Chase wrote an article for us where he takes a long hard look at the song “Bokutachi wa Ima Hanashiau Beki Nanda” from AKB48’s “1830m” album and shares his thoughts on various aspects of the song.
Although I’m an avid AKB fan and came into the fandom believing they could do no wrong (at least in terms of songs, etc), I’ve become a bit disillusioned recently. A certain track off of AKB’s latest album “1830m”, 僕たちは 今 話し合うべきなんだ [Bokutachi wa Ima Hanashiau Beki Nanda] furthered the decline and made me wonder what on earth was going when Aki-P and AKS decided to create this song. To me, there were three big problems that I heard after just listening to the song once.
#1: Tomomi Itano + Kashiwagi Yuki
Besides the Sashihara Rino and Watanabe Mayu matchup for duet songs on the album, this pairing was one of the strangest ones and turned some fans’ heads in confusion. Tomochin the dancing, ‘Dear J’ autotuned queen meets Yukirin the balladeer, classics singing princess.
Tomochin and Yukirin have never really taken to each other like some other members have, you never really see them all over each other or really even going out to lunch. It’s safe to say that their relationship isn’t the closest.
In the 2011 election Yukirin displaced Tomochin from the Kami 7, taking 3rd and effectively putting her in 8th. This year, Tomochin failed to win back the spot left open by Acchan’s absence as well, instead having Sasshi fill the 4th spot. Although the rivalry between the AKB girls is usually not full of ill wishing and bad feelings, I would not be surprised if the atmosphere in the recording room was a tiny bit awkward between the two.
Also, their styles are completely different. Yukirin has a better than average voice, she’s in tune 85% of the time during non-lipsynched performances and is well known for her proficiency on ballads and classic J-Pop tunes. Tomochin on the other hand, is the flashy electro-pop singer and dancer. Most of her lines in her solo singles are auto-tuned to some degree, to compensate for her slightly weaker voice and throat issues. Now they’re expected to share a ballad? Aki-P, you done gone screwed up.
#2: The Music Producers
Now don’t get me wrong, I actually really like this song. In fact it was shaping up to be one of my favorite ballads until a certain point in the song (more on that later). I absolutely love the orchestration on ‘Bokutachi wa’, it had just enough drive to not sit lifelessly in the dust, but be a song that would fit in perfectly at a high school homecoming dance (if Japanese high schools had homecoming dances or American ones had enough good taste in music to play J-Pop). The piano, strings, drums and assorted percussion blended perfectly together in a solid backing track, and the chord progressions were fully developed and built up nicely throughout the song.
Whoever was monitoring the vocal tracks during this song either decided against editing, retakes or trying to fix any of the major vocal errors throughout ‘Bokutachi wa’. From the very first note sung by Tomochin, who takes the first line, the melody is off key. For the rest of the song, most of Tomochin’s lines are pretty blatantly strained or off key in places.
However, I’m not hating on Tomochin for singing off key. Ballads aren’t her style, and I’m not going to place blame on her because she has voice issues either. I’m questioning the people who chose her for this ballad in the first place and the vocal producers who did nothing to try to hide her vocal mistakes. Granted, I can hear Yukirin make a few mistakes as well which weren’t covered up either, but unlike Tomochin, Yukirin is in her element with this song.
Unless the guy in the sound booth heard the mistakes and decided to go with an ‘au naturale’ approach to this song regarding vocals, little or no pitch correcting was used. This can be heard every time Yukichin start singing together, you can hear their voices grating against each other like hardcore H!P and AKB fans going at it on internet forums.
I believe that if the producers had fixed up the vocal problems with this ballad, this would be one of my favorite ballads hands down. Instead, due to ignorance or blatant refusal to fix their voices too much, the vocals hit your ears funny throughout the whole song. That is, until you reach the section I couldn’t even believe Aki-P, the sound technicians, the record label and the singers themselves let pass inspection.
At exactly 3 minutes 30 seconds into ‘Bokutachi wa Ima Hanashiau Beki Nanda’, all idol hell breaks loose. Yukichin attempts to hit the high note transitioning into the last chorus of the song, and I believe that Yukirin hit the note correctly; but Tomochin went incredibly sharp and even the most tone deaf otaku could’ve sensed that something wasn’t quite right. Even after hitting the high note, the melody is still really off key for about a second or two.
Which begs the question: HELLO??? Sound producers???? Are you guys there???? You guys are working on an o-ffi-cial AKS release, which 1,000,000+ people will buy, and you’re going to let a mess like that pass by? The other mistakes are forgivable, they could be ignored and even forgiven but this was something that you could fix with the miracle of modern technology that gives artists like Akon and Ke$ha a career: auto-tune!
I could really use the Milky judging face right about now.
Seriously, you guys are being paid to make the songs sound spotless and professional. Even though idols don’t have a track record of having Whitney Houston voices and often sing off key in official recordings, they aren’t this bad. Take “Beginner” for example. At the very beginning of the song the first notes sung after Takamina’s cue are the slightest bit off, but I’m sure the sound technicians working on “Beginner” patched it up at least a little bit so that it didn’t turn into a vocal tragedy.
In conclusion, this song could’ve been so much more. I’m actually sad that the chance to have what could’ve been a spotless, amazing ballad on “1830m” turned into a song that I can’t stop criticizing now. I need to stop. Despite all the mess above, I don’t blame a single specific person. Yukichin are fantastic idols, whatever personal faults they have, but choosing them to duet together on a ballad was the wrong choice. The people working on the song also aren’t entirely to blame. They made a great song, but whether it be from laziness, ignorance or the executive sound producer was deaf in both ears, they made some mistakes as well.
However, this is just my own personal, somewhat lengthy opinion. What do you think? Did you like the song despite its faults, or do you think that AKS needs to get their ears cleaned?
@starlancerpg on Twitter