I have been compiling songs I like and organizing them by year since 2016. A soundtrack of every year if you may. When I retrieve the digital folders (with my Spotify subscription now, it would be easier to organize them), it brings me back to specific times and reminds me of what the year or a particular memory was like. The list is very eclectic as I pick up songs everywhere, from watching dramas to hearing them on music shows or online etc.
Yonimda by Ziyoda
Ziyoda is an Uzbek singer, who according to Wiki, sings in Uzbek, Hindi and Persian. I discovered this song through Instagram while I was watching a video on how to replant cactus (!) by a hobbyist based in the Middle East. I got curious and found other nice songs of hers like Yuragimdasan, Asalim and Ikkimiz.
Lemon by Yonezu Kenshi
I discovered this song when I watched the drama Unnatural, which opened the door to Yonezu Kenshi’s story and his music. I have been a casual listener and when he and ARASHI announced late last year their collaboration for the NHK Olympics support song, Kite, I was more than thrilled.
Summer Trip for ARASHI’s JAL cm
My search for the title and artist of this song featured in the 30-second commercial has been in vain. I do not even know if there is a full song or if this was composed solely for the JAL cm. But I love the beat and it matches perfectly with the summer theme the fact that it is only 30 seconds hasn’t stopped me from listening to it on loop for a time.
Way Back Home by Shaun
I first heard this song while I was taking refuge from the heat in a bingsu shop at a mall. The song played on the giant TV that featured K-pop artists obviously since it was a bingsu shop, but it was this song that got my attention. I have three different versions of it including an acoustic one.
Cinderella Girl by King & Prince
Sorry Jun, but it wasn’t you who brought me to this song. It was thanks to watching Hana Nochi Hare.
Come on a my house by Hey Say Jump!
I don’t remember which music program was it but I heard it in July (maybe FNS?) and while I was initially amused by the strange title, I was baited by the catchy melody.
Hong Kong national anthem by the Masked Orchestra
I first saw the video in September while reading news on the Hong Kong protests. The rendition is very dramatic, which adds more impact to its significance amid the turmoil in the territory. (I should also include here Do You Hear the People Sing from Les Miserables.)
留学生 by MONKEY MAJIK × 岡崎体育
It must have been another music show I watched in October where I discovered this song. It’s a nice chill song with a relaxing yet upbeat vibe. It also has that nostalgic element of Japan’s city pop era.
Stand Out Fit In by ONE OK ROCK
Another of those songs I must have picked up from a music show. The music video is awesome.
RITMO (Bad Boys For Life) by the Black Eyed Peas, J Balvin
I vaguely remember hearing this song in a restaurant and the problem with situations when you’re not familiar with the artist or don’t listen much to newer and Western songs, you don’t know where to start searching. So you start with the chorus or the bridge of the song and search lyrics. If the song is famous, you’d probably hit bingo right away, but if it’s obscure, then it would be a really challenging search.
Journey to Harmony by ARASHI
But of course this song has to be in the 2019 soundtrack because it benchmarks November and what a crazy, heady month it was (launch of ARASHI’s SNS accounts, JET STORM and this performance for the Japanese emperor). I was so taken by the song the first time I heard it from a fan’s video of the rehearsals the night before I kept playing it over and over and couldn’t wait to watch the actual performance to hear the entire song. It’s a very soothing song with a lilting melody and beautiful lyrics, no wonder it brought the empress to tears.
Machigai sagashi by Suda Masaki
I like Suda as an actor but it wasn’t until I was listening to the J-pop playlist on Spotify absently when this song came on and I scrambled to check who it was. I love the music video and his was one of my most anticipated performance in the 70th Kohaku Utta Gassen. (I also discovered a lot of J-pop artists from that playlist like King Gnu and Official HIGE DANdism.)
フレア by Superfly
Flare is one of those songs I heard and liked in that Spotify J-pop playlist, but I didn’t know until Kohaku that it was the theme song of NHK’s drama Scarlet starring Toda Erika.
Pieces of a Dream by Chemistry
I love Chemistry’s songs and Pieces of a Dream has to be my No. 1 favorite. It’s very chill and easy to listen to. I’d have to thank ARASHI for paving the way for my Spotify subscription and making me discover new artists.
This Italian protest folk song was featured in Netflix’s The Two Popes and I have been listening to the playlist below since. The fact that it would close the year and open the next (I am still listening to it now) could be a sign of these turbulent times.
Except for Journey to Harmony, ARASHI’s songs were not included in this 2019 soundtrack, but it goes without saying that this was also a year I listened a lot to their songs again, especially the old ones. With 65 of their singles now available on official streaming sites, it has become more convenient and easier to listen to them. I don’t have to take out my CDs or resurrect my old iPod where most of the songs have been stored and should have been transferred to my phone a long time ago. Now, all I have to do is open an app and et voila, I can listen to them anytime, anywhere, not to mention discover more artists whose music I can enjoy. Discovering a new artist or a new song or a new genre is not only thrilling but it also contributes to our greater understanding that indeed, music crosses cultural and language borders.
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