Music review: five songs to keep you upbeat!

Craig Hoffman
6 min readMar 28, 2022


Note from Craig: It is great to be back in the music saddle writing for the Icon(s)! I hope everyone is doing well in my hometown area, and as always, thank you for reading. What songs do you use for daily motivation? Let the Icon(s) know in the comments!

On Everything Is Smaller In Japan

Tissue boxes are small in Japan. I have an uncanny knack for being the person who pulls out the last tissue. At my house, this usually means I have to get a new box of tissues from the closet. It happens so often I can only assume my wife is conspiring with the tissue manufacturer to toy with me. Why can’t she have an affair instead, like everybody else in Japan? (I kid…)

Song Recommendation- “Don’t Stop Believing” Journey (1981)

“Don’t Stop Believin’” is a song by American rock band Journey. It was released as the second single from the group’s seventh studio album, Escape. Mike DeGagne of AllMusic has described “Don’t Stop Believin’” as a “perfect rock song” and an “anthem,” featuring “one of the best opening keyboard riffs in rock.” It is the best-selling single digital track of the 20th century (seven million copies).

On People Who Never Win In Bingo Or In Life

I love playing bingo. That’s a good thing here because Japanese people often play bingo at their company, community, and school parties. In fact, my first company in Japan played it every year at our staff Christmas party. There were some awesome prizes. I played for five years. Sadly, I never won anything.

Now, you might think I was unlucky. And I was to a degree. But, the school principal bought a ton of prizes for the teachers. It should have been impossible to lose that much at bingo. It is a game of chance after all. But I did. I had a better chance of dating a model than winning bingo at those parties. By the way, my model-dating total is one.

Song Recommendation- “It’s My Life” Bon Jovi (2000)

“It’s My Life” is a song by American rock band Bon Jovi. It was released on May 8, 2000, as the lead single from their seventh studio album, Crush. “Nobody had anticipated the song ‘It’s My Life’,” noted Jon Bon Jovi. “Except us. We knew we had a hit.”

It is the most viewed video for Bon Jovi on YouTube, with over one billion views. If only my writing got viewed that much, I’d have “a life” instead of writing music reviews (snort, snort).

Contrary To Popular Belief Not “Everybody Is A Winner” In Life

That’s all you need to know about my bingo-winning prowess. There is no doubt I have offended the bingo gods. The funny thing is that in America I used to work bingo nights at the local community center.

It was my job to walk around selling little pull-tab tickets for a raffle game while the people played bingo. It was a way to make extra profit beyond the take from bingo. It was also a clever way to skirt the local gambling laws. The leader gave me a microphone.

What can I say? I had a reputation as being a bit of a showman. That’s code for I love to hear myself talk.

Song Recommendation- “Beautiful” Christina Aguilera (2002)

“Beautiful” is a song recorded by American singer Christina Aguilera for her fourth studio album, Stripped. It won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 2004 ceremony. At the end of the day, you have to be happy with being Y-O-U.

Sometimes You Just Have To Put On A Happy Face

Every time someone won, I would make it seem like they had won ten million dollars. Most people loved my antics. But one old woman did not. The old woman was a regular at the bingo events. One night she had more than enough of me trying to peddle my wares.

We had the following exchange:

“Hey moron! Can you shut up?”
“My name is Craig. Do you want to buy a ticket?”
“Will it shut you the $%$% up?”
“Well, no, I have to sell this whole sheet.”
“How many are left?”
“I’ll buy them all if you will just shut the $%$% up.”
“Oh, and if you turn that microphone on again, I will $%$%-ing end you.”

I think she was joking. But just the same, I was quiet as a church mouse for the next two hours.

That old woman basked in beating me. She guzzled cheap whisky and chain-smoked off-brand cigarettes while scowling in my direction. The old woman mocked me while chatting with the other players. There was a part of me that wanted to kick the ancient bat right in her “Free Space.” But I did not.

Truthfully, I needed the job and the extra money that came with it. Later that night, the community center leader collected my sheet along with the sheets from some of the other workers. He looked at my empty sheet and then at me for a moment. I thought I was in trouble.

“You sold the whole sheet?”
“How did you do that?”
“Well, I was really annoying.”
“Yeah, I saw that.”

Song Recommendation- “We are the Champions” Queen (1977)

“We Are the Champions” is a song by the British rock band Queen, first released on their album News of the World. Cash Box said that it contains “heroic lyrics and rapid changes in dynamics and emotional intensity” and praised guitarist Brian May’s “dark backing lines and rippling fills.”

Amazingly, in 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that “We Are the Champions” was the catchiest song in the history of pop music, despite its not reaching #1 in the charts in any major market. So you can keep trying in life even if you didn’t bring home the trophy today.

Yes, I Have No Shame

At that point, I was embarrassed to admit the reason for my moment of success. There was no doubt the man saw the embarrassment written all over my face. I said nothing as I turned to leave with my head down. Life kicked me hard back in those days. I was used to failing.

“Hey Craig, wait a second,” the man said.

I sheepishly turned back. The leader took out his expensive leather wallet, and he handed me a crisp fifty-dollar-bill. I was speechless. That was a lot of money at that point in my life. The leader shook my hand like I was a CEO, and he left me with a quote I use to this day.

“Always remember nobody cares how you kill the cow as long as they are eating steak for dinner.”

Song Recommendation- “Don’t Worry be Happy” Bobby McFerrin (1988)

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is a song by American musician Bobby McFerrin released in 1988. It was the first a cappella song to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is ranked №31 on VH1’s “100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the ‘80s” and also appears on Rolling Stone’s list of the 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time.

Yet in 2011, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was named as the worst song of all time by Village Voice critic Michael Musto. Always remember, you are never going to make everyone happy so just be yourself!

Final Take: I take solace that tomorrow there is a new game to play, and one more grand opportunity in life to finally get B-I-N-G-O. A Life Full Of Joy: 5/5

Craig Hoffman is a music graduate of Ohio Northern University and The University of Akron School of Music. He also serves as the Icon’s Japan correspondent.

Originally published at



Craig Hoffman

Craig is a #writer, #editor, #betareader & #blogger. 2000+ #blog posts & seven #ebooks including #shortstories “The Tempo of Tempura” and “Carl Crapper.”