Friday, December 12, 2008

Rie fu - Vintage Denim

This is something I was looking at, quite a few months ago. Since then, I've increased my knowledge of Japanese significantly, I'd say. Plus I can use the dictionary much more effectively.

Rie fu's "Vintage Denim" is from her Rose Album. It's mostly in English, and the Japanese parallels the English, but there's some slight differences here and there. I feel confident enough to tackle a mostly-Japanese Rie fu song now, but anyway, here's the few Japanese lines of "Vintage Denim":

VINTEJI no DENIMU o haite KAATEN o aketara sotto
Wearing vintage denim, the curtains softly brighten with the dawn
amai RINEN ni dakare KAATEN o maku youna
Embraced by sweet linen, as if rolled up in curtains
BIGGU BEN ni akari ga miete miagetara sore wa ookiku
You see the light from Big Ben, if you raise your eyes to its greatness
tsutsumikonde kono machi mo atatakai
Wrapped up, this city is also warm
tsumetai kaze ni hokorimamire no kutsu
In the cold wind, shoes covered in dust

They say that Rie fu isn't that popular in Japan, which is an understandable shame. I see her music as a synthesis of American and Japanese styles. She's got the harmonic and melodic complexity of Japanese pop, with the instrumentation and rhythms of American pop. And her voice -- it's an honest voice, with a twang that probably came from the time she spent in Maryland. Going up against the Oricon with this innovative hybrid takes some guts, and I'm surprised that Sony has marketed her so consistently. Lately though, her music has seemed more commercial in nature -- the Tobira Album feels more produced, and has less of what I've come to regard as the Rie fu trademark: long, drawn-out explorations, with unconventional song structures and complex chord progressions and melodies. Perhaps she's feeling pressure to be more mainstream, to "succeed" in the Japanese market. I can only hope that she hangs on to the rawer blues/rock influences that drove the (really impressive, I thought) Rose Album

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