It’s Not An A-Side #04

Welcome to another installment of “It’s Not An A-Side”! This is a series of articles where we feature songs that weren’t released as an A-side but are still great songs in their own right. We aim to feature everything from B-sides to album songs to theater songs, etc. Keep reading to see what song was featured this time!

 

This particular song that I am going to talk about is actually one that most, if not all of you who frequent this site have heard. It is none other than the legendary “Aitakatta” by AKB48. I call it ‘legendary’ because even if you aren’t interested in AKB, this song is nearly impossible not to hear or hear about in the idol fandom. With its instantly recognizable hook, it has been the theme song for multiple commercials and variety shows as well as gaining heavy rotation and spins on radio across Japan.

However, my intent is to talk about a very specific version of “Aitakatta” that has come to light recently. An orchestral version of the song was released on the AKB0048 OST along with a mass of anime filler tracks and other arrangements of AKB tunes.

The other tracks on the album were excellent as well, with great arrangers and composers working on them, but the version of “Aitakatta that I had first heard in the anime is one that really stuck with me. From the moment I first heard it in 0048, I couldn’t wait until it came out.

The first time I heard the orchestral version of “Aitakatta” was during the 5th episode in the scene where Nagisa and Chieri were talking to Yuko. Call me soft, but both the mood and the song combined just completely melted me.

The song starts out with a soft piano intro joined by bells and windchimes which builds into a sort of contemplative ethereal section that faintly echoes the melody. As the song progresses, the tension in the chords grow until the chorus enters with full strings, woodwinds (flute, clarinet, bassoon etc) and piano. If you’re in the right mood when you listen to this song, the chorus can be a real tearjerker.


Sadly, the song begins to die down after only one repetition of the main melody and slowly regresses to just piano and some light strings in a beautiful ending, bringing this too-short song to a close.

To this day, this version of “Aitakatta” remains one of my favorite instrumental songs just because every time I hear it the melody evokes such a strong feeling of melancholy and aspirations for the future. My only complaint is that the song doesn’t even touch three minutes. Two minutes, forty-eight seconds is way too short to properly flesh out the emotion that is trying to be conveyed in the song. If there was a twenty minute long arrangement, I’d definitely take that over this, but in absentia, the shorter one will do just fine.

In an effort to promote the AKB0048 OST, if you liked the orchestral version of “Aitakatta” then I highly advise that you listen to the songs ‘AKB0048 Special Medley’, which is a mix of several AKB songs in a high energy symphonic theme; ‘Heavy Rotation (AKB0048 ver.)‘ for an interesting take on the original; ‘Korekara Wonderland (AKB0048 ver.)’ for ambient percussion and symphonic music mixed with programmed electronic drumbeats; and ‘Shonichi (AKB0048 ver.)’ which is a great march-like version of the original. What you should really do is just give the whole album a listen, every track was excellently composed.

That sums up all the great things about the song that I wanted to talk about. Check back next time for another installment of “It’s Not An A-Side”!

 

Calling all community members: Is there a non A-Side track that you love or that you would like to talk about? If your adoration for a particular song is bursting out of you and you can’t contain it, feel free to submit your analysis to the Contact form and see it published!

About Chase Lim

MWP Composition student @ University of Miami. New School Kaidan Writer & Podcaster. Nihongogo Press Representative. HKT: Murashige Anna//TGS: Shoji Mei Email: chase@newschoolkaidan.com

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4 comments

  1. These arrangements were VERY good. It also gave the anime some extra punch every so often, as you mentioned, because the whole idea of the show is about legacy and that music represents a vital, inspirational component to life.

    Hearing these tracks in this way, behind scenes brought an extra something to viewers who knew the songs, because we knew what they were about and on some level the meaning of the lyrics drifted into the scene.

    “Shonichi” especially did this with me because of its meaning and at least one place it was used to good effect in the anime.

  2. Wow, the Korekara Wonderland arrangement is awesome! Took a while before I recognized it; pretty crazy transformation. The Aitakatta track is definitely one of my favorites— worked really well as a 0048 theme.

  3. I’m pretty fond of the re-arrangements contained on Matsui Sakiko’s piano album that was released recently. It even makes songs that I hate the original arrangements for (Sakura no Ki ni Narou and Flying Get, among others) into wonderful listens from start to finish. Her versions of Aitakatta, Ponytail no Shushu, and Everyday Kachuusha are damn near tearjerkers for me most of the time. They’re beautifully played if you enjoy piano arrangements, and each one exudes emotional playing instead of sounding like it was sightread off of sheet music. Some of them also include other instruments, ranging from small selections of strings to classical latin-style accompaniment. Definitely worth a listen if you’re looking for interesting alternate takes on classic AKB songs.

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