Shiina Ringo & Seishun no Matataki

Shiina Ringo “Seishun no Matataki” (Flicker of Youth), written for Chiaki Kuriyama who released it 2011, here performed by Shiina Ringo herself 2014.

Version from the live performance televised this New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2016):

Lyrics here courtesy of Lyrical Nonsense. Shiina Ringo is a very gifted songwriter but I find her voice a bit grating. I love the arrangement though, with the interwoven electronica.

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Ayaka & Mikazuki

Ayaka, “Mikazuki” (crescent moon), single from 2006.

Romanized lyrics and translation here, courtesy of Kiwi Musume. Exit questions: How did she get up there, anyway? And how is she going to get down?

Grateful Dead & Uncle John’s Band

From Workingman’s Dead (1970).

Jerry Garcia (lead guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Pigpen (Ron McKernan) (vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart (drums).

wdydfae will be away from the keyboard for a little stretch. But the Sunday music is on autopilot and will appear as usual.

Winter Song & Dreams Come True

It’s not totally seasonal, but winter’s coming to a close and it’s my last chance. A few weeks back we had an ongoing search for good pop ballads going, driven by the question, “Can pop ballads ever be good, or are they by nature either too sappy, or over emoted, or both?” The tentative conclusion was that they can be good, but it’s relatively rare. I think this one is sweet.

The Japanese version is followed by the English version, with diva Miwa Yoshida singing both (1993, or maybe 1994?). Apparently this was used in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Which is probably not an argument in its favor.

Something about winter and snow and urban landscapes gets Japanese ladies all gushy.

Late for the sky & Jackson Browne

A change of pace in one sense, and in another, part of the continuing effort to post good ballads. But is this song so good that it’s not actually a ballad anymore?

I noticed this song for the first time last year when I tuned in to the radio playing oldies. It was pleasant background noise until I heard the lyrics “such an empty surprise to feel so alone.” Then I started paying attention and could understand that this was a seriously great song, and with uncommonly poetic lyrics. The arrangment and instrumentation are also perfect, every note, every inflection.

I since relistened many times through the magic of Youtube and read up on it. The most mysterious thing for me is how I could have missed it back in the day. Apparently this song was featured in Taxi Driver. I must have seen that movie five or six times, but never noticed this song.

I like the way they did the video with the lyrics up. The road metaphor works well, of course, and anyway, I like looking at winding roads.

Misia & “Everything”

Nightsky and I were discussing whether ballads ever cut it these days, or even as a rule. I tentatively concluded that English language pop can no longer deliver a decent ballad (at least from what I can hear), but that other countries might pick up the slack from time to time. The impetus for love ballads is just too great for it to fall out of production completely. Anyway, this for me is another case in point.

Misia is I guess the reigning pop diva, though this song is not new. I like it a lot. It rewards relistening. I even accept the thick orchestration in the arrangement. When I first heard Misia I found the nasal element in her voice quirky and interesting but a little . . . wierd. Now I accept it as the essential “Misia sound.” It has charm. I don’t know many of her other songs.

The video doesn’t do anything for me. The lyrics sound good in the original language but in English (translation at Maxilyrics) they read like something from a gushing teen girl’s diary. Erk.

I mean,

Many were passing by when I finally met you
I can’t believe the miracle I prayed for is this close to me

Our time apart grows even though I want to see you, I escape out the door
And remember laughing with that person, I remember you

My love, don’t make me sad, I’ve cried my eyes out, I’ve had sleepless nights
Don’t look back at the past, just look at me

You’re everything, You’re everything
Stronger than my love for you, I don’t need gentle lies, I just want you

How much time must pass before we can call it eternity? I want to go see
That endless and distant future together with you one day

And I’m like, ooooooookkkkkaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy . . . .

UPDATE:
Lin Yu Chun (who sprang to fame singing Whitney Houston’s cover of “I Will Always Love You”) does a note perfect cover of Misia’s “Everything”:

Snow Flower Mika Nakashima

I don’t follow pop music that much but occassionally something sticks out.

I have the sense that the English language pop scene has pretty much lost the art of the romantic ballad, but I could be wrong. In the r&b field, ballads seem way over-emoted now (thus leaving me completely dry emotionally) and faux-Gospel flavored.

Other countries pick up the slack, though. This is a beautiful song by Mika Nakashima (fairly old).

Update/Edit: Good translation here. Kinda sappy, but hey, it’s a ballad.