Battle of the Songs: When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom

Happy mid-March! I am sorry for being absent for half the week. It is almost the end of the school year here in Japan, and I am busy with ending classes, writing reports, and having the students practice for graduation. Even though my students aren’t the ones graduating, they are going to participate in the school ceremony as it very important.

It has gotten really warm recently here in Nagoya. Next Wednesday, it is suppose to be 67°F/19°C! And in about two weeks, we get to see our first cherry blossoms bloom here! I am so excited! I love walking home under the beautiful cherry blossoms and even see them bloom next to my apartment.

So, to celebrate the coming of these magnificent blossoms, I presented you with the new Battle of the Songs: When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom!

click here to listen and vote

Kubota Toshinobu – “Missing”

toshinobu-missing

Kubota Toshinobu has been rocking the Japanese music world for thirty or so years. In that time span. he has been able to adapt to and re-define musical genres while pioneering new ones like Japanese hip-hop and Japanese soul. Kubota made his start in the early 80s after winning the EastWest singing contest. But, he didn’t start off as a singer. Instead, he started as a producer; writing songs for various artists like Koizumi Kyoko, Tahara Toshihiko, and others. He was able to release material for his own solo career in 1986 when he released the single “Shitsui no Downtown”. He then released his debut album, “SHAKE IT PARADISE”, a few months later with mediocre reception.

His popularity didn’t peak until the late 80s after he released his first number one single, “You Were Mine”. After that, he started to experiment with assorted musical genres and recorded material in New York City, where he presently resides in. This led to the release of his first English album “Sunshine, Moonlight” in 1995. However, the focal point of his career would come a year later when he released the single “LA・LA・LA LOVE SONG” with English model-turned-singer Naomi Campbell. Due to being the theme song to the mega hit dorama “Long Vacation”, “LA・LA・LA LOVE SONG” sold over a million copies and became the third best-selling single for 1996.

Kubota still produces and releases music today but not like the success he had in the 1990s. Nevertheless, he celebrated his 25th Anniversary in 2012 with a nationwide tour.

For today’s blog post, I thought we could go back to the early beginning of Kubota’s career. “Missing” is a popular ballad, according to my co-worker, that was featured on his first album, The song really sounds like a modern song; if you forget about the excessive use of the crystallized keyboard sound. I think the reason why it’s so modern because the song features minimal instrumentation. Instead, what shines here is the strength of Kubota’s vocals, lyrics, and the camera work of the music video. The lyrics are about a person who is longing to hold a loved one in one’s arms while rendezvousing about their time together. This heartbreaking feeling is conveyed perfectly in Kubota’s vocals as they are powerful, raw, and full of emotion.  Finally, the lyrics are translated again in the music video as its modest setup might tug your heartstrings a bit. I let you be the judge of that when you watch the video below.

What makes “MISSING” a great song is the fact that it’s modest, simple, and full of poignant. I even cried when I first listened to this song a few months back. How about you? How does this song affect you?