A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 2]

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Here is Part Two of my monthly series of anime theme songs from 1995. In case you are new to this blog or missed it, don’t forget to check out the first part here!

Please enjoy!


Hayashibara Megumi – “Nostalgic Lover” (from “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”)

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The 90s were all about this woman! You literally could not watch an anime series that did not have Hayashibara Megumi as some sort of character. Being immensely popular in the voice acting world, Hayashibara also enjoyed a successful music career, singing various theme songs to memorable anime series. I think anyone who grew up watching 90’s anime would say that the first Japanese voice actor.actress they ever learned about was Hayashibara Megumi and was first introduced to either “Lively Motion” or “Successful Mission”. That’s how I knew about this fabulous woman.

“Nostalgic Lover” is an example of one the finest works in Megumi’s enormous discography. The song was actually a character song for the anime series “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”, playing the character Aki. It is a breath-taking song as it is full of emotions. Hayashibara approaches the song is at first, she starts off slowly and then builds up her emotions as if she was anger during the pre-chorus. Then finally at the chorus, she almost goes back to the same level of softness from the stanzas. However, it is now filled with even more romantic feelings. I really love to sing this at karaoke because of the song’s emotional setting.

Another thing what makes this song lovely is the instrumentation. Set up as a light pop-rock song, “Nostalgic Lover” relies more on the electric guitars with the electronic keyboards, bass, and chorus playing secondary. The alluring part of “Nostalgic Lover” is the musical break between the second and last choruses. During this time, the keyboards comes in first, playing a soothing chordal progression. The chorus comes in afterwards, repeating the same pattern, while the electric guitar follows. It is when the three musical elements come together that the musical break is simply breathtaking..

If you haven’t heard of Hayashibara Megumi,  “Nostalgic Lover” is a good place to start. The video below also links to her other songs so you could literally have a listening party!


Meu – “Rashiku Ikimasho” (from “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS”)

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Ahhh, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho”. Actually, any Sailor Moon song is always on the top of anison/anime song lists because I loooooooooooooove Sailor Moon. I also loooooooooooooove the song featured today. The ending to the fourth season of the super popular girls’ series “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon”, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho” is a fun, poppy song that fits the character of Sailor Chibi Moon perfectly. Just look at the lyrics[1], the song captures her feelings perfectly as she tries to find friendship and her first love with an important character to the series’ storyline, Helios/Pegasus.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, imagine an elementary school-aged girl who is experiencing their first love. This is that kind of the song.

The song opens up with a brief musical introduction that features a staccato-ed chordal melody on distorted electric piano higher pitched, airy synthesizer. After the bass guitar slides for a fleeting moment, Meu comes in with full power to sing the chorus. Actually, Meu has perfect vocals for this song as they are soft, orotund, and high-pitched but not shrilly. The song continues in the same fashion to the end.

Although the song features a limited number of instruments (a horns section, synthesizer, bass, and a distorted keyboard), keeps the same vocal style, and has a melody that doesn’t change a lot, the song is never boring. It’s actually the exact opposite and a step up from the previous ending. (Sorry to the fans of “Watashi-tachi ni Naritakute”, it isn’t one of my favorite Sailor Moon ballads as the vocals and melody aren’t alluring). It’s really upbeat!  That is because by the time this song was produced, club music was really prominent all over Japan thanks to a music producer named Komuro Tetsuya.  And, Mizuno Masao and Hayashi Yuzo wanted to captured a piece of that dance music craze when composing “”Rashiku” Ikimasho”. I bet their motto for this song was something on the lines of “short and simple”, just like everyday dance music was back then.

“”Rashiku” Ikimasho” is a likable song that features Meu’s light vocals, lyrics that reminds you of the adventures with a first love, and short and simple instrumentation that you can dance to. It is one of my favorite songs in the Sailor Moon musical world, hopefully it can be yours too.


References

[1] “Miss Dream.” Miss Dream. 2015. Web. 28 June 2015. <https://missdream.org/sailor-moon-lyrics/rashiku-ikimasho&gt;.

Music Reactions: Amuro Namie is back with her 80s’ dance beat meets R&B mashup “_genic”

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It’s Japanese music week here on ☆ai love music☆! I swear it won’t be the case with the next post, I swear! It just happens to be the week that the Queen of Japanese Hip-Pop and my idol, Amuro Namie, released her new album “_genic”.

Has Amuro really had a dull moment ever in her career? I don’t think so. She has always dazzled many with her catchy “Hip-Pop” (a mix between hip-hop and pop) dance tunes, fashion trends, and her ambitions of always going forward. She continuously raises the bar every year in any avenue of work she does. And, that’s what I like about her. So, when Amuro announced that she was releasing a new album, I was really interested in what new concepts would she bring to the music world.

(Author’s note: I will write more about Amuro’s impact in the musical world, Japanese culture, and even in my own life when I do a write up about the 20th anniversary of her debut single, “Body Feels EXIT”, last this season. )

One of the latest trends in Amuro’s music is worldwide influence. Over the past five or so years, Amuro has been singing more in English, recording in various international hot spots like Los Angeles and London, and started to enlist more non-Japanese producers to help create her songs.  One example of this is a duet with French singer David Guetta on a duet version of his hit song “What I Did for Love”. Many have speculated that Amuro is getting ready for an American or even possible a Worldwide debut in the near future. Maybe it will happen or maybe not. Who knows? Even if she doesn’t get an American recording contract, Amuro Namie is still a legend whether you live in Japan or anywhere in the world.

Before we jump off the bandwagon off with wild speculations, let’s come back and take a look at three songs from the new album, Even though the album didn’t feature any singles, it was heavily promoted on her official site and the video site Youtube with various videos. The first track showcased was “Fashionista”.

The songs starts off with a strong start, featuring a baritone saxophone, an electric organ, and a fierce rhythm. But, what the song is lacking is powerful vocals. If you listen to the chorus, Namie’s vocals are weak enough for her to struggle through the song’s fierce personality. Maybe it wasn’t her or the label’s intention to have “Fashionista” be the “it” song vocal-wise. Instead, the song bows out to the stronger player, the music video, as it just focuses on Namie’s ethereal beauty as she wears colorful outfits in a black and white world and dancing in between yellow laser beams.

“Golden Touch” is a perfect summer song that could be passed off as a distant cousin of an Ariana Grande tune. I do question Wikipedia sometimes and how it came up with the argument to classify this song as an “old-school “Beyonce–esque” R&B”. How can that be! Which song from Beyonce’s or Destiny’s Child’s discography does “Golden Touch” remind you of?

Besides that, “Golden Touch” is a cool summer-y piece that doesn’t use electrical instruments too excessively. The bass section of the synthesizers are used perfectly as they accent the down beat of each measure. What also fits perfectly is Namie’s vocals. This is the type of upbeat song that can aid her voice and create a pure harmonization, especially when she hits the nasal sections.

Sadly, I did not like the video at all. Sure, it did have a cool concept and stunning visuals. But, didn’t you get bored after a while, just having your index finger pointing to one section of the screen? I did. And, I really wished I could touch, or at least experience the feelings of touch, Amuro’s finger at the end of the video. Just touching a computer screen that has Amuro’s trying to touch your finger doesn’t cut it.

But, congratulations to Amuro. “Golden Touch” was featured on an American radio station! The song was part of the lineup on a recent episode of Jenna Marble’s Youtube 15, which is on SiriusXM’s Hits on 1. I wonder if “Golden Touch” will be Namie’s guide to the American music market…

(…which could happen because the song is a peeeeeeeeeerfect summer song that resounds the current American music tastes and last year’s summer hit, Ariana Grande’s “Problem”.)

The last song I want to talk about is “Anything”. When I was reading up on the numerous album reviews all over the internet, this one written on KPopBreak made me think a lot about this song when the author E.T. compared it to TLC. Because the author is right, it actually does! Doesn’t it remind you of “Unpretty“? Both songs feature lyrics of girl empowerment, using the same acoustic instruments, and similar melodic and rhythmic structures in the chorus. Hmm….

But I do have to give  “Anything” some credit. It’s a pretty ballad with a strong message and got some great vocal action and decent English pronunciation from Amuro. Futhermore, ballads have always been Amuro’s strong point and “Anything” furthers that point with her soothing and strong timbre.

The album features ten other songs that I will not review right now because I don’t have a lot of time to do a full, in-depth review. (It’s already 1 am here and I have work in the morning.) Nevertheless “_genic” doesn’t really impress me from what I heard on Youtube. It has some decent songs but it isn’t as memorable as her 2012 album “Uncontrolled”, which is one of my favorite modern-day Amuro albums.

How did you enjoy _genic? Do you think Amuro Namie has what it takes to release an album in America?

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Reporting Live: Tokyo Performance Doll at Tower Records Kintetsu Passe (May 03, 2015)

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Here is the long-awaited part two of the last day of my Golden Week spree to see many artists. Enjoy!

So right after I saw Takui Nakajima at Tower Records Nagoya Parco, I rushed to another music store in order to see another idol group, the current lineup of Tokyo Performance Doll or TPD for short.

I know what my readers are probably saying. It might be on the lines of “Wait! Didn’t you say in a post a couple of months ago that you disliked the current revival and would stick to your 90s TPD? Why the sudden change?”

Yes, I did say that I wasn’t happy with the resurrection of Tokyo Performance Doll with brand new members. How could they just replace the legacy that Shinohara Ryoko, Ichii Yuri, and the others made when they worked so hard back in the 90s? I thought it wasn’t fair. But, after seeing the new members, I began to think otherwise.

For those who don’t know about Tokyo Performance Doll (however I think they are getting more exposure overseas nowadays through blogs and TV programs like Tokyo Girls’ Update), they are a Japanese idol pop group that had two generations; a first generation in the early 90s and a second generation that started in 2013. The first generation had nine front members while various other girls served as trainees. Some of the trainees were promoted as front members at the end of the group’s career while some just served as backup dancers during performances. Members of TPD were more prominent as solo artists than as group members in the Japanese pop culture as some like Shinohara Ryoko and Ichii Yuri had record-breaking solo careers. And, most of the members were placed in several subgroups which released more material than the main group. However, the popularity of the group and the girls disappeared before the end of the 90s after TPD disbanded in 1996.

Fast forward sixteen years later when the agency CUBE decided to revitalize the Tokyo Performance Doll name by adding ten new girls. The new lineup released their first single, entitled “BRAND NEW STORY”, on June 11, 2014. Besides singing, the girls also star in their own variety show “Tokyo Goukyuu Kyoushitsu ~ROAD TO 2020~” and their own weekly corner on the radio show “GIRLS・GIRLS・GIRLS =FULL BOOST=”

After I got Takui Nakajima’s signature, I quickly headed to Tower Records Kintetsu Passe. But, one problem. I was still not sure about the subway system or the directions to the stations at that point. So, I spent about thirty minutes heading to a wrong station and then back-tracking to go to the correct one. It was such a headache.

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The setlist for the live event was (thanks to for electroursxxx the information):

01. WE ARE TPD!!
02. BRAND NEW STORY
03. Jyuudai ni Tsumi wa Nai (十代に罪はない)
04. Kokoro no Rule (心のルール; How did I miss this one????!!!! ;_;)
05. BE BORN
06. DREAM TRIGGER
-MC- (Dance Explanation)
07. DREAMIN’
-MC-

I think I came in during “Be Born”, I exactly don’t remember. I do remember that the audience was separated into two sections; one for those who pre-ordered the single and one for the regular audience. It was really easy to be in the front row of the regular audience section as there wasn’t a lot of people. I just chilled and watched TPD dance and sing on the small stage while the fan boys yelled their chants and jumped wildly.

After the live event ended, I decided to buy the one track version of the single so I could shake the members’ hands. However, while I was waiting for the staff to set up the handshaking area, one guy fan came up to me and mysteriously gave me two additional “TPD tickets”. Wow, I thought, I could use these tickets to get a photo with one of the members.

I used the ticket I gImage and video hosting by TinyPicot from pre-ordering the single for the handshake event. For this event, TPD was divided into two groups and you could only use one ticket for one group. Clever management, clever. I decided to go for the second group that featured Iida Sakurako,Takashima Nana, and three other girls. Each girl was really nice and asked how did I know about them while congratulating me for attending my first TPD live. It was when I shook Sakurako’s hand when she told me that Nana was really good at English. I was surprised and continue my way to Nana, who was the last member of the group.

When I got to Nana, I flat-out told her in English “I heard that you speak English!”. And then, in perfect teenager girl English, she replied excitedly , ‘Yeah, I am! Where are you from?” I told her that I was from America and we said some other things and our goodbyes before I got pushed gently by one of the staff members to move along. We waved at each other until the next person came up to shake her hand.

I waited around for quite some time till the handshake event  was to be concluded. I swear there was a pair of guys who bought like 20 copies or so because they kept on going through the line for a long time. After they exhausted their tickets, the girls finished shaking hands and said a cute message about ending the event and they were going to get ready for the photo session. While the girls were changing outfits, one of the managers came out and did a rock paper scissor challenge in order to win an autographed uchiwa (Japanese fan) from the members. I tried very hard to win, because I like free and signed things, but lost by the fourth or fifth round.

When they finished up the challenge, the staff members told the fans that the girls were ready to come out. One by one, they came out in the stunning outfits that you see at the top of this post. I think these are the best outfits that I have seen on any idol group this year. They were so beautiful.

The members said a short message to commerce the photo session and went to get ready. The staff members started to line the fans up by which member they wanted to take a picture with, which I wanted Nana. I lined up for Nana and the staff member asked me for five tickets. Five tickets? I thought it was one ticket for a photo. No, he said as he explained it was five tickets to get a picture taken with a member. Defeated, I left the area with my head hung low and was about to exit when I had an idea. I went back to Tower Records’ store table and asked them about the rules. The salespeople at the table were unsure and directed me to speak to one of the staff members. So, I went to one staff member and asked him about the event rules. He said one ticket was for a handshake or access to their photo site on some Japanese app. I tried to find the app but I couldn’t download it because I forgot my Japanese iTunes account name.

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I was about to leave once more with two tickets still in my hand (which I tried to pass on to other fans who looked at me with a dumbfounded expression) when the same staff member made a deal with me. He let me see Nana and talk to her for an extended period if I gave him the two tickets. Shocked at first, I excitedly agreed as I gave him the tickets and let him lead me to the backstage area where the girls were hanging out. The staff member called for Nana and she came to me with a huge grin and shook my hand again with the other girls behind her. We talked for an extended time as I asked where she got her amazing English skills (which she said she live in Singapore for a couple of years). In turn, she asked me how did I know about the group, which I replied with the answer of because I was a fan of the old TPD, “Occhame na Juliet”, Shinohara Ryoko, and Ichii Yuri. The whole group was amazed that I knew about the old TPD. Nana also told me the girls want to learn English someday. I replied that hopefully the members can so they can come to America someday. She had to leave suddenly because she was called to do a photo shoot with a fan. We said our goodbyes once more and I told her that I would tell my friends about the new TPD. She smiled and waved as we parted.

As I was leaving the area, I thanked the staff member who helped me to get a private conversation with the girls. I was so happy that I was offered the chance. But, I also felt guilty because I was given this special chance because I clearly didn’t understand the rules. It took a couple of prep talks from friends later to make feel un-guilty and it was ok to have this kind of opportunity. Nevertheless, when I was walking away from the event, I had a tremendous feeling that I want to do something like the opportunity I was given. I want to someday interview music groups and write about them on blogs, websites, and etc.

Someday.

As for “Dreamin”, the song is pretty mediocre for my tastes, It’s not splendid but at the same time, it’s not bad. I think what makes this song special is the message behind it. During one of the MCs, Nana said that song was the result of the girl’s dreams and the amount of hard work they put in to become idols. Musically wise, I think the rearranged version of BE BORN, a song that was featured on the original TPD’s album “Cha-DANCE Party Vol.6”, is better than “Dreamin” as it has an interesting flow and great lyrics.

From now on out, I will follow these girls as they are genuinely kind, down-to-earth girls who have splendid dreams. Although I kind of wish they didn’t take on the TPD name, I now know that the girls will take care of TPD’s past and future legacy with great care. Please check out their new single if you haven’t already.

You Are Invited To Come Inside the House of the band Tulip

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(Written between June 7th and 21st)

Today, we are going to travel back to the 1970s where peace flourished in most parts of the world, scandals happened, and musical tastes became more diverse. Rock music evolved and changed as new sub-genres were founded such as hard rock, progressive rock, and glam rock. Hip-hop became a new trend primarily in the Black American community thanks to many artists like Grandmaster Funk. Disco, a new type of dance music, flourished in the night clubs, made new terms like “boogey down” popular, and set fashion trends with the afro, bell-bottom pants, and platform shoes.

Even though the 70s pioneered many new musical trends, it still kept a few memories of the 60s alive. Some of these memories were prog(ressive) rock, pop rock, and art rock. By the start of a new decade, bands like ELO, Yes, Genesis, and others experimented with new forms of rock with success. Genesis’ “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” album with art rock, Yes’ “Roundabout” with prog rock, and ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” with pop rock all had influenced the music world by unique instrumentation and brand new musical concepts. Soon after, the whole world caught on to this diverse rock sound craze and tried to emulate it for their own musical scenes.

Tulip was a Japanese band who wanted to try these new rock sounds out. Based in southern Japan (Kyushu), Yoshida Akira, Soda Shinji, and Suehiro Nobuyuki came together in 1971 while studying at Seinan Gakuin University. The band played at various lives around campus, trying to emulate the Beatles’ sound with their first song “Hashiradokei ga 10jihan”.[1] The band decided to head to Tokyo and try getting a record deal soon after. However, Soda Shinji and Suehiro Nobuyuki decided they didn’t want to leave Fukuoka and quit. That led the band to recruit Zaitsu Kazuo for vocals, keyboard and guitar, Himeno Tatsuya for vocals, guitar, and keyboard,  Abe Toshiyuki for guitar, and Ueda Masatoshi for drums.

Tulip signed a deal with an indies label when they got to Tokyo and released two singles, “Hashiradokei ga 10jihan” and “Watashi no Chiisa na Jinsei”. On September 20, 1972, they made their major debut with the single “Mahou no Kiiroi Kutsu” on the label Shinko Music. For the next seventeen years, the band would have numerous hit songs like “Kokoro no Tabi”, “Saboten no Hana”, and “Niji to Sneaker to Koro”. The band also had many lineup changes as most of the members, except for Zaitsu, left the band during the 80s and were replaced by new members Miyagi Shinichiro, Ito Kaoru, Tanno Yoshiaki, and Takahashi Hiro.

The band sadly broke up in 1989 after they released the album “Well”. Most of the band members went onto do other activities with the lead singer Zaitsu Kazuo continuing on his mediocre solo career. Some of the band’s members got back together in 1997 to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. However, the band stayed together for a ten year period, releasing more material during their revival. The band recently reunited in 2012 to celebrate forty years by holding a concert.

Five years after Tulip made their major debut, the band decided to release their first English song, “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”. As a well-crafted “progressive meets pop and art rock” song, “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”  reminds you a lot of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”. Both songs feature various musical influences by the Beatles, a lively, bouncy piano sound akin to something found in Paul McCartney’s song “Come and Get It“, and adopting everyday objects as musical instruments. But, what makes ELO and Tulip different from each other is how each band composed their own sound. When writing  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”., Zaitsu Kazuo probably wanted to feature more of a musical style that was found in the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” within the song. “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE” focused more on the soft electric guitar, piano, and drum sound with a lot of John Lennon-inspired backing vocals. Meanwhile, ELO had always wanted to be a rock band that “pick[ed] up where The Beatles left off”[5] by featuring more styles from the “White Album” and even later evolving from the Beatles sound to their own sound. ELO’s music was often a mixture of rock music, orchestras, and electrical sound properties.

Although, the same-titled album can be classified as pop rock, I feel like the song itself can be considered as a mixture of progressive, pop, and art rock. If you listen to it, the song does have a certain pop-like quality, especially by the upbeat attitude often associated with songs composed in cut time. Now,  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE” has the basic rock instrumentation with no orchestral instruments present. The song instead features new innovations in the 70s’ Japanese rock scene with unusual percussion and using the backing vocals to paint a bigger picture within the song; a common theme in art rock. As for the progressive rock sound, the song accents a folk music-like structure, which was very popular in Japan during the album’s release, and changing time signatures from cut time to a slower meter by the end.

If you like The Beatles or ELO, then you should most definitely check out  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”. Named as the Japanese Paul McCartney, Zaitsu Kazuo brings the vocal and musical composition of The Beatles while using the up-beat tempos and piano of ELO in this song.[6] 

This post is dedicated to my dear mom who is a huge Beatles and rock fan. Without her, I probably wouldn’t have the entire The Beatles discography mesmerized by heart or known English rock music really well. Most importantly, this post wouldn’t be written.  I contacted my mom, who always gave me a very detailed explanation, whenever I was uncertain about something written in this post.

Rock on, mom! ❤

Listen to the full album here:


References

[1]  “チューリップ (バンド).” チューリップ (バンド) – Wikipedia. 17 Sept. 2004. Web. 21 June 2015. <https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%81%E3%83%A5%E3%83%BC%E3%83%AA%E3%83%83%E3%83%97_(%E3%83%90%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89)&gt;

[2]  Alan, McGee. “ELO: The Band the Beatles Could Have Been.” The Guardian. 16 Oct. 2008. Web. 21 June 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2008/oct/16/elo-better-than-beatles&gt;

[3]  “ゆうちょ LETTER for LINKS(レター・フォー・リンクス).” ミュージシャン 財津和夫さん. Tokyo FM, 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 June 2015 .<http://www.tfm.co.jp/links/index.php?itemid=77894&gt;

Music Reactions: My love for BoA’s new single “Who Are You”

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BoA.

Words cannot describe how much I love BoA. She has been my role model and idol since I first watched her in the “Every Heat ~Minna no Kimochi~” music video when I was a middle school student once upon a time ago. Maybe I am a bit biased because of my love for her but BoA is one of the most talented artists in modern day Korean music. It’s because of many factors from her versatile vocals to her ability to try different, more cutting-edge music in each album and her impeccable fashion sense. I don’t think I have a song that I don’t like from her as they are top notch, musically tasty, and well-liked. Ok, ok, I will stop fawning over her with my deep love…

A couple weeks back, BoA released her eighth Korean album “Kiss My Lips”. One of the leading singles from it is “Who Are You”.:

I feel like this song is the Korean twin sibling of her 2010 Japanese hit “Bump Bump”. Both songs have similar themes with a male rapper, a slow opening that speeds up by the time it hits the chorus and/or first verse, the use of BoA’s wide range by making her go to the highest note that she can hit and then the lowest note, and other factors.

Could this ever be related to “Who are You?”?

However, “Who Are You”. is not a complete ripoff of “Bump Bump”.. One difference is the story-telling themes in the lyrics. For “Bump Bump”, it’s is a fast past electronica meets funk song that convinces the theme of having fun and partying. While “Who Are You” is that casual, stroll in the park song that talks about finding love by going on blind dates. Also, the musical directions are different as  “Who Are You” is a standard Kpop song that features the use of an electric grand piano, light, airy synthesizers. and uplifting clapping. As MR JKPOP pointed out in his recent video review of the song, the sound in “Who Are You” reminisce to one that BoA started off with back in the early part of her career. Maybe I can hear the similarity when I listen to the “No. 1” album, especially with “My Sweetie”, but only for a tiny bit.  I think “Who Are You” emulates more of BoA’s music during the mid-2000s, especially when half the stuff in “Who Are You” reminds me of Maki Goto’s music.

Whatever direction you view this song in, most will agree that  “Who Are You”. is a lovely, airy, and relaxing song that would be perfect for any “fun, cute romantic moments”  during this time of the year.

Reporting Live: Takui Nakajima’s “Renga no Ie” Promotional Event at Nagoya Parco’s Tower Records [May 03, 2015]

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I want to say a big thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you for 1,000 views and 600 visitors! I first saw the news on my phone during break time at work and broke out into a happy dance!

Thank you for your continuous support!

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Now to our weekly installment of Reporting Live (old name was Live Report). By the time I saw the next artist, it was the last day of my spree to see free lives around the city during the glorious Golden Week. This artist has become prominent this year as he gained more responsibility over the creation and production of several famous girl groups’ songs. Today’s Reporting Live is how I saw the amazing Takui Nakajima and why he brought me to tears.

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For those who are not familiar with Takui Nakajima or the Hello! Project fandom, don’t worry, let me give you a recap! Takui began his career in 1994 when he joined the indies visual kei band MAGGIE MAE, a name inspired from a Beatles’ song, right after he moved to Tokyo. The band stayed together until 1998 when they decided to break up. A year later, Takui debuted on the label Sony Music Records with his first name only in caps serving as his artist name. He released his first single, “Triangle”, under the label.

After the start of the millennium, Takui decided to jump labels as he went from Sony Columbia to an indies label before settling at Up Front Works. Maybe the switch to an indies label and a lesser-known one (Let’s face it, artists in Up-Front Agency at that time, who were not part of Hello! Project, were less well known) helped him more as he continued to create more of his own music and receive the freedom to experiment different musical genres. You could say a lot about his music. But for me, his music is filled of influences from the Beatles (which he is a big fan of and so am I), soft rock, hard-core rock, visual kei, blues, and beyond.

I can’t really talk much about the live event because honestly, I was late for it. My friend and I decided to eat Domino’s Japan, a rarity in my daily life because it’s sooooooo expensive here, after spending the hot Sunday morning at a zoo nearby. After finishing eating a late lunch, we realized that it was 2:40 pm. The live started at three o’clock, oh no! After casually walking to the station and riding the train, I barely made it to Sakae Station at three, a location where my friend and I decided that we would go on our own treks for the late afternoon.

It was my first time visiting Nagoya Parco’s Tower Records, so I didn’t know exactly where I had to go. See, the problem was that there were three Parco buildings. And because I decided not to pay attention to the store’s online event information, I decided to go and search for the store in the wrong building. As I reached the top, I realized my mistake and had to run down the stairs and go to the correct building. By the time I made it to the store, it was 3:18 pm! Takui already had already performed half his setlist!

When I entered, Takui was performing an amazing cover of “Back in the U.S.S.R.”. It was full of energy and so lively that most of audience were dancing and/or clapping their hands in a subtle way. Actually, the audience at this live event was the opposite of any fans at a Hello! Project event. At those events, most fans are men who are dressed in a color-coordinate style of their favorite member, armored with glowsticks, and performing their extreme fan chants throughout the songs. At Takui’s lives, the fans are mostly middle-aged women, some with babies, who are swaying to the beats, eyes beaming at him like he is some musical Jesus or something. It was complete silence, something I thought to be nice but eerie at the same time.

He sang a couple more songs. Here is the setlist, courtesy of James Yamada:

1. Tsugi no Mado wo Magare (次の角を曲がれ)
2. Donna Koto ga Atte mo (どんなことがあっても)
3. Hitori ni Narou to Shinaide (一人になろうとしないで)
4. Taiki Bansei (大器晩成)
5. Guernica (ゲルニカ) ~ BACK IN THE U.S.S.R
6. Sangousen (3号線)
7. Renga no Ie (煉瓦の家)
8. Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)

(You listen to full versions of the songs that are linked via Youtube)

I feel guilty of missing out on the first half because he performed some awesome songs like “Taiki Bansei” and “Tsugi no Mado wo Magare”. Nevertheless, the last song he performed was one of the best songs I have heard live for a long time. He started the song out with a mellow ambiance, just strumming mindlessly with only his guitar and singing the song. Half way through, he changed keys and started to sing a powerful rendition of “Stand By Me”. The way he performed with such power and emotions bought me to tears. His music moved me emotionally.

After he went IMG_1754back and finished “Tokyo Tower”, I wiped my tears while Takui thanked everyone for coming out. It was time to move: I had to go to a certain information desk and preorder the album in order to get an event ticket. The best thing was that it didn’t take a long time to signup for the preorder and get through the event line.

I actually went to this event for a friend because she is a huge of Takui. So, after I finished preordering, I went to the line, waiting for no less than five minutes. He was a really nice and kind person as he talked to everyone for an extended time and even saying hello to the babies and patted their arms that came up with their mothers. As I approached him, I shook his hand and told him that my friend from America said hi and that she loves him. He laughed and said “Thank you very much”. He signed a picture of himself, gave it to me, and we said our “goodbyes” and “see you next time” when I started to leave.

If you haven’t of this guy or his music, YOU SHOULD! I am not trying to yell at you or make you do it by typing everything in caps, but I strongly suggest listening to his new album. Takui is an amaaaaaaaaaazing performer who has a lot of talent that needs to be heard more through the musical world.

My friend recommend me the fast-paced, staccato-filled rock “Tsuzukerou”. It reminds me of a visual kei-type of song or something related to Tsunku.

Here is a promo for the new album: