Saturday, June 13, 2009

Raspberry Dream revisited (Rebecca, Ayu, and SpringS)

It's always interesting to see how some tastes change over time, while certain other things retain their appeal and have a timeless quality about them. I'm a fan of Japanese rock/pop music; while spending some free time on YouTube, I came across a set of related music videos that I wanted to comment on.

Here's the same song, Raspberry Dream, performed quite differently by different people in three distinct eras. The original (1986) is by the 80's Japanese rock band Rebecca, featuring Nokko (b. 1963). Some of you know that my favorite one-shot anime is To-Y (1987). In that anime, Nokko was the voice of Niya Yamada. Because of that role, I became a fan of Nokko's solo work and her prior work as the frontwoman of Rebecca. Watching the video below, you'll see that Nokko is an honest and exhilarating performer and musician.

The video below features Ayumi Hamasaki, one of Japan's most prominent and prolific female pop artists. The following video, however, is from her "Idol on Stage" TV show performance in 1995 when she was only 16 years old, prior to her debut album. It's not quite fair to compare an amateur performance against a polished music video, but the quality and potential of Ayu's singing is already apparent (and stylistically different from Nokko), and it's entertaining to see Ayu before she became a superstar.

Finally, here's a video from 2003 featuring SpringS, a short-lived girl band. SpringS is mostly known for its member Aya Hirano, a well-known anime voice actress.

At this point, I suppose some weighty topics could be discussed, such as authenticity, postmodern creativity, the value of derivative works, changing aesthetic sensibilities, the nature of the music industry, etc. There are things to ponder, for sure. For now, however, I simply enjoyed watching the three videos and invite you to do the same if you haven't done so already. Personally, I still prefer the original. It's got a sense of purpose and energy that can't be matched by CG, special effects, and a higher BPM.