• Anthony's Jpop Recommendations: Christmas Special

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013!

    At the time this post is being written, it is nighttime, 25th of December 2012, and Anthony is enjoying his year end holiday away from Singapore.
    But fret not! For Anthony is always with you guys in spirit to celebrate this wondrous occasion that is Christmas and New Year!

    Here is a compilation of Japanese Christmas themed songs for your listening pleasure:

    "Hurry Xmas" - L'arc en Ciel

    A really happy and joyful Christmas song, my top choice for this list.
    This song depicts a happy couple spending their time on a happy Christmas season, impatiently waiting for Christmas eve to come so they can party all the night and celebrate their love.
    The joy and energy of Christmas permeates in every tone and syllables of this swinging rock n' roll, such fun!
    "Thank you, Jesus!" Thank you Hyde and Tetsu for composing this wonderful song!

    "I'll steal the night sky and light the candles, I'll keep her present hidden for the moment 
    There are stars in those beloved eyes of hers, will she be happy?
    These glasses are starting to get full with bursting sweetness, SO SWEET!

    Come on, the party is starting, come on music!"

    "Itsuka no Merry Christmas" - B'z

    If "Hurry Xmas" depicts a scene of celebration and jubilation, this song portrays a melancholic and romantic side of Christmas, a favorite Christmas choice for the Japanese since 1992.
    Gackt, being a fan of B'z himself, has so far covered this song in Christmas TV specials with Namie Amuro and Ayumi.
    This ballad depicts a romance story on a certain Christmas in the past.
    The romantic melody and vivid storytelling of the lyrics easily captures the heart of listeners worldwide, and the heartwrenching last sentence totally sealed the deal.
    A 1998 acoustic version featuring Inaba's more developed voice can be found here.

    "Watching the candles light up our room, I said, "Let's never, ever be parted"
    Before long, I found myself in tears, without even knowing why

    Standing on the street now, the one beside me is just an after image of people passing by quickly
    All of them hugging their presents with such happy faces"

    "Christmas" - Judy and Mary

    Judy and Mary hits it home with this heartwarming rock number.
    The melody and Yuki's bratty vocal is always guaranteed to pop a smile on your face.
    The song tells you a girl's wish to be with his beloved for Christmas.
    Meeting Santa inside her dream, she wishes, "Instead of luxurious sparkles, give me my most precious person"
    Spending the white Christmas eve, praying together just she and her boyfriend.

    "I have something that I want no matter what for this Christmas baby
    It's not a diamond wrapped in red ribbons
    Light a fire to that candle and enjoy the eve with me together 
    Merry Xmas for just the two of us 
    Stay beside me until I open my eyes"

    "Holy Night" - Kugimiya Rie, Kitamura Eri (Toradora!)

    Here's one anisong representative, a Christmas song from Tenori Taiga and my favorite girl Ami-chan!
    They are here to brighten your mood with their cute vocals!
    You don't need to be an expert in Japanese to understand the lyrics, it's pretty basic really.
    "Saa Christmas! Ippai no egao!"

    "Christmas this year is a little special, even if it’s not a white Christmas
    It will definitely be a special night, a lonely Christmas will be boring
    Illumination of the stars, look at them piling up on the ground
    I vow to you on this holy holy night"

    "Juunigatsu no Love Song" - GACKT

    Translated to "December's Love Song", Gackt sends shiver down your spine with this uplifting Christmas track.
    This song is actually meant to be a song about world peace and harmony.
    As seen from the PV, Gackt made this as a tribute to the 9/11 WTC tragedy victims.
    The lyrics is all about love and overflowing romantic feelings in the Christmas season, but if you see it in a more general way, the words can also be applied for friends and family.
    Truly a song about world peace, let's love each other and live in harmony forever.

    "As I gaze into the show window, I passed by so many couples holding each others' shoulders
    As I wait for you, I tried to place these thoughts into every white breath that leaves my lips

    Because you mean so much to me, don’t ever change, and keep on smiling
    Because I love you so, I’ll keep on holding on to you, only you"

    "White Love" - SPEED

    Ah, classic SPEED, the biggest girl group to hit Japan's music industry.
    This song is about how a girl treasures her newly forged relationship, how she misses her boyfriend dearly on nights when he doesn't call her, how she scribbles his initials all over her notebooks.
    Her love gives her unimaginable happiness, but the more happy she is, the more afraid she is of losing him.
    This anxiety powers her up to love him even more, creating an unending cycle of sorts.
    A recent live with the members all grown up (12 years gap) can be found here.

    "Like the light of the stars that go on forever
    I want to cover you with the love that fills my heart
    Our encounter, a gift from the angels
    Will fly through the air and keep sparkling forever"

    "Silver Town" - HOME MADE KAZOKU

    And now, for a more modern hip-hop take on the joys of Christmas.
    This is the first song that came to my mind when making this list, a typical HMKu's feelgood energetic rap music, with a Christmas twist to it.
    The song, especially the rap part, perfectly depicts the bustling and joyful city scenery in Christmas.
    Starting from how the town becomes suddenly bright after 5pm with lovers holding hands together, how the guy gets bored while waiting for his girlfriend in his car, to how he surprises her with a well hidden silver ring, all in a joyful scenery covered in snow.
    The only bad thing is that there are no higher quality versions in youtube, and my copy of this song is locked inside my currently spoiled HDD.

    "When the bell of happiness rings, the hands of two are intertwined, eyes locked at each other 
    I pulled your ear slightly, please listen carefully while I say those embarrassing three words to you.
    That stained glass is starting to shine just like this blushing December
    Careful about the people watching, the boyfriend gives a kiss
    And then, a whispered “Merry Christmas”

    "Winter Wish" - Yonekura Chihiro (Love Hina Christmas Special)

    Probably one of the best and most iconic anime Christmas songs, Winter Wish is sung by Yonekura Chihiro of Gundam 08th MS Team fame.
    Yonekura's crispy vocal goes hand in hand with the romantic melody, creating an anisong masterpiece that transcends time.
    The song depicts a romantic couple, their only wish is to be together forever always.
    As they hug each other, that warmth they are feeling is their winter wish.
    I don't know about you guys but this song makes me want to cuddle up with someone, a teddy bear will do perhaps.

    "The powdered snow that fell on my face turned into tears
    Stay by me forever, don't let go of my hand
    Shining stars in the winter sky wrapped around the both of us
    These white shoulders, this white breath, this is my winter wish I'm feeling with you"

    "A Christmas Song" - Monkey Majik, Oda Kazumasa

    When you see Oda Kazumasa and Monkey Majik in one sentence, both big names in the soft ballad world, you know you're in for an amazing treat.
    Released in December 5th this year, this very new Christmas track quickly proved itself to be a pleasurable song to listen to.
    The song depicts the solemn aspect of Christmas, a silent joy and fuzzy warm happiness.
    Spending the day with the people you hold dear, being grateful for all the blessings received throughout the years, praying for these peaceful days to continue forever.

    "As the sun sets, the street corners start to glitter
    People passed by each other with gentle smiles
    The fluttering snowflakes look like angels

    Tonight, the entire town is surrounded by happiness
    Overflowing with love, the sounds of the bell echoes gently in the night sky"

    "Can't Wait til Christmas" - Utada Hikaru

    A serene yet lighthearted love song from Hikki, delivered with piano and her ultrasonic relaxing voice.
    Unlike her usual style, Hikki's voice in this song is cuter and raspier.
    This song is about a girl who is waiting for a confession from a seemingly dense guy.
    The guy is gunning for her, but he doesn't know that the girl already has feelings for him.
    The girl knows that both of them has feelings for each other and is now waiting for the guy to actually ask her out, before Christmas comes perhaps.
    A bit of fun trivia, this song is best coupled with EXILE's entry below, "Yumemiru youna Christmas".

    "Don’t make me wait until Christmas
    The whole town is starting to fall in love with you
    Don’t put up your cool acts in front of me
    I’m already, ahh, loving you"

    "Snow Halation" - μ's (Love Live!)

    Yes, any decent Jpop list needs that certain bubblegum song that makes you scream, "MOEEEEEE!!!" or "Please be my waifuuuuu!"
    This song, as you can see from the PV, depicts the struggle of lovestruck girls on facing their own feelings, gathering their courage to confess to their crushes.
    The acoustic guitar actually caught me by surprise, it strangely fits really well with the overall composition.
    "Love Live!" is scheduled to air on TV this coming January, hopefully we can see the girls performing this number on the anime.
    On a side note, Umi-chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!! Eri-chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!

    "From the first time we met, the melody of my heart has shouted a sign 
    Before I knew it, my true emotion had grown so large
    It’s painful only seeing it as a dream, the one I want to call my lover is you

    I don't want to be swayed and bewildered by those gentle eyes
    Take all my affection as it is all at once please!"

    "Yumemiru youna Christmas" - EXILE

    Translated to, "The Christmas you see in your dreams", this is one of EXILE's happier Christmas beats.
    The whole song is a freaking love confession and diabetic sweet wooing combined into one. 
    It all started with the guy giving his 'friend' a well prepared Christmas gift, and after the line, "First, I want you to listen to what I have to say", be prepared for a storm of embarrassing love serenade.
    Of course the story ends happily, with the two exchanging a small kiss under the night sky, officially becoming a couple.
    I think if you sing this as a confession, you can instantly melt them girls no wonder how ice cold their hearts are, of course, provided you can sing as good as Atsushi and Takahiro.

    "Even if there is sadness you can’t erase, even if you have an unforgettable pain
    If you leave it to me, I’ll definitely get rid of them for you
    Even if there is happiness you can't reach, even if there are past joys you can’t regain
    If you leave it to me, they will always be yours

    If you are to be mine, the Christmas you see in your dreams will surely be yours"

    "Winter, Again" - GLAY

    ... but of course! Your year end in Japan is not complete without this song.
    Now some of you who are familiar with GLAY might ask, "Why not "Time for Christmas"? Isn't it more befitting with the Christmas theme?"
    Simple, here's the answer: "Winter, Again" is one of GLAY's signature song, their best selling single which was 2000's Japan "Song of the Year". It is one of the best, if not the best, song from GLAY.
    The song depicts a guy who remembers his late lover whenever winter comes, his love for her frozen in time on a winter long ago. 
    Now he can't meet his lover again, but he still longs for her, their past together left an unerasable mark on his heart.
    A 2011 tribute version to Japan tsunami victims with piano intro can be found here.

    "Someday, I want the two of us to go back to the time when the snow started to fall
    I want to show you the whiteness of the town where I was born 

    I want to see you, I'm longing for you the more I remember the past
    In these cold nights I can still hear, the ringing of the bell in my heart"  

    "Christmas Eve" - Yamashita Tatsurou

    This is the so-called Japan's national Christmas carol.
    Since 1983, this song has been blaring throughout Japan's radio stations whenever Christmas comes.
    The lyrics is actually very simple, comprising of only 10 sentences, in which 4 of them are the chorus.
    The charm of this song comes from the catchy and happy melody, complete with powerful background vocals, something that can be said crazy awesome in 1983.
    An English version of the song can be found here.
    Also, 1:59, epicness ensues.

    "The rain, in this time of night, has changed into snow
    Surely you won't come, another Christmas Eve spent all alone
    Deep inside my heart, this hidden feeling of mine, will it be granted or will it not?
    This feeling of mine for you still won't disappear, it lingers around the night"

    "Shiroi Koibitotachi" - Kuwata Keisuke

    And now for the closing number, here's another popular Christmas song that is often repeated on radio stations all over Japan, brought to you by the soulful blues vocal of Kei-chan.
    The melody of this song is so melancholic yet so uplifting and romantic it simply grows on you, makes you want to take a girl by her hand and waist and proceed to dance slowly.
    It depicts a story of a guy who reminisced upon his past lover for one last time, shedding tears of goodbye, hoping that his lonely days will eventually pass and a new love to dawn upon him.
    This song has been covered by prolific vocalists like Hirai Ken and Shimizu Shota and even the super RnB group Boyz II Men, but still their voice profile can't perfectly grasp the soulful swing of the song like Kei-chan does.
    Too bad the epic PV is removed from youtube, except for this short version.

    "Outside, it’s cold enough to freeze a sigh, wind howls through the empty winter streets
    I’m at that *Akarenga station, waiting for someone who will never return

    Tonight I shall sing a tearful love serenade, it’s a love song that I still haven’t forgotten
    Snow, let me celebrate my love once more, grace this night of lonely tears with white love

    *Akarenga: Yokohama historical red brick building


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