fripSide and Four Years Later
AKB48 led to fripSide
One interest leads to another, if you ask me. In my case, my interest for AKB48 led me to another Japanese music act, a pop-trance duo at that.
Six months after I first YouTube-d AKB48 four years ago, I stumbled upon fripSide on the same website. I was browsing non-English music acts, mostly Japanese or Chinese/Taiwanese, when I found fripSide’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth”. (I can’t recall where on YouTube I found it, whether it was on the row of selections at the right or the selections that appeared after one video that I watched.)
The video thumbnail that shows the vocalist Yoshino Nanjo staring out of the window of the vehicle (a limousine) she’s riding caught my eye. I like pretty things, so I clicked on it, and was directed to the music video.
My initial reaction at the first few seconds of the song/video? I anticipated a boring pop song or a lousy ballad from the duo, but I was proven wrong afterwards.
What followed 37 seconds later was an upbeat song, neither heavy on the instruments nor loaded with cheekiness. The vocals ain’t sweet, just kind of cool and casual for a song wherein I sensed energy, power, and pride flowing out of me. The vocals danced nicely with the keys (the composer and instrumentalist Satoshi Yagunima was playing the keyboard), thus churning out a tune that sent me motivation.
At that moment, I found another music act to look up to, when good music was slowly dying and the scene was being overrun by thugs and whores.
Four years later
Keeping fripSide (and AKB48) in my heart, I carried on with life, with or without people, drawing inspiration, strength, and perhaps a sense of direction from the songs that I love, from AKB48’s “River” to Nogizaka46’s “Nandome no Aozora ka”. Unlike those aforementioned female groups, fripSide doesn’t release much singles, but they still played a great part in my life in the past four years.
In early 2012, I found Altima, Satoshi’s side project. They seemed to be a more exciting group than fripSide itself, since they are a three-piece band and they incorporate hip-hop in their music. The rapper and the lead singer (a female) are all good. But I cannot find something from the band that can “touch my heart and soul”, the way SKE48’s “Tsuyoki Mono yo!”, Morning Musume’s “Ame no Furanai Hoshi de wa Aisenai Darou Ka”, and Mihimaru GT’s “Promise” did to me. But still, they are a better listen than most of today’s artists.
Later that year, I eagerly waited for the release of Decade, the album which celebrates the band’s ten years in the music industry. The milestone was capped with the presence (or return) of the original vocalist nao who lent her vocals to the carrier single, “Decade”, which was my last song syndrome of 2012. I even made an imaginary article as if I’m a music journalist covering their special event. If you haven’t read the made-up article, please do.
I was back to writing next year, and it was weeks before the release of “Sister’s Noise” and months before “Eternal Reality”. That time, I was already working for a new employer. Next year, fripSide would release another album, Infinite Synthesis 2.
During those four year, I found other Jpop music acts, such as SKE48, The Brilliant Green, GReeeeN, Morning Musume, and Nogizaka46, the current apple of my eye.
Four years of realization
Listening to Jpop music acts instills a different kind of pride in me. It brings me happiness and the great sense of being different when it comes to taste in music. Well, it’s the way I feel, being stuck in a current atmosphere where old songs are relegated to karaoke bars and songs of thugs and whores are taking over the streets, over the radio, and being in a place where Jpop, except for anime songs, is virtually unheard of.
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) has contributed to the great popularity of songs and videos of thugs and whores who masquerade as legit artists. But it’s the same tool that I use to search for artists and acts that I feel are more deserving of airplays and face times. But too bad they aren’t marketable. May the heavens bless them, and the music fans who can find them.
I am happy to listen to Jpop artists, whom I perceive to be happy and content with the level of success they achieve. They don’t seem to travel abroad often for concerts, except for Japanese trade or culture shows. For that, it sustains my interest – or is it love – for Jpop.
How long am I going to keep listening to Jpop? I can’t say. Maybe as long as fripSide and other Jpop acts keeping releasing great material, my love is here to say. In a near or far future, I would introduce fripSide to my kids.