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)

 

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 4]

slayers-gundam

“Get along” by Megumi Okui and Megumi Hayashibara (from the series “Slayers”)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I have recently started to watch Slayers thanks to one of my friends introducing it to me. It is also one of my sister’s favorite anime as she always watching one form of this 90s’ classic on her computer when I lived with her. I don’t know why I never watched this series. Maybe because it never really appeared on my list of “anime series to watch” . It could be also that I didn’t have access to it as downloading took eons on dial-up and I was too young to really buy VHS tapes or join an anime club when Slayers came out.

Nevertheless, the show is pretty brilliant with a good storyline and comedic characters. Of course, the show stopper would be the versatile Megumi Hayashibara, who plays the main character Lina Inverse. I have mentioned before how fabulous is Megumi in an earlier post with her song “Nostalgic Lover” from the anime “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”.

She didn’t stop being amazing in Slayers, she got even better.

“Get along”, the opening theme for the series, is a duet between Megumi Hayashibara and another anime singer Masami Okui, who has been one of my favorites since “Rinbu Revolution”. The song starts off with a twenty second instrumentation that builds up the song’s premise. It is also used as a filler as someone usually talks about the show during these first twenty seconds in the TV series. After the introduction, Megumi comes in all tough, singing her lines in a vigor style. Then Masami comes in with another punch during the pre-chorus. Both singers come together during the chorus, never slowing down.

What makes this song amazing is the combination Megumi and Masami. These girls are perfect together as they feed and bounce off each other energies. They also blend pretty well together as they have the same vocal types and skills. With these two dexterous singers, “Get along” is a great song as it’s powerful, upbeat, and never misses a beat,


“Just Communication” by TWO-MIX (from the series “New Mobile Report Gundam Wing”)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Ahhh, Gundam Wing, how nostalgic! It feels like only yesterday that I watched the first episode of the English dub on Toonami. As an anime with one of the best English dubs out there, “Gundam Wing” caught my attention with the bad boy Heero Yuy and the peaceful blonde hair beau Quatre Winner (who has an amazing voice actor, Kirby Morrow). It is one of the best Gundam series out there with a sensible plot, a great English dub, and a diverse set of characters.

Another thing that makes Gundam Wing so memorable is the music. “Just Communication”, the series’ first opening theme, had a considerable impact on anime songs in the 90s. Minami Takayama’s soothing vocals helps to set an ambient feel to the song  Her vocals are further supported by the instrumentation as Shiina Nagano keeps it simple with a guitar, a bright piano, a dance kit, and synthesizers. Although, there is a neat addition of an electric guitar during the pre-chorus to add to the song’s sincerity. And the guitar pops up once again during the bridge’s unforgettable melody.

“Just Communication” is one of those anime song classics that you can’t get out of your head. It’s such an addictive song. However, for me, I like this song because of the lyrics and the emotions displayed. You can’t even tell that this is song about a series about big robots fighting in a galactic war with such passionate lyrics like “anata no manazashi mamoritai”. (Eng.: “I want to protect your gaze”)  But, that is what makes the song enjoyable. Moreover, the emotions displayed throughout also further this passion by setting different moods. Minami brilliantly goes back and forth from really passionate and not-to-over-the-top fierce during the chorus to calm and collective in the verses.

I strongly urge anyone who hasn’t seen Gundam Wing to do so as it is a really good series. Also, check out the soundtracks with Yasuo Uragami composing an ardent score for the show.


Past Issues:

Part I // Part II // Part III

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 3]

fushigiyuugi-tenchimuyo

I want to first say a BIG thanks to all who read my blog posts! I just hit 1,000 viewers this weekend and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks again! ❤

I also want to say I am very sorry for the delay of the “A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music”. I haven’t forgotten this series, just life got busy. I am so sorry! 😦

If you want to read, here is the links for Part 1 and Part 2.


“Tenchi Muyo!” by Sonia (from the series Tenchi Muyo!)

Along with Sailor Moon and Gundam Wing, Tenchi Muyo! is another 90s’ classic that I really enjoy. Maybe because I really like the storyline with the whole “Tenchi, you are now a prince of some other planet and you have to fight” scenario . Of course, I also love how it blends in comedy with the idea that a bunch of girls are livingwith this peculiar high school student and fighting each other for his affections.

My favorite chsonia-tenchimuyoaracter in the series is Sasami. She was the innocent one of the bunch who didn’t really have to argue or fight for Tenchi’s attention. She just did it naturally, becoming his friend through normal conversations. Even though she is tremendously cute, Sasami has a tragic past. I won’t spoil the details in this blog post. You can watch the OVA episode that explains it all at this Youtube link. Nevertheless, the character gained enough popularity to have her own spin-off show, Magical Girl Pretty Sammy/Magical Project S. Impressive, right?

What makes “Tenchi Muyo” memorable is the amount of passion the male vocalist displays throughout the song. This passion helps his vocals to be really clear, strong, and a perfect match to the synthesized dance-flavored instrumental. I never really get tired of this song because it always keeps on being invigorating and presents something new every time I listen to it.

The other reason why this song is so great is because there is a flawless English version, sung by SONIA themselves. Tenchi Muyo! was one the first anime series that had a really good English dub cast and staff that did a wonderful job in dubbing the original songs into English. Sharyn Scott’s “I’m a Pioneer” is a great example of this. Although, the English version of “Up-Walk the Galaxy” might be the direct opposite as it contains some cheesy lyrics.

If you haven’t heard “Tenchi Muyo” before, you should check out the video below. It’s an anison/anime song classic that is still lively and amazing with its vocal, how the lyrics correspond with the show’s theme, and its approach to dance music.

The b-side of the “Tenchi Muyo!” single features the song “Modern Girl”, a great cover of the Sheena Easton hit. This 90s’ update features a mix of Japanese and English lyrics, the female half of the duo (which is a rarity because the guy usually sings lead on their songs), and a mixture of cuteness and zeal, which is what SONIA is best known for. It’s a great listen!


“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” by Akemi Sato (from the series Fushigi Yuugi)

Living on the hype of magical girls series of the ’90s, Fushigi Yuugi was one of many that redefined the genre. Most of the magical girl series at that time featured either a team of super-powered heroines and/or magical items. Fushigi Yuugi featured none of that. Instead, it has a girl who became a priestess in story who could make wishes with the help from the god Suzuku. It seems at a glance that the main heroine isn’t powerful due to her ability. But
because of the nature of this ability, she is deemed important because others, including her best friend, want to use this ability for Earth-threatening causes.

akemisato-itoshiihitonotameni

“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” plays on the show’s mystical and ancient sentiments pretty well. The songs doesn’t show its true colors as a love song until the chorus. By that time, the song picks up speed as it goes from a slow, mysterious chant to a rock-driven, emotion-filled melody. The dramatic point comes at the end when this intensity is mixed with the arcane line “Mugen e to hirake Fushigi Yuugi”. This helps the song to go out with a bang. which might make listeners a bit surprised and confused, rather than silently fading away.

“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” will be one of those anime songs that will always turn up on at a retro anime party or an Anime radio station as it’s a lovable classic. It isn’t one of my favorite Fushigi Yuugi songs, that goes to “STAR” and “Chijou no Seiza“. However, “Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” is a type of song that I can amicably listen on my iTunes playlist from time to time.

Bonus Round: “Tokimeki no Doukasen” by Yukari Kanno

Because this the type of song where you just wanted to go “meow” when thinking of love.

Music Rewind: The Mid-Year Review

20-thank-you

I have reached my 50th post with the last post, “Music Reactions: Celebrating the 4th of July by Listening to Oldies“.. By July 5th, 2015, ☆ai love music☆ has had 1,277 views and 721 visitors. I want to say a special and big thank you to each and every one of you guys who have visited this blog. Without you, I would have stopped writing by the second post.

Thanks again! A special thank you for those who commented on an entry! Those comments helped me a lot. Please, if you have a chance to do so, please comment on any entries as I want to know what you guys like and to see if I am any good at writing.

I usually don’t do Music Rewind on WordPress because I usually revisit older blog entries mainly on other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). However, since this a special post, I want to write one here too.

Today’s Music Rewind is a look back at the five most popular posts on ☆ai love music☆. This idea was inspired by the Japanese music chart Oricon. These charts do a mid-year review of the top 100 singles and albums in Japan.

Without further ado, here they are!

5. A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 2] {June 28)

animeseries1996-pt2

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…

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… [Read More]

4. 11 Years of Thanks (March 6)

KanjukuBerryzKoubouTheFinalCompletionBox-lb

A couple of days ago, one of the longest running idol groups in Japan held their farewell concert at the Nippon Budoukan with thousands of fans attending. Personally, I been a fan since they released their debut single in 2004; watching these once elementary school girls grow into beautiful ladies. During the years, their music even spread across the globe in various places like the USA, France, Thailand, and beyond. [Read More]

3. Remembering a Hidden Talent (January 25)

origa

There has been a great deal of news, either good or bad, in our lives and around the world in the last week. None more shocking than the death of Russian singer Origa on January 17. A talent that has been heard by less than ten percent of the world’s population but snuffed away too soon. Let’s take a moment to reflect on and remember Origa’s beloved career. [Read More]

2. Live Music Report: LinQ Promotional Event at Aeon Mall Nagoya Dome Mae (May 1, 2015) (May 10)

linqatnagoyadomemae

LinQ is a Japanese girl “idol” group that has about thirty or more members that are from the Kyushu (or southern Japan) region. They been around for about four years, releasing their first single “Hajimemashite” in the fall of 2011. The group been under three different labels; their own label (2011), Tower Records’ own indies idol label T-Palette (2011-2013), and on the major label Warner Records (2013-now). Even though they been through the whole changing label dance, the group still has kept their original sound; the sugary, popish idol music you usually find in AKB48 and other modern day pop idol groups in Japan. [Read More]

1. Milk & Honey – “Prove Your Love” (January 7)

milkandhoney-elbi

We are going to cross the ocean from Mexico to Europe to listen to the distinct sounds of Milk & Honey. Formed in 2006, Milk & Honey is a two-member group from Germany. However, they are quite diverse as they have released material in French, German, Arabic, and English. The members, Anne Ross and Manel Filali, had some entertainment-related experiences before creating Milk & Honey. Anne Ross was a former member of the German girl band Preluders, which was created from contestants on the German edition of Popstars. [Read More]

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

animeseries1996-pt2

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”)

megumihayashibara-nl

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”)

meu rashiku ikimasho

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;.

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 1]

Whether you’re a huge anime fan or not,  1995 was one of the best years for anime songs (or anison, as they are referred in the anime community). During this year, many wonderful anime series came out and captivated audiences everywhere, even memorable in today’s world. I want to share and revisit some goodies from that year. Now, I won’t do a top 5 list because it would be unfair to the other songs if I place “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” as number one. Personally, it isn’t my favorite anime song from 1995, but everyone’s favorite and it is still on everyone’s mind when they attend a karaoke booth here.

I originally wanted to write this as one blog post. But, I realized that I wanted to discuss
about waaay too many anime songs, so the draft for the original post got bigger and bigger. So, I decided to do a monthly series so each anime song from 1995 could get a fair chance of being featured here.

cuiling-nurseangelsos

Cui-ling – “Koi wo Suru Tabi ni Tsuzutukiyasuku” (from the series “Nurse Angel SOS”)

“Koi nurseangelsoswo Surutabini Tsuzutukiyasuku” was the dance craze in the anime word back in the day. Composed by Tetsuya Komuro with lyrics penned by Yasushi Akimoto (hey, we mention this guys a lot this month!(, “Koi wo Surutabini Tsuzutukiyasuku” was performed by a relatively unknown Chinese singer named Cui-ling (This is how it was written on the singles, I am sorry if I misspelled it).

The song opens up with a cool synthesized riff that leads to the main chorus. I think the guitar riff during the middle interlude is pretty awesome too as Komoro combines the guitar’s sound with some special effects. Besides that, I personally think that this song is a plain dance song. I don’t know why it was so special in the day, maybe the harmonies? I really like to sing harmony on this song whenever I sing at karaoke.


weddingwarsscdsingle

Erina Nakajima – “Wedding Wars ~Ai no Honoo~” (from the series “Ai Tenshi Wedding Peach”)

I don’t know much of Erina Nakajima except she sang this song as the second opening for the above mentioned anime. I remember first watching the opening animation back in the days when internet was still on dial-up. weddingpeachI got introduced to this magical girl anime by a t-shirt that my dad bought when he was stationed in Korea. I can’t fit in that t-shirt anymore but I still have it in storage, looking at it from time to time because Wedding Peach is a really great anime series (and an even better manga series).

“Wedding Wars ~Ai no Honoo~” is a marvelous song due to many factors. The most important factor is the song is brimmed with emotions from wishful thinking to sadness and beyond. You can experience these emotions the best during the chorus when the singer uses shorter rhythmic patterns, a dual between the chorus, the lyrics, and the phrasing. Speaking of the lyrics, they are amazingly expressive as they actually portray Wedding Peach’s plot. You should check the song lyrics out if you never seen Wedding Peach,

The song climaxes beautifully before at the end with the “Negai wo Komete” part, just beautiful. The momentary pause of instrumentation is crucial to this part as we can listen carefully to the singer but also anticipated for what is to come. The wedding bells at the ending are a lovely touch to the song.

I think this ending part and the song in general makes it a better opening then FURIL’s “Yumemiru Tenshi Angel”. I love “Yumemiru Tenshi Angel”, I really do, but it’s too cute, too girlish, and lacks the emotions, that portray the series so well. If memory serves me correct, the manga of Wedding Peach is much more darker than the anime version which was trying to bank off the success of Sailor Moon and the saturated commercial market for girl toys. If Wedding Peach was remade as a modern anime, I feel like “Wedding Wars ~Ai no Honoo~” could represent it well due to the lyrics, musical structure, and emotions. I suggest to listen to the song if you haven’t.

The 2008 Best Five List!

2008 has brought a lot changes and upgrades to the music scene. We have seen a once all mighty Japanese producer fall harder and get blacklisted (ex. Tetsuya Komuro) and the world recession taking a crunch in the entertainment industry, even in the music world. But, to me, I remember 2008 as the year of reunions and change ups in the music world due to the reformations of many groups and the musical styles. We have seen the The Police and The Spice Girls break up finally  in the Western World. But, in Japan, it’s a different story with reformation and reincarnation of many artists and groups like MAX and Chisato Moritaka. Thus, making this one of the main wheels in the Japanese music industry.

Now before I start, this Top 5 list is what I think was the best thing to happen in the year of 2008. Now, I didn’t included somethings that were amazing to others because I didn’t believe they were amazing to me. For example, SPEED’s comeback. This new comeback is the third comeback thing they had did since they broke up in 2000. As much I love SPEED, this is just another planned comeback and isn’t so special to me. Also, their new sound in their songs aren’t as awesome like it was in the late 90s, when they were really popular.

5. WINK’s One Night Reunion

So why does WINK get the number five position if they only did one performance at the Japan Music Award ceremony yesterday? The reason why they are number five because they still influence today’s  Japanese music scene. If you don’t who was WINK, they were an late 80’s to early 90’s Jpop duo that performed a lot of cover songs (about 90% of their single songs were cover songs, the albums had more of the original songs). They were so popular, especially in the late 80’s, that they even had stores with their products and goods in it (And, if you had store in Japan, it meant that you were super popular. Morning Musume. had a store like this when they were very popular during the Golden Era). Sadly,  they broke up in 1995 after their single sales diminished a lot to only 5,000 copies for the last single.  But, it’s not the sale numbers that counted they counted on for  their popularity, it was their  music style and how it sounded. Many decades after, WINK is still popular with the young crowd with reincarnations of the older hits (For example, Hello Project group W covering Samishii Nettaigyou).

When you look at the clip above from the Japan Record Awards, you can see from the audience that WINK has touched a lot of the industry by their dance pop music, dancing (Who could never forget the routine to Samishii Nettaigyou?), and the fashion.  Without WINK, I think the Japanese music industry wouldn’t be as diverse as it and be more like the United States in terms of more of a hip hop and R&B-sounding pop songs. The dance music in Japan would rather more robust and wouldn’t have that variety. Also, they have helped the Eurobeat industry a lot (since the Eurobeat community is mostly in Japan nowadays). And without WINK, I think the Eurobeat industry would not be floating as peacefully in Japan (Remember, WINK did a lot of Eurobeat covers back in their haydays).

wink01

4. Original MAX Reunites

pk2008121002100131_size0

In the later half of 2008, it was announced that 2nd Generation member Aki would be leaving MAX to pursue something else. Filling her spot was the return of Mina, the original lead singer of the group who left in 2002 due to having a kid. MAX is a popular Japanese group who debuted in 1995 after splitting from another girl group named Super Monkey’s (which Namie Amuro was also a part of). They enjoy smash hits tunes in the style of Eurobeat and were also known for their awesome dance routines.

Many people have commented that Mina’s departure was the destruction of the group when she left the group in 2002 by cancelling of original albums, singles, and lowering the group’s sales and their performance stature.  I partly think this is true because when Mina was in the group, the group had better vocals (not saying that the 2nd Gen MAX was worse but just how they put people on vocals irked me a bit).  Also, it seemed that the original MAX had a lot more energy in their performances then the 2nd Generation MAX. Thus making it a really memorable performance to watch.  But all in all, with Mina coming back in the group, I think MAX will be even better and be even more excellent in 2009. And, I hope avex would not let the fans down with not giving them new stuff to work with.

Please, avex, as my wish, please MAX back the United States so I can complete my Super Monkey’s signatures. 😛

You can see an MAX Medley Performance from this month here:

3.  GIRL NEXT DOOR


gnd001_s_www_barks_jp

To mark Avex’s 20th Anniversary, MAX Matsuura created a trio called GIRL NEXT DOOR that features the keyboardist from the band day after tomorrow, a guitarist, and a unknown dancer turned singer who was discovered last year in a dance club.  They debuted in May online with a song that reached up to 2 million views by July. They debuted with a single in September and was nominated for an award by the JRCC. Big deal, right?

I think avex did a grand job for putting together this group to represent their sound from the past 20 years. GIRL NEST DOOR is basically what I think of Tetsuya Komuro meets HAL meets DAI, three of the biggest music composers of avex.  Here are the reasons why:

HAL – You prolly heard of HAL’s works but have never heard of the name before. HAL is a duo that has composed many of late 90s to early 2000s hits like Ayumi Hamasaki’s songs, the original dream, and other avex artists. Many people best known HAL as the group that featured a female singer, was alive during 2000-2003, and featured many songs in different anime(s) like Hikaru no Go. The GND sound reminds me HAL’s sound because of the use of more piano-type instruments in the songs.

DAI – DAI (real name is Dai Nagao) has been famous for composing songs for many of avex’s artists like Ayumi Hamasaki, dream, his own band (Do As Infinity), and other ones. Like HAL, GND’s sound reminds me of DAI so much because of the use of the piano and synthesizer in the group’s songs. Unlike HAL, GND’s uses the same composing and musical structures as DAI. For example, in the Girl Next Door’s song, Drive away, I could swear that there was a DAI influence in the composing and musical structure in the chorus (it reminded me of the same structure as Ayumi Hamasaki’s Fly High).

Testuya Komuro – Lastly, the third person is the legendary TK who has been famous for bring the dance wave in Japan in the 90s. He was once the backbone of avex in the 90s and made a lot of artist successful during his reign as “Legendary Producer”. The artists that was under his guidance included globe, Ami Suzuki (when she was in Sony), trf, Namie Amuro, hitomi, Tomomi Kahala, and other acts. But in late in 2008, he was charged for fraud and a lot of his songs was pulled off the radio and globe’s material went out of print (which makes me sad because now I have to hunt down a lot of globe CDs through secondhand sites).  TK’s sound is influenced in the GND’s sound by the element of techno in songs like Drive away. Though TK developed a more of a techno sound in the early 2000s, it was sorta popular among dance clubs and people altogether. But, it seems like that it made a mark in the avex music industry to have it be incorporated into the GND’s sound. One example, among many other examples, that I found a influence of TK’s sound is the instrumental ending at the end of the song Drive away.

Source  Song (Drive away PV):

2. JERO

jero

For anyone who doesn’t know Jero, he is dubbed in Japan as the “First Black Enka Singer”. He is from Pittsuburgh, PA and went to Japan after finishing college in hopes to become an Enka singer. He caught the eyes of the label Victor after winning  many enka contests and finally debuted in Feburary of this year with the song Umiyuki. The single was a huge success, selling more then 200,000 copies, and winning him the award for Best New Artist at the Japan Record Awards. And to honor his late grandmother’s wishes, he will appear at the year end Kouhaku in a few hours.

But why is Jero so popular and such a influence in the Japanese music industry? Because he influences the styles of the old and new into his music and style. The old is the style of music he sings (enka) and the new is the style of hiphop clothing he wears when he performs these enka songs. In Japan, younger generations of Japanese people are in love with the likes of Hiphop clothing and such. So by seeing Jero singing enka while wearing an hiphop style outfit, these people accept and think it’s really cool of what he does. By providing this type of style, the younger generation is starting to appreciate enka a lot more (before then, Enka was for the “old people” and it’s was sort of a dying business) and help revive a lot of the interest and the industry of Enka. Now, I am not saying Jero is only talented at wearing hiphop clothing but is also an amazing singer and inspiration to all those singers out there that anything is possible if your mind to it.

1. Namie Amuro

amuro

The number one spot goes to Namie Amuro due to her latest image/style change that I think has proven very successful for her career in music. Namie Amuro has been doing style changes since her debut in 1992 as the lead member of the pop group Super Monkey’s. In fact, I have a theory of what and when did these charges happen:

1991-1994:  Sugar Pop Namie

1994-1995: Eurobeat Namie

1995-2000: Dance Pop Namie/ TK’s Namie

2001-Now: Hip-Hop/R&B Namie

Beside that, Namie has been semi successful since 2000 for her style charges (and her ups and down in real life and the music world). But, in 2008, Namie Amuro broke through when she released her single, 60s/70s/80s, by reaching number 1 on the weekly charts (which Namie has not done since 1998 with the single I Have Never Seen). Yes, she had success with her new sound with her past singles but I think that 60s/70s/80s helped Namie reached stardom due to the catchy tunes, the use of fashion, the style of music with each song/decade, and how her songs effectively used samples of popular American songs.  And with these reasons, this why I think Namie is Number 1 in my choice of what was the best thing that happened in 2008 in the Japanese Music industry.

Honorable Mention:

Gake no Ue no Ponyo Theme Song

ponyo

Even if it was released last year, the theme song to the movie Gake no Ue no Ponyo has been very popular among the Japanese people in 2008. The popularity was achieved by two things: the cute little mermaid in the movie (which the puppet version has been very popular among the Japanese crowd and plus her story to fall in love with a human boy) and the eight year old singer Nozomi Ohashi (who sang with a duo called Fujioka Fujimaki). The song is very cute and contains lyrics about the little mermaid who is named Ponyo. The song is the theme song to the Hayao Miyazaki movie that has the same name of the song (which was released in the Summer 2008). It will be released in the states very soon, I hope.

You can see the performance of the song at the Japan Record Awards here:

Enjoy this blog! I will hopefully write about what are my Top 5 discovery this year tommorrow or by Friday. I am having a bust week by watching Japanese programming, cooking for many people, applying to schools, and attending an all nighter for New Years (and trying to get some sleep afterwards).

Have A Happy New Year!

恭賀新年!