Thursday, 21 February 2019

Sounds of 2011: Nos. 19 to 15

It's getting quite exciting now, isn't it? The answer is "Yes!" by the way. Anyway, in this instalment of our long journey through Everfree Radio's Top 100 brony tracks of 2011, we've got a couple of very, very famous songs. And those which are a little less so. Here we go.

Here's a remix of the CMCs' song from the (in my view, which is right) underrated "The Show Stoppers" from S1. Alex S. has an official archive channel, so this dubstep version is still around. It's pleasant enough if you like the genre, but it doesn't do anything that will make your eyes snap open. I find it a little bizarre that this charted higher than the far bett/er remembered and frankly better remix of the show theme (no. 28), but oh well. There's a Mediafire download link for a 320kbps MP3 in the video description.

I'm skipping no. 18 for not meeting my inclusion criteria.

Serendipity: the artist formerly known as PinkiePieSwear, and now known as Matt R, keeps changing the status of his YouTube songs. Sometimes they're public, sometimes they're unlisted, sometimes they're entirely unavailable. Why I have no idea – but the happy fact is that, as I write, this glorious choptune based on Applejack's lines in "Winter Wrap Up" is once more available to all. All these years on, it remains one of the best AJ tracks the fandom has produced. Note that nearly all versions I've heard, including this one, feature several seconds of silence at the beginning. Get it in full HQ for $1 on PPS's Bandcamp.

Another Vinyl/Tavi piece, and another chart entry by Chain Algorithm. It's pretty much what you'd expect, with some intricate string work overlaid with plenty of energetic drumming. Perhaps a tiny bit too long at 4:17, but that's hardly the worst fault a track can have if it's otherwise well made. You could almost imagine this song being used as the tune for a fairly hectic stage of a platform game. For a 320k MP3, check the Mediafire link in the video description.

It's remarkable how many people believe to this day that WoodenToaster's classic was inspired by AuroraDawn's infamous fanfic. Not a bit of it: the song came first. For such an old song (August 2011) it's remarkable how well this tune grabs you and just doesn't let go, even if you've somehow managed to avoid ever knowing the grim story behind the fic. There's a real sense of menace in the lyrics, and despite the occasional mis-step ("with its alluring decor" really doesn't fit the rhythm) it's a deserved classic. No HQ version that I could find, though!

Next time, we'll be reaching the fringes of the fabled Top Ten!

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 238: Big Yellow Taxi

If all goes as I hope, my Newcomers' Edition of PR will appear in a fortnight's time on 6th March. I'm still busy in the real world, but things have settled down into a little more of a rhythm now, which helps. Let's get going for this week.

Read it Later story count: 269 (+1)

Another three-fic week. Gah, and I thought I'd left those days behind me! Oh well, I've still got something to share with you, at least. As usual, they're all short stories; you'll have to wait until next week (see the bottom of the post) for a fic that will take more than a few minutes to read.

Fluttershy's Secret Kissing Story by Ara
Friendship = Evil by PaulAsaran
Golden Prize by Admiral Biscuit

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 0 | ★★★★: 2 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 18 February 2019

UK PonyCon dates and venue announced!

And the announcement has been made a couple of months earlier than last year, too! That's probably got a lot to do with the fact that, as the official announcement states, UK PonyCon 2019 will be held at the...

Nottingham Conference Centre
on 12-13 October 2019

That's right: the exact same venue as last year! This isn't the first time UKPC has done this, as both the 2014 and 2015 iterations were held at the same hotel in Leicester, but given the watery theme this year ("Ocean Adventure") it has come as a bit of a surprise. To me and those I've discussed this with over the last few weeks, anyway. Ticket details have not yet been released, so don't go rushing off to buy one – as of yet, you can't! I don't know when they'll go on sale, I'm afraid.

How do I feel about the choice of venue? From a personal point of view, really quite pleased. Nottingham is straightforward for me to get to by train, and not desperately expensive either. (Around £33 for a walk-up off-peak return.) I also now know the city a little better than I did last year, so I shouldn't waste time finding my bearings. It'll also make it easier for me to write up guides for con-goers, as I can use much of last year's info and my 2018 experience!

The city centre is also quite compact and nicely arranged, in that there are several affordable hotels within walking distance of Nottingham Conference Centre (NCC), which itself is on the edge of the shops'n'restaurants area. A tram line runs from the main railway station and there are stops very near to the venue, plus close by are several of the all-important Wetherspoons pubs for cheap food and chat! There's even a little Tesco Express within range.

As for NCC itself, I thought it was a solid venue last year. There was a reasonable amount of square footage to wander around in, sufficient rooms including a cinema/lecture theatre and just about enough chill-out space – though UWE Bristol (2017's host) was better on that score. The venue staff were also very good, in particular one guy who was on bag-check duty a lot. It's hard to make that part of the day enjoyable, but he came as close as anyone could.

I do have a few small reservations. I'm sure NCC's inadequate café provision from 2018 will be sorted so I'm not too worried there, but I can see why some may be disappointed at returning to Nottingham. 2019 will mark the fourth iteration in six that UKPC has been in the East Midlands, which doesn't fit with the con's distinctive feature of touring the country so that as many people as possible get the chance to attend. Finally, Nottingham city centre late on a Saturday night wasn't somewhere I was wild about.

I can't yet say for certain that I'll be going to UK PonyCon for the sixth successive year, but it's more likely now than if the host city had been somewhere 300 miles away. I will have to wait to see how much it's likely to cost me before starting to firm up my decisions. I do want to go, though. We are very lucky to have such a good convention in this country, and I most certainly want to attend and support it. I hope I'll be able to!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Official confirmation: S9 of Friendship is Magic will be the show's last

For convenience as I don't have Facebook, I'll link to Equestria Daily's report. The news is no surprise to me and nor, I think, to most people – but there's an undeniable pang when seeing it there in black and white from an official source at last. It's going to be very strange watching S9 and realising that the end of the season will also mark the end of the entire show. (Maybe not G4, depending on what happens with Equestria Girls.)

We also have confirmation that the 2021 film will be made using CGI, another entirely unsurprising announcement. While I'd have loved another 2D film, that was only ever going to happen if the 2017 movie had been a major box office hit. And, bluntly, it wasn't. I'll still look forward to the film in two years' time. I just ask that: a) it gets a proper cinema release in the UK; and b) they call it something other than My Little Pony: The Movie. We already have two of those!

Of course, the MLP fandom won't be switched off when FiM closes for business. Inevitably more people will drift away and not everyone will stay to see what G5 has to offer, but I think plenty will. I'm glad I've been to UK PonyCon for the last few years, as that convention has really opened my eyes to the appeal of the older generations. I think that's a major reason why I'm looking forward to seeing what the next gen of the franchise has to bring.

And yes, I do think it's time for Friendship is Magic to wrap things up. While I still like the show a great deal and am certainly not one of those who thinks it all fell apart years ago, I also think this is the right move. As I said in an EqD comment, the time to leave the stage is when the audience still want more. This show has changed my life, and I'm not exaggerating its importance one bit when I say that. I hope its last season gives us something special.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

So, that 2021 MLP film Hasbro announced...

...meaning this one. I reckon it's the long-mooted G5 prequel movie. So don't get too excited if you want another G4 one. So do I. But I don't think we're going to get it, I'm afraid. If that was going to happen, I'm sure they'd have stuck with the Toon Boom Harmony look, whereas this will be a CGI film. So yep, I'd put my money on G5 here. Still interested, but not quite yet.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 237: His Toeses are Roses

A day later than most weeks, but here's the new PR for your delight and delectation. You don't seem to be allowed to have delectation without delight, so you'll just have to lump it. I'm feeling mildly cheerful at the moment, since the weather has been almost springlike lately. Into double figures, crocuses out, you know the score. Onward.

Read it Later story count: 268 (nc)

Just the three fics to look at this week, all E-rated, but if you'd had the week I have then you'd be struggling too. Nothing especially terrible, just that stuff kept coming up in all sorts of places, often stuff that needed dealing with there and then. I hope things will calm down a bit now. Cue hollow laughter.

Brain Problem Situation by Tumbleweed
The Firework Lotus by ArgonMatrix
Decisions by hester1

★: 0 | ★★: 0 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Sounds of 2011: Nos. 24 to 20

As I mentioned yesterday, Ponyfic Roundup will appear tomorrow.

Back to the brony music of yore now, and by the end we'll be inside the top twenty at last! This week's collection starts off with one of the biggest breakout Pony hits, to the extent that many of the recent Bandcamp comments on the track are from people with no interest in MLP at all.

This one probably doesn't need any introduction, but you're getting one anyway! Ken Ashcorp, who rather exotically lives in the British Virgin Islands, specialises in game/cartoon-inspired material, but though he's still active this is his only My Little Pony song. On this evidence, that's a real shame, as "20 Percent Cooler" is a bona fide club dancefloor banger. (Hey, can I have a job on NME now?) It's barely three minutes long, but in that time you get quite a few Pony references and a beat that's truly impossible to ignore. It's also superbly produced by 2011 fandom standards and absolutely holds up today. A shame Ashcorp disabled comments on the video; that's not his normal practice, so I can only guess that there were flamewars or something. On a brighter note, you can find HQ goodness for a measly dollar (US) on Ken Ashcorp's Bandcamp.

No. 23 gets skipped for not meeting my inclusion criteria.

Next up we have an interesting experiment from Syllith. They describe this song as being "the instruments of Octavia but the melody and percussion of Vinyl Scratch" – hence the track name. It nearly works, and to some extent anticipates the ponies' canon duet in episode 100, but it doesn't quite gel as well as that. The artist re-did the track a couple of times in 2012, first with this re-orchestrated version and then with this improved release, which Syllith described as "a more accurate version of what [they] always hoped Scratching Harmony would sound like" and which adds some pleasant percussion. I'd recommend that third version to listen to, but it's not the one that made the 2011 chart. Sadly the Mediafire download in the description is just a 160k MP3.

More Vinyl now, this time from The Living Tombstone, though it's so old that he signs the video description with his former name, "Koolfox". He wrote this as a deliberate departure from electro stuff, and it's a little more ballad-y and reflective. This isn't one of my favourites of Tombstone's songs, largely because his Israeli accent seems particularly strong here and (to my ears, at least) rather gets in the way of the lyrics. The orchestration is pretty nice, though. Look in the description for a 320k MP3.

I said a little while back that WoodenToaster's "Pinkie's Lie" (late May 2011) wasn't quite the earliest enduring brony track I knew of. Because this is. Not A Clever Pony blazed brightly in the early days of the fandom and then was gone: their last upload is dated 30 July 2011. But this song, the one they'll be remembered for, was uploaded on 24 April. Not quite their first, as there are a couple of minor (and comments-disabled) tracks from a week or two earlier. But "For The New Lunar Republic" dates from the days when some fans raged at "Celestia's tyranny". By modern standards this isn't exactly a complex tune, being largely variations on a theme. But you can't argue with over a million views! 192k MP3 download in the description.

Next time: Your fears and horrors will come true. And not just because of my writing!