Friday, June 5, 2015

Q Attack, Round 13 - Does Understanding Lyrics Matter?
Tiger and Rabbit were in Seattle and saw the featured musical guests of Sakura-Con 2015. They got to see popular performers who came straight from Japan and rock out to their music. This got the pair of cute mammals thinking, is language truly a barrier or can music reach out to anyone?


Rabbit: Righto! It’s part three of the “milk Sakura-Con for all it’s worth” series! This time we’ll be chatting about the concert with featured musical guests Itō Kanako and GARNiDELiA of Sakura-Con 2015!

Tiger: The concert was held on Saturday, April 4th, in front of a rocking crowd. We got some pretty good seats too.

Rabbit: I’m not one for mosh pits, too many people and the music is way too loud to be up front like that.

Tiger: We have musician style earplugs that we use for concerts like this.

Rabbit: They definitely come in handy if you want to keep your hearing for as long as possible.

Tiger: Yeah the music was super loud. They had songs playing before the performance started and you could hear it all the way in the queue room.

Rabbit: They played Under the Sea in Japanese! That was so cool sounding.

Tiger: It was more like “Unda da Shii.”

Rabbit: First up was Itō Kanako. She hails from Utsunomiya, Tochigi and is known for singing a lot of video game and anime theme songs.

Tiger: I know she got pretty popular for her work for the video game School Days as well as the anime and drama CD adaptations.

Rabbit: She also sung the songs for Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, and Robotics;Notes.

Tiger: That’s a lot of semicolons there.

Rabbit: She’s been to the U.S. before, making her debut at Anime Boston in 2012.

Tiger: Now it’s time to talk about the setlist she sang…

Rabbit: ^scratches head^ Right… so here’s the thing, since we don’t know Japanese, I have no idea which songs she actually sang.

Tiger: I know she sang Skyclad no Kansokusha from Steins;Gate and I’m pretty sure she sang Hacking to The Gate from the Steins;Gate anime. Those are the only songs I really know from her though.

Rabbit: Her music was catchy. She liked talking to the crowd quite a bit too.

Tiger: I was surprised at how much we were able to understand since again, we don’t speak Japanese. I pretty much got all of her jokes though which shocked me.

Rabbit: All that time watching anime has paid off!

Tiger: That’s actually kind of sad, if you think about it.

Rabbit: I thought it was cool that she did an encore too after the audience chanted for her to come back.

Tiger: Yeah, they really liked her.
Rabbit: Next up was-

Tiger: GARNiDELiA!!!!

Rabbit: You’re a fan, I take it?

Tiger: I love MARiA so of course I’m a fan. Founded in 2010, GARNiDELiA consists of vocalist Mizuhashi Mai, aka MARiA, and producer Abe Yoshinori, aka Toku. Together, they’ve created some of the catchiest anime theme songs of recent years.

Rabbit: Their name came from a French phrase, “Le Palais Garnier de Maria” which means Maria's Opera and the moon Cordelia, which was discovered the same year Toku was born, 1978.

Tiger: They made their debut with Ambiguous, the second opening theme for Kill la Kill and have songs for Mekakucity Actors, The Irregular at Magic High School, Gundam Reconguista in G, and Gunslinger Stratos.

Rabbit: And we actually recognized all the songs they sang too!

Tiger: Yes, in addition to performing Ambiguous, they also did Grilletto, Blazing, and others from their album Linkage Ring. I’m still impressed with how powerful a singer MARiA is.

Rabbit: And Toku’s music fits her so well. It’s a great pairing.

Tiger: I think this was the first time either one of them has been Stateside too. So it was awesome to be able to see them.

Rabbit: Did you have a favorite song?

Tiger: I’d have to say Blazing.

Rabbit: Ever the Gundam fan. Mine was Grilletto, it’s just a great song.

Tiger: We also saw Kondoh Kanako sing too. While she wasn’t a part of the concert, she did sing at The BlazBlue Experience right after the concert was over.

Rabbit: She is the voice of Noel Vermillion and also sings the theme songs Love So Blue: Ao no Kodō from BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger and Pandora Tears for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.

Tiger: We also bought her two albums while at Sakura-Con.

Rabbit: I think the concerts are my favorite thing about Sakura-Con. Last time we went in 2012 we got to see garage rock band Stereopony, visual kei gothic metal band Moi dix Mois, and baroque pop singer and cellist Wakeshima Kanon. This time it was Itō Kanako, GARNiDELiA, and Kondoh Kanako. We’ve gotten quite spoiled I think.

Tiger: It is a great opportunity to see and hear musicians we would never otherwise be able to.

Rabbit: I just wish we could understand what they are singing about.

Tiger: It’s not like it really matters a great deal. I think you can convey your thoughts through music alone. Plus, you could always look up a translation on the internet.
Rabbit: You could if you could remember the song’s name… but really, you don’t think lyrics matter?

Tiger: Overall, no I don’t. It is music; the musical lyrics matter more than the words themselves. Yes, I get that songs do have meanings that lyrics can convey but I don’t think there is any barrier that music cannot breach, especially the barrier of language. The phrasing, tonality, and tempo all work together to paint a picture for the listener and that’s done without words. Sometimes, I think it’s better not to understand what they’re singing about. I don’t want to hear about someone grinding in the kitchen.

Rabbit: ^shudders^ That’s why I don’t listen to modern American music.

Tiger: See? I’m right, sometimes it’s better not to know what the singer is saying. At least everything in Japanese sounds pretty even if we don’t know what it means.

Rabbit: I don’t know, I think that without knowing the meaning of the lyrics you are only getting half the experience. It’s like if a colorblind person looked at a painting, it’s going to be pretty but it won’t have the full impact that it would on someone who can see the colors.

Tiger: That’s a very cruel example.

Rabbit: ^shocked face^ How so?

Tiger: If you are colorblind, you don’t have a choice in how you perceive the world. In some ways, not understanding the lyrics in a different language is a choice since you could always learn the language and then be able to understand what those words are conveying.

Rabbit: Okay, so it was a bad example but you get my point. You’re missing half of the song’s essence without understanding the lyrics because if the lyrics were throwaway, why write them in the first place? So I think understanding the lyrics does matter and I like to put in the time to try and get translated lyrics for the Japanese songs I listen too. Some of them actually help the meaning of the song, like Roshin Yuukai, knowing what the lyrics state changes that song completely. While music can convey so many ideas and emotions on its own, lyrics can clarify those ideas and expand upon them. Plus, when have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head without the lyrics getting stuck too? They go hand in hand and they should.

Does Understanding Lyrics Matter?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit


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