“Now is the Time; You’ve been Reborn, Beginner!”

“Are we dreaming? Do we believe in the future? We’re reckless, not knowing fear, or what our place is…We’ll tear off the chains that have controlled us.  It’s OK not to know anything, Beginner!

Stand up! Together!  Remember the day you were born!  Everyone was a Beginner!  Stand up! Right away!  Things don’t go well easily, right from the start. Be defiant and something will happen; Destroy and throw away the old page…We can be reborn all the time!

We can’t do anything, we can’t do it right; So what? We’re young, we can’t do anything, we can’t do it right away. But that’s why we have potential.

The rain has stopped, the wind has stopped. A light never before seen is piercing down.

Now is the time; You’ve been reborn, Beginner!”

With a message like this, how can you not feel inspired? An article on Oricon came out on the day of ‘Beginner’s release and there were some excerpts that I found pretty interesting:

“Idol songs are a means of communication. They are a tool for shaping a message.
But if those idols who stand in front don’t synchronize themselves with the message, it won’t come across.

In the beginning, Takahashi Minami says “In your position set!” and sends a sign, and according to it there are 6 different formations. “Beginner” has a monotone melody on repeat for the verses, one that relies strongly on vocals.
The arrangement casts a restless air over the stylish melody.

Then the chorus is sung in thick layers, removing any kind of embellishment, and allows the earnest feeling of the song to go straight to the point.

“Are we dreaming?” “Let’s tear away the chains that controlled us”

This is an AKB48 song, and at the same time it isn’t an AKB48 song.
It’s not the AKB that has taken the whole Japan by storm and conquered it, but it’s a reality that’s in synch with the state of mind of each single member.

While they are the ones who have originated such a big trend, the members still say “Who’s gonna buy them?” when they hear about the one million copies shipment, or honestly said “We definitely won’t sell it out” at the time of their Yokohama Arena concert. The trauma of their first concert, where the audience was scarce, is still strong.

A strong will is the reverse side of cheerfulness and high quality.
Idols, too, in order to be able to keep showing their smiles to the fans, have to be strong.
“I can’t do anything” “So what?”

AKB can sing this message exactly because they are doing their best to be strong. The reason why this message becomes pain and pierces through us, it’s because we have stopped trying to be strong.

But we have a chance. When we are reborn, we’re all Beginners.
The coldness that’s pushed into our necks can change into heat.”

It’s day three since AKB’s new single came out and the total sales have come up to 742,109.  At this rate ‘Beginner’ is clearing .8 million easily and aspiring to somewhere closer to 900,000 for first week sales.

I’ve been asked why I like Beginner, and I’m always at a loss for words because I like everything about it. If I feel like I’m in the minority of liking a song, I can understand why someone wouldn’t like it; I account for different tastes and weaknesses in the song I overlook because it may not bother me as much as others.  But with Beginner I can’t think of any weakness to defend, justify, or explain.  I like everything about Beginner; how it sounds, how they dance, how it makes me feel, and what it means.


Oricon article translation by LoveandCoffee and ‘Beginner’ lyrics by Hana

About Dae Lee

-Dae, aka Mizu -Writer, broadcaster, and podcaster on New School Kaidan

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