Japanese opera singer records an incredible cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”

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RocketNews 24:

While we don’t usually think about successful opera singers breaking into the rock music industry, there’s one man out there to prove that classically trained performers can, in fact, appreciate decidedly more “modern-sounding” music.

Japanese operatic tenor Ken Nishikiori (錦織 健) is one of the most prolific opera singers to come out of Japan. But recently the 55-year-old has been making waves on the net not for his sweeping operatic vocals, but for his astounding cover of British rock band Queen’sBohemian Rhapsody!” 

As part of my father’s mandatory musical education while growing up, I was always surrounded by a host of classic rock bands (the Kinks in particular). Although Queen wasn’t one of his personal choices, even I can recognize some of the band’s biggest hits, such as the hugely influential “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

The song was originally written by Freddie Mercury for the band’s 1975 album A Night at the Opera. Notably, it features an approximately one-minute-long “operatic” segment within the song, right after the guitar solo. The effect of this choir-like vocal multi-tracking was achieved by having Mercury and the other band members record their voices for up to ten to twelve hours per day, for a grand total of 180 separate overdubs.

▼”Bohemian Rhapsody,” aka “179 dubs too many”

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Enter Ken Nishikiori. The Shimane Prefecture native graduated from the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo and is today celebrated as a successful operatic tenor in his home country. In his spare time, he also participates in another ongoing gig in the form of a rock band that was originally formed during his school days–the Shimane Ken Band ( シマネ健バンド). 

Nishikiori has a chance to shine as a rock vocalist through this separate outlet, while at the same time pay tribute to Queen, one of his own personal favorite bands. The band has so far released two CDs, one in October 2010 and the other in May of 2011, both of which exclusively contain Queen cover tracks.

▼Shimane Ken Band’s Seven Songs of Queen, also known as Kagayakeru nanatsu no uta (輝ける7つの歌) in Japanese.

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The band’s label, Pony Canyon, uploaded their “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover onto YouTube earlier last year. It’s still picking up new views even now, with many Japanese listeners commenting on how Nishikiori’s vocals sound hauntingly similar to Mercury’s original rendition (minus the slight accent, of course). We’re not entirely convinced, however:

Domino’s kinky Sriracha Pizza Ad is 50 Shades of WTF

FoodBeast:

This is a real print advertisement running in Israel for Domino’s Sriracha Pizza:

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Created by advertising behemoth McCann Erickson’s McCann Israel branch, this ad pulls no punches (or spankings) with this disturbingly realistic tongue. Bound, gagged and surrounded by instruments of torture, it’s not clear if this tongue consented to this BDSM play.

But who needs consent in a world where Twilight fanfiction can become a best-selling, inaccurate novel about an already stigmatized community?

The advertisement was a rejected pitch to a franchise in Israel. Tim McIntyre, a spokesperson told Perez Hilton:

“It’s real. The ad was created and pitched by an agency to the independent franchise in Israel. It never ‘officially’ appeared anywhere, because it was ill-advised, unfunny and not brand-appropriate. In a word, it was stupid…[The ad is] being presented as something that actually ran in Israeli media. It did not.”

 

NEIGHBORHOOD (Japan) 2015 Spring/Summer Lookbook

New ISIS video purports to show beheading of Japanese reporter

ABC News:

A 66-second ISIS video purports to show the beheading of Japanese reporter Kenji Goto, a gruesome end to a week of failed negotiations.

There was no immediate comment from Japanese or U.S. intelligence officials, but the video appears to show the detached head of the 46-year-old reporter who was captured late last year by the terror group while on assignment in Syria.

The video, titled “A Message to the Japanese Government,” begins with Goto on his knees in a river valley. A masked man with a knife in his hand speaks with a British accent, addressing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Let the nightmare for Japan begin,” the executioner says as he puts a knife to Goto’s neck.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the White House is aware of the video and is “working to confirm its authenticity.”

“The United States strongly condemns [ISIS’s] actions and we call for the immediate release of all remaining hostages. We stand in solidarity with our ally Japan,” spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.

Before his death, audio messages from Goto were published online by ISIS last week, relaying ISIS’s offer to free Goto, but only if Jordan released a convicted female al Qaeda member, Sajida al-Rishawi, from death row. If the Jordanians did not release al-Rishawi, ISIS said through Goto, then Goto and a Jordanian pilot also held captive by the terror group would be killed. The Jordanian government publicly said they would release al-Rishawi, but only in return for the pilot.

Al-Rishawi has been in prison for a decade for her role in an al Qaeda bombing attack in Jordan in 2005 that killed dozens, including many at a wedding party.

ISIS set a hard deadline for al-Rishawi’s release for sunset on Thursday, but the Jordanians didn’t budge, saying ISIS had not provided proof of life their pilot was alive. Amid the tense negotiations, top Japanese officials had said they were working closely with Jordan to find a way to gain freedom for their citizen.

The status of the Jordanian pilot is unclear, but Goto now joins a number of Western civilians, and scores of locals who were murdered by the terror group.

Freddie Wong battles Katy Perry for Super Bowl halftime audience

NBC News:

During Sunday’s Super Bowl, millions of eyes will be glued to television screens watching Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz perform during the halftime show. But YouTube is making a play for some of those eyes with its own, live streaming halftime show, featuring some of the biggest names online.

The live stream, the company said on its blog, will include more than 20 YouTube stars. The show will entertain viewers with fake Super Bowl ads, musical numbers and stunts, according to Bloomberg.

Among the stars recruited by YouTube is Freddie Wong, the man behind the hit show “Video Game High School,” (VGHS) which Variety named as the best web series of 2013. Wong co-founded RocketJump, the production company that makes the series. RocketJump has clocked more than 1 billion views and 7 million subscribers through its YouTube channel. VGHS is also available through Netflix.

Forbes recently named Wong as one of Hollywood & Entertainment’s 30 Under 30, joining the ranks of Blake Lively, Zac Efron, Keira Knightley and Emma Watson. Another honoree from the publication’s list, Harley Morenstein, co-founder of web show EpicMealTime, will host the YouTube halftime show.

Just last week, Hulu announced that it will team up with Lionsgate, Wong, and the rest of his team for an original comedy series. The weekly 30-minute shows will give a behind-the-scenes look into the creation of a RocketJump video. While the release date has yet to be announced, curious fans will just have to catch Wong online during the Super Bowl for now.

uniform experiment (Japan) 2015 Spring/Summer Collection

 

Ariana Grande is learning hiragana and Japan can’t stop talking about it

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RocketNews 24:

Ariana Grande is a rising star that many are calling a “mini-Mariah Carey.”

Launching onto the world stage after an incredibly successful run on the Nickelodeon show, Victorious, she is quickly gaining fans around the world with her solo music career. She has quite the following in Japan too, with her most recent album, My Everything, peaking at #3 on the weekly Oricon Music charts. And while Japan can’t get enough of her songs and her extremely long hair (extensions), there is something else that her Japanese fans are talking about these days: Ariana Grande is learning hiragana.

Though she has a reputation of being a diva, there is only one word that Japanese fans use to describe her: KAWAIIIIIIIIIII (CUUUUUUTE)

And having been to Japan many times herself, Ariana Grande is very familiar with the concept of “kawaii.” In fact she’s quite fond of Japan, proudly claiming on Japanese TV that she loves edamame, tofu and the eclectic Japanese singer, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. And Ariana Grande is making sure her fans know that her love of Japan extends beyond her screaming Arianators. Her recent Instagram post conclusively separates her from all the other young female singers from America.

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ARIANA IS STUDYING JAPANESE!!! Countless news outlets and fans have written about how she is studying Japanese since that pictured was posted. She seems dedicated to her studies as well, having downloaded a Japanese keyboard on her phone.

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But, whether she is seriously studying Japanese during her busy schedule or just taking a swing at learning hiragana, her Japanese fans can’t get enough of it.

Ariana Grande has definitely captured the hearts of her Japanese fans, and she assures them that she will be back in Japan soon.

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Who knows how far Ariana’s foray into the Japanese language will go. Perhaps she will surprise her fans with a homemade handwritten sign professing her love for Japan at her next concert.

▼”I love Japan!”

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New species of long-necked ‘dragon’ dinosaur discovered in China

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Artist’s conception of Qijianglong, chased by two carnivorous dinosaurs in southern China 160 million years ago. 

(Illustration: Lida Xing)

Fox News:

A new species of long-necked dinosaur was discovered by Canadian paleontologists from bones discovered in central China, according to the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.”

Dubbed the Qijianglong (“dragon of Quijang”), the sauropod has a neck that measures 25 feet long, virtually half of its body length. “As far as I know, there are no more bones in the field of this dinosaur,” said team leader Phillip Currie of the University of Alberta.

Discovered by construction workers at a site near Quijang City in 2006, the dinosaur is about 50 feet long and thrived in the late Jurassic period. Researchers digging at the site found its head and neck still together – a rare occurrence due to the small cranium often detaching easily after the creature’s death. Though the researchers had the bones cast and even went as far as mounting the cast skeleton in a museum, they had no idea that they’d uncovered a new species. “It had already been collected, prepared and was laid out on tables,” Currie told FoxNews.com. “This region of China has lots of dinosaur fossils, including skeletons, bonebeds and footprints. The preservation is quite nice, and we were asked to help describe it.

The Qijianglong is a mamenchisaurid that lived in China 160 million years ago. While most suaropod necks only make up a third of their body length, mamenchisaur necks can reach up to half, with the largest known specimen’s collar extending 59 feet. However, unlike other mamenchisaurids, the Qijianglong’s neck vertebrae is filled with air, making it a much lighter load to carry. Its interlocking joints showed that the creature moved its neck with more ease horizontally rather than sideways, enabling it to eat from extremely tall trees in movements similar to a construction crane’s. The giant herbivores were also mostly immune to attacks from carnivorous dinosaurs due to their size – though that’s not to say they were completely invincible. “I suspect that once they were mature, they were probably immune to the attacks of predators the way elephants are today,” Currie says. “However, like elephants (which are hunted in some parts of Africa by large prides of lions), they were probably never completely immune to attack. And as juveniles, there is some evidence to suggest that the adults stayed with and protected them.”

While long-necked dinosaurs did thrive in other parts of the world, mamenchisaurids were indigenous to China for reasons still unknown. According to Currie, “Mamenchisaur sauropods are so far only known from China, but they do have close relatives all over the world. I assume that mamenchisaurs evolved in that part of the world, but were unable to spread to other continents because China was rather isolated at that time.”

Some researchers believe that mamenchisaurs were unable to migrate due to the sea barrier, and lost in competition when invading species arrived once the land connection was restored.

Currie and his team named it the “dragon of Quijang” due to its similarity to the mythical long-necked Chinese dragon. In a statement, doctoral student and team member Tetsuto Miyashita revealed, “I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature.”

He might not be far off: in 300 BC, the historian Chang Qu documented discovering “dragon bones” in Sichuan, which Quijang is a province of.

 

New garlic cola from Aomori, Japan’s garlic capital

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RocketNews 24:

Garlic flavored cola. Just let that sink in for a moment. Fizzy sweet cola with a pungent garlic taste. Yum? Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of weird food and drink come out of Japan, and as of January 9, there has been a new addition to that list.

Hailing from Aomori, the garlic capital of Japan, which has previously produced such delectables as garlic ice cream and garlic beer, “Jats Takkola,” is brought to us from the garlic center of the garlic capital of Japan, also known as “Garlic Town,” Sannohe DistrictsTakko Town.

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The town got its charming nickname from the fact that every July, so much garlic is harvested that the entire town, home to almost 6,000 people, smells of the pungent bulb. We have a feeling they don’t suffer from vampire attacks very often.

The town offers pretty much any form of garlic you could ever imagine, but the creation of the Takkola (get it? Takko + cola = takkola), took some trial and error experimentation. The real issue, apparently, was breaking through the stereotype that garlic should be used exclusively for food.

▼ Don’t you just want to plop a bulb of garlic in your next cup of Coke?

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The drink is just cola mixed with some finely ground garlic, pretty simple. It’s just as bubbly and tasty as normal cola, but you get the pleasant aftertaste of garlic. Who wouldn’t love that?! Really, if you think about it, it’s probably not much different than washing down some garlicky gyoza with cola and then burping. You just don’t have to eat the gyoza first.

Since the name of the drink doesn’t mention garlic at all, this could easily be used to play some tricks on unassuming friends who don’t know that Takko is the garlic center of Japan. Then there is also the fact that “Jats!” is local dialect for what you say when you are surprised, an odd feature for the name of a cola. That is, unless the creators of this drink had some tomfoolery in mind when they made it!

▼ The garlic clove on the label could go unnoticed to the unobservant.

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In reality, they chose the name because they want this item to leave a lasting impression and to “stimulate the heart” of whoever sips it. They advise that before you drink, turn it slowly to remix the garlic, open the cap carefully and then take a sip. According to the creators, there is no way that you won’t shout in surprise after tasting it.

So, if you’re itching to play tricks on friends, are just really scared of vampires, or are looking for a health-boosting cola, you can order a case of 24 bottles from the town’s merchandise website, for 7,200 yen (US$60) or if you’re in the area, head to the store itself where you can get single bottles for 299 yen (US$2.50) each, until the end of February. Also, please, if you do use it to play tricks on your friends, sneak a video and share it with us!