Tuesday, January 23, 2018
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LookBack: Stereopony Music, Vol. 8

Once upon a time, in high school, there was this couple that had a fight…

Cover songs are always a difficult item to look at. There will always be a rift between those fans that like it and those that like the original better. I have the original album version of “Okami”, which will come into play when we get there, but like my counterpart all I have to go on is the live version from Bivattchee’s last show. Aimi’s version is more uptempo than that version, slowing down only for the chorus. I have heard two live versions of Stereopony’s take; In one Nohana opened with a bass riff and in the other Aimi switched guitars and went right into the opening. Viewing the video for the song drives the point home without needing subtitles, a background in Japanese, or a team of translators to make it clear what the song is about. Reading the lyrics in English only drives the point home. Although the words are not Aimi’s, and were originally written by a male, the song could easily be told from a female perspective. A boy and girl have a fight, and while apart remember all the things they did together, they decide to give it another chance, and in the case of the video, they meet up at their graduation party (at which somehow the school managed to book Stereopony), and say their apologies and get back together. Butterfly Sparkle compares the video to a shoujo manga story, and I have read enough of those to understand it, not having a relationship of my own. Like Aimi, I seem to know a great deal about the subject despite not ever being in one, or so Aimi claims.

“Cherry my…” keeps the theme of relationships going by not talking about one that has already gone through so much and made stronger for it, but one that is just beginning at the time of year where love blooms as much as the flowers. Piecing together things from Butterfly Sparkle’s Song of the Week entry and the translation within the forum, the girl singing the song has a crush on a boy, but graduation is nearing and the boy she likes is going to be attending a different high school in the fall than she is; since high school is recommended but not required in Japan, this may be the last time she sees him, and she has yet to confess her feelings for him, so she uses the cherry blossom viewing as an excuse to bump into him. But, nothing happens because the girl realizes that there is always another chance, and by then, she will be a better version of herself that he would want to meet.

The song goes from verses dominated by Shiho’s soft drumming and Aimi’s heartfelt voice, to powerful choruses with a great drum line and excellent guitar work from Aimi. Once again, Aimi’s talent with writing about relationships shines through, and again I wonder if Aimi’s telling the truth and learned everything she knows about love from watching J-dramas and reading shoujo manga or if it truly comes from first-hand experience and swore her bandmates to secrecy, knowing that it is the last thing she wants Nohana blurting out in an interview. This song also shows up again in their second album, which is why I had trouble finding it in my collection since I do not have a physical copy of Hanbunko to work with.

Rounding out the single is “Dreamin'”. A song that explodes with as much energy as its songwriter, Nohana. A Song of the Week would have made it three for three, but where I do not have that to work with, I will go with what my counterpart said of the lyrics: “it…talks about the wish of a prosper[ous] future, how sometimes we just need to dust off our knees, dry up our tears, and keep moving ahead.” Although life will sometimes get us down, or in the case of the songs that precede it, relationships or whether or not to pursue one may get us down, but we have to keep moving forward, or give it another try. I also agree that the heavy guitar on the tune combined with Aimi’s vocals gives the song the happy, upbeat tone that it has. I seem to recall being somewhat negative on another Nohana-penned song, but this one is not so bad.

My counterpart laments that the two B-side songs were cut from the Final Live DVD for no apparent reason; what is even worse is that it is extremely evident to those people that were at the actual show can tell that they were cut. In the two shows that I have gone to, only at one did they play any songs that were B-sides, and even then, it was only one, so why cut them out? If you are going to record something like a band’s last show EVER, put the whole thing on the DVD. Members of the forum came from all parts of the globe to attend, and many others like myself wish they could have been there. It is another glowing example of how Stereopony’s people have fallen short in video releases compared to SCANDAL. All of their videos up to a certain point were released on ONE DVD, and later released on Blu-Ray as well. Second, their live at Budokan was also released in both formats. Stereopony’s stuff has only come out on DVD. That and there was the weird release of their video collections. It makes no sense to me how a band that has been to the States FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES has not embraced Blu-Ray since Japan and North America share the same region code for the disc format, while a band that has only been to the States twice with a HUGE gap in between shows has released a music video collection and their concerts on Blu-Ray. My only other thought off the subject of the single is that with every bit of bad news we get out of Draft King, who have been together only a year and they’re already short a member, or the lack thereof of anything about Aimi, makes me wonder what it was that Stereopony had which made them so successful.

Overall, this is a very good single. Although the third track is not specifically about relationships, it can be applied to them, so the single works as a whole for that reason. The title track is one that everyone can sing along with Aimi on the chorus and then just let her take the verses because there is no way in a million years I could keep up with Aimi as a non-native speaker.

Once upon a time, in high school, there was this couple that had a fight... Cover songs are always a difficult item to look at. There will always be a rift between those fans that like it and those that like the original better. I have the original album version of "Okami", which will come into play when we get there, but like my counterpart all I have to go on is the live version from Bivattchee’s last show. Aimi's version is more uptempo than that version, slowing down only for the chorus. I have heard two live versions of…

Review Overview

Hanbunko - 98%
cherry my... - 95%
Dreamin' - 96%

96%

As Stereopony's first cover, the girls prove that they can do just as well with someone else's song as they can with one of their own. The second track keeps the relationship theme going, and although the third track has nothing to do with relationships, the theme of not giving up can be applied to them, making this single whole. As wannasalad mentioned, this marks the halfway point in Stereopony's volume of work, which also means we too are halfway through OverView/LookBack.

User Rating: 4.78 ( 3 votes)

Break Down

Break Down

Hanbunko – 98%

Music – 98/100
Lyrics – 98/100
Vocals – 98/100
Overall execution – 98/100

Cherry my…– 95%

Music – 98/100
Lyrics – 90/100
Vocals – 98/100
Overall execution – 95/100

Dreamin’ – 96%

Music – 100/100
Lyrics – 90/100
Vocals – 98/100
Overall execution – 96/100

About the author

Destonus is a Very Good Days member from Massachusetts. He moderates the Stereopony, Draft King, and AIMI discussions, the Music Discussion forum along with Dereko, and manages the Very Good Days Encyclopedia Project.
 

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