K-ON! Original Sound Track – Review

k-on-album-cover

Album Title: K-ON! Original Sound Track
Anime Title: K-ON!
Artist: Hajime Hyakkoku
Catalog Number: PCCG-00961
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: June 03, 2009
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia


Tracklist:

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
1. Have some tea? Hajime Hyakkoku 1:49
2. Morning dew Hajime Hyakkoku 1:44
3. Isoge ya Isoge! Hajime Hyakkoku 1:34
4. Kawaii Inbou Hajime Hyakkoku 1:42
5. 2 Hiki no Koneko Hajime Hyakkoku 1:34
6. Ii Yumemite ne Hajime Hyakkoku 1:48
7. Cotton candy Hajime Hyakkoku 1:52
8. Virtual love Hajime Hyakkoku 1:51
9. Tanpopo Takkyuubin Hajime Hyakkoku 1:40
10. Ukkari-kun no Tameni Hajime Hyakkoku 1:38
11. Genki! Hajime Hyakkoku 1:39
12. Obaa-chan no Tansu Hajime Hyakkoku 1:49
13. The other side of evening sun Hajime Hyakkoku 1:49
14. Dead soldiers (笑) Hajime Hyakkoku 1:45
15. Hold on your love Hajime Hyakkoku 1:57
16. Falling reinforced concrete Hajime Hyakkoku 1:50
17. Small flashing Hajime Hyakkoku 1:39
18. Kendama-kun Hajime Hyakkoku 0:09
19. Karui Joudan Hajime Hyakkoku 1:38
20. Crepe wa Ikaga? Hajime Hyakkoku 1:33
21. Happy languidness Hajime Hyakkoku 1:38
22. Emerald green Hajime Hyakkoku 1:34
23. My hometown where it snows Hajime Hyakkoku 2:03
24. Ginsekai no Asa Hajime Hyakkoku 1:47
25. Tea at the night of Christmas Hajime Hyakkoku 1:58
26. Koneko no Ensou Kai Hajime Hyakkoku 1:34
27. Patrol of stroll Hajime Hyakkoku 1:39
28. Doki Doki Friday Night Hajime Hyakkoku 1:43
29. Ringo… Ringo… Ringo… Hajime Hyakkoku 1:47
30. 15sai no March Hajime Hyakkoku 1:39
31. Jajauma 3nin Musume Hajime Hyakkoku 1:47
32. Hesitation Hajime Hyakkoku 1:59
33. Pinch Daisuki! Hajime Hyakkoku 1:45
34. Dress ni Crepe wa Niawa nai? Hajime Hyakkoku 2:02
35. Ano Hi no Yume Hajime Hyakkoku 1:44
36. Happy End Hajime Hyakkoku 1:39

Review: K-ON! is destined to fade away into the mists of time since the series offers little in the way of ambition and enjoyment and unfortunately, the soundtrack takes after it distressingly well. While the soundtrack’s lack of ambition is not a huge issue given the show’s scope as a moe slice of life, the soundtrack’s blandness is problematic and completely inexcusable especially when one compares it to other shows that occupy K-ON!’s niche. Hidamari Sketch x365’s music stands out by virtue of its catchiness and generally pleasant melodies. And even a cursory listen just shows how wide the gap is in the quality of Tomoki Kikuya’s compositions versus Hajime Hyakkoku’s. K-ON!’s music is so boring that I’d venture to say that I wish it’d violate my musical sensibilities because that way, I can derive some sort of value from the listening experience. At least that’s better than being put into a catatonic state by this dull affair.

If nothing else, this soundtrack manages to stay true to the concept of light music. Each track is simple to the point of being nothing more than ditties, but Hajime Hyakkoku delivers a consistent effort in sticking to this framework while conveying many different moods and feelings through his music. For example, “Have some tea?” presents a lackadaisical melody that fits in perfectly with the light music club’s slacker tendencies while “Morning dew” has an upbeat tempo that is suggestive of a bright, sunny morning packed to the brim with possibilities. Both tracks also succeed at being fairly nondescript. The former sticks with a repetitive melodic line that becomes grating after about the third listen and the latter has all the flourishes necessary to display its upbeat feeling, except that it’s marred by a feeling of soullessness. These two issues aren’t isolated to these tracks alone. As you go through this album, you’ll recognize that the problems are pervasive and although they will be an annoyance at first, the feeling of boredom will be exacerbated as you move further along.

Have some tea?

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And it doesn’t even take all that long for that to happen since the succeeding tracks bring forth the same sort of bland inoffensiveness that afflicts the first two tracks. “Kawaii Inbou” and “Virtual love” both attempt to throw funky electronica for a bit of variation, but those efforts fare poorly since both songs focus so much on the beat that it comes at the expense of their melodies which are far too dull in their repetitiveness to be enjoyable. “Genki!” is different in that there’s some effort put into the track, which is fine if it didn’t try so hard to convey that upbeat feeling. By coming across so strongly, the track feels disingenuous as though Hyakkoku were trying to get in your face in his attempt at emphasizing the amount of energy that “Genki!” possesses. As you move further along, “Karui Joudan” will jump out, mostly because this track feels like Hyakkoku’s attempt at channeling Koji Kondo by composing a piece that’s close to Kondo’s compositions for Nintendo’s Mario franchise. Unfortunately for Hyakkoku, “Karui Joudan” demonstrates that he neither possesses Kondo’s skill or execution in composing memorable themes, rendering it completely forgettable.

Genki!

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Karui Joudan

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You still have to give Hyakkoku credit for making an effort to make sure that the rock-oriented aspect of the show isn’t overlooked, even if some of the pieces fall flat. The rock portion starts with “Dead soldiers,” which is an abrasive piece that feels like a cheap attempt at conveying a grim mood because the piece’s blaring approach is excessive to the point of being unconvincing. “Hold on your love” is a slight improvement because it actually puts forth some amount of emotion into the melody, making it a decent listen. The improvement in the rock-ish vibes culminates in “Falling reinforced concrete” which feels really out of pace in the series since the tempo and melody are more suited towards a racing video game (Bowser’s castle came to mind when I first heard it), but at least I can at least enjoy what it has to offer.

Falling reinforced concrete

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That rock segment is decent enough relative to other tracks on this album though by no means are they the only decent tracks. While the best tracks in this album barely reach the point of being above average, look hard enough and you can find a few. “Ii Yumemite ne” is enjoyable since the keyboard’s slow, meandering, mellow atmosphere feels serene, as though it were depicting a sense of security and tranquility. And as far as piano goes, “Hesitation” isn’t too bad either since it does carry a sort of tension borne from uncertainty as though it were describing someone soul-searching and encountering some difficult obstacles, whether they be physical or mental. The only thing to note though is that while these tracks are decent enough, in a better soundtrack, they wouldn’t really stick out as being particularly remarkable. Given the sorry state of this album, I’ll just have to take what I can get.

Hesitation

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As you approach the end of the album, you will come across a few arrangements which run the gamut from being noticeably better than the original tracks to being as drab as the originals. “Tea at the night of Christmas” falls into the former category because I enjoyed the way it infuses some energy into the piece, making it a nice picker-upper once the main theme in “Have some tea?” makes its appearance. “Dress ni Crepe wa Niawa nai?’s” execution makes it more enjoyable than “Crepe wa Ikaga,” because the arrangement succeeds in bringing forth a wave of hope tempered by a sense of melancholy while the original sounds muted and boring to begin with. However, “Koneko no Ensou Kai” would fall into the latter category because its simple melody fails to be engaging by sticking to the same uninspired melody that mars the original track. At least the album makes a valiant attempt at ending on a happy note with “Happy End,” even if the generic melody becomes painfully obvious in the first few seconds.

Koneko no Ensou Kai

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It doesn’t take long for the disparity in the quality of the vocal songs and the soundtrack to become apparent, which just goes to show how much thought and care (or lack thereof) was put into the background music. This soundtrack was an utterly dull, uninspiring state of affairs that amounts to little more than a waste of time. Although an argument can be made that so long as the music manages to fit the series, it has served its purpose, but even if it is looked within the context of the series, K-ON!’s BGM is so generic to the point that it sticks out like a sore thumb. So my message to Hyakkoku, should I ever meet him, is this: Take some risks! Be controversial! Do anything to avoid being boring!

Rating: Not Good

(Added note: It seems to me that Hyakkoku could have had a decent career being a composer for Nintendo since his style isn’t all that different from many of Nintendo’s composers.)

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

24 thoughts on “K-ON! Original Sound Track – Review

  • June 16, 2009 at 2:13 am
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    ?

    Okay nice review you got there

    I love K-On, well maybe not but I think its a yes but not really but i kinda like it but sometimes No but yea I think it is a Yes kay whatever because the show rocks and funny and I rock too mmkai?

    Reply
  • June 17, 2009 at 12:07 am
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    The Nintendo comparison is an interesting one, but I’m not sure it’s apt anymore (Super Mario Galaxy’s soundtrack is just amazing). I haven’t listened the soundtrack itself, but the anime’s background music is certainly boring. In general there doesn’t seem to be much emphasis on a unique aesthetic, which is why it seems to fall down in a number of places when compared to something from the same genre, like Hidamari Sketch.

    The insert songs are certainly a lot better, but the titles of the insert songs are even better again. “My Love is a Stapler”? That’s brilliant!

    Reply
  • June 18, 2009 at 12:27 am
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    @Sorrow-kun
    I’ll agree that Mario Galaxy was fantastic, but can we really say the same about any subsequent Nintendo soundtracks for the Wii? The only other decent soundtrack offering was Brawl, but that’s because they took a sample size of VGM composers and assigned them certain tracks. As it stands, I can’t think of any stellar Wii music aside from those two and maybe Opoona. Maybe I’m just not thinking hard enough.

    And yeah, the insert songs are where it’s at. I think someone else posted that one should only watch the show for the musical performances. Everything else is just so subpar that it’s the only real bright spot. Songwriter Mio looks to be sticking to subjects that she’s familiar with. :3

    Reply
  • June 21, 2009 at 12:52 pm
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    I can’t help but agree with everything you’ve said here.

    I started off really liking the show, which did have a real charm at first, but it’s just meandered and gotten stale as it went on.

    I’m honestly shocked and disappointed at KyoAni for really dropping the ball with this show on almost every level. This is far below par for them and feels purely like a filler series while they work on whatever project they’re really putting their efforts into.

    Now, strictly as far as the music goes, there are maybe a small handful of tracks on the OST that are pleasant to listen too, however that’s the greatest compliment that can be given to them. Pleasant is nice, but that does not make them memorable or necessarily all that good.

    Very disappointing music from a very disappointing show.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2009 at 8:12 am
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    @Karisu
    Yeah, I’m also hoping this becomes nothing more than a side project. Still, when it comes to drumming up their fanbase in the area of moedom, KyoAni doesn’t have any close competitors.

    Lelangir did say elsewhere that the composer is fairly new to the scene, but that still doesn’t excuse the poor quality of this album. Like Sorrow-kun said, it’s really all about the vocal songs (redundant?) and nothing else.

    Reply
  • June 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm
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    I watched an episode, and sort of gave up after that =/ Might give it a go again in the future, but I’m not digging the moe ><

    The OST is very ordinary indeed, hmm just realized all the music I like from KyoAni shows are done by the Key composers…

    Reply
  • June 25, 2009 at 9:32 pm
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    Well, don’t despair entirely. I thought that Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid’s soundtrack was really good, but it is Sahashi at the helm, so that’s to be expected.

    Why do people seem to forget that KyoAni also touched the FMP series? :p

    Reply
  • June 27, 2009 at 10:05 am
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    it might not be amazing but I actually liked most of the music on K-ON’s soundtrack

    Reply
  • December 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm
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    I love this show!!! And the music is really great too, its like the icing on the cake, I hope they continue the anime, because it is too short cuz they didnt finish the anime in relation to the manga. I LOVE K-ON!

    Reply
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  • July 13, 2010 at 6:29 am
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    I love the music in this show, to be honest I’m rather fond of this show. When I found K-on! I had just gone a spree of watching some very heavy shows(I.E. Eva, Gantz, Clannad After Story, yes, that’s heavy) so K-on! gave me some refreshment and put a little more perk in my step just because of its ability to be random and fun. The music the band makes along with the music in the show is very upbeat and very random, and very refreshing. I live in the U.S. all of our media here is very stale to say the least.

    I’ll admit you have to be into these types of shows to like K-on! It’s one of those love it or hate it shows, the people more into the hardcore shows are probably going to be turned away from it while those who are fond of the fun easy going shows are going to like this a lot more.

    Reply
  • July 14, 2010 at 1:51 am
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    @Tony
    Yup, they did end it a tad bit short, didn’t they? Still I do hope to see more of HTT’s vocal stuff and not the BGM. The BGM was just unbearable!

    @James
    The music you say? Which ones? Do keep in mind that this review touches upon the background music, which is utterly terrible in my book since it’s uninspiring tripe. But the vocal music like Fuwa Fuwa Time? Yeah, I dig that kind of stuff because it’s pretty enjoyable. Same goes for My Love is a Stapler.

    K-ON is light and fluffy (like one of it’s songs lol), but somehow, I’ve gotten more mileage out of other anime in its general category like Hidamari Sketch, Sketchbook ~Full Colors~, and Working!!. If my guesses are correct, few people would consider these to be heavy shows since they’re so easygoing and nice to watch. I just think they’re better, and that K-ON doesn’t live up to those shows. That’s just me though.

    Reply
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  • September 11, 2010 at 12:06 am
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    she play this cartoon but this cartoon is best to watched!!(^_^)

    Reply
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  • July 20, 2012 at 3:12 am
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    =.=” tsk tsk tsk, excuse me, okay then think of a more APPROPRIATE BGM for this anime aside from the given?… IT WILL ONLY COME DOWN TO THIS, so basically there are exceptions to the rule.. I hope you know how to properly review something..

    Reply
    • July 20, 2012 at 10:49 am
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      @Shirley-san
      Such an assertion presupposes too much. First of all, of course it’s easy to think that K-ON!’s music would be appropriate for the anime because that’s all you heard and that’s all you were exposed to. That there is no other alternative seems unthinkable in your mind. I’d venture to say that if you mixed in a bit of Choro Club (ARIA) with maybe some mellower Ken Muramatsu pieces, you’d have a pretty solid school life soundtrack. It worked well for Sketchbook ~Full colorS~ and I have no doubts that it’d function well with a show like K-ON!

      Reply
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