The other day when I was at work, I was listening to the Trash Taste podcast. For those unfamiliar, this is a podcast with three guys who all moved to Japan to make content there. They got their start in anime youtube and eventually branched out. I was one of the people who expected their podcast to be about anime, but instead got a more general podcast. I think that ended up being better than what it would have been if it was just about anime so I’m not complaining. The reason I’m talking about it today is because they had a discussion about music.

To be more specific, they talked about live recordings versus studio recordings. I’ve gone to one concert in my entire life. It was a Ne-Yo concert. For those unfamiliar, Ne-Yo is a fantastic R&B singer and younger me was obsessed with his music. I’m not listening to him as much these days, but I still love some of his older songs like So Sick, Because of You, Sexy Love & Hate that I love you. That concert experience was absolutely miserable. Sure, his performance was fine, it didn’t blow me away by any means, but it wasn’t bad either. The reason it was miserable for me is because I hate crowds. I wasn’t as painfully aware of that back then because I didn’t know I had autism yet. But it became very clear during the concert. There was way too much going on and I was just on edge the entire time, unable to enjoy the music.

Ever since that day, I haven’t really listened to live music. The podcast I was listening to though, talked about recordings of live music as well. I’ve listened to a ton of those on youtube, and I think it’s nice to hear a live version of a song from time to time, but a vast majority of the time I would say the studio recording of a song is better. They tend to be more polished, because they are, and unless the live performance changes up the song or adds new material, I don’t think I end up enjoying it more than the recorded version.

There is an exception to the rule though. In 2017 Aimer performed live at Budokan. She performed her song, and this is one of my favorite songs of all time, Kataomoi.

Quick aside, there’s some words in foreign languages that just sound nice. An example from Japanese for me would be “kakurenbo” which means hide and seek. It’s the same for me with “Kataomoi” or “unrequited love”. It just sounds beautiful to me and I can’t explain why. I think that Japanese just sounds beautiful in music a lot, which is probably why I’m such a massive fan of J-pop and J-rock. 

This live performance of Kataomoi sounds perfect. It sounds the same, if not more emotional than the studio recording. But there’s something wonderful that happens here. The entire crowd claps along with the song in perfect unison. There’s no shouting, there’s no noise, it’s just people clapping to an absolutely perfect song. And although I normally would say the studio recorded version of a song still sounds cleaner, this version of the song gives me chills to a point the original doesn’t. It quickly sent me down the rabbit hole of Aimer’s music and for the last few months her music has dominated my playlists. She’s done music for several great anime as well, including Demon Slayer and Fate Stay Night. I’m currently working on compiling a massive playlist of the best Japanese music I can find so I’ve been going through a lot of music lately. I’ve discovered some great songs recently that I would have never discovered if I’d just stuck to anime openings and endings. Aimer’s recent album; Walpurgis, has some great tracks as well, but I’m also talking about other artists like Hoshino Gen, Creepy Nuts, Coalamode and Kenshi Yonezu. I was just reminded of the Aimer song when I listened to the song at work. It’s a very atmospheric song as well, so it fit with the rainy day we had here. Thanks for reading and please do yourself a favor and check out the live version of Kataomoi here!

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