to it that I had to be careful how many times I played it in order to not get sick of it. Because a lot of us Bronies did overplay this song a lot. Heck, it may as well took until season 4 with all its new MLP content for people to stop going on and on about it, and probably not even then depending on the Brony/Pegasister. This was originally going to be a few places lower on the list because of how I myself got over it because of season 4 as well as Rainbow Rocks. But listening to it again while working on this list, I realized that it deserves more credit than that. Because even if we've moved on to bigger and better things since the first Equestria Girls movie, The Cafeteria Song is one element from the film that is too catchy and has too much pure joy to it to be remembered as anything less than one of the best.     

6) Hearts as Strong as Horses
So when season four started, it took a couple of episodes before we got the first song of that season unlike the first three. But what an episode they gave us for the first song. This particular episode, Flight to the Finish is one of my very favorites, because almost everything about the characters, the story, the moral and so was just wonderful. The Cutie Mark Crusaders have just figured out what to do to audition for waving the Ponyville flag for the Equestria Games (MLP version of the Olympics), which leads to Scootaloo inspiring the other Crusaders into believing that they will win, leading to what many view as the best song from the Cutie Mark Crusaders yet. The music gives this very spirited feel to it with drums played like they're from a marching band from a high school or college while The Crusaders are singing about how determined they are to win and will not let things like being short get the better of them. And through it all, they're either marching proudly, or trying to exercise by kicking a sand bag, trying to go up a couple of steps, beat Bulk Biceps at tug-of-war. Put all of that together, and you have a song that really makes you feel pumped and full of spirit like The Crusaders. My favorite part in the song is during the last 23 ish second of the song where the music builds up and The Crusaders start concluding the song. It has this really powerful feel to it that gives you this feel like they really can take on anything. It's especially powerful during the reprise of the song during the end of the episode where after the dilemma is resolved, The Crusaders are all pumped again to go and win the competition. As they race to the Crystal Empire, the reprise just makes that last part of the song even more powerful because it makes the resolving of the conflict so much more satisfying that they are more confidant than ever to play to win. I get a smile on my face almost every time I go into Netflix or the DVR to watch Flight to the Finish considering it's one of my top favorites, and this song is absolutely one of the reasons why.

5) Pinkie the Party Planner
Like I said before, despite the fact that most people have The Goof-off as their favorite song from Pinkie Pride, the are two songs that I like so much more than that song without question. And the first of those two songs is the very first song of the episode, Pinkie the Party Planner. I'm not even sure to begin with what I especially love about this particular song. If I don't get excited whenever I start watching Flight to the Finish, I certainly will when watching this episode from the moment this song begins to play. Throughout the song, it displays how much of a party planner Pinkie Pie is and what a big impact her planning is to everypony in Ponyville. And boy does it give such a happy feeling from the moment the music begins to play. According to one of the writers of the show, Amy Keating Rogers, this song was based on the song Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and you can tell the similarities. But where it differs from Belle in the best way is how unlike in that song where the townsfolk are mostly criticizing Belle for being so different, the ponies in Ponyville are just praising Pinkie Pie for giving so much joy through her parties. I can't help but love how this is the beginning song because it makes everything that is happening within the less than 2 minutes of it feel so happy. Pinkie Pie loves making ponies smile - as established by The Smile Song - and how she caries that out through her parties, and the townsfolk are just excited to see her start setting up another big party. Heck, we even get to hear Mr and Mrs. Cake and even Diamond Tiara finally have singing roles for the very first time, much to the excitement for a fair amount of Bronies...even if we naturally dislike Diamond Tiara. What I especially love about this song though is how it makes the entire episode work as a musical. What I mean is how some big Broadway shows like Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Sweeney Todd will reuse certain melodies from some of their songs and put them somewhere in parts of other songs as their shows go on. So I really like how on top of this song getting a reprise during the end, they do the same thing during what is my favorite song from Pinkie Pride. For that reason along with the other songs, I personally think that Daniel Ingram was just beginning to figure out giving us a musical in an episode of the show with A Canterlot Wedding and Magical Mystery Cure, and finally perfected it with Pinkie Pride. And I can't ask for a song that gives such a happy feeling in a way that excites me whenever I watch this song than Pinkie the Party Planner.        

4) Battle (Battle of the Bands)
Despite how much we really enjoyed the show giving us a villain song in A Cantelot Wedding with This Day Aria, we have not been given another one in the two seasons since then. But thankfully that changed when Rainbow Rocks came out with the main villains, The Dazzelings, making a memorable impact partly by giving us not one, but TWO villain songs (two and a half if you count their part in Welcome to the Show), both of which are great. And their first song in the film was Battle (Battle of the Bands). The Dazzelings are sirens from Equestria who use their singing to create disharmony and feed of the negative energy of others. So they begin to do that here, when they use their song to convince the students at Canterlot High to turn the upcoming musical showcase into an all-out Battle of the Bands. This leads the students (save for Sunset Shimmer and the human Mane Five) to become very competitive towards each other, giving off negative energy for The Dazzelings to feed on. From beginning to end, this song works beautifully as a villain song. The lyrics work so well in how they're used to persuade the students to act this way, particularly with how they make what they're singing sound like well meaning, encouraging words about individuality and importance to make people competitive with lyrics like "Here's a chance to find your flame, are you a loser or a fighter?" and "You're a star and you should know it. Yeah, you rise above the rest." I really like that it's a song where the villains are using persuasion and trickery to get to their goals. Just the wordless vocalizations that The Dazzelings sing during the very beginning of the song gives such a wicked feel to it. It's a beautiful tune, but you can hear how its also cold and conniving. And it's really nice touch that during the first verse, there will be some echoes at the end of each line. I also like how similar to the villain song Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid, it comes off quiet and smooth, but when they start getting to the point about having a battle of the bands, it comes off loud and energetic. What makes it even better is how during the last minute or so of the song, students begin arguing against each other an expressing how much they want to win and it leads to them singing along, expressing how they're determined to win the competition. Plus, this is the first time we get to see my favorite background pony, Octavia Melody in one of the Equestria Girls films. And considering she has appeared in the show even LESS than Vinyl so far, just about almost any appearance she makes in this film pleases me greatly. Sunset Shimmer failed miserably to really intrigue most people as a villain despite her potential in the last film, but The Dazzelings make up for it majorly starting - in part - with Battle (Battle of the Bands)

3) Under our Spell

The second villain song by The Dazzelings and probably the favorite for most Bronies. Truth be told, it was a little tough to choose which of The Dazzelings song between this song and Battle (Battle of the Bands). Because the first song, again, has a strong touch as a villain song because of how The Dazzelings are persuading the students, whereas Under our Spell - when you generalize what they're saying - is basically them just going *mocking singing voice* "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, we have you in our control" But the more I thought about it, I realized that this is the one that I listen to the most whenever I play the soundtrack of the film on my phone. This song is much more catchy and in a way works just as well as a villain song because of how proud and confidant Adagio (the leader of The Dazzelings) is with their work in using everyone in the school. Bands are competing against each other, other students along with Principle Celestia and Vice Principle Luna are hypnotically...well...dazzled by The Dazzelings' performances, and you can see deep in Adagio's cruel facial expressions that she's loving every minute of it. Meanwhile, we are given a montage of the battle of the bands where everyone is competing with each other. And it builds up the suspense with what Twilight and her friends are going against to say the least. Competitors literally blow their opponents away, eliminating them, The Rainbooms are bickering at each other much to the dismay of Twilight and Sunset Shimmer, The Cutie Mark Crusaders perform their song with the most crazy look in their eyes, LyraBon becomes canon and Octavia is knocked off on the first round...well okay, I'm not a fan of the last two parts, but the rest of it is awesome. It's also a great example of how the animation for this movie is a giant improvement from the last one with the everything that is happening in the competition. But my personal favorite example is shown in the picture for this slot where there's a remarkable use of lighting and shadow. Ultimately, Under our Spell gives us a very catchy villain song that expresses how The Dazzelings have the upper hand as their deceit plays out with the actual battling of the bands and people falling under their spell more than ever. Top that off with an evil laugh from Adagio during the end of the song, and you have the favorite Dazzelings song for a lot of Bronies including myself.

2) Pinkie's Lament
Here we are. This is my personal favorite song from Pinkie Pride. It's not the catchiest song in the episode like Make a Wish, it's not as fun as The Goof-off, and it's not exactly as cheerful as Pinkie the Party Planner, but it's by far the most emotionally powerful. All the ponies in Ponyville become more excited and interested in Cheese Sandwich's party style than Pinkie's and start to outright ignore her. One would make the argument that this is a plot hole to the story that they would do that after praising Pinkie in Pinkie the Party Planner, but to me personally, considering how the townsfolk tend to get about excited by almost anything form out of town whether it's Cheese Sandwich or the Flim Flam brothers TWICE, I think we say that's just a matter of them getting dazzled easily being members of a small town. Anyway, this not only hurts Pinkie's reputation, but it disheartens her as to whether or not she is fit to even be a party planner if Cheese Sandwich is the Super duper party pony. Thus we get Pinkie's Lament, where she sings her sadness away with the music giving a deep and sad tune. She tries to find something else to do, hoping that there's more to her than parties, but she fails in the stuff that she tries out for. She eventually starts giving up parties completely with putting away her party cannon and deflating her balloons - which was sort of disturbing to watch since she kind of made it look like she was suffocating her balloons. But then when she starts looking at pictures of past parties she's done, she begins to regain her confidence and becomes determined to get her reputation back from Cheese Sandwich - leading to The Goof-Off. As enjoyable as the other songs from this episode are, I just love how emotional this particular song is. I get goosebumps the moment Pinkie Pie expresses all of her feelings throughout the scene. You just can't help but feel sorry for her when she's so sad an defeated, but then start to become hopeful as she begins to hope again about her party planning. That last part is actually my favorite section of the song. It starts off building up the joy Pinkie is regaining until finally she lets everything out while looking in the distance on her balcony. It's like Belle during the second half of Madame Gaston in Beauty and the Beast; she is just giving her heart out to that part of the song. And then finally, she makes the decision to face Cheese Sandwich while reusing the melody from Pinkie the Party Planner. This is what I was talking about when I discussed that song. Like a musical from Broadway, they reuse the melody in part of a separate song and also gave it a reprise during the end, and that is spectacular to me. All the other songs from Pinkie Pie are great, but it's Pinkie's Lament that I like the most because of how powerfully deep and emotional it gets with Ponyville's party planner. 

Now before I get to the number one song on this list, I think I should already point out the honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:

1) Glass of Water
Discord gets his own song in season 4 when he comes to Twilight and Candace with the blue flu and make all these sorts of requests to take care of him. It's fast, it's energetic, and of coarse, it's chaotic. Definitely worth mentioning.

2) The Rappin' History of the Wonderbolts
Pinkie Pie tries to help Rainbow Dash study for her Wonderbolts test through music. And she decided to do that through rap and almost every 90's rapping music video cliche that goes with it. 90's clothing, the video set to fullscreen, Vinyl Scratch scratching records, it's just a ton of hip-hop fun. Also who knew Doctor Whooves likes to rap?

3) Awesome As I Want to Be
Rainbow Dash finally gets her own song!!!!! And it's about darn time! She may not be one of my personal favorite characters, but up until Rainbow Rocks, I thought it was wrong that she didn't have her own song unlike the rest of the Mane Six. So it's great that we finally see her get her own song that also fits her personality. Granted, it's mostly her showing off how arrogant she is, but if you look past that, it's still a fun tune to enjoy.

And now, the number one next top song from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is....

1) Welcome to the Show
It's been really hard with which song to pick for this list, but ultimately, I have to go with Welcome to the Show as number one. Why? Because it serves as a very climax of everything that happens in Rainbow Rocks. It's the finale musical battle between The Dazzelings and The Rainbooms with Sunset Shimmer and the music fits perfectly with what is happening. It starts off with The Dazzelings vocalizing again, but unlike before, it gives more of a sense of confidence that they have truly won. It carries on with this feeling as Adagio begins to sing, until the music becomes louder and all three of The Dazzelings sing of how victory seem all but certain as they transform into half-pony forms with bat-like wings. But then The Rainbooms play their counter-spell with the help of Vinyl Scratch and her car that transforms into a DJ station (which is obviously just to sell toys even though the toy of the car doesn't do that, but hey, it's still freaking cool.) And this part is actually my favorite part of the track because of Fluttershy. As I said when I was talking about Find the Music in You and the reprise for There's Music in the Treetops, I have come to really admire Fluttershy more for her desire to let out her passion for music. And while we haven't quite been given more than that in the show, there is a part in another song that goes a little deeper. And the counter spell during Welcome to the Show is that part. Much like the reprise of There's Music in the Treetops and Pinkie's Lament, but more so, I really love how deep and emotional the song itself is. But what really helps is how they're been building it up. Over the coarse of the movie, Fluttershy has been trying to get The Rainbooms to play a song that she wrote. She keeps trying to bring it up but is completely ignored by Rainbow Dash. Finally, Rainbow Dash suggest to use her song at last as the counter spell against The Dazzelings. And when you consider all of that and listen closely to the song, you realize that Fluttershy is using it to deeply yet subtly give us a direct expression of how much she wants to let her passion out. Just the lyrics of the song say it all:   
Don't need to hear a crowd
Cheering out my name
I didn't come here seeking
Infamy or fame 
The one and only thing
That I am here to bring
Is music, is the music
Is the music in my soul
          Gonna break out (Out!)
          Set myself free, yeah
          Let it all go (Go!)
          Just let it be, yeah
          Find the music in your heart
          Let the music make you start
          To set yourself apart

Combine those lyrics with how happy but expressive the music is on top of the fact that it's specifically Fluttershy who wrote the song, and you find out that it truly is about her wanting to express her passion and not care about what people thing despite her shyness. And that is just wonderful to me. But before long, The Dazzelings fight back with astral versions of their siren forms and through an literal fight through music, overpower the Rainbooms. Twilight asks Sunset Shimmer to help, and so with new resolve, Sunset Shimmer begins to sing the last part of the song. Vinyl Scratch gives Sunset a beat to start off, but then the music slowly picks up when Twilight sings along with her until finally it goes in all out joy as the rest of the Rainbooms join in. And with the new song, Sunset Shimmer transforms into her own half pony form and the spell on the other students is broken. The students begin to sing along to the song, and unlike Battle (Battle of the Bands) where they are thinking of themselves, they are singing together in friendship as the songs ends with The Dazzelings defeated for good. The entire track as a whole just gives a satisfying climax to everything that has happened in Rainbow Rocks. The villains are winning, the heroes fight back only to be overpowered, and when all hope is lost, it's Sunset Shimmer - who has been suffering from lack of confidence in how she has truly reformed form her evil ways - overcome her insecurities and lead The Rainbooms to save the day. It's epic, it's emotional, it's dramatic, it's a ton. And that's why Welcome to the Show is my pick for the next number one song from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

 Whew. This list took longer than the last one to write. But hey,  going into so much more detail about what's good about these songs just shows that they are getting better and better with the music. And here's hoping that they continue to do so in the future.

Speaking of the future actually, Hasbro, DHX, I got a question for you guys; WHERE IN THE WORLD IS SEASON 5!?!?!?! WOULD IT KILL YOU GUYS SLOWLY AND PAINFULLY TO AT LEAST GIVE US A DATE FOR THE SEASON PREMIERE BY NOW!?!?!?!?!? 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Into the Woods (2014)

Finally! Almost everyone has been talking about this movie on top of the Oscar nominations it has, and yet I've had trouble finding a time to see it with my friend Meg. But we finally got a chance to see it this morning, so here is Into the Woods.

Plot: The story revolves partly around a baker and his wife are trying to have a child. A witch comes and tells the baker and his wife that his family is cursed so that they cannot have children. But they can reverse the curse if they give the witch four items; the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn and the slipper as pure as gold. So the baker and his wife go on the quest to find these items and come across people from fairy tales who are also wishing for their happily ever after.

 As I said before, this movie has gotten people talking. I have friends from high school saying that its, good, the Oscar nominations speak for themselves - heck my brother, Tommy, went so far as calling it fantastic when he saw it- and believe me, considering how skeptical he is as a fellow film buff, that's not a praise I expect to hear very often with him, leastways, not for something like this. So put all of that together on top wanting to see it anyway as someone who was sound crew for a high school production for the musical years ago, and I would be plenty interested to see if it really is as big of a deal as people say it is. So now that I finally saw this movie, what did I think of it? Well, while I wouldn't call it fantastic, I will most definitely say that it's a very well delivered presentation of bringing this musical to film. It gives us almost every single thing that happens in the show from beginning to end, with great performances from the entire cast, good settings, and enjoyable music. A lot of people are praising Meryl Streep for her performance as The Witch and I agree that she is good...but not so good that I see her winning best supporting actress at the Oscars. I mean yes, I will admit that I am saying this because A) I am rooting for Emma Stone for Birdman (which should surprise no one by now) and B) I am still displeased of her "beating" Viola Davis' performance from The Help with her performance in The Iron Lady. But even with those two reasons aside, honestly, she just didn't wow me like everyone else. I mean don't get me wrong, for giving us The Witch from the show, she completely delivered in full, but I don't know if I would really go so far as saying she deserves an Oscar for it. Anyways, Johnny Depp did a creepy yet entertaining job as The Wolf, Emily Blunt and James Corden worked well with each other as The Baker and his wife, Lilla Crawford was a good Red Riding Hood, and Chris Pine was amusing to watch during the song Agony. If I did have a sort of personal favorite, it would probably be Anna Kendrick as Cinderella. Maybe there's something I didn't not catch when I worked on the high school production of the musical, or it's displayed better in the film or both, but I found myself understanding and respecting her character more with what she was doing during the first 2/3rds of the movie. Her performance in the song On The Steps of the Palace developed her character in a way where her actions began to make more sense, which is especially good because I started questioning them earlier on in the movie. If there was a performance that was still really good but I had a problem with one area about it, it would be these brief parts in Daniel Huttlestone's performance as Jack. Again, his performance on the whole was good, but there are two parts in the movie where something happens to someone close to Jack, and when that happens, Huttlestone comes off as unrealistically calm about it. He should be really upset if not almost crying in those two parts in the film, and yet while he is bummed, it just seems really off. He's still great and all, but those moments where really distracting. Now naturally, if you are a fan of the musical or have done a production of it, there are some changes that you may not like. For me personally, the majority of the changes fit really well for a film version of the story. But there are some changes that bum me a little. Like the Mysterious Man's role is almost completely thrown out the window, or how - aside from playing a few notes in the background - the song No More is not used in the film. And it's a real shame to me with the latter, because that is a really nice song. But the biggest problem that people are talking about with this movie is the last third or so. The main complaint is how the last half hour or so - which is basically all of act two from the show - really makes the story drag and hurt the movie as a whole. In my point of view as someone who worked on a production of the show, it didn't really bug me because it was just them still staying true to the material to me...but I do get where they're coming from. Thinking back, I will admit that there are aspects of the story in part two of the show that I wasn't a big fan of, and deep down don't entirely like even now. Anyone who has seen the film already or knows the show, probably has a good idea as to why. So it doesn't really bother me for the film as a whole just from the standpoint of judging it as an adaptation, but that doesn't change that I completely get where people are coming from when they say that they didn't like the last 30 minutes or so of the film.

And that's my review for Into the Woods. If what happens during roughly the last third of the film is not to your liking, I can understand how it can hurt your experience. And naturally, if you don't like this particular musical or musicals in general, this film isn't for you. But for what it is in the eyes of someone who has worked in a production of the musical, I say that despite my own little problems with the movie, Into the Woods does an excellent job of bringing the show into film with its enjoyable cast, great music and generally reasonable changes that leaves me pleased with what Disney delivered.

Rating: 80%

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Top 10 Favorite films of 2014

Happy New Year everyone! Another year has come and gone, and with that, more films have been given to us for better or worse. So now let's once again take a look at the ones that I have enjoyed the most. Now just like the last two lists, this is not about which ones I think are the best. This is about the films that I enjoyed the most or (in the cases of some of the higher ranked films) meant the most to me from this past year. You can of coarse agree or disagree with these choices. Everyone has their own picks of movies that they liked the most from certain years, whether you agree with these or not, and these are just my choices. With that said, these are my Top 10 Favorite films of 2014.

10) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Talk about a sequel that - like Catching Fire back in 2013 for the Hunger Games franchise - got me more genuinely interested in a franchise that I didn't care that much about before. The other Planet of the Apes films that I've seen before (the original Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes) weren't horrible films, but I kind of already knew the story long before I saw them, so I just enjoyed them the best I could and sort of stopped caring from there. But then I finally saw this movie only a couple of months ago with my friend Blaine, and I find myself a little genuinely curious with what they'll do for the next film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a much smarter and more compelling film with a story that gives a smart amount of good guys and bad guys in a way that makes everything not as black and white as you would expect it to be. The CGI was better, the action was sooooo much more enjoyable then in the previous film, it's deep, it's very well acted, it's just so much more entertaining. What more can I say?

9) The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is just one of those comedies that don't have to try very hard be funny, it just has fun with the people they have for it. And The Grand Budapest Hotel IS a very fun and funny movie that gives us this very stylish world with its editing, color and cinematography where a very amusing story takes place using one of the best and largest cast of stars I have ever seen in a movie. And...that's really it. In some respects now that I think about it as I am writing this, there is nothing more that really needs to be said. It's just a comedy with a great cast that is just a complete ton of fun. If you haven't seen it yet, do so now.

8) The Lego Movie
As I said in the end of my review to Big Hero 6; as much as I would like to see that movie win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars this year as a Disney fan, The Lego Movie is the superior animated film as an all around piece of cinema. For a movie that is basically about Legos, they but their darnest into this movie, and what comes out is pretty much a smarter film than than most of us have ever expected it to be. The animation was great, its comedy was top notch, the characters where just a fantastic amount of fun, and it's story was surprisingly well written, as well as very thoughtful during the second half of the movie. It's a great piece of animation, and I'm willing to argue that it's a great piece of all around film in general (within reason of coarse)

7)  X-Men: Days of Future Past
In my review for this film, I stated a fair collection of problems I had about some of the delivery of explanations this movie had and felt like some good questions where not mentioned at all. But I also just got this movie for Christmas, and watching it again, some questions may still bug me, but the rest of the problems I had with this movie I found made more sense or I just didn't care about all that much anymore. X-Men: Days of Future Past is arguably the best X-Men movie that we've been given yet with its much smarter action in terms of giving us all these different mutants fighting with their own unique powers and abilities, an enjoyable cast, and a story that I won't go in detail about for those of you who haven't seen this movie, but the result of the story is a huge deal and it makes me and many other people very eager for what they have in store for X-Men: Apocalypse. 

6) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Some people like the first movie and some don't, both of which I can understand why. But almost no one can deny how The Winter Soldier was better than I ever hoped it would be. This film went big with its development on the characters, its development on the world from the point of view of Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D., went bigger on the action, and gave us a third act that, somewhat like with X-Men: Days of Future Past, gave us something new, unexpected and took the film to a whole new deeper level that arguably makes the film the closest thing Marvel has to having their own The Dark Knight. It's a great Captain America movie, and it's a great Marvel film in general. What more needs to be said? If you haven't seen this movie yet, watch it!

5) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Hobbit films as a whole have their ups and downs when it comes to how they hold as adaptations to the story. For me, there are some things I am not too keen on, but I say that they give us all around big, enjoyable adaptations in the long run. And The Battle of the Five Armies is arguably the best of these films. The action was big, a lot of the story lines where paid off, Martian Freeman I think did some of the best acting that he's done in the whole trilogy (which is saying a lot), the scene with Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Gandalf fighting against the Necromancer was awesome, it's just a ton of action that leads to a satisfying conclusion. Now all that's left is to see what Jackson does with an extended edition that he'll likely do later this year.

4) Birdman
If there would be one movie from this year that I would own that's not animated, or a part of a franchise like most of the movies on this list and is more artsy, then that film would likely be Birdman. This film has so much hype to it over how great it is or how its a big reason why certain people love the cinema. And while it's not a big reason as to why I love movies, I still hold it pretty high just like everyone else. This is a tremendous film about a man reflecting on his life with his acting career and his personal life while trying to set up a play on Broadway. 99.8% of this film (or so) is edited to make it feel like it is all in one shot, and it is remarkable how well they do it. And of coarse, the casting is great - Michael Keaton gives a terrific performance as Riggan, Emma Stone gave her best performance yet as Riggan's daughter, Sam, and Edward Norton gives an excellent performance to the point where it's hard to believe that he was the Hulk. I have high anticipations for all of these actors and this film altogether at the Oscars, and I hope I do not become disappointed.


Okay now with the next three films, I first want to state that ranking these films was a little hard to do. All three of them I've been unsure about where to place them and so have been switched a couple of times. But I also want to remind you that this isn't about the films I thought where the best of this year, these are just my personal favorites. And I especially say that now, because next on the list we have...

3) My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks
Now part of me feels guilty about putting this movie on the list. Like, even the part of me that is a Brony feels like this is sort of wrong. Because the first Equestira Girls movie had such a giant backlash from the moment it was announced, and while it didn't turn out as horrible as expected, it was a big enough guilty pleasure that a lot of people like me where on uneasy terms of the concept as a whole. And as much as I hoped that its sequel would be better, I would never have hoped that it would be so good that it would have ended up on this list, let alone be ranked so high. I mean I ranked it higher than freaking Days of Future Past, The Winter Soldier and Birdman for heaven sakes! But I have to be honest with what are my personal favorite films from this past year, and the truth is this film is too much of a grand improvement to not have been such a highlight for me when it comes to films from 2014. Everything about this movie, whether in big or small amounts was done better than the last film. The animation was excellent, the comedy was smarter, the characters - most notably Sunset Shimmer - had so much more development, the villains where a million times more interesting and more memorable, and the music...man, the music was some of the best that Music Composer Daniel Ingram has ever done in Equestria Girls or Friendship is Magic. As much as I know some of the other films on this list are better, I still find myself more happy with how this turned out.

2) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
This film has been disliked so much since it came out, but honestly, I really don't completely see why. Oh there are some flaws that I will agree to, but even then, some of the problems people have are really silly to me. I mean come on, hating Electro because his origin was a little similar to The Riddler in Batman Forever - which is really just a certain detail that was just thrown in as a plot device for one scene in that movie before just making Jim Carry a human cartoon during the rest of it? That's...just really silly to me. But I digress. Even if the big flaws that I will agree with to a degree, I hold this film as the best Spider-Man film yet. Andrew Garfield does a spectacular job with giving us both the comedy and the drama that Spidey goes through in the comics. I also love how we get more of Spider-Man interacting with civilians more and trying to be there for them in his own way. Emma Stone was wonderful as Gwen Stacy, acting more strong and independent than ever. We get much for with Sally Field as Aunt May, I enjoyed the development with Electro and Harry Osborn, and we get some story lines from Spider-Man comics that have their odd or sad moments, but where great to see nonetheless. Altogether, I understand some reasons why this movie isn't very liked as sad as it is. But at the end of the day, I don't care about the flaws. The stuff that's good about the movie, it's not just great, it's stuff that deep down I've been waiting a long time to see in a Spider-Man movie and more. As long as I feel that way from the moment the heroic music starts in the beginning in the film with the Spider-Man logo all the way to when the heroic music comes with the logo at the end, I will feel that in many respects with this film, I will always be watching the right Spider-Man  

and my favorite film from 2014 is...

1) Guardians of the Galaxy
If there was only one movie that was especially entertaining with tons of comedy, great action, excellent use of characters, and is an all around ton of fun, that would be Guardians of the Galaxy. Some people have argued that as far as big Marvel films go, this is better than even The Avengers. And while I don't entirely think that I would completely go that far, there is no denying that this film is far more impressive than Avengers in regards to the challenges that this movie faced. Avengers used solo films of superheroes to build it up to be the big film that it is now. But Guardians of the Galaxy was taking a Marvel comic sreies that few to nobody knew about, with characters that few to nobody knew - two of them include a talking racoon and a talking tree - all the while, expand the Marvel universe with spaceships, and blasters and battles that pretty much spell Star Wars to a lot of people. And of coarse, a lot of people had little to no faith in this movie, but found themselves to be completely wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy succeeded with giving us this whole new area of the Marvel universe with main characters that you easily find to be likable and memorable long before the movie is over. It takes advantage of its comedy by not taking itself too seriously, leading to tons of funny jokes. But at the same time, it has some well delivered dramatic moments too. They do make it clear about what these characters are going through. They do address the danger of Ronan or the Infinity Stone. And they give us some parts of the galaxy that are actually rather inventive. The moment especially where the Nova Corps work together to try to stop Ronan was such a great idea. And the special effects are surprisingly impressive. I for one would be pissed if this film isn't at least nominated for special effects for the CGI for Groot and especially Rocket. All in all, it's a fantastic addition to the Marvel films, and just entertaining as a film by itself. And that's why it's my favorite film of 2014.