A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 5]

ray earth and nge

“Yuzurenai Negai” by Naomi Tamura (from the series Magic Knight Rayearth)

Don’t let the first few seconds minutes fool you, “Yuzurenai Negai” is a force to be reckon with it’s powerful vocals and rock setting. A revolutionary piece for it’s time as female rock vocalists like Tamura, Julia Mazda, Maki Ohguro, and Hiroko Moriguchi were bringing the “girl-power rock” genre into popularity.

The song solely starts off with Tamura taking her time with the pacing and using every ounce of her energy to make her vocals so innocent. But, after the intro, the guitars start to blare and Tamura’s sweet personality turn into a hard rocker by the chorus. It’s here that the singer adds a hard edge to the song by her vibrato. It’s so edgy yet beautiful.

I have yet to watch Magical Knight Rayearth (but I will since I now discovered that Hulu has the series) however, the theme songs by Naomi Tamura are exceptional as they are powerful and full of spirit. Especially “Yuzurenai Negai”.

 


 

“Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi (from the series Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Ahhh, this song. The one song that everyone sings at the karaoke box, including myself, and probably don’t know why they are singing it. Maybe because the anime is one of the most popular series out there? Maybe how the song is composed? Maybe people get inspired from the lyrics?

I just don’t know!

Whatever may the case be, this theme song from Neon Genesis Evangelion is addicting. For me, I love how the lyrics build up anticipation. Like you are part of the storyline. For example, when you sing the opening line of “Young boy, like a cruel angel’s thesis, live up to be a legend…” [1], it feels like you are the one who is calling out this “young boy” due to the narration, the slow pace, and the intensity of the caller’s emotions. Those emotions build up over time through the singer and the instrumentation. Even at the end, you feel like you have to emotionally “give it all” or the ending won’t be so dramatic.

I personally don’t like Evangelion, as I find it a tad boring for my tastebuds. But, I love to always sing “Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis” as the emotions and lyrics of the song appeal to me.

 

 


 

Previous Installments:

Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV


References

[1] “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis.” Evangelion. Web. 24 Dec. 2015. (http://evangelion.wikia.com/wiki/A_Cruel_Angel’s_Thesis)

 

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Reporting Live: ayumi shibata promoting “Babyrock” at Kanayama Asunal (August 6, 2015)

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It seems that this weekend is Up-Front Group Weekend! I talked about Morning Musume’s first English song on Friday. Then I saw Ciao Bella Cinquetti yesterday, performing a mini-live at a mall in central Nagoya.  And now I am going to talk about a former Hello! Project member, ayumi shibata.

This sweet-sounding singer got her start in 1999 after passing the 2nd Morning Musume and Michiyo Heike Little Sister Audition with three other girls: Hitomi Saito, Megumi Murata, and Masae Ohtani. These four then-teenagers formed the group Melon Kinenbi and released their debut single and one of my favorite songs, “Amai Anata no Aji”, in the winter of 2000. While releasing material with the group and going on various concert tours, ayumi also participated in various project in Hello! Project like 11WATER, Tanpopo, Elegies, and others.

However, she left Up-Front Group for another agency, Trick Function, a month after Melon Kinenbi broke up in 2010. She changed agencies in order to start a solo career with a clean slate. She performed her first self-penned song, “YOU&I”, during a small event held in Tokyo a few months later. ayumi wouldn’t release a physical debut single until a year later when “believe” was released.

“Babyrock” is the newest digital single released by this artist under the label SMC Entertainment. It is described as a pop-rock tune with a lot of girly rock flavor packed inside. You could say that this song is more upbeat than a Kana Nishino song while slower than one from Ai Otsuka. But what makes “Babyrock” different from other girly pop-rock songs is that this piece is very upbeat, has a summer-like flavor, and always presents a positive feeling. The nature of the song makes you want to stand up and bounce to the beat during the chorus as it’s so refreshing and makes you feel totally happiness.

As the blog Selective Hearing mentioned in their review, “Babyrock” is actually similar to the pop-rock music that Melon Kinenbi was doing at the end of the group’s career. So if you were fan of that side of Melon Kinenbi, you would most definitely love “Babyrock”. Plus, it really suits ayumi’s vocal skills. Although her vocals are not the best and can be too nasal sometimes, they mesh pretty well with the instrumental. ayumi wasn’t my favorite Melon Kinenbi member (That honors goes to Masae Ohtani, who had amusing song names) but she is pretty decent and got some decent material for a solo career.

During late July and August, ayumi went around to various malls, radio stations, and venues to promote her new single. One of the places she visited was Kanayama Asunal, which was holding a tenth anniversary special live for a weekly @FM radio program on August 6th. She was one of three guests who appeared at the live event along with the mall’s own idol group Juliet and an acoustic version of T.M. Revolution, Bokota.

I was able to find a seat in the bench section that was located in front of the stage thirty minutes before the live’s start time. It was very hot during that time and I really didn’t want to stand up for the entire time. During the long wait, Juliet came on to do a mic check and to practice their songs.

Then the live event started promptly at 6:30 pm. The event was formatted like a radio program where the artists would perform a couple songs while getting interviewed by the show’s hosts in between. The first group up was Juliet, whom I didn’t bother to pay any attention to because they were not my cup of tea. Their vocal skills were weak and I felt like they had bad makeup and/or fashion. They looked like unflattering Barbies. This group didn’t really appeal to me when I watched them perform.

Thirty minutes after the show started, Juliet exited the stage while the show’s hosts then introduced the one person I came to see. This singer started off her mini-live by singing a fast-paced song. ayumi sang about four songs in total during her time on stage. I don’t know exactly what were the songs but I suspect that the majority of what she sang came from her single “Hito Kakera no Kiseki”. I just remember that she sang a beautiful ballad that almost brought me to tears as it was so touching. She closed the program by singing “Babyrock” which she rallied up the audience to clap along.

After she finished, I decided that I wasn’t going to stick around for Bokota as I was too hungry to stay. I went to Chieco Kawabe’s Hawaiian-themed pancake shop “88 Huit Huit”. While Chieco is my favorite Sailor Mercury ever (besides Ayako Morino), the restaurant has tasty food and great drinks.

If you are into the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, Kana Nishino, Ai Otsuka, or other pop-rock female artists, then you should absolutely out “Babyrock” below with no hesitant. It’s an upbeat song that leave you with a good feeling inside and outside.

Musical Reactions: Morning Musume. 15 Wants To Tell You That They’re the “One and Only” with This Tune

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Morning Musume. or even their umbrella group Hello! Project has been impressing fans around the world since their debut eighteen years ago. From the shocking selections of new members from Mr. Producer himself, Tsunku, to their attempts to reach fans overseas with adding members with diverse skills, this Japanese girl pop group tries to keep their fans on the edge by challenging themselves with new goals. This group even has amazed me over the year in terms of their sound as they transitioned quite seamlessly from disco-themed hits like 1999’s “LOVE Machine” to the EDM music that the current line-up is known for.

However, their amazing dance routines and the diversity of the member’s skills isn’t the only things that makes this group astonishing.

This does:

 

The song above is called “One and Only” which is the current opening theme for the music program “J-MELO” on NHK World. One of the things that surprised me when I first listened to the song is that the whole thing is in English, a language that was very challenging for most of the group’s members.

This song feels like it features a lot of Miki Nonoka, a member who is a native speaker of English due to living overseas in the US. That is understandable since Nonoka is an ideal lead for this song due to her English ability. But, what irks me is that it seems like the mixer cranked up the volume on Miki’s vocal track. I feel that during the group chorus, the only person I can hear is Miki as her vocals consume the others. Or maybe I am just imagining things as: (a) I just can’t pick out everyone’s voices just yet (which is unlikely) or (b) since everyone got the same coach to teach them the English pronunciation, each member just have the same vocal style and pronunciation while singing in English. Just wish I could  hear a little more of Kanon Suzuki’s lines. 😦

What makes this song kind of confusing is its identity. Is it a traditional pop song? Or is it an EDM tune? I recently read up on Tsunku’s notes to see what was the song’s style. The only thing he mentioned is the song’s changing keys and the cool guitar riff during the intro. I feel like the guitar riffs are the best part while the generic claps and the EDM-style synthesizer sprinkled here and there are the worst parts. The song doesn’t really need them as the guitar and bright piano got everything covered. I know it’s the current trend for Morning Musume. But seriously, won’t it be nice to take a break from EDM once in awhile? Go traditional!

Some people have complained about the lyrics contents as the words are just plain terrible. For me, I personally don’t care about the lyrics. I am just happy that they are in English and the girls are trying their best to sing them. But, I do think that the dance is a bit whack, especially at 0:03.  Dance moves like that makes you question what was the choreographer thinking when he or she came up with the moves. Did you really want Morning Musume do some mutated dance routine from “Thriller”?

Overall, the song is decent. Will it be a hit? Naaah. Is it decent? Yes if you just ignore the weird dance movements and the annoying EDM instruments that pops up time to time. I wish it featured more members and wasn’t a “Miki Nonoka featuring other members that are supposedly part of this group, whaaaaaaat?” song.

What do you think about Morning Musume’s first English song? Is it good? is it horrendous? Comment below!