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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Song of the Week! 19 March 2016

Remember when we did the fraud rating Christmas songs? You guys seemed to like that so here's another installment of Fraud Rating Double Feature (not a thing yet though)!

 Heisei Taiko Kaidou ~Bachi no Onna~ (平成太鼓街道~バチの女~)
Taiko 5, Taiko PS2 2 
x3 (128) x4 (230/212/198)x5 (230) (video)
Taiko Wii4 x4 (77)x4 (128) x4 (198)x5 (230/212/198)
 Taiko 5, Taiko PS2 2, Taiko Wii 4
 Enka -> Namco Original
 enka / enka2

The enka (演歌), literally "performing song", is a popular genre of Japanese music. In style the genre resembles traditional Japanese music, all while expressing deep emotions and sentiments of the singer, especially in its development since the post-war era.

Heisei Taiko Kaidou is Namco's flagship take on the musical style, as evident from its songID enka (enka2 for Wii4), and its genre of Enka before all Namco Original songs were unified at the second arcade generation. The song is mostly the work of Namco composer Jesahm (自営山) down to the composition, arrangement and lyrics. The soulful female main vocal is provided by Naoko Ishikawa (石河なおこ), who expresses the determination and spirit of a female Donder to aim at becoming a master (Tatsujin) of Taiko drumming.

Heisei Taiko Kaidou is the shortest Namco Original song for the longest time since its inclusion in PS2 2, clocking at only a bit more than 1:10. The short length is only rivaled almost six years later by Kidaruma 2000 in AC13 at about 1:00. A cut of the song's intro is used for the Wii5 minigame where you make skewers of Oden following a sample, played like it was coming from a radio at the Oden stall.

Although rated 5* (a rare sight in newer Namco Original, the last being Kimi no Akari), the actual difficulty can feel much more than that, depending on the forked path taken and one's personal ability. The old Oni notechart/new Master Route has some rather tricky mixed 5- to 9-hits that you won't see in this bulk until the modern mid-7*s, even if it is in such a low speed. In Wii4, the path forking is moved from Muzukashii to Oni leaving the Normal Route there, essentially making the hardest route less mandatory as a sort-of reduction of difficulty.

 Kiyoshi no Zundoko-bushi (きよしのズンドコ節)
Taiko 4 x3 (97)x3 (118) x2 (247)x4 (356/336/273)
 Taiko 4

Whether you'd like to admit it or not, the traditional-sounding enka isn't actually up in the younger generation's tastes over the more western-influenced portion of J-POP, and the genre has been in a decline in popularity since the 1990s. Just look at Taiko no Tatsujin itself: as of the writing of this, the last brand new enka song added is Mata Kimi ni Koishiteru (また君に恋してる) in AC14/Wii3, making a five-plus-year-and-counting gap without a new enka!

Looking back at the Taiko golden years of Enka, we can find the works of Fukuoka talent Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし). Born on September 6th as Kiyoshi Yamada, he started to professionally train his singing talents as an enka performer in his 20s, starting as a member of the school's performing arts club and eventually becoming an apprentice of Hideo Mizumori (水森英夫) for three years. It's quite unusual for a Japanese artist to start an enka professional career this early, but Kiyoshi's high-determined musical direction for him to follow was already discovered when he found that his singing of traditional songs had an effect on the residents of the nursing homes he visited.

With the will to affect people with his songs, Kiyoshi had a rise to popularity since the early 2000s, warranting him a new stage name suggested by early supporter and Japanese show business personality Takeshi Kitano (北野武) and the fan-elected title of "The Prince of Enka" (演歌界の貴公子). Hikawa has three songs so far in Taiko no Tatsujin, being this, Hakone Hachiri no Hanjiro (箱根八里の半次郎) and Hatsukoi Ressha (初恋列車). While he is still active in entertainment, he has not got another inclusion since AC7.

Kiyoshi Hikawa's third single was his personal interpretation of the Zundoko Bushi (ズンドコ節), a song about the will of going to war as a martial, death sentence-sounding track that was composed by an unknown student (signed as "M · K") in the Fujioka prefecture's fishing ward of Moji-ku (門司区). Also known as "Navy Ditty", this song's popularity grew on after the Second World War's end, and as the songwriter/composer's identity/ies still lie in mystery, it became a public domain song and other Japanese artists were free to offer their interpretations along the years. Kiyoshi Hikawa's Zuindoku Bushi was released on February 6 in 2002 while in his Hideo Mizumori apprenticeship years, peaking on Oricon charts at the 5th place.

Onto how fraud the rating is: like Heisei Taiko Kaidou above, Kiyoshi no Zundoko-bushi is just shy of 100 BPM, but the patterns are even more complex with more a lot more highly-mixed groups up to 9-hits in almost restless barrages, especially in the Master Route. But like what I suggested with Joy to the World in the previous SotW, Kiyoshi no Zundoko-bushi is also surprisingly good training material for novices to start on executing handswitching.

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