Saturday, February 28, 2009

Yoko Kanno is a goddess...

And that is quoting someone else. Yoko Kanno is a composer with great diversity--she's done anime, movies, pop albums, CMs... you name it. Her compositions have "soul" to them. I mentioned in my" Favorite Anime OST" post that she does anything from jazz to pop to orchestra and Gregorian chants. I'm more of a fan of her orchestral works and "pretty" songs. I don't know how else to put it. Lol... I like her Vision of Escaflowne, Wolf's Rain, Macross and Sousei no Aquarion stuff more than her Ghost in a Shell and Cowboy Bepop stuff (though many people differ). She got her start in anime with "Please Save My Earth" which is an awesome anime but I think she was catapulted to fame with "Escaflowne," where young Maaya Sakamoto debuted in her first seiyuu role as heroine "Hitomi," also singing the opening and insert songs. I love Yoko Kanno's collaberations with Maaya Sakamoto. The Record of Lodoss Wars opening is classic--of course, I didn't even know it was a Maaya song until way later. Same with Purachina. Of the collaberations, Lucy probably is my favorite album, though all the anime related stuff are higher up on my list of favorites. "Garden of Everything" with Steve Conte feat Maaya Sakamoto is a hauntingly beautiful song that stands out. Their most recent collab is for Macross Frontier, "Trianger" and even more recently "Ao no Ether." When I first heard Ranka's (Nakajima Megumi) version, I thought, wow, that's such a Maaya song. And surprise, it came out in her new album, Kazeyomi. I wish we had a better version of Maaya singing "Aimo" in the Macross F OST.

Yoko Kanno is one of those composers where every time I hear her songs, they some how captivate me and I go "ah, whose song is this? I must look it up." It happened over and over again, it's sort of funny. One time was when I first heard "Gravity," the ending to Wolf's Rain. I heard a clip of it in an AMV credits section, the "am I going home" part. I didn't even know it was a Japanese song. Surprise surprise, I looked it up and it was Maaya + Yoko Kanno. One time, I was watching the movie Kamikaze Girls (great movie with Fukada Kyoko and Tsuchiya Anne), which has a lightly, poppy, feel-good sort of soundtrack. I liked it so I looked it up--Yoko Kanno. Honey and Clover movie-- I think I knew the composer was Yoko Kanno. But I heard the song "Scooters" and "So Much More to Say"- James Wendt and I thought it was a Western pop insert, something I feel like should have been around forever, and I looked it up and it was all Yoko Kanno's creation.

I began watching Macross Frontier solely because if featured Yoko Kanno's music. I did love the songs, and the standout bgm is definitely Prologue F. Anyhow, songstresses Ranka Lee (Nakajima Megumi) and Sheryl Nome (May'n) gained much popularity from this anime. "Diamond Crevasse," the first ending is a beautiful song, along with "Aimo." I actually liked "Triangler" but it was songs like "Neko Nikki" and "Ao no Ether" that really made me nostalgic for the old Maaya and Yoko collaberations and was glad to hear Maaya's cameo as Ranka's mother. : ) I decided to check out older Macross stuff because I got curious about who the heck Lin Minmei and the Fire Bombers were. So, I was randomly skimming through Macross 7 stuff, and was impressed with Nekki Basara's voice (I love Jam Project stuff). And then I got to the Macross 7 OVA and heard "Angel Voice"-- that song literally sent shivers down my spine, especially the part where he goes "whoa whoa whoa" and the whales join in. Fukuyama Yoshiki composed most of the songs in the Macross 7 but coincidentally, this one song was a Yoko Kanno composition, which surprised me because its so different from her other stuff. Recently, I got hooked to the Sousei no Aquarion opening because I heard a clip in the Nico Nico Douga Medley. (Nico Nico is the Japanese version of Youtube, and this is a conglomeration of songs in Japanese fandom). Anyhow, Sousei no Aquarion was played, and I was trying so hard to find out what song it was, and the version I was listening to was not labeled. Anyhow, it was a grueling processs, and when I found out it was a Yoko Kanno song, I had to let out a laugh. There's no escaping, nee? Anyhow, the acapella version of "Genesis of Aquarion" by AKINO and Bless4 is one of the most beautiful thing I've heard in recent times. At the time the song was made, AKINO was only 17 and part of an acapella group of her siblings (think sound of music) called Bless4. They did the English lyrics to this song since they're originally from America. Yoko Kanno seems to have a knack for discovering young, raw talent. I can't believe it took me so long to discover this song though! Lol... And no, I haven't watched the anime.

I hope Yoko Kanno has many more beautiful songs to produce because every time I'm sick of all the songs I have and a new song captures my attention (there's a difference between thinking a song is pleasant to listen to and then feeling shivery and moved from a song) its seems to be a Yoko Kanno song... And I'm sort of running out now. I would love to see Yoko Kanno in concert someday (and some say she is actually the mysterious singer song-writer Gabriela Robin); she came to Korean last year and was met with great reception, and of course I was not in the country.

Favorite Yoko Kanno songs (vocal):

1. Yubiwa - M.S.
2. Purachina - M.S.
3. Genesis of Aquarion - Akino
4. Gravity - M.S.
5. Garden of Everything - Steve Conte feat M.S.
6. Koucha - M.S.
7. Ao no Ether - Nakajima Megumi and M.S.
8. Kingfisher Girl - M.S.
9. Makiba Alice - M.S.
10. Record of Lodoss Wars OP - M.S.
11. Angel Voice - Fukuyama Yoshiki
12. Diamond Crevasse - May'n
13. Aimo - Nakajima Megumi
14. Strobe no Sora - M.S.
15. Yakusoku wa Irenai - M.S.

Wow... it's hard putting together this list... It's sort of Macross F biased right now because that's the most recent of her works. I think if I put together this list several years ago, it would have been very different. Unfortunately, I don't love all of Maaya and Yoko Kanno's work. I think if I have to pick, Escaflowne is Yoko Kanno's best work, though I think in the list of Japanese favorite anime OSTS, Purachina is ranked the highest, in the top ten I believe, and next high Kanno work was Sousei no Aquarion. Also, I have two types of songs I like--songs I love the melody to and songs that I can listen to over and over again without tiring. I think some of my favorite Yoko Kanno's works fall into the former category, so I have to "save" it while others I have constantly on my playlist.

Anyhow, hope Yoko Kanno has a long, illustrious career and I would some day want to meet her. ^_^

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