Music has become a bigger part of my life recently for one very boring reason: I cannot focus at work without music playing in the background. It’s an office gig, so it’s a whole lot of running reports and staying seated. You figure I’m at a desk for 40 hours a week, so I’m listening to stuff in my headphones for a lot of that time…which means I get tired of the music on my phone pretty quickly. As a result, I end up searching for random new music to listen to online – I can only listen to Spice World so many times in a week, after all! 😉
To switch up my music routine a little bit, and to give myself a writing prompt for this blog I barely update, I thought it would be fun to check Bandcamp for new Japan release and write mini-reviews of things I found. I soon realized that it would be hard to actually figure out what music was ACTUALLY coming from Japan – apparently, every vaporwave artist who makes “chill anime beats” mixes lists their location as Japan, even though they’re probably over in Toronto or something. But, I did eventually findsome neat, actual Japanese music to listen to, so I thought I would share it with all of you!
There was something badass going on in the world of late 90’s/early 2000’s anime soundtracks. A decent amount of anime had these anthemic, sweeping rock songs in their soundtracks. Often, these songs were sung in English and performed by non-Japanese singers. I don’t know if this was because Yoko Kanno was out in full-force during this time period and giving us Steve Conte-fronted goodness, or if more anime studios were going for crossover appeal with Western audiences.
Whatever the case, these songs are all awesome, and the story of how some of these English language songs and collaborations came to be are actually very interesting. Originally, I was just going to do a quick listicle, but I got carried away reading about these various performers. It seemed like a disservice not to share all the fruits of my research, so here is part one of my surprisingly long list of favorite English language anime rock performances.
Have I mentioned how much I love Cowboy Bebop? I really love Cowboy Bebop. It was one of the first anime series I ever watched, and it was definitely the first one I really fell in love with. The characters are all fantastic, the animation is stunning, and that soundtrack…
Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts crafted such a magnificent OST. It’s one that critics and anime fans still gush over twenty years later. And for good reason! “Tank!” is a certified classic at this point, after all.
When it comes to the Bebop soundtrack, jazz is probably what comes to your mind first. It makes sense: songs like “Bad Dog No Biscuits,” “Space Lion,” and, obviously, “Tank!” definitely stand out. But it’s a disservice to the sheer diversity of this soundtrack to only focus on those jazz tracks. The entiresoundtrack is filled with an eclectic assortment of genre-hopping jams. There ARE three soundtrack albums for the entire series, after all, plus one full soundtrack for the movie and multiple mini-albums.
Which is why I present to you – 13 of my favorite songs from the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack that showcase just how expansive the soundtrack really is. Come, bask in the variety and worship Yoko Kanno’s majesty!
The past few daysweeks months have been pretty shitty, and I knew that I needed to figure out a way to get some healing in. One thing I absolutely love to do is go to concerts. Not to sound cliché, but it is an incredible feeling to go to a show and get completely lost in music for a while. The ability to escape is something I need more than ever now that I’m working at an office full-time. The work itself is fine (and something I enjoy doing, even), but the co-workers…I believe Arsene_Lucifer said it best when he commented, “co-workers can be more draining than any evil anime villains.”
So when I saw that Kero Kero Bonito was going to be playing near me, it was like the Lord Herself had shone a beacon right down on me. A peppy, J-Pop inspired band playing songs about flamingos, taking breaks, and bouncing away your problems on a trampoline? That was EXACTLY the kind of escapism I was lookin’ for.
Surprisingly enough, I really haven’t written that much about the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack here. The OST was so hugely influential on my music taste that it’s actually difficult for me to try and put it into words. I’ve brought it up a little bit in one of my Anime Roots post, but it doesn’t really do my feelings justice. The soundtrack is such a huge, sprawling masterpiece of various genres and various tones that I don’t even know where to start talking about it.
Sooooo, why not start by bringing up the single most obscure thing possible!
Have you ever noticed that deep within the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, there lies multiple songs sung from the perspective of a greasy lesbian hound dog?
Yes, Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts not only blessed us with a brilliant and iconic soundtrack, but she also blessed specifically me with multiple lesbian blues bops, all sung by Mai Yamane.
Now that my Very Full-Time Job cuts into my regularly scheduled study time and I’m no longer in school taking Japanese classes, I’ve been listening to a lot of Japanese music at my desk and in the car. I read that the best way to motivate is to completely immerse yourself in a language, and that listening to music exclusively in the language you’re trying to learn is the best way to do it. At this point, I’m pretty much hoping to learn Japanese through osmosis…
Usually, I’ll listen to a bunch of anime soundtracks and openings for ~immersion purposes~, but when I’m at work, I want to listen to more poppy, easy-listening type stuff. You know, something upbeat that will keep me awake and happy, but something that isn’t too distracting. And so, through the wonderful website that is YouTube, I discovered the world of funky Japanese 80s music, which is now accidentally my passion.
I feel it is my duty to share my five favorites with you. It would be a crime to keep such stone cold bops to myself.