The beginning of the end is also the end of the beginning.
Lately I’ve been indulging in personal bouts of music nostalgia.
Since 2007, when Johnny’s made a permanent mark upon my listening spectrum, I’ve been wrapped up in boybands. If it isn’t catching up with the current releases of Johnny’s, or delving into their storied past, or trying – however grudgingly – to give other boybands a chance… well there hasn’t much of an alternative, actually. Sure, Inoue Joe has made his mark, Miura Daichi is always gold, and I made the perfunctory effort to keep up with other groups I’ve enjoyed in the past, such as AAA (oh, how low I’ve fallen), Micro, or Tamaki Nami. But other than Joe and Daichi, the one constant in my listening habits was a Johnny’s production. Whether this was Arashi, V6, or Domoto Koichi has fluctuated depending on who has had the latest release. This, of course, means it was usually Arashi.
All of this changed about three weeks back after I attended the AKB48 concert, though.
Caught up in the enthusiasm of the wota, I gave the 63 and then some girls more of a listen. Foolishly, I did not follow my own self-laid steps for joining a fandom with this endeavor… or perhaps not-so-foolishly when you consider that 63 girls is still more than all of the members of the currently active Johnny’s groups (that is, from SMAP on – Shonentai being disregarded for focusing on solo activities of late) combined, including former members such as Mori Katsuyuki, Moriuchi Takahiro, and Kusano Hironori. At any rate, I never got past step 1, because I’m still sort of in the denial stage. Perhaps at some point I’ll get around to watching Mendol so I’ll have fulfilled step 2, but that won’t be for a while.
Because being the easily-distracted person that I am, I was clearing out space on my poor abused laptop to make room for AKB48’s discography and came across concerts that I had downloaded, but never actually finished watching because, well, I’m easily distracted.
The first of these was SOUL’d OUT‘s Single Collection at Nihon Budokan. I started watching, trying to comprehend why I wasn’t so engaged by Diggy-MO’ and Bro.Hi performing the songs that I loved. It wasn’t until the fourth song, VOODOO KINGDOM, where the pyrotechnics began that I got starry-eyed, but more to the point, VOODOO KINGDOM was an instant reminder of why I enjoyed both SOUL’d OUT and Diggy-MO’s releases then and now. Now we’re in 2007, folks, with a slight nod to early 2009 for Diggy-MO’s solo album.
Next came I’ve in BUDOKAN 2009. I never actually got past the first disc – Shimamiya Eiko (always my favorite of the I’ve pantheon of singers) singing Ginga no Ko shot me back to, well, 2006. The ethereality of that song has made it a solid favorite of mine. Which is a shame because since Johnny’s, I’ve kept up with I’ve Sound – pun unintended – but haven’t really listened to anything. To be honest, I’m still not really listening to anything new, since my I’ve love paused at 2006.
This year, besides being Arashi’s 10th anniversary, is also the 10th anniversary of a great many other artists. Let’s go over two of them first – Crystal Kay and Kuraki Mai. First was Crystal Kay, who was suddenly gaining immense popularity in KAT-TUN communities because she performed a duet with Akanishi Jin for her 10th anniversary collection album. She’s actually on here a bit unfairly, because I was drawn back to her music before AKB48 by her single featuring CHEMISTRY’s Kawabata Kaname and I’d been listening to the aforementioned album before the concert. Then Kuraki Mai, who had a 10th anniversary live, and everything I’d figured out about the need for shiny during SOUL’d OUT’s concert flew out the window because I was hooked even though Secret of my heart was just the woman singing on stage. A slow song, nonetheless. We’re now in 2005, for you guys keeping track.
Around this time, because of Crystal Kay’s collaboration song with CHEMISTRY, Two As One, I got a bit nostalgic over some of my favorites from them. These have been few, because CHEMISTRY mostly pulls the slow kind of R&B, but every so often something clicks. FLOATIN’ is one such song, harkening back to the startup days of Tofu Records releasing in the US, and the first several times I bought a Japanese pop album. Though the JPOP CD I heard FLOATIN’ on was released back in 2003, the actual song takes us to 2002, now.
Back on the concert track. Before JPOPSUKI switched trackers, some kind soul uploaded the ISO of dream‘s 2001 live. Though I didn’t get into dream until 2003, 3-nin dream is my favorite of the group’s many incarnations. The group just isn’t the same without Matsumuro Mai for me – odd, because when I was first trying to reconcile between 8/7-nin dream and 3-nin dream on the old AnimeLyrics.com forums, I identified Yu and Kana but mistook Mai for Erie, I think. Either way, 3-nin dream, whether because I have a fondness for trios or because the Japanese music of the early 2000s is essentially my starting point, awoke.
Then another 10th anniversary artist, Shimokawa Mikuni. Shimokawa, along with Okui Masami, Ishida Yoko, Takahashi Yoko, and Yonekura Chihiro, is really best known for her anime song – personally, I think she’s up there with the rest of the anison greats, but don’t hold me to that. She’d also released a 10th anniversary album, and while this was a while ago, I gave it a whirl. Big mistake, because she’d sung songs for a lot of shows I watched, and some of her songs are iconic for me. I also had a good amount of Hayashibara Megumi‘s discography sitting around somewhere, along with some Okui Masami albums, and Yonekura Chihiro‘s stuff was popping up on the new JPOPSUKI tracker. Now I was caught up in the dizzying spiral that is anime music.
And then the thing that clinched the deal – anime music ties in inevitably with Dance Dance Revolution for me. In fact, Dance Dance Revolution marks the beginning of the end of my interest in anime, harkening to my ditching meetings of an anime club I helped found in high school to attend the daily meetings of the Dance Dance Revolution club. Already having dj TAKA and Sota Fujimori’s solo efforts from Bemani on my laptop, and a bunch of BeForU as well, I now compounded it by hunting down a number of DDR soundtracks with the pieces that weren’t on the aforemention albums, and also hunting down SMiLE.dk albums for the full versions of such iconic tracks as Butterfly and Dancing All Alone.
So my music player (currently my poor DS Lite), once taken up completely by Johnny’s tracks, is now slowly returning to a state of… well, I was going to say normality, but that isn’t quite right. For the past two years, Johnny’s had become the norm. Perhaps it’s more accurate to call it a state of balance.
What does that mean for this blog? It found its greatest number of viewers when I was just entering the Johnny’s fandom. But the Johnny’s fandom is also horribly time and energy-consuming. There are endless variety shows, dramas, releases, photoshoots, all needing to be caught up with. It begins to feel like a full-time job in itself. So perhaps this the spark of hope that this blog can become more varied again, that maybe it can actually fulfill the functions of a blog, or just be active. Period. I wouldn’t be too sure, seeing as the 2009-2010 Countdown’s coming up, as is Katori Shingo’s Talk Like Singing, but here’s the hope.
Oh, but if you know anyone who’s willing to pay a person to keep up with Johnny’s, let me know.