Even if his music career’s almost as old as I am.
In case you ever wondered – does Kimi actually listen to anything other than boybands?
The answer is yes.
I developed a ridiciulous adoration for the trio that is Yajima Biyoshitsu when they came out with their song, and for the first time in 3 years, hit up music shows for their performances. This included CDTV, Music Station, and Music Fighter – but the latter doesn’t matter here, because Fukuyama Masaharu only showed up in the first two. And in those two, he performed songs from his latest single 想 -new love new world- [Sou -new love new world-]. Unlike one Yamashita Tomohisa about 2 years ago, he did not fail, nor did he fall while performing.
But me? I fell, and I fell hard.
Fukuyama has actually been around in the music industry since 1990, so even though I got into Japanese pop almost a decade after his debut, I’d still heard plenty of him. (Hell, it was his 10 year anniversary when the Internets began to boom with Japanese music. He was bound to pop up at some point.) I made the mistake of assuming that he (and also DAIGO) was an old man, though, along the lines of the SOUTHERN ALL STARS and Himuro Kyosuke. Basically, way too old for me to have any interest in his music.
He’s 40, but he’s certainly aged well, as much of Japan’s women seem to agree with his ranking within the top 20 in many year-end polls about “Men you’d like to hug you” or “The man you want as your boyfriend” or any number of silly Japanese polls on celebrities. Me, though, I’m a sucker for voices. And this 40-year-old man’s voice? Is smooth and expressive. (Raid, somewhere in his crotchety old corner of the intarwebs, waves a cane at me and raves like the fanboy of Hirai Ken that he is.)
想 -new love new world- is a pop-rock song that makes happy use of guitars to set everything. The tempo, the mood, and the counterpart to Fukuyama’s low vocals. Though synthesized sound effects and drum beats weave with the steady stream of guitar chords and add atmosphere, if you groove along with any part of this song, it’s going to be the guitars. When the slow part of the final choruses comes up, it seems slow because the guitar is suddenly absent. The instrumental is a pleasure to listen to even with the sudden breaks in music that are normally filled with Fukuyama’s vocals. I fell in love with this song because of the man’s singing, though, and with each repeated listen of the song I grow to love it even more. Though his voice is thick and low, Fukuyama fills each line with a feeling that could be overbearing if it were any other singer, snags your attention at the musical pause right before the chorus, and provides his own backup vocalizations that add a soaring touch.
And to be honest? I get a kick out of seeing “想奏浄崇壮挿遭贈曾” and other such strings of kanji when I input this song into karaoke and it hits the chorus-ender of “Sou” (trail as long as neccessary).
The first of the B-sides, 明日の☆SHOW [Ashita no SHOW], takes all the hallmarks of a slow song at a school dance in the 70s or at any gathering of Chinese people aged 40-or-older. Really, I wasn’t even near being conceived then and it feels nostalgic to me. (But then again, I’ve probably been to too many of those Chinese 40+-year-old gatherings for my own good.) It opens with a guitar riff that sounds like it belongs on some Hawaii vacation music. That alone makes me want to dislike it greatly. And then the slow strings and grand piano come in, it looks more and more like I’m going to hate it. Fukuyama’s vocals boost this for me, the music becoming a backdrop to his singing, but it doesn’t completely match. I’d rather keep songs like this on my parents’ Chinese CDs and off my current musical spectrum.
HIGHER STAGE, the second B-side, is also a pop-rock song. If Sou -new love new world- is a high song, then HIGHER STAGE is its down to earth counterpart in all aspects. The song rides at a slower pace, driven by Fukuyama’s vocals and having the guitars take a definite backstage. The sudden entrance of flutes (or whatever windpipe instrument they are) in the last 30 seconds of the song add a rustic touch that add more emphasis to Fukuyama’s yearning sound – at least, it makes me think of Scotland. Don’t ask. It’s for your own good. If this were on an album, it’d make a perfect ending track; as it is, it delivers a sensitive Fukuyama to contrast against the aggressiveness of the titular song.
Now, in case you wondered – does Kimi actually listen to anything other than pop?
…we’ll save that for another post.