Do you know the feeling you have when you listen to the opening of your new favourite anime series and it reminds you of something else? You try to think what it reminds you of, so you hit replay. You hit replay again and again, until that feeling becomes a faint memory and now you can do nothing other than sing along. Congratulations! You have just brainwashed yourself. Please tell me it’s not just me…
When I listen to something new, I know that I have to decrypt the musical influences from the first go (or perhaps on the second go). If not, it’s gonna turn into a never-ending battle I know I can’t win. In case you’re wondering why, let me explain. You have a new piece of music that is made up of smaller sections that have influences from older songs. Sometimes these influences are as bright as day, while others are not as obvious. The thing is that when the ‘influenced’ section comes to an end, there’s no way of telling which song it was influenced from because the composition takes you to another place. Think of making a cake batter. It’s like making a cookie dough, up until one point, right? You start off with butter, sugar and eggs and then the recipes start differentiating from one another. Same idea, only that with music, you have no clue that you were making a cake batter, so you are left with the impression that you were making a cookie dough from the beginning. Does that make any sense?
So from a point on, all these different influences, all these different elements become a thing. They start becoming a single ‘entity’ and cannot be differentiated from one another. So using the same analogy, listening to a new song a number of times is like throwing the cake batter into the oven and baking it. You won’t taste flour, you will feel the chew; you won’t taste the butter, you will the richness; you won’t taste the eggs, you will feel the fluffiness. Or at least, that’s how I perceive it. And no, I wouldn’t want to eat a cake RN, unless it’s a fruit cake with lots of citrus and cherries.
Do you remember Sony Ericsson? Those old, smartphone predecessor mobile phones? I remember that they had a MIDI sequencer. I remember that they had a few instruments and a few different loops written in a few different genres. You could feel like a music producer with that thing. Only that from a point on, everything would start sounding the same because the samples were the same… The music scale was the same, the instruments were the same, the genres were the same. Nothing much changed. And that’s what happens more or less with popular music, not just with anisong. Let me call it “the Sony Ericsson MIDI sequencer effect”. I’ll make it a thing. Perhaps, I’ll even add it to my Music Glossary. Muahahaha.
So anisong is based on the concept of writing music with samples and loops, which brings us to the point where I nag about my inability to pinpoint every single one of the music influences and make the appropriate connections. Let’s start with an easy one. Remember Ishuzoku Reviewers? Do you remember the OP? Did the OP remind you of “Y.M.C.A.” by Village People? ‘Cause that’s what it was. Now, do you remember Dr. Stone season 2 OP? I know that it reminds me of something, I know that it reminds me of two to three different things. But I still can’t figure it out. The influences are apparent. I have a lead, but I can’t follow the evidence. And that bugs the hell out of me.
Which -in turn- brings us to the main point of my article. There is a difference between a composer knocking off an older song and a composer being influenced from a number of older compositions and trends. So, plainly speaking, if you take from one, you’re stealing. If you take from twenty, you’re being influenced. And being influenced by 20 different songs, composers, trends, genres, etc is the key to create a nice, ‘original’ and catchy song. So let’s put our hands together for Kanazawa Daisuke from Fujifabric, the composer of Dr. Stone season 2 OP. He got me. I have brainwashed myself and I can’t pinpoint the influences to a specific song. (Btw, if you read this and think you got it, let me know, plz).
And no, it’s not just Dr. Stone. The songs whose influences I can’t break down are so many that I’ve lost count. And it’s not just that I have lost count, it’s that after a while I forget that song X reminds me of something. Is it just me?