Sunday, September 24, 2006

Seven Songs 3: The Melody

(This is the third in a series of seven posts, written in response to a meme that asked me what seven songs I held in highest esteem. The first of these posts is noted here.)

Mirage in Blue (Chemistry)
- written by Shinichi Asada and KAZUYA

Yes, this song is in Japanese. No, I have no idea what the lyrics mean, and I've almost torn my hair out trying to find a legible translation on the Net. (I'm not even sure if the writers I have listed above are the correct ones.)

But darn it, it sounds excellent. Somehow the significance of the lyrics pales in comparison to the more obvious entity here: I feel that the music is simply one of the best compositions I've ever heard. It's the kind of thing that you hum to yourself regardless of what business you're doing, it's the kind of tune that sticks to your head and won't let go, and it's the kind of performance that is just as home with an a-cappella engagement or a full-scale orchestra. If you don't understand a word of Japanese, then that makes the distinction even more obvious: It's the music that makes this song a clear winner.

It has been argued that modern songs are all about meaning nowadays. In order to be considered redeemable, a song has to provide a sense of deeper understanding, or must inspire certain feelings in its audience. Most artists succeed in this endeavor by writing relevant or thought-provoking lyrics. Some artists commercialize their songs in order to ingrain particular images into our minds whenever the song gets played. Others work real-world references into their pieces in order to give their performances some sense of audience familiarity.

"Mirage in Blue", however, is virtually unique in that it doesn't need any of these to get our attention. The chances are that most of us are listening to the song for the first time, and that we're bereft of any cultural references, commercial associations or knowledge of the Japanese language in doing so. I believe that it can subsist purely on its musical score alone, and that happens to be a distinction that is shared by very few other songs. In fact, it's what makes this song highly accessible to all audiences regardless of social, cultural or language barriers: The quality of the music simply transcends everything. Words, gestures and beliefs can all be misinterpreted; Music cannot.

"Mirage in Blue" isn't a well-known song internationally, but I believe that it's in a position to attract a significant circle of listeners. Most of us probably don't understand the lyrics, but the beauty of it is that most of us don't need to understand the lyrics in order to enjoy the song. You find few examples of such openness nowadays, and that's why it's the third song on my list.


kat said...

Nice choice. Chemistry's one of the few more mellow acts that I enjoy, although they're also known to have more upbeat songs. I love this song, even though I can only guess a few of the words. I remember the song they had with m-flo, that was used for Astroboy.

Sean said...

Kat: That's the "Now or Never" collaboration. I think that that's extremely good as well; I didn't have it in contention for this list, however, because I like it for its portrayal of Astroboy rather than for the song itself. It might make it to a list of good music videos, though. :)

Clair said...

I have several songs by Chemistry :) Chemistry and M-flo seem to collaborate pretty well.

Sean said...

Clair: I attribute it to some weird "JPop-Spider-Sense" or something like that. The Japanese music industry has this strange talent for combining different genres and making the results sound really good.