…”Hi Hi” to all of the citizens of the universe to the finale of the Jingle Bell Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree Morning Twilight series! What? You expected a redux of that graduation post I made at the old site? (I can make one if you want.)
Anyway, as today is Twilight Tuesday, this post will be “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” as we take a look at some old Christmas presents. After rocking out to SK all December, we’ll close this show the way we began: Puffy AmiYumi! Namely, the “soundtrack” album to Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (which the concert I went to was in support of).
So, are you ready to rock? Let’s go!
- Hi Hi
- Friends Forever
- Planet Tokyo
- Joining a Fan Club
- Love So Pure
- True Asia
- Boogie Woogie No. 5
- That’s the Way It Is
- Into the Beach
- Teen Titans Theme
1. Hi Hi
The album opener (and encore song… or the concert closer…). This, the theme song, is sure to get a crowd pumping. (Indeed. I had to listen to this album twice to give it a proper review for this blog as the first attempt ended in failure: I made the mistake of trying to do this right after waking up and I was too
genki energetic to sit down.)
Incoming concert reminiscence: I remember that during the chorus, the lights would swirl around the audience before shining on Puffy during the “Anything is possible”s.
2. Friends Forever
A fuzzy friendship song (and those who know me would know why I’m a sucker for those). As mentioned, this is a version of “Invisible Tomorrow” with English lyrics written by Andy Sturmer (a guy you’ll hear about a lot in terms of Puffy) and a different beginning (cutting out a lead-in with a light chugging guitar riff and going straight to a guitar chord after the count-down).
Yeah, the lyrics are different, but it’s not a bad thing in this case. Scooby fans can related (and probably recognize it), LB fans can relate (you know who you are and know why), friends can relate…. In fact, this even has significance for idol fans (especially bereaved Berryz fans who can at least take pleasure in the fact that they’re leaving as a group).
3. Planet Tokyo
The opener to (the US release) of Nice. makes a comeback here. There’s nothing much to say about the song that wasn’t already said so I’ll look at it in terms within the context of the album.
It’s good, even though the fact I have Nice., first heard it through there, and listened to it at least twice (that’s counting “Akai Buranko”) ruins it for me. If not for the fact I’m trying to give a complete view of the album, I would’ve given into the temptation to skip over it. (Song’s still good though, but don’t listen to it so soon after Nice.)
4. Joining a Fan Club
A new song for the album about a fangirl who’s “joining a fan club.” A rocker with lyrics many a hardcore wota/fanclub member can relate to.
This song always was a favorite of mine and it was while listening to this song that I picked out one of the webcomic projects I’ll tackle.
A sweet, breezy love song showcasing the signature vocals of Puffy AmiYumi. Filled with romantic dreaminess with 60’s style tambourines and organ flairs in the bridge.
The first completely Japanese song, taken from the SoloSolo release. Yes, this is actually a solo song (Yumi’s to be exact). It’s actually a summery song, sporting pizzicato strings that recall spring break (and some forms of idol music).
On another note, the song’s written by Konishi Yasuharu of Pizzicato Five fame. Weird coincidence, eh?
7. Love So Pure
We return to rock in this twinkly number. Harmonies are accentuated with tinkly keyboards, perfect for Valentine’s Day.
8. True Asia
Japanese Title: Asia no Junshin
Ah, we are transported back to the beginning with Puffy’s debut single. A lot of chugging guitars and effects to spotlight their vocal talents with lyrics that are just as much international (namechecking Dublin and balalaikas) as it is regional (namechecking Hong Kong and Shanghai). As this is the original Japanese version, their vocals are especially raw but filled with pride and a sense of “Here we are, world! Let’s come together!”
9. Boogie Woogie No. 5
Japanese Title: Boogie Woogie No.5
This was a long-time favorite of mine. Jazzing, swinging rock is at the forefront with the ladies’ voices both orchestrating and blending with the music seamlessly. The almost-rhyming lyrics add to the jam, Puffy’s vocals carrying them like the surreal songbirds they are. The key change at the bridge helps break any potential monotony and ease us into the final chorus and ending with a last hurrah by the band, all forming a delightfully chaotic cacophony of free form with the boys counting “1, 2, 3, 4, and 5” repeatedly.
10. That’s the Way It Is
Japanese Title: Kore ga Watashi no Ikiru Michi
We go into a relax mode with this next one. The girls sing separately with the verse before singing together in the chorus. Musically, it is a light ballad with a slight campfirey feel in the vein of “Shiawase” and “Thank You,” but also in the vein of “Sayonara” and “Angel of Love.”
After that cool down, we are awakened with the appropriately titled “Sunrise.” The newest song (at the time), used for a Gundam series in Japan (which makes the title even more appropriate), the relative novelty actually makes this song stick out like a sore thumb. Between the sheen and polish of the sound and production compared to the past three songs makes it even more of a stand-out. (It doesn’t help that it’s sandwiched between songs that are at least 5 years old.)
Never-minding that, this is unabashed rock with synths that carry the main feel like sunrays in a morning sky. We get a reprise of the chorus before having a coda that ties everything together before a bombastic ending. In a sense, this song highlights how far they’ve come in their careers. (They celebrated 10 years only two years after the release of this in the States.)
12. Into the Beach
Japanese Title: Umi e to
We return to the classics, which further makes “Sunrise” stick out like a sore thumb. (I did say the previous track was sandwiched between oldies.) It is a classic, a good number that’s worth blasting through your speakers. Yes, blasting as this is a rocker that has the potential to become blaring as Puffy and the band belt out their delightful noise. Loudly.
It’s a great song to get your pumped for summer as its sound is stripped down to bare rock, further contrasting from the more polished Sunrise. Barely helps it begins with Puffy’s vocals with the music following, a rare thing.
We cool down some more with December, a Beach Boys-style uptempo ballad. Just like 10, they sing separately in the verses and join together in the chorus. Weird sound effects add a surreal, almost psychedelic edge to this solemn song. This bridge furthers the weirdness that gives it an eerie Martin Denny-like sense of exoticness before we return.
14. Teen Titans Theme
We end things here with the now-immortal theme song from Teen Titans, probably for the folks who didn’t get Nice. (I think this was the con- You know what? I don’t know, I can’t remember too well, and I don’t care! Both songs are great and both songs were performed at the concert. Who cares if one was the closing song and the other was the encore?! They’re snapshots of my life (and the lives of countless others) regardless!)
I remember the album had gotten flak, saying it wasn’t as good as Spike. Well, I don’t have Spike and this was the closest thing I have to it now. Besides being a tie-in album, it is a good gateway to the world of Puffy (AmiYumi) for Western fans. While I have strayed from the path in recent years, I still recommend them because… why not? They make good music.
So we’ve reached the end of the Christmas dual series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and may your holiday season be rockin’ special!
Peace, love, and pop!