I opened my mouth and out came:
"Well, I listen to a lot of Japanese music."
And that is true. I do listen to a lot of Japanese music.
I first started listening to it when I found Bleach. There were lovely, catchy tunes on the beginning and the end of anime episodes and I read the credits and researched the bands and listened to their discographies and there were awesome songs there. After some scrobling of J-rock and J-pop last.fm started offering other Japanese artists and clicking through YouTube revealed more finds. As my skill with Japanese increased, understanding phrases pushed me to tinkering with kanas and my research widened to specialised and band pages in Japanese. I'm still very far from being proficient in Nihongo but that's not stopping me to fall madly in love with certain Japanese songs. Like this one:
Wine red no kokoro
This is kind of equivalent of "Košulja Plava" from Croatian music heritage. Contemporary Adult love song being just what it is and not taking itself either lightly nor too serious. It was written by Yosui Inoue (lyrics) and Koji Tamaki (composed) and after band Anzen Chitai (Safety Zone) released it in 1983. it reached number 1. at Oricon charts in 1984. and was soon followed by many more Anzen Chitai songs as their popularity soared sky high.
This is the same song in 2007. in a slower, more emotional and nicely orchestrated live performance.
I love how Mr. Tamaki sings expressively and emotionally, that even if you would not know a word of Japanese you'd be able to see the angst and dischord. I love how the lyrics are so catchy that you can almost predict what he's going to say next just like we can in Croatian popular music. This is also great song to notice that there is literally no rhyming in Japanese, no make-break, no Banana-Havana, no Afrika-Paprika. They make do with singing in tune, adjusting the length of pauses and bridges to accomodate the words. To this day I have heard A LOT of J-music with lyrics - pop, rock, jazz, fusions, crossovers, heavy metal, visual kei, even some traditional music and it seems to be the rule. As great singing and sparing no effort is the rule and as it is a rule that one performer or a band will play many different musical genre with zero condescending or taking oneself too seriously.
Like these two;
Koji Ueno from The HIATUS (rock, post-rock, punk) and Shohei Muto from Katteni-Shiyagare (swing/jazz, punk) cover Wine red no kokoro in cool flamenco tradition.