Monday, 20 September 2021

My Little Repeats special: the post-Rainbow Rocks shorts

Once Rainbow Rocks had come and gone, most of us in the fandom had settled down to wait somewhat impatiently for Season 5 of Friendship is Magic. Hasbro and DHX had other ideas. On 1 April 2015, completely out of the blue and with not even a hint of a rumour beforehand, three more musical shorts were released. It was quite a day. The first, "Life is a Runway", is usually considered the least of the three, though it's solid enough and contains both Derpy and some LyraBon shipteasing. "My Past is Not Today" is many people's favourite, a wonderfully animated and uplifting song performed by Sunset about her reformation. My own favourite, though, is "Friendship Through the Ages", a lovely evocation of what G4 My Little Pony as a whole is all about. The different musical and visual styles complement each other very nicely, and Rainbow Dash in particular gets a striking punkish sequence. We didn't expect these shorts at all, but they were instantly and hugely popular. They deserved it, too.

To see all three shorts in order, you can use this playlist, which should begin in the right place. You'll get a bit of Hasbro promo stuff at the end of each song, but you can always skip through that.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Ponyfic Roundup 360

Read it Later story count: 107 (-2) 

I'm planning on an author spotlight edition of PR at some point in the next month or two. I've actually mentioned this author before in that context, but I've never actually had the time to make the post. You'll have to wait to find out who it actually is! One clue: they haven't had a story reviewed here this year. In the meantime, here's the usual hotch-potch to be going on with.

The Buffalo Telegraph by Horse Voice
Flash Sentry by shortskirtsandexplosions
Gift of the Heart by Apple Jewel

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 0 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Monday, 13 September 2021

My Little Repeats E2: Rainbow Rocks

This sequence lasts a few seconds and has no dialogue, but it says so much
Rainbow Rocks

Written by Meghan McCarthy
27 Sep 2014 (limited US/Canada release)

My original rating: 8.5/10 (=★)
IMDb score: 7.0

The one with Derpy playing the saw

Thoughts: The official name of this film is (deep breath!) My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks. Nobody uses it, so I won't either. It's the most popular of all the four EqG films and often seen as the best. Is it still? Well, I don't know yet! However, it undoubtedly is a great watch. The songs are unsurprisingly the centrepiece, and the way Daniel Ingram ups the quality as the movie goes on – something which is directly story-relevant – is really impressive. The "Welcome to the Show" sequence sticks in the mind of course, though it really does need the accompanying visuals for full effect. The end-credit song "Shine Like Rainbows", though, is one of my very favourite songs in any of the official Pony productions. (The wonderful character drawings that appear during the end credits are by Katrina Hadley. I still haven't forgiven Hasbro for not producing prints of them!) The Sirens are really pretty good villains, and their creepy seductiveness is surprisingly strongly portrayed for a kids' movie (all that hair-stroking in "Battle of the Bands", for one) but this is really Sunset Shimmer's film. Indeed, it is her redemption story, and you cheer for her by the end. In one movie she managed to become a big fandom favourite, a position she has never relinquished. Yes, the underlying plot is still a little on the clich├ęd side, but when it's all this enjoyable, who really cares? It looks good, it sounds fantastic, we get (for the last time in the movie series) more than a glimpse of actual ponies, the characters are fun, there's shipteasing for those who want it (LyraBon in "Under Our Spell", which feels slightly different now given FiM canon developments since) and the post-credits teaser introduces us to Sci-Twi. I awarded Rainbow Rocks a top-end four in 2014, and I'm giving it the same assessment today. I would happily pay to watch this film in the cinema again.

Choice quote: Celestia: "Please do not drop the microphones."

New rating: ★★★★

Next in this series, I'll be looking at the three musical shorts that appeared out of nowhere on 1st April 2015. What a day that was!

Saturday, 11 September 2021

A belated Happy 10th to "Rainbow Factory"

I've now rewatched Rainbow Rocks. Since I'll be busy today, my plan is to write up the blog post tomorrow and schedule it to go up on Monday morning. Meanwhile, here is some music...

I'm actually almost a month overdue with this one, but I felt it was significant enough that I had to give it some notice. WoodenToaster's dark-tinged classic was first uploaded to YouTube on 14th August 2011. To this day, a surprisingly large number of people think this was inspired by the fanfic of the same name. In fact, it's the other way round: the earliest version of the fic was published five days after the song, on 19th August. It's not as polished as the slightly later Fimfiction version linked above, which though not exactly stunning in quality is surprisingly non-terrible for a self-consciously grimdark fic, but it's historically interesting I guess. And yes, it's on GDocs. Anyone who remembers the days before Fimfiction publication became near-universal may feel a pang of nostalgia!

But I'm not here to talk about the story, really. It's short enough that you can read it for yourself if you want. WoodenToaster's song, which I am here to talk about, is one of the best from 2011. That bass piano at the beginning really sets the scheme, and though I'm not always a huge fan of vocal distortion I do think it works here. Then there's that driving beat, which indeed brings to mind the sounds of some heavy industrial factory. The lyrics are not quite perfect, with eg "To which the answer is in a simple facility" having too many syllables, but you can't have everything. This one is always going to be a brony classic.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Ponyfic Roundup 359

Read it Later story count: 109 (nc) 

The English weather, having insisted on giving us autumn all through August, has now decided that September means it's time for non-stop sunshine and midsummer warmth. Having walked about 16,000 steps out in it yesterday, I can vouch for that! Still, I won't complain: it's made a nice change from weeks on end of gloom and murk. One thing that hasn't changed is that there are three fics to look at today:

The Scootaloo Switcheroo by Impossible Numbers
Elected to Bat by Melon Hunter
Cold Light by AShadowOfCygnus

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

My Little Repeats special: the pre-Rainbow Rocks shorts

With no new episodes of Friendship is Magic for almost a year after Season 4, Hasbro really went all out on the hype for Rainbow Rocks. The second film in the Equestria Girls franchise saw no fewer than eleven musical shorts released. Eight came before the film, of which the most significant and best remembered is surely the first, "Music to My Ears". This came out on 27 March 2014, six months to the day before the film's US release. Dubstep was huge in brony music at the time, so an official dubstep track from Daniel Ingram himself was a really, really big thing. (Even if it does sound awfully like "Bullseye"... :P ) Then we see the rest of the Rainbooms (sans Twilight or Sunset at this stage) getting their instruments sorted out. Those other tracks have faded a bit more in the memory, though Rarity pushing a grand piano remains amusingly ridiculous. As for the final two shorts, I've always thought "Perfect Day for Fun" pretty catchy and a bit underrated. "Shake Your Tail" is the one actual movie song given an early release; not the greatest RR track, but then it's not supposed to be in-universe either.

Handily, there's a complete playlist of the Rainbow Rocks shorts. The videos have lost all the comments they had in 2014 (cheers once again, "For Kids") but the shorts themselves are nostalgic if you were there at the time and still worthwhile if you weren't.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Ten years today since the first brony track from The Living Tombstone

At least, it's ten years since the first brony Tombstone track that still exists on his YouTube account was uploaded there. I don't know of any older ones. This is a remix, as you can see, and one of a song which was apparently only a single day old at the time! Not a lot more to say about this one, but the recognisable TLT sound is already there. He doesn't contribute his own singing to the track, which to be frank probably helps as he wasn't the smoothest vocalist back in 2011.