Time for this week’s highlight AKB stage song!
Song: Yume no Kane [Bell of Dreams]
Discography: K6th Album
Original Performers: Oshima Yuko, Akimoto Sayaka, Miyazawa Sae, Itano Tomomi, Ono Erena, Kikuchi Ayaka, Matsui Sakiko, Fujie Reina, Minegishi Minami, Uchida Mayumi, Nakatsuka Tomomi, Yonezawa Rumi, Nito Moeno, Tanabe Miku, Kikuchi Ayaka, Umeda Ayaka
Location: 2010 Yoyogi ‘Suprise wa Arimasen’ Concert
Original Unit: Yes
The large number of girls in AKB48 give their songs a different sound from most pop. You’ll always see me refer to their songs as having similarities to musical theater. AKB’s theater songs seem to be something newcomers often don’t know about; many people find out about them through their singles, but become confused when they see that they have a plethora of songs that are known to theater-goers that sound very different from what they’ve known AKB to sing.
‘Yume no Kane‘ is another shining example of how theater songs differ from their singles. The costumes are strange; their sleeves and outfits are ripped with pieces just barely holding on. Their dance is sweeping and dramatic. You look closer and see the expressions on their face: they look lost, disenchanted and hopeless.
After the intensive song opening they start singing, and the members break off from their dance formation. They begin wandering aimlessly around the stage, some collapsing to the ground, while others struggle to stay up as if they just stumbled in from a battlefield. You soon realize the chaos has internalized, with members seemingly lashing out towards each other while others hold them back from each other. Slowly, piece by piece, the dance builds itself back up in time for the powerful chorus. This particular segment is something I found to be very unique for a pop group. The mix of the theatrics and dance, to recreate and act out a moment of turmoil during the song is definitely reminiscent of musicals. They aren’t simply performing the song, they make sure you understand and see the chaotic state and mindset in which the song is taking place.
‘Yume no Kane’, which can translate to “The Bell of Dreams”, is a song about finding hope in your darkest hour. To continue fighting through life and continue towards whatever it is you live for; to never stop ringing your “bell of dreams”. In the second part of the chorus, you can hear the clanging of a large bell resonating above the singing—it gives me chills every time.
The AKB Theater is a fantastic platform to experiment and try bold things, and has definitely generated some of the most interesting and amazing songs I’ve heard from any pop group. Sure, the drama may be too much for some, and others may not appreciate it as much as I do, but the fact that such experimental songs are at least being put out even if they may not be well-received is something I’ve been yearning for from music in general. Left and right, many of my favorite artists seem to be playing it completely safe these days. I never thought I’d be turning to idol music for something bold and unconventional. Kudos, AKB48.