"Stay" lures listeners in with joyful, exciting energy that masks an inherent darkness hidden in the lyrics.
Hot on the heels of their stellar debut single, "Remember," LA-based alt J-Pop duo Bakénéko is back with an electric new song—"Stay."
Inspired by anime music and light novels like Doki Doki Literature Club, otaku fans will feel right at home with singer/songwriter Mai and composer/producer Brandon's chosen aesthetic. Further carving out a niche true to their namesake (Bakénéko is a shapeshifting cat yōkai from Japanese folklore), "Stay" is a bilingual bop that effortlessly alternates between English and Japanese. The musically complex track blends dreamy electronica with upbeat pop rock in the vein of J-Pop idols like Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Frequent shifts between Mai's haunting vocals during the soft verses and glitchy, robotic vocals during the amped up refrains create a captivating sense of dissonance that is aptly reflected in the lyrics.
"Stay" tells the story of a possessive girlfriend attempting to coerce her former lover back into a relationship through surveillance and harassment. Much like a real abusive relationship, "Stay" lures listeners in with joyful, exciting energy that masks the inherent danger of lyrics like: "Stay, stay, stay / Tell me you'll obey / Doing whatever I want to / Oh, no way / I can make you play / Try me once, you'll never escape." If we're too busy focusing on the fun exterior, we might not spot the red flags until it's already too late.
Mai said, "'Crazy ex' is what the girl I'm portraying is called, right? But when a guy actually showed this kind of behaviour to me, people reassured me that he was just 'committed to love.' That's why I stayed so long in that relationship, and I hope flipping the genders helps others see how manipulative and messed up that double-standard is."
Alongside their projects as Bakénéko, Mai and Brandon's audio work can also be heard on film and television, across series for Netflix, E! Network, Facebook Watch, Amazon Prime TV, and an upcoming unannounced AppleTV+ production. Make sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter, too, especially if you like engaging with talented musicians who know what's happening in My Hero Academia.
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
Strong themes of duality bleed throughout Bakénéko's fantastic premiere.
Borrowing their name from a shapeshifting cat yōkai (or supernatural creature in Japanese folklore), LA-based alt J-POP duo Bakénéko effortlessly blends genres and languages in their first single, "Remember."
Much like a cat that can turn into a human, Bakénéko also excels at dualities. "Remember" opens with an upbeat guitar/synth track in the tradition of legendary electronic artists like Porter Robinson and CHVRCHES. Then the vocals cut in and "Remember" transforms into something familiar but also wholly original. Singer/songwriter M performs the main verses in Japanese and the chorus in English, but her voice remains constant—pretty, soft, and drenched in melancholy. The dissonance between the upbeat composition and downbeat vocals conveys a deep sense of pained nostalgia. "Remember" would fit in effortlessly amongst some of the best anime ending themes.
Centered around a personal reflection on fighting within a relationship built on genuine love, "Remember" aptly expresses themes of duality through its lyrics, too. The first pre-chorus translates to: "If the world sees only black or white / Then lets mix a grey zone together." This message of blending black and white into grey lies at the very core of Bakénéko's identity. "Until the viral growth of anime, I grew up shunned by two cultures," said M. "Wielding both languages is me finally embracing my Japanese heritage and American upbringing. Both have flaws, both have wonders, and that's okay. I'm okay."
While "Remember" marks Bakénéko's premiere, both members of the two-person group (composer/producer, B, and M, who did the sound design along with vocals and songwriting) have been working in the TV and film audio production industry for years. Their work can be heard everywhere from E! Network to Facebook Watch and Amazon Prime. We look forward to hearing what they'll put out next, but in the meantime, be sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter for some "otaku trash" opinions.
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