Review of "This Game" (Wakabayashi Mitsur, 2014)
The vast majority of pop has their chorus set within their first minute. In fact, this song along with "Fly Freely" (Pheonix Legend) are the only two exceptions within my favorite list. Even set aside though, you can tell this song is different. It opens with a nice piano introduction, and then gets right in to the "piano verse" with the drums and guitar added. With the amp-up, the verse is very nice to begin with. As the verses build up--
"Reflected in our eyes is a fate of absolute victory.
Everything is going as planned;
We’ll change everything with an untainted blank space."
the excellent message of the chorus then complements this,
"We are maverick; we don’t need a savior!
No matter how unfair the odds,
All we can do is win."
The further verses also assert the certainty of winning.
Overall, 5/5. The anime is very fun and the full song is very well done, with a beautiful piano and unusual chord progressions and a good message. The song slows down at points only to build up again, silence the guitar only to bring it back stronger. The composer has made a very solid song. Clocking in at only 20 seconds short of 5 minutes, No Game No Life opening hardly ever gets boring. Energetic and powerful, This Game is unique and unlike many stupid love songs or even pop songs these days.
On a side note, the piano music made by Animenz is hard as hell, though it does also show the uniqueness of this song. Take a look at Despacito, which is the number one viewed video on youtube. Although it doesn't represent all of pop music, it displays what is wrong with a majority of pop songs.prntscr.com/ir74mk
If we take a look at this so-called "advanced hard" piano sheet music, the same note is repeated many times through the "unique section" (for non musical people, being in the same-line means the same note--yeah, Despacito is very boring) and when the melody becomes more creative the bass line then depends on the four chord progression. I'll admit, I do listen to despacito for guilty pleasure, but it hardly stands up to This Game, which sheet music is the TRUE meaning of "advanced hard", as you'll see:prntscr.com/ir7aac
While This Game has a similar repetition, it is far harder to play due to repeating four note theme instead of one. The left hand varies wildly; the opening calmly hints at the chorus, but does not stress the four notes (while Despacito very poorly uses "B B B B B " both times in the very beginning), while the afterwards repetition rearranges the melody such that you can hear the four note melody now. Even then, the build up uses a three note pattern that builds upon this four note, with symmetry of note-up-down similar to note-up-down-down, instead of repeating the same melody. The big explosive guitar show-off creates a very strong contrast and differentiation to the start.
If I haven't convinced you yet that This Game is highly unique and creative, I should probably give up by now. Yet still, I have no doubt this song opened up your mind. It uses loud and soft to its advantage and uses repetition to its advantage to trick the listener rather than most pop songs that use the same melody and get it over with quickly. At times, This Game is practically my favorite song. I hope it grows to become yours as well.
Review of "Broken" (lovelytheband, 2017)
So this Monday, sadly no song successfully got into my favorites but this one got pretty close. Its handclap rhythm is unique, although four-chord progression reduces its creativity. Plus it sounds quite similar to "kids" by MGMT. The chorus also doesn't sound very creative:
"I like that you're broken
Broken like me
Maybe that makes me a fool
I like that you're lonely
Lonely like me
I could be lonely with you"
So overall, 3.2/5. I can tell based upon my rock and pop selections, Spotify correctly guessed I'd somewhat like this song. However, the lyrics feel empty for the most part and it doesn't sound the most unique. Maybe over multiple listens, it will eventually win me over, but for now, it's a bit a ways until it can get onto my favorites list.
Review of "Ichiban no Takaramono" by LiSA, 2010
While this translates to "My Most Precious Treasure", this may as well be a top contender for "My Most Precious Song". With incredibly bittersweet lyrics, a lengthy 6 minutes, Ichiban no Takaramono challenges its seemingly simple four-chord progression with a touching message-- even if admittedly tugging at heartstrings in an almost-manipulative manner.
"If we see each other's faces, we always fight.
That's a good memory too." The song begins. Immediately we see the conflict, but also the regret. The verses set up the powerful chorus:
"Even if I'm alone, I'll go, even if it's difficult.
I'll definitely bring the dream I had with you.
I'm glad it was with you, and nobody else.
But when I woke up in the morning, you weren't there." This supports the main plot of Angel Beats, how the students gradually disappear and move on with their lives, but through their experiences they manage to sympathize with each other even through their fights and conflicts. With the end of our last verse, the singer states "time is ever-changing[...]but if I try and close my eyes, I can hear someone's laughter[...]that is my most precious treasure."
With the guitar closing in, slowing down the song.... it is reminiscent of the past, our relations, the joy, the pain, the memories... Indeed, Ichiban No Takaramono deserves no less than a perfect score.
Review of "Only Teardrops" by Emmelie de Forest
Despite being another four-chord progression song, it is not as lazy as it seems. I mean, it even won an entire contest among many other countries also having their own contestants and very catchy songs. So let's analyze it.
In the beginning, we hear the flute, a rare occasion due to the advancement of synthesizer and other... well... more boring instruments. One of my friends was like "is this Chinese??" when he only heard the flute, and he was surprised when this song was as European as can be. [Although he did nickname this song "How Many Times Can You Eat My Love", which could arguably discredit his opinion]
In any case, it's a good start to the song. Despite the small instrument, it is powerful enough as an introduction. The song's subject can also be interpreted as ambiguous; it almost sounds like an anime theme and could even be about the pacifist protagonist fighting an antagonist who used to be his/her friend!
the sky is red tonight
we're on the edge tonight
The little drum in the background is very sneakily added, and as the verse is added on and the chorus is about to build, we hear the drums steady and ready. The build-up is very nice as she finally reaches the chorus. The lack of the flute for the whole entire part stresses the power of the chorus, and she doesn't even use the four-chord progression until the chorus itself! We can clearly tell why the judges thought it powerful and catchy, especially with the flute's extra notes flourishing Emmelie's main melody.
The second verse is also intriguing:
so come and face me now
here on this stage tonight
I am not particularly sure if she wanted to get the illusion that she and the flute player represented the problem in the "story" of the song. Regardless, it's kind of cool how she got him involved in it and almost made it seem as if they were enacting the story. As we continue on in the song, the tension is almost never let down, even through the bridge:
what's come between us?
What's come between us?
The song tones down a little, but then immediately goes 0-100 afterwards as we go towards the final chorus of the song. The very beginning flute melody plays again, and we hear the thunderous applause.
So overall, 5/5 song. Despite being very "pop/mainstream", Only Teardrops definitely deserves to win the 2013 Eurovision contest. With a simple drumbeat to assist its verses, followed by a more complex drum pattern helped with the flute to accentuate the power of the chorus, this song is certainly one of my favorites. Another very interesting thing to think of is how there are more instruments than there seems to be: once you listen to the karaoke version, you instantly hear that there is actually a guitar track, and the backing vocals really help stress the chorus or specific words and phrases. The flute carries the melody throughout the song, and the drum provide suspense when they are not played.