Welcome to the ultimate J-Rock playlist~
Part 1: #20 – 11
~Three years ago, before K-pop and J-pop would soon start to slowly conquer my ipod, I was into some pretty heavy stuff. American Rock, Screamo, Metal, you name it. Soon I was introduced to Dir En Grey, and wanting to expand my tastes, I ended up dwelling deeper into J-rock then I ever thought I would. While at the moment K-pop has consumed my soul, I have never forgotten my roots! I love J-rock. I actually CRAVE it at times when auto-tune and synthetic beats can’t fill that hole in my heart where the members actually PLAY and MAKE their own music. I need killer guitar solos, a bass line so deep it pulsates in my desk, and occasionally, those scratchy screams only rock vocalists can give me.
Yet trying to get back into J-rock is hard when K-pop has literally wrapped its pop lasso around my brain. It takes a month’s worth of no new releases and a particular state of mind to set me free for a while. Recently however, in my English class, we’ve been listening to what my teacher dubs as his top ten greatest American rock songs of all time. He even encouraged to try and write our own lists, at which I instantly began scribbling down J-rock bands in my notebook. After two weeks of naming candidates, then spending three hours to actually pull it together, I managed to create my own top TWENTY greatest Japanese rock songs list; twenty because I honestly couldn’t pick just ten, and not of ‘all time’ since I know there are some pretty decent 90’s J-rock bands out there that I haven’t heard of.
Of course, I should establish the criteria I based my choices on, so here other reasons besides personal attachment to which I chose some of these songs:
- Gorgeous music – I’m talking about amazing guitar solos, drums solos, and the like. Since I don’t understand Japanese, my ears are more in-tuned to listening, and focusing, on the actual music (and singer’s voice) instead of focusing on the meaning of the song, so gorgeous music is definitely, and majorly, required.
- Strictly Japanese rock! – No artificial sounds, but other instrumentals like pianos, saxophones are all right.
- A Bass rhythm/solo that can get caught in your throat – Literally. Or, so deep it rattles your desk and you can feel it pulsating through.
- Lyrics – Though I am not too big on lyrics, it does give a song a better chance of being bumped up if I can relate to the lyrics, or absolutely love the lyrics.
- Slow or fast-paced – A lot of slow J-Rock songs are the best, so I didn’t care for my list to be just strictly for songs that have that head-banging and rocking out feel. I like songs that mesmerize me~.
With that, let’s get this countdown ON~
20. Andromemorphosise – Plastic Tree
I’m not a huge fan of Plastic Tree, but I do enjoy a lot of their songs, two of which are on this list, counting this one. Running a spam of a little over eight minutes, Andromemorphise starts off really slow and simple with just a guitar and singer Ryuutaro’s lovely monotone voice. Yet as the song continues on, it starts to go up and down, giving full blasts of the whole band at certain points, which always manages to send chills through me. What ended up bumping the song onto my list however was the gorgeous guitar towards the end of the song, slowly fading as it returns back to its slow-paced beginning.
19. Sakasama Bridge (Upside Down Bridge) – Suneohair
At first, I wasn’t sure if this could be counted as Jrock, but I ended up slipping it in here. Anyways, I, of course, fell in love with the song from watching Arakawa Under the Bridge. To me, Sakasama Bridge definitely seems like a summer song with its hidden fast paced rhythm, still feeling a little lazy to give the song that running-through-the-grass–wildly kind of feel. Plus Suneohair’s smooth voice is just perfect~.
18. Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuite Okura (Please Realize that You’re Beautiful) – Sambomaster
The question for this is how can I not add the opening to Kuragehime to my list? While it isn’t all extremely rock-ish, it’s still got nice guitar, and the lyrics are lovely, even if its gives a pretty simple and cliché message.
17. Tengaku (Heaven’s Requiem (?)) – Akiakane
A cover of a Vocaloid song sung by the character Rin Kagamine, I instantly fell for the bass-luscious beginning which then rocks into an explosion of guitars as it heads to the first part of the lyrics. I love all this woman’s covers of Vocaloid songs, but this particular song had the better instrumentals to me, and the vocals sounded a bit smoother compared to Bye Bye Baby, Rolling Girl, and Lost Story.
16. Senkou Shoujo (Flash Girl) – Tokyo Jihen
I’ll say this before I continue on: I believe Tokyo Jihen is one of the greatest Japanese rock bands out there. It’s not only because Shiina Ringo, the band’s front woman, is also one of the greatest Japanese singer/songwriters of all time, but because the other talented members manage to create heaps of amazing songs with all sorts of themes and other instrumentals to make their music continuously interesting. It’s why you will see this bands appear another three times on this list. Staring with Senko Shoujo, I find this to be another of those running-free feeling type songs (if that makes any sense). Mainly what put this song on the list were the lyrics which, when you really think about it along with the title, creates a viv, particular scene in my mind; one of the powers of Shiina Ringo’s songwriting.
15. UNDERGROUND – HIGH VOLTAGE
I only recently started watching Gurren Lagann, so I’ve barely come across this song. What managed to place this song on my list almost instantly was its killer bass. I mean, the guitar and drums kick ass as well and I’m incredibly in love with the instrumentals at the chorus part of the song but THAT BASS. THAT BASS! I have no words to describe that feeling that pulsates through me when I hear it.
14. THE FINAL – Dir En Grey
I won’t lie, this song to me sounds a little, how do you say… mis-matched? There are certain parts that don’t necessarily flow, yet while I say these things, this song has been my favorite of Dir En Grey’s since back when I first gave them a listen. At the time I was in a really REALLY dark place so the lyrics spoke to me well, but now I focus more on the simple sounding yet gorgeous instrumentals and the tone of Kyo’s voice.
13. Taion (Body Tempature) – the GazettE
This is a song I have a lot of trouble explaining as to why I placed this on this list. It’s not that I have any doubt that it should be on here, I just have a hard time trying to put into comprehensible words how amazing I think this song is without re-using all my same adjectives. The lyrics for one are a big part of why I chose this. If you hadn’t heard, the song is actually a tribute to the tragically murdered girl named Junko Furuta. After reading the gruesome and heartbreaking details of her murder, and then going back over the lyrics, it really left this impression on me that has not once went away.
12. Kimaru (To Peak) – Tokyo Jihen
(The video is a live performance which perfectly conveys the feel of the song much better than I could ever explain.) Number two in showing my devotion to Tokyo Jihen. A more slower paced song that manages to sort of explode in the end. I first listened to this song on a semi-cloudy day where I lay on the grass at the park and watched the clouds slightly cover the sky and felt a cold wind start to pick up. Since then I haven’t been able to dissociate this song from that scene or that type of weather. It is indeed a very dreamy song for sky watching with Shiina Ringo’s semi-slurred way of singing it in the beginning. Yet the song ends with a bit of a bang as the instrumentals one by one come into the rhythm, then rise up and go off into a faster pace; the piano surprisingly giving it a lot of depth.
11. STEALTH – Abingdon Boys School
I personally love T.M.Revolution’s (Takanori Nishikawa’s) Engrish accent, so I chose the (not-so) English version of JAP instead. I won’t lie; my fangirling for the much-older-than-me-that-it’s-almost-creepy TMR has influenced this decision. But hey, this is a rocking song that really makes you want to get up and jump, dance, head bang, or whatever us rockers like to do. I mean you can’t deny the awesomeness that is the guitars and guitar solo.
~Again, these are all my personal opinions, and are no way set in stone. For me, this is my ultimate Jrock playlist. As for next time, I’ll continue with my top ten. Until then~!