Celebrate the Holidays with “Leprechaun Christmas”

tmn-humansystem

A Late Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

It’s already the end of the year. The last time I wrote something here was in September. I had to take a break from writing as I was super busy with the Christmas play at work and studying really hard for a Japanese language test. I also had cataract surgery recently and have been recovering from that. Now that my eyes are feeling better and everything is winding down, I am hoping to pick up writing on this blog again.

I have written about the 80s’ band TM Network before. They are one of my favorite Japanese bands as they were able to do any genre successfully (and had really great songs too). And also, my favorite producer of all time, Tetsuya Komuro, was in it.

Here is what I wrote about TM Network about a year ago:

TM Network is a well-known band in Japan that has been around for about 30 years. It was formed in 1983 when the band that Tetsuya Komuro, Naoto Kine, and Takashi Utsunomiya were in, Speedway, split up. The guys came together and entered their new band, TM NETWORK, in a YAMAHA contest, performing the song “1974”. TM Network received perfect scores from the judges and won the grand prize, which caught the attention of Epic Records who offered the band a contract right away. TM Network made their debut in the spring of 1984 with the single “Kinyoubi no Lion (Take it to the Lucky)” and album “RAINBOW RAINBOW”.

Over the years, TM Network has made a lot of genre changes. On various information sites like Wikipedia and etc, the band is listed as a pop-rock band with the pop side being more relevantly in their music. The band’s first couple of singles featured a sound that was akin to the Yellow Magic Orchestra’s technopop bliss, prominently “”Kinyoubi no Lion (Take it to the Lucky)” and “1974”. Over the years, they got their toes wet by dipping into new genres like R&B, funk, trance, techno, latin, hard rock (thanks to B’z guitarist Tak Matsumoto), ballad rock, eurobeat, dance, and others. Most recently, the band has been riding the electropop wave, especially since Komuro is a lover of current dance trends (he has been on this “dance music” craze since 90s though, see all the stuff he has composed during that time).

Their Christmas love song “Leprechaun Christmas” from the 1987 album humansystem is a sample of TM Network’s electronic folk rock sound. By the time of the song’s release, Kine started to play more acoustic guitar on many of the group’s song, leading to an unplugged, simplified sound found in many songs like this one and “SEVEN DAYS WAR”. Even Komuro scaled back on the synthesizers as he only used a light dance bass and basic synthesizers.

My favorite part is just before the chorus with the electronic guitar part done by Warren Cuccurullo, who is known for his works with Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, Duran Duran, and others. When you first listen to the electronic guitar part, you might find it a bit out of place and might even bewilder you. However, you will start to realize that the guitar part is a great addition as it brings that certain hard rock edge to “Leprechaun Christmas”. That refreshing twist saves the song from turning into a boring, redundant album track.

By the way, the drums are done by Steve Ferrone, who was a session musician at the time and later on joined Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in the 90s. (A side note: thanks to the success of “Get Wild” a year before humansystem’s release, the band was able to start to collaborate with well-known musicians and started to record their music in the US.)

This Christmas song is a simple song as it describes one’s view of what they perceive the Christmas season to be while thinking of love. The instrumentation is also basic but lovely as TM Network composes and arranges the song brilliantly with a folk rock vibe.

Give the song a listen below. Don’t forget to listen for the “surprise” before the chorus!

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Music Reactions: Celebrating the 4th of July by Listening to Oldies

Simon_&_Garfunkel_-_Bookends

Happy July 4th!!!

Usually on Music Reactions, we take a look at what is trending right now in the music world. But, since today’s a special holiday in my home country, I decided that we should rewind and go back to the 1960s when one of my favorite songs was released.

Simon & Garfunkel needs no self-introduction on this blog because they are well-known all throughout the world. As popular as The Beatles, this duo helped to revolutionize music by having signature songs like “Mrs. Robinson”, “The Sound of Silence”, and my personal favorite “Scarborough Fair”. The music they made together had a deep impact on America with many young adults relating their lives to one or more songs.[1]

I remember listening to Simon & Garfunkel a lot during my childhood as my mom would play one of their albums in the car. I always was in love their version of “Scarborough Fair” because it was so mysterious yet beautiful. The song was set in the key of D minor, which is an automatic yes in my favorites list as I love songs in minor keys, and displayed an intricate method of singing in rounds.

When I got older, I began to fall in love with “America”. When I first listened to the song, I thought that this song was about immigrants that came to America and the lyrics were about their experiences around the country. It was not until I got older, maybe around college-aged, that I found out that I was totally wrong as the song is actually about a couple traveling around the country. Futhermore, Peter Fornatale wrote in the book “Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends (Rock of Ages) ” that the metaphor of the lyrics was ” to remind us all of the lost souls wandering the highways and byways of mid-sixties America, struggling to navigate the rapids of despair and hope, optimism and disillusionment.”. [2]

But what is more shocking is that, according to Wikipedia. that this song is a protest song.[3] Author Marc Eliot further this idea by writing that America “creates a cinematic vista that tells of the singer’s search for a literal and physical America that seems to have disappeared, along with the country’s beauty and ideals”.[4] That is a shocker! But, considering that idea is pretty deep compared to my basic one.

The thing that I love about this song is the crescendos and decrescendos that the duo smartly uses. One of the best examples is during the riveting pre-chorus as the duo gradually gets loudly to free up some emotions. Another example would be during a taste of the musical theme during the “And walked off to look for America” portion. Here, Simon & Garfunkel sings in a semi-whisper as they slow down the rhythm as if they are taking a break to ponder over things.

Many have said that the soprano saxophone and the pipe organ are fundamental pieces to the song as they lay the foundations for “America” to be classified as an American folk song. Truthfully, I could care less about what kind of instruments are used in the song because the vocals are what makes this song great. The power and emotions behind Simon & Garfunkel’s voices is the main reason why I fell in love with this song.

If you haven’t heard “America”, I suggest you listen to the link below. It’s a memorable song that a lot of Americans and even people around the world would say that it’s one of their favorites too.


[1]  “USATODAY.com – Simon & Garfunkel, Again.” USATODAY.com – Simon & Garfunkel, Again. 14 Sept. 2003. Web. 4 July 2015. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2003-09-14-sg-tour_x.htm>

[2] Fornatale, Pete. Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends. New York: Rodale, 2007. Print. <http://www.amazon.com/Simon-Garfunkels-Bookends-Rock-Ages/dp/1594864276>

[3] Eliot, Marc. Paul Simon: A Life. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2010. Print. <http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Simon-Life-Marc-Eliot-ebook/dp/B00DNKYPEG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436036031&sr=1-1&keywords=Paul+Simon%3A+A+Life&pebp=1436036193537&perid=12DSR4B3NQ97FQ7GA11Z>

[4] Wikipedia: America (Simon & Garfunkel Song). Wikimedia Foundation, 4 June 2004. Web. 4 July 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_(Simon_%26_Garfunkel_song)>