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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Song of the Week! 21 June 2014

Summer has just officially begun for this year! Let's celebrate with two fresh J-Pop songs.

 LIFE Kimaguren
Taiko 12 to 14x3 (92)x5 (126)x6 (261)x8 (419)
Taiko 0 Sx3 (270)x4 (270)x7 (270)x7 (270)
 Taiko 12 to 14, Taiko 0 S (promo only)

Nothing better describes the summer times than the sense of relaxation when traveling to a tropical paradise and enjoying a slow, breezy environment. That's why today's featured songs have been chosen for their low BPM! The first one was requested by chat box user kathy.

The arcade-exclusive song LIFE is the most well-known song of the Japanese pop/reggae duo known as Kimaguren (キマグレン). The members of this Kanagawa prefecture act are known by their artist names of ISEKI (the duo's musician) and KUREI (the lyricist), with both of them providing vocals for their songs. While the two first met in 1996, they only grouped up as Kimaguren nine years later due to their iuniversity education, with KUREI studying medical science in America and ISEKI studying law at Yokohama.

The name for the duo is very close to ISEKI's original idea with the word Kimagure written in Hiragana (きまぐれ), but in one of their early performances at live houses, there was a typo in their name, written in Katakana and with an extra letter at the back, and decided to go with that name instead.

After the self-released 2006 single Omoi Omoi (想い思い), Kimaguren signed under the independent label UNDER HORSE RECORDS for the release of their first mini-album LIFE on July 25th, 2007. As the title suggests, that was the first release of today's first feature! While the album scored low in the Oricon charts for four weeks in a row (#261), the song got better recognition on another album release by the same name on May 2008, this time under the Universal Japan Music label. Having reached the #14 spot on the Oricon charts for over twenty weeks, the song LIFE got wider recognition and was used for a lot of Japanese media: as the April '08 opening theme song for the TV show PVTV, as ending theme song for the TV shows Duòmo and TeleVitamin, as CM theme song for au Smarts Sports and as a train melody for Keikyuu Zushi Line's Shin-Zushi Station.

On Taiko, rap songs have always been accompanied by a large variety of cluster patterns, this being no exception as the lyrics have that much beat variety themselves.Its maximum score matches that of Game Music TE-20's Oni mode, as both have no drumrolls.

LIFE was one of the few promotional TV Asahi songs during the Taiko Sorairo period where all the modes share the same note patterns, differing only for the usual clear criteria needed to pass for each mode.

 Ketsui no Asa Ni (決意の朝に) Aqua Timez
Taiko 9x3 (84)x4 (138)x6 (271)x6 (367)
Taiko DS 1x3 (84)x4 (138)x6 (265)x5 (367)
 Taiko 9, Taiko DS 1

For today's second pick, we have the Taiko debut of Japanese rock band Aqua Timez, whose influence started becoming relevant in Japan thanks to their first themes for the animated feature of the manga Bleach (plus movies) and this particular song.

The band's roots branch into the early months of year 2000 through an Internet encounter. Singer Futoshi (太志) and bassist OKP-STAR met each other online on the website with9.com and some time later they started searching for new people online to be recruited into their rock band. After many selections and a temporary halt of the project, the band made their debut three years later in the Asia University as Aqua Times, now counting guitarist Daisuke (大介), keyboardist mayuko, drummer TASSHI and the two support members EBIS and Mayumi Fujita (藤田真由美). Since early fans of the band were used to call it 'Aqua Timez' with the z, the members decided to keep the fan alteration as their definitive name.

After the independent release of the first album in 2005, Aqua Timez signed a contract the year later with Epic Records Japan (a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment) for all their future releases; it's under this label that Ketsui no Asa Ni (lit.'On the Morning of Determination') was released in the band's first single of July 5th, 2006. After being featured on the Oricon charts for 35 consecutive weeks (peaking in 4th place), the song was used as the theme music for the animated film of Miyuki Miyabe's fantasy novel Brave Story (ブレイブ・ストーリー), enhancing the song's popularity even more.

Being a slower (much slower) song than LIFE, the Oni mode for Ketsui no Asa Ni is much easier to deal with. Unlike most 5*s, it contains moderately long notes of streams, with patterns that would be seen on a higher BPM in 7* or 8* songs. The speed of this song makes for good practice handling basic streams and sight reading them.

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