04 March 2015

Favourite artists: Berryz Kobo, top10. Japan #3

Yesterday other one of my two ultimate favourite bands went on a indefinite hiatus (and unfortunately these hiatuses usually tend to be break-ups instead, but only time will tell). I must say I was not surprised at all when they announced this, but it was still sad. So, this felt like a good timing for me to write my top10 listing for this group.

The group is called Berryz Kobo, also known as Berryz Koubou and Berryz工房 in Japanese. It is a seven-piece (formerly eight-piece) Japanese girl group. The group is part of Hello! Project, which is a famous Japanese idol project (they have multiple girl groups and occasionally soloists). Berryz Kobo started to release music already back in 2004; Their debut single was released March 3, which was also the date for their last concert now 11 years later.

I personally came across their music around early 2011, I believe. And it did not take very long until I was totally hooked and they fast rose into the top spot on my favourite artists list. I think they have released only like one or two singles that I do not like and I also love their other songs. Their earlier songs are more of high-pitched and childish (very Japanese, eh?) and more recent ones more mature and serious. Which obviously makes perfect sense since they were only 9-12 (!!) years old when they debuted! I actually really like to watch artists evolve and grow up through music.

I could go on and on about the group, but I want to keep this introduction part short, so let's cut it here. I have picked my top10 favourite songs from them and I have to say this was not an easy task! Especially since my favourite tends to change along with my mood and life situations. But I think these are my overall ultimate favourites from them. I will try to keep the text parts fairly short, so that this post does not expand totally out of control.

(*current. This list may not be accurate as the time goes by.)

1. ヒロインになろうか! (Heroine Ni Narou Ka!), 2011

I tend to think that this is the very first Berryz Kobo song that I heard, but in fact this was the second one. I did not like that much of the first one I heard (which I later started loving), but with this I fell in love immediately. And to this day it has remained as my favourite song from Berryz Kobo; I love the music and the vocals; The song is catchy without being overly catchy and there is something dark and something happy in it. It is a perfect combination of all the things I love in a song.

2. もっとずっと一緒に居たかった (Motto Zutto Isshoni Itakatta), 2013

I have said it many times in this blog already, but here it is again: I do not usually like ballads much. This song on the other hand.. Well, I am not actually sure if this song is a ballad (as I suck with genres); Somehow this feels like a ballad and somehow it does not. The song title means I Wanted To Stay Together With You Longer, and as you can tell by that it is a sad song. I feel a lot of emotion in this song. It sounds very beautiful and also magical. And the music video adds to this feeling in all its simplicity; A night scenery always appeals to me.

3. ROCKエロティック (ROCK Erotic), 2013

This song was actually released as a double single with the previous song. For me this was a perfect double single: two amazing songs that were quite different from each other. I really love the sound of this song: it is catchy and mysterious. And a bit naughty. With the video, this was quite a change from their usual cute and innocent style. (Though this is nothing compared to so many other songs / music videos) Naughty or not, the song is brilliant.

4. 抱きしめて 抱きしめて (Dakishimete Dakishimete), 2009

I find this song highly catchy and it makes me want to dance, and I hate dancing. I always love this kind of dark disco sound. I feel something deep in this song too; Dakishimete means Hold Me and in my opinion the lyrics are kinda bittersweet.

5. 愛の弾丸 (Ai No Dangan), 2011

I always remember particularly well what was the song that was first released after I became a fan and the song holds a special place in my heart. I do not mean just Berryz Kobo, but this is the case with almost every artist I am a big fan of. In Berryz Kobo's case the song was Ai No Dangan. I really loved it when it was originally released and obviously I still love it. The song title translates into A Bullet Of Love and this definitely shot me with one of those. What I particularly love a lot is that they break the usual format of having solos during verses and singing as a group in chorus.

6. ジリリ キテル (Jiriru Kiteru), 2006

I feel kinda the same way about this song than about Dakishimete Dakishimete (number 4). It is catchy and dark. I do not know exactly why, but this song makes me feel emotional, and I am not an emotional person. I really feel this song deep in my bones. I think it is particularly the music that gives me the creeps and touches me. Well, whatever it is, this song seriously gets me.

7. 1億3千万総ダイエット王国 (1oku 3senman Sou Diet Oukoku), 2014

This is the most recent Berryz Kobo song that made it into my list (though two other songs just nearly missed). The song may sound like it is just some random nonsense and nothing deep, but I find the lyrics were meaningful. They sing about dieting and how everybody diets:

"All of Japan is always, always on a diet
Even the slimmer girls, always, always on a diet"
(lyrics: http://www.projecthello.com/berryz/diet.html)

So, there is a deeper message in this song and it is not just something crazy like it can at first (or after many listens) sound like. They sing about how our lives revolve so much around dieting, but what is most important in the end? At the last part of this song, they are singing, among other things, about wanting to do good things and finding their real selves. The lyrics actually give you something to think about.

8. 恋の呪縛 (Koi No Jubaku), 2004

This is the earliest song that made it into my list. It was actually released the year they debuted. I really love the music here; It sounds somewhat magical and it occasionally gives me the creeps, which in my opinion is a sign of a great song. The music already sounds sad, but the singing makes it more sad and emotional. I do not know if the lyrics are actually sad, but this is the feeling I get from this song. I am quite amazed that girls this young and this early in their careers can sing in a way that touches me.

9. WANT!, 2012

At first I must say that I really like this music video: the set is brilliant. The spinning room thingy, I mean. I find it a very cool idea. Besides the video, the song is really good. I like the lyrics; It is a song about having fallen in love with somebody recently. Even though lyrics-wise it is a very happy song, I find there is something dark in the music, which gives the song a nice contrast.

10. 雄叫びボーイWAO! (Otakebi Boy WAO!), 2010

It was so hard to choose the song for this spot. I had three opinions, but this song ended up taking the spot, for maybe two reason: firstly because I have a plan to feature the other two songs in other posts. And secondly because this song has a very special place in my heart: This was the first Berryz Kobo song that I ever heard! Like I mentioned earlier in this post, I did not originally like this song much. But at some point I really started loving this. The reason why I did not at first like this might have been that this song has that common Japanese silliness factor and it was too overwhelming back then when I was not use to it. Now I love silly Japanese songs and this song is not even that bad. I more of find this song strong and dramatic. Those "wao wao" parts are just a nice addition.

And that is that for the list.

Even though they will never read this, I am sending out a 'Thank You' for the girls, Tsunku (their producer) and other members of their production team for the eleven years of music! And a hope that I will get to hear more from them, separately or together.

[ps. My other blog post of this week will also be Berryz Kobo related, since it features a song that ended up on the shared 11th place on this top list. The post will be an Original & Covers post and the songs are very funny. In my opinion at least.]

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