fly to high

Sakura Songs of 2008
March 16, 2008, 1:13 am
Filed under: Every Little Thing, Ikimonogakari, Jpop, Nakashima Mika, Yanawaraba | Tags:

I can’t think of any other country’s music that’s so fixated on a flower like Japan is with their sakura. Sure, western artists always release songs crooning about roses and daisies, but only in Japan does everyone clamber to release a blatantly sakura-based song in the springtime, or just a spring song – which inadvertently will reference sakura. They don’t even disguise it: at most they’ll use English and say “Cherry” in the song name, but most times they’ll just have “sakura” somewhere in the name or – the most blatant of all – just call the song “Sakura.”

Despite the predictability, I enjoy the yearly rush of sakura-releases. Whether they’re ballads or rock or dance pop, singing about sakura almost mandates an air of wistfulness in the song since it’s the time of graduation and spring romances, and pink petals floating somewhere in the music video. Something about singing about sakura brings out the best of people, and some of my favorites of artists are their sakura songs. My ranking of this year’s are:

7. Mika Nakashima – SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~
If there’s anything I’ve found with most of Mika Nakashima’s works post-NANA, it’s that they’re never bad, but they’re never memorable like her previous works. “SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~” is actually one of my more liked singles amongst her current releases, but the tune just doesn’t stick, nor does it feel particularly emotional. It does have a nice, melancholy atmosphere – but as anything more than ambiance music, it’s rather boring.

6. An Cafe – Cherry Saku Yuki!
I’m not a big An Cafe follower, but “Cherry Saku Yuki!” isn’t a bad song of theirs. It doesn’t really convey the sakura theme despite being named after it and having a PV of graduation though. It’s really not a bad song, but it sounds too like the other songs An Cafe put out to be special.

5. AKB48 – Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008
Yes, it’s a remake, but a sakura song nevertheless. Have they actually rerecorded the song? I can’t tell, since this is my first time hearing it, so it’s fair game. It’s very girl pop, but it’s definitely a spring graduation song, has chimes and synth – it’s an okay. What I did enjoy was the video – yes, it’s ten minutes, but the extra movie parts make it feel genuine, and really hit home the feeling of graduation.

4. Every Little Thing – Sakurabito
The song sent shivers down my spine when I first heard it. Something about the song does sound a little familiar or conventional, but the overall effect of the song is just hauntingly sweet.

3. Hoshimura Mai – Sakura Biyori

I am a sucker for songs that incorporate traditional instruments into pop music without sounding like it’s trying too hard; “Sakura Biyori” does just that. The tune is a bit repetitive, but its works out as a beautiful, driven ballad.

2. Ikimonogakari – Hana wa Sakura Kimi wa Utsukushi
What can I say, it’s Ikimonogakari. I can be a bit biased, but they do pop-rock angst well. Even with a upbeat tempo, the song holds a sense of loneliness and longing – definitely a sakura-song subject.

1. Yanawaraba – Sakura
Yanawaraba have smooth, pleasant vocals – it doesn’t work out well for listening for long periods (I get sleepy) but it works for their song “Sakura,” a breezy, springy number. I’m especially in love with the chorus. Basically, I know it’s a great sakura song if I can just listen to it and envision pink clouds – which, really, I did.

It was difficult to rank, because I really did greatly enjoy all of the top four, but that’s my take on this year’s. (Oh, and let me know if I missed any blatantly sakura-based songs. )

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