Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Realize

Realize
Sung by: Tamaki Nami
Lyrics: BOUNCEBACK
Music: y@suo ohtani
Arranged by: Hiroaki Arai
Translated by: Mognet

I don't know the place where I'll end up
But believing I'll get there, I'll make my emotions run

My heart and this city keeps changing shape
But there is a wish that won't disappear
We chased different dreams, looking at the same sky
We made a promise that day, that "we won't give up"
Not being able to hold hands
We kept searching for the reason for our birth

I don't know the place where I'll end up
But believing I'll get there, I'll make my emotions run
When we get over mistakes and sadness
Our wishes hold the light
Awakening the future

Are you feeling, somewhere,
The loneliness in the clouds that flow in the wind?
We walked with our backs to each other
Hurting each other, trying to save our dreams
We'll be able to understand someday
I want to believe that we're feeling the same thing
Without being afraid of being lost, we can fly
My heart beats like a wave
Don't give up on your dreams yet
Going against darkness and loneliness
I'll go and tell you
The happiness in meeting you

I don't know the place where I'll end up
But believing I'll get there, I'll make my emotions run
Even when we get away from mistakes and sadness
Like that day, this sky continues to you
Having been downtown for a Junior Achievement orientation, volunteer opportunity courtesy of LOT, I found it prudent to check out Virgin Megastore for Puffy AmiYumi's Nice album. Lo and behold, there it was. Also selling was Tamaki Nami's new album Greeting. Born in only 1988, Nami is a new rising star in Japan that has the talent and looks to possibly become another BoA. Also in stock (and #3 on Virgin's Top 30) was Utada Hikaru's new album Exodus. I got all three albums.

I remember back in high school when Utada Hikaru first landed on the scene with her First Love album. With hit singles like Automatic, First Love, Time Will Tell, and Give Me a Reason, Utada Hikaru was... great. She actually had vocal talent, wrote her own lyrics and music, and had a good mix of pop, funk, dance, and even some hip hop. First Love was an amazing album, and I still remember the story of my friend speeding almost double the speed limit to buy and then hand-deliver the album to the girl he was courting. And it introduced me to Jpop. With vigour, I searched for mp3s of Amuro Namie, Hamasaki Ayumi, Kuraki Mai, Nanase Aikawa (whose song Crying I still love to listen to), SPEED (bought their Single Collection II), MAX, X-Japan, and many more. Music videos were downloaded fervently as well. So come full circle to buy Utada Hikaru's Exodus (which is an English album made for the US, by the way; she's totally fluent, having been educated in the US). I might start getting back into Jpop again.

Utada Hikaru started young, just like all these other Jpop stars. She was only 16. And she was fantastic. She broke all the records in Japan with First Love. But it's strange how First Love is still my favourite album ever produced by her, so much such that all her other albums don't even come close. But I was still fan. After listening to Exodus, I don't know how much of a fan I remain. Some of these songs are... out there. Like Tippy Toe:
Nobody has to know (Synchronize it)
Stay very close to the floor
Nobody has to know (Synchronize it)
Careful when you close the door
Nobody has to know (Synchronize it)
When we tippy toe, tippy toe (Just imagine)
My body under your body
Here we go everybody 3, 2, 1
Every time I think about you
Heaven knows I fall into a groove
You're like a great interlude
Every time I think about your body my body says ooh ooh
Every time I think about you heaven needs a prayer
Cuz you're married and you've even got a family too
Pray that they don't hear you
I'm sorry, I can't say that I like Utada as much as I used to anymore. Exodus '04 is still a great song on the album. However, with songs like Tippy Toe, I can't see myself listening to the album often. Perhaps I'll just rip the songs I like. Like Exodus '04.

Why is it that pop stars feel the need to act and sing dirty in order to prove that they've "grown up"? It's a value judgment, of course, but Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera look more immature to me the less clothes they wear and the more music they output. Avril Lavigne looked a LOT more mature to me from the outset, despite her originally rebellious and teenage angst sound. The way she conducted herself was always more professional, more mature, more sophisticated, more comprehensively developed. It always scares me when a woman has to reveal more of her body to attract attention; it kinda makes me wonder if she has nothing else. I even imagine Hilary Duff going down this path. This too is a personal value judgment that perhaps I need to stay for the greater good at times. I've heard it many times said by women, "If you have it, flaunt it." Well, in reply, I say, "If that's the best thing you have to flaunt, I really feel sad for you."

So has Utada Hikaru strayed down this path? I don't know. Listening to this album, she still strikes me as someone who walks her own path with an air of professional and mature audacity, rather than immature recklessness. But why the lyrics? Is it necessary to discuss fantasies of breaking up marriages? If an issue exists, I'm not saying that we should censor and ignore. But I don't think that the proper way to create constructive discussion is through a total lack of censorship. But that's a totally different issue altogether.

Tamaki Nami is 16 right now. Just like Hikaru was back then. Well, first question. How come these Japanese girls have such piercing and wide-range vocals? From the first time I heard Hamasaki Ayumi to Tamaki Nami today, the sound of Japanese female singers has always amazed me. It's... rich, eletrically charged, and powerful. And I like it. But the important question. Will Nami start singing songs like Hikaru's Tippy Toe five years down the road? And if so, how would this affect my view of her? Should it affect my view at all? Nami has the potential to perhaps even follow Sung Yuri's (former member of Kpop group FinKL) path from music to a prolific acting career; Nami could also maintain a successful singing career (if only she finds some songwriters who will create some original-sounding songs for her). Of course, I've also heard rumours (which I was never able to confirm) that Vivian Hsu's career was propelled by work in the porn industry. Sex sells, and I really disliked the concept (see above for views of women who feel the need to show their body).

However, in the end, I think I'll just be content to listen to Nami's Believe and Realize, which were title songs for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED; rants about the music industry's preoccupation with sex appeal can wait another day. :) Hehe, it's funny how there's all this Gundam SEED art on and in her album's jewel case; that is very cool. Puffy and Nami will both make for fantastic listening when skiing down Cypress and Whistler.

On the other hand, I recall reading about an interesting court case in the local paper. A bar waitress refused to wear a bikini at work for the bar's Hawaiian-themed night. She was subsequently ostracized, persecuted, and eventually fired by the owner (or she quit, I can't remember). Through some legal process, she received damages and now has her eyes focused on getting a "real career" (has started attending school to become a legal secretary). That woman has my respect. She has it, but doesn't need to flaunt it to achieve her goals. I'm by no means disparaging the model industry, mind you. Reasons for why the model industry requires an analysis different from the music industry can be discussed another day.

3 comments:

  1. Nice post Bobby.

    I like what you have to say about the music industry, and I totally agree. I also might have to look into some of these JPop artists you mention. Most of the music stores here have a much much larger JPop section than English, so I could probably find them pretty easy.... maybe, we will see :) Anything you would highly recommend as my first JPop album? or perhaps my first JPop MP3?

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  2. ever found it fascinating how all these jpop or kpop songs always adds little lines of english in?
    but then you dont hear normal songs adding abit of french or something in..

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  3. Andrew: Hehe, I really don't know, because I'm so out of the Jpop scene now. Like I said, I might start getting back into it. But you watch anime, I'd say that you already have a good selection of quality Jpop at your disposal. :) Tamaki Nami became famous through singing Believe and Realize for Gundam SEED, T.M.R. became famous through singing Heart of Sword for Rurouni Kenshin, etc. Most of the good anime have title songs made by popular Jpop (that redundant?) groups.

    gRacE: Hehe, the thing is, it's culturally cool in Japan and Korea to use English phrases. You see people walking around with English on their t-shirts and the English will make NO SENSE gramatically, semantically, syntactically, etc. But it'll still be cool because it's English. :) Whereas you don't really have that kind of cool culture in North America for the French language, or any other language for that matter.

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