Thursday, 20 December 2012


All opinions are my own, and that should really go without saying. Please respect that.

Christmassy GACKT is always good, I find.
So, that time of year has come yet again. Actually, Christmas is my favourite time of year, for many reasons. Winter, I've finally realised, is my favourite of the four seasons. I love this time of year, and all that is just enhanced by all the special songs you only listen to at that same time of year (I refuse to listen to them outside of December, in all honesty).
Now, Japan has released a good bunch of Christmas songs, despite being a non-Catholic country - in fact, South Korea have barely any Christmas songs despite the fact that, though being a generally non-Catholic country, many K-Pop stars are openly Catholic. I suppose Japan must make a bigger deal of it all and, of course, J-Idol Pop in particular is a genre somewhat built on gimmicks, right?
As an avid fan of Christmas and Japanese music, I'd like to take this opportuniy to give my personal Top 5 Ranking of Japanese Christmas Songs!

5. Arashi - Dear Snow

Jun, that garish jacket does not fit in. Way to ruin the colour scheme, pshhh.
This ranking is kind of Johnny's dominated (an accident, I promise), and, as such, it kicks off with none other than JE's popular export, Arashi(though, that being said, SMAP actual have a better sales ranking to their name, as do Kinki Kids, so, their success is only about 3rd in the rankings - bare in mind that these statistics may be outdated)~!
To me, this sounds really Christmassy - it has the right balance of warm and cold to it. Also, the instruments and such, the arrangement and that, is very clever in getting that Christmassy feel across. It's very typically Arashi, but it has somewhat of an old English Christmas feel to it that I can't quite place. It's a really gorgeous song and it's nothing but Christmassy, though, without being all in-your-face cheesy. It works really, really well.
The lyrics aren't the cheeriest (as you scroll down, you'll realise that there is actually one song that isn't just sad in this ranking), but they're sweet. Yeah, they're definitely nice lyrics. In the song, the narrator is in love yet they can't follow through with this love, they can't convey their feelings. They know the love is unrequited and, rather than being a total arse and dwelling on the fact their love isn't paying attention to their lovely feelings of lovely love, the narrator's accepting that it simply cannot be with them. They do state what they'd do if only the two could be together but the song ends on a far less hopeful note, with a line that basically means 'It will never happen but I'll still love you' - it's sweet but harsh, definitely. I believe this works well with the idea I presented earlier regarding the blend of warm and cold tones. It's a lovely song, really.

4. °C-ute - Aitai Lonely Christmas

That fade effect isn't very good, though, is it? No wonder Nakky looks so pissed and Maimai looks so judgemental.
Regrettably, this is only song in this ranking by a female artist. However, there are plenty more in my Top 10 and Top 20 lists, but, I'm not going to post anything so pointlessly long if I don't have to. So, yeah, kudos to °C-ute! I honestly think that °C-ute are the H!P group with the best talent and sound the best live out of all the groups. Anyhoots, onto the song, right?
This song seems to be about a girl who wants to spend Christmas with her love, so, nothing really very special or original here, though, there appears to be a catch. They lyrics don't explain anything and the PV is pretty much plotless, so, what the catch is, I'm really not sure. My assumption is that she can't see her love for whatever reason, though I'm pretty sure they haven't broken up. Yet. It seems like they're on the verge of breaking up though they haven't even reached Christmas - this makes the girl sad because she really just wanted to spend Christmas wih her love. She's never felt this kind of love before and she really just wants to cherish Christmas with him. She tries her best to hide her pain but it's not so easy, so, this song is her feelings conveyed through the voices of °C-ute - metaphorically, of course, seeing as the lyrics weren't written by any young girl afraid of an impending break-up and were, instead, written by Tsunku♂, a 44-year-old man with a wife and kids. It's quite a bittersweet song and I like that about it.
Though, my brain, upon having just read the translation, has drawn an automatic connection between the lyrics and the drama, Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. Obviously, it doesn't all match-up, but some parts do. It's of note that this drama is my 2nd favourite drama of all time and my favourite anything of the romance genre. I'm picky when it comes to romances, but this one hits all the right keys.
The melody of the song is really catchy and the arrangement is fantastic. This is one of my all-time favourite °C-ute songs, to be honest, which is sad since I'll only let myself listen to it in December. The tone of this song gives it an almost cool feel, as well as a sad and sentimental touch. And, on top of that, Airi and Chisato sound bloody amazing (don't they always, though?).


Since this is an album track and I couldn't find any decent screenshots, here's a wallpaper graphic made using screenshots of their performance of this song from the DIAMOND Concert DVD. Credits go to rabbid-mongoose @ devART.
 In my head, this song isn't strictly a Christmas song but, all things considered, it does qualify, so, in the list it goes! Besides, there's no denying that its a really Wintery song, and that's not just because of the title. Honestly, you just have to listen to it to realise that it practically just screams Winter at you. Also, at the start and end, there are little sound effects like wind. I think this adds a really nice a really feel to the song and seriously emphasises the Wintery effect. Listening to this song around Christmas time really allows you to get lost in that snowy feeling.
The melody of the song is also really catchy and the song is nice and upbeat. That's another thing I like about the song - it makes you think of snow and cold stuff without being a sadder song.  The line distribution is practically perfect, too, ignoring that Yamapi technically gets the most lines (hey, no complaints, I love me some Pi). Of course, I don't mind when line distribution isn't great or, even, when it's terrible, it doesn't bother me, but it's still nice when the line distribution is properly good. Well, to be fair, in terms of singing lines, it is just perfect, but Yamapi actually has an extra rapping part and, oh, god, his rapping. Sure, he's not the best rapper ever, but his rap in this song is really good. It sounds really cool and fits in the song extremely well. And, oh, by the way, I mean seriously cool.
I can't actually find any translations of the song that aren't blocked by the school's censorship filter, so, I can't analyse the lyrics. However, I will say that I find the idea of a 'SNOW EXPRESS' really endearing. In my head, I automatically think of a train and, to be fair, I blame the film, Polar Express, for that one, but I really like that inage in my head. It's really cute. (It's unrelated but I plan to do a drawing based on this image within the week - I want to do a Christmas drawing~!) Though, to be fair, the song starts off with a line about being on a bus, so, really, that image is purely in my head.

2. KAT-TUN - White X'mas

Koki - 'Draw me like one of your French girls'
And, Junno, at least try to look like you're a part of the picture!
This might look biased - my 2 favourite artists topping the list.
Well, y'know what, maybe it is but like hell do I care! Of course I'd be biased towards a Christmas song by my favourite group - it hardly takes a genius to work that one out. Ahem.
White X'mas is a track that can be described only as a heartfelt ballad with the narrator looking back on memories of Christmasses passed by, supposedly spurred on by some kind of winter scenery. I wouldn't say it's a terribly depressing song, but, at the same time, I would not say that it is a cheery song by any stretch of the imagination. Though the title is something often associated with idyllic and sweet Christmas scenes (all blame goes, no doubt, to Bing Crosby's famous single), this song doesn't really reflect that at all. Actually, rather than the snow resembling anything sweet and heartwarming, it's kind of shown for what it really is - cold and piercing. It's possible that, for the narrator, this sort of weather was once something warm and comforting, but something, presumably a break-up, has lead them to associate it all with something less pleasant as they're reminded of better times. It's sort of bitter-sweet in that respect. Sure, Christmas is a time of joy and love and all that, but, I'm really drawn to the mood of this song. I do have a bit of a thing for sad or tragic Christmas songs; they're always a nice break from the painfully cheesy stuff. Oh, and that god-awful Mariah Carey song. I hate that bloody song, with a burning passion.
This song is a ballad, which I suppose many people wouldn't really want to listen to in the build-up to Christmas - ballads don't really get you riled up that often. However, since I've made a point of only listening to this song in December, if I can help it, my brain's made the natural connection between this track and Christmas, so, in a way, it still gets me excited. It's not the most obviously Christmassy song ever, but it's extremely Wintery. Christmas and Winter practically come hand in hand, so it all works. Anyway, it's a really beautiful ballad, to be fair. It's got a gorgeous melody and it's been arranged in such away that it's all kind of...resonant, if that makes sense. Possibly not, but, if you know the song, you might get what I mean. It's sort of mystical in that sense, I feel, and the effect also adds to the tone of the song greatly.

1. GACKT - 12 Gatsu no Love Song

Lots of people kissing and absolutely no GACKT - that's a dead disappointment
This will always be my favourite of all Christmas songs in the history of Christmas songs. It's a really fantastic song - I mean, it was a enough that GACKT actually had a Christmas song at all. To be honest, there are actually four main versions of this song with about eight updated versions. The four main versions were released as separate singles within the years of 2001 and 2004 and each song was performed in the four different languages in which GACKT is fluent - Japanese, English, Mandarin Chinese and Korean, respectively. I'm not as familiar with the Chinese version - this is something I plan on recitfying this year, mind - but the Japanese, English and Korean versions are all absolutely brilliant. What I love about the different versions is that it means you can just listening to the song three times in the row without getting too sick of the song - aside from the obvious linguistic differences in the songs, there are always other things that set them all apart from each other, be it arrangement, bridge melody, adlibs, whatever. Each version of this song is a unique version and it really adds to the listening experience.
As to what version would be my favourite, I think I'd have to say the original, Japanese-language version. Probably because it's the one I heard first and, though I do love the adlibs in the others, I like how the melody stays consistent and pure in this. I feel that, somehow, a Christmas song is best with a simplistic melody.
 The message conveyed by this song is really nice. Lyrically, the song initially seems to be your bog-standard romantic ballad, but, as is always the case with GACKT, there's always something deeper hidden between the lines. In this particular case, it's a plea for world peace. But, that's not all - it's also a celebration of the love in the world. This highlighting of the bonds people can form with each other acts makes a strong point regarding the situation of 3rd world countries, trying to tell us that our love should be given unto such people. This song was also written as a result of his trip to Madagascar where he had seen many children, though living in poverty, still smiling, being truly happy over the smallest things; something that seems to have been especially touching at the time, which wasn't too long after the 9/11 attacks. This situation, apparently, also brought light to huge gap between the rich and the poor. So, overall, I think this song has a pretty good message. And, to be fair, I'm cool with Christmas songs being politically motivated.
Though, it must be noticed that, on the surface, this is basically a song about love lost and the resulting loneliness. Maybe that's just a typical GACKT ballad, but it could also be a metaphor by the corruptions of society causing us to mindlessly hate the people we should love. Who knows?

So, there we have it, my personal Top 5 Christmas songs from Japan. 
Thanks for reading and have an absolutely brilliant Christmas~! Merry Christmas to you all!

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