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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Song of the Week! 24 September 2011


This genre has seen its fair share of new songs each Taiko generation, but has dried up in the past few years even though there is always a mainstay of three or four old songs...It's the ill-fated Children genre I'm talking about, and I'm featuring two songs from it this week!

ABC no Uta (ABCの歌)
Allx1 (117)x1 (152) x1 (196)x8 (390)
Taiko Drum Master, Taiko DS 2, Taiko Wii 5
Children/Folk -> Variety (Wii5 only)

q-r-s, t-u-v,
w--x, y-and-z,
Now I know my ABCs;
next time won't you sing with me?

Reminds you of preschool? It's actually a pretty nice tune. This is one of the first songs we were ever taught to sing so we actually know how to make words a little later on, and known by almost every English-speaking kid in the world. The music actually stems from a French (non-nursery rhyme) composition called 'Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman' (Ah! I shall tell you, Mother) which was made sometime in the late 18th century with not much information to go on. The melody inspired many classical compositions and three English nursery rhymes, this one, 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' and a variant in 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'.

The Alphabet Song's lyrics were first arranged and copyrighted by Charles Bradlee from Boston, in 1835. The original patented song had a much longer title too, "The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte". I think we'll be just fine calling it the alphabet song. The way the A-B-Cs are pronounced made for a very clever rhyme at the end of every line. Surprising, that no one made that observation before 1835. However, everyone outside the United States pronounces 'z' as 'zed' and not 'zee', which kind of ruins the rhyming a little, leading to the creation of many variations of the song to make it rhyme.

The Taiko version first appeared on the sole English version of Taiko where it's known as 'The Alphabet Song', but was ironically not in the US release, rather it was included exclusively for JP-players, which was a pity. Its last outing was on Taiko DS2 under the Japanese name, ABC no Uta. Both are the same song and English is used for both. Now, the difficulty curve...that is not something you see very often in the Children genre, wait, in the entire history of Taiko. After three difficulties as a 1* song, Alphabet Song unexpectedly skyrockets up to a child-unfriendly 8*, which is the largest star transition between Muzukashii and Oni, ever. And yet the notes sound perfectly fine for it, with some tough clusters spread throughout the song, and quite fun to play through.

Omocha no Chachacha (おもちゃのチャチャチャ)
Taiko 6, Taiko PS2x2 (124)x3 (172) x3 (279)x6 (343)
Taiko 11x2 (124)x3 (172) x4 (279)x5 (343)
Taiko 12 to 14x2 (124)x3 (172) x3 (279)x6 (343)
Taiko Wii 2x2 (132)x3 (176) x3 (275)x6 (343)
Taiko 0 onwardx4 (124)x3 (172) x4 (279)x6 (343)
Taiko 6, 11 to 14 (excluding Asian versions), Taiko 0 to Taiko 0 R, Taiko PS2 4, Taiko Wii 2, Taiko iOs

Moving away from English nursery rhymes, this is a purely Japanese children's song. Omocha no Chachacha was composed by Koshibe Nobuyoshi (越部 信義), and the lyrics created by Nosaka Akiyuki (野坂 昭如) and Yoshioka Osamu (吉岡 治). Like the alphabet song before it, this one didn't start out as a children's song either.

It was originally used in a music variety show called Yamaha Time, as a toy-themed intermission song. This soon grew very popular and was rearranged for a much younger audience by the aforementioned three individuals in August 1962 for a preschooler's TV show on NHK called Uta no Ehon (lit. the Coloring Book of Songs) as the 'song of the month'. Being under the limelight, the show hosts Mari Yoshiko (眞理 ヨシコ) and Nakano Keiko (中野慶子) took turns every week to sing the song every day for the whole month of August.

The response for the song was overwhelming. In 1963, Omocha no Chachacha won the 5th Japan Record Awards under the category for 'Best Children's Song' and continues to be used in many, many different children shows even until now. It placed 1st ahead of Inu no Omawarisan in a popularity poll for children songs by Benesse Corp just recently, in 2010.

Omocha no Chachacha looks set to be an evergreen song in the dead Children genre in the arcade, where it has been lumped together with Inu no Omawarisan and Mori no Kuma-san since Taiko 11 with few very minor changes, and Wii2 was its latest console appearance. It is also currently the last children song to appear in a console game, as since Wii2 the genre seems to have been obliterated completely. As a 6* song it doesn't present much difficulty, but players will have to watch out for the multiple big Kat notes.

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