Angel Beats! Insert Song – Crow Song – Review

Album Title: Crow Song
Anime Title: Angel Beats!
Artist: Jun Maeda; Girls Dead Monster: marina
Catalog Number: KSLA-0051
Release Type: Insert Song
Release Date: April 23, 2010
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia

Track Title Artist Time
1. Crow Song Girls Dead Monster 4:08
2. Alchemy Girls Dead Monster 4:16
3. My Song Girls Dead Monster 4:53

Review: The buildup to the band scene in the first episode of Angel Beats! was auspicious. I was in awe of the artwork and animation and began inching forward in my seat so that I wouldn’t miss a single detail. Then the music started playing, marina made her entrance, singing as Iwasawa, the rhythm guitarist and vocalist for Girls Dead Monster, and I began to cringe.

Jun Maeda’s compositions are completely undone by marina’s singing in “Crow Song.” The song starts out strong with the percussion and instrumental parts building a foundation filled with excitement and energy. You get fired up, thinking that whoever will come in will deliver something memorable like Aya Hirano’s performance when she sang “God Knows.” Instead of getting someone eager to fuel the crowd’s energy with their passion, you get someone who clearly doesn’t want to be at work that day, someone who treats singing as a day job filled with drudgery and blah than a channel through which they can convey their innermost thoughts and feelings. Maybe this is how it really is out there in the music industry and if this is true, at least most of the artists I enjoy listening to do a good enough job of faking it.

Initially, I was willing to give marina’s performance some leeway since her intonation felt like that of a folk singer and that in “Crow Song,” she’s aiming for a fusion of folk and rock. But as I listened further in, her delivery becomes messy; her high notes sound flat and the chorus part feels lifeless and bland. The result is that it leaves you feeling lethargic, which is unlikely to be what this song was aiming to be with its lively rock instrumentation.

Crow Song »

“Alchemy” is better, but that’s not really saying all too much. From the way this song starts, you feel some hope for this album’s quality since marina’s singing sounds more comfortable at lower registers and that maybe, just maybe she was singing outside her vocal range in “Crow Song.” As you listen further, you’ll find that marina’s managed to put forth a passable performance and the only thing that nagged at me is the way the song transitions from one section to the next. Perhaps someone well-versed in music theory can tell me why the shifts are so jarring since each switch feels like a mismatch if you compare it to the previous section. If you were to look at each section as a separate entity though, you’ll find it to be perfectly decent. Nothing that would really stand out, but nothing that would make me shake my head in disgust either.

Alchemy »

Last up is “My Song,” a ballad featuring marina backed by an acoustic guitar. Here, her voice seems distant, as though it’s weighed down by regrets. She channels that emotion well enough that you would get a basic idea of what she’s feeling, but it never rises to the point where you’d feel touched by the performance. This extends to the emphatic chorus section where she belts out the lyrics before moving towards the end where her voice grows softer, creating the impression that she’s exhausted. The second time around feels a bit more grating since it doesn’t express the depths of her pains, both physical and emotional too well. One should not mistake loudness for passion since it’s all in the intonation and she doesn’t convey that too well, but if this song represents her death knell, I suppose we can forgive her somewhat for sounding tired as she uses the last remnants of her energy.

My Song »

Somehow, I feel that the decision to use marina was a budgetary one; she’s an indie singer who probably didn’t cost a whole lot to hire for this project. You get what you pay for: mediocre singing through her uninspiring barrage of blandness. Let’s just hope the same fate doesn’t befall Angel Beats!, which has been engaging thus far.

Rating: Not Good

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.

35 thoughts on “Angel Beats! Insert Song – Crow Song – Review

  • May 1, 2010 at 1:10 am
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    I like “Alchemy”, even though it’s nothing special for a J-rock/pop song. Spot on about “Crow Song”… the guts of that song is a mess. As for “My Song”, well, I’ve never been big on ballads, so there’s not much I can say that’d hold weight.

    No disrespect to marina, but I reckon it would have been awesome to hear Iwasawa’s seiyuu Sawashiro Miyuki sing those songs. She is such an elite seiyuu (maybe there’s an argument to be made that she’s the best in the industry at the moment) and I’d have just loved to hear her sing.

    Reply
  • May 1, 2010 at 2:53 am
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    I felt that My SOng was pretty powerful in the episode. It injected some much needed feeling into the rushed character development that for… whatever that character’s name was. As I can’t really seperate it from that, I love the song a lot.

    Reply
  • May 1, 2010 at 8:34 am
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    My thoughts exactly… The instrumentals are good, but I felt that they really needed a stronger singer to sing these songs that have some kind of expression… a reason why I hardly ever listen to those songs because the vocals are rather unbearable.

    Reply
  • Pingback: lelasong » Blog Archive » commented Alchemy (Girls Dead Monster)

  • May 1, 2010 at 10:26 am
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    Funny, I just finished my annotation of Alchemy, and we basically said the same thing haha.

    Alchemy starts out strong but falls down the stairs fairly quickly on. Crow Song isn’t strong at all in any regard really (except for one little tiny guitar riff I heard). My Song is…well…there’s something about it. I was really into it during the anime, but I can’t bear to listen to it by itself. I think one reason is that the chord progression isn’t strong at all. The melody is one thing (SHE NEEDS TO USE VIBRATO щ(゚Д゚)屮), but its lack of rhythm is also partly due to its flakey harmony. The one thing I like about this song is the chord it ends on. It’s uncommon in ani music (at least AFAIK) – the only other place I’ve heard this used is the end of one piece in the Ristorante Paradiso OST.

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  • May 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm
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    I think that “My Song” was used well in the anime, but I don’t like listening to it standalone since ballads aren’t really my thing.

    As for “Crow Song” and “Alchemy”, I would love to hear how it sounds with a different vocalist. Otherwise, I still got “My Soul, Your Beats!” to listen to. ^^

    Reply
  • May 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm
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    @Sorrow-kun
    Definitely agree with that last bit. Miyuki Sawashiro’s singing voice (as much of it as I can recall anyhow) is going to be a notch above since she actually puts some emotion into her singing so that this album wouldn’t come off as being so horribly bland.

    @Omisyth
    As much feeling as a last hurrah could really be. I know I was certainly glad that her last song finally got its chance in the sun and that you couldn’t ask for a better way out. This is all contextual of course and it worked within that scene well. Out of context, it’s decent if we never got to the second verse. One verse was probably sufficient for us to get the idea.

    @chikorita157
    No passion or energy makes for some dull songs indeed. I know I get pretty fidgety when I try to concentrate on trying to get the awesomeness out of a song only to find that it doesn’t deliver, making the experience that much more annoying.

    @lelangir
    I did forget to mention how plain her singing sounds. That lack of vibrato doesn’t help one bit because with it, at least it could have come off as being more expressive.

    Glad that you wrote up the annotations of the music though so that I can see how the key shifts operate. It does feel just a bit abrupt at times…

    @Reltair
    Yeah, thank goodness for the OP song. Now, if they were able to combine both OPs into that one neat package, I’d be all over it since Lia and that other singer do a pretty decent job together!

    Reply
  • May 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm
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    Marina’s voice makes you cringe slightly because it’s OH SO CLOSE to the right pitch but NOT QUITE THERE. Also, I think she slides to the pitch instead of hitting it right on, which contributes to the OH SO CLOSE to the pitch problem. Finally, her lack of vibrato makes her sound plaintive in the whiny sense. Vibrato is useful for covering rough pitch jumps, which might have helped the pitch problem which I’m sure I haven’t mentioned yet.

    Reply
  • May 2, 2010 at 9:23 am
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    @Yu
    It sure is a message that bears repeating though =D

    Sure is annoying though and I do remember writing somewhere about an artist that has a tendency to slide into the pitch rather than hitting it straight on. Annoying to say the least, but to that artist’s credit, she is able to hit the right pitch. Eventually. Not so here.

    No issues with using vibrato to cheat just a bit, especially if the performer is subpar like marina is.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2010 at 3:03 am
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    Hm… I didn’t like the songs. I don’t know if it’s a result of not really liking the series or that the songs are just not my thing. It’s probably the music though. For example, at 1:06 of Crow Song, there was a little thing that she did. Cute but it didn’t work for me. That just felt out of place. It got stronger later, but Crow Song had overused the same repetitive melodies.

    “Somehow, I feel that the decision to use marina was a budgetary one; she’s an indie singer who probably didn’t cost a whole lot to hire for this project. You get what you pay for: mediocre singing through her uninspiring barrage of blandness.”
    Haha, harsh words.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2010 at 11:57 am
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    @Yi
    Watch episodes 3, 4, and 5! (part of the fun is in trying to figure out how the world works, what’s going on, etc.)

    But yeah, the insert songs here are terrible and you can’t be faulted for not liking them. marina’s performance in Crow Song is only going to work if you’re tone deaf.

    And you thought I was a nice person… >:3

    Reply
  • May 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm
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    Ah, i LOVE Crow Song.

    Alchemy is alright, and My Song is eh.

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  • May 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm
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    @Jubbz
    Ehh, I couldn’t get past the vocals for Crow Song. Had it been instrumental-only, I think I would have been fine, but not when marina sings so poorly.

    Reply
  • Pingback: Anime Instrumentality Blog » Blog Archive » Angel Beats! Insert Song – Thousand Enemies – Review

  • May 19, 2010 at 12:19 am
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    Well, they really sound like an indie band at school, but I found out that Marina sounds weak in Alchemy. and then suddenly she “shouts” at the end??? Sorry for my bad english.

    Marina is okay as a live singer at pubs or events, but she is still not suited for single releases yet.

    Reply
  • May 19, 2010 at 1:26 am
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    @Belson0425
    Actually, that’s pretty cool that you’ve seen her live performances though and maybe the atmosphere is better-conducive to her talents in those kinds of settings.

    I’d also think that single releases might be easier, what with the studio editing that can be done to make her voice more buoyant. Guess that’s not the case?

    Reply
  • June 4, 2010 at 5:49 pm
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    Maybe it’s because I’m American and love girl bands that rock, but I disagree with most of the sentiment here. I love the first 3 songs and much prefer them over the rest. I thought that “My Song” was very moving because you can feel the emotion. I also love “Alchemy” and like “Crow Song”

    You don’t have to be the perfect singer for rock, just the fans of Garbage, Hole, Pat Benetar, The Donnas, Veruca Salt, Flyleaf, Liz Phair, K’s Choice, etc. Not every singer/band will sound like Evanescence and they don’t have to be.

    It works for this American and a few friends I have also really like the music.

    Reply
  • June 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm
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    @kalel33
    I don’t know… I’m fine with rocking girl bands as well as well as those that adopt different singing styles, but somehow the singing here is something that never really came through for me.

    I suppose it’s worth questioning what you thought of Haruhi’s “God Knows” since that’s the metric that I use for good rockin’ vocals.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm
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    I tried out the song and was disappointed at first with the vocals but it became better in chorus. I still think it was too produced and lacked a emotion.

    I don’t understand some that say that the pitch was off for Marina, because that would be the music producer’s fault. I’m sure they spent hours getting the song exactly like they wanted.

    I guess I’m a little jaded with some songs coming out like they are from American Idol, lack of emotion and overly produced to perfection. The songs that I say are my favorite right now, from anime, are Yui singing “Rolling Star” and TommyHeavenly6 singing “Paper Black Moon”. Those two are what I look for, in that they show some emotion in how they push some of the notes with effort.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2010 at 11:22 pm
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    @kalel33
    That’s kind of odd, because my thoughts of Aya Hirano singing that song was that it’s full of emotion. The vibrato that she fires off certainly helps in that respect as well as a sense of forcefulness in her delivery. Ah well. You are right in that it’s overproduced though. If you ever heard Hirano live, rest assured that she’s pretty godawful.

    I also agree that Marina’s pitch being off would mean that both the singer and the producer is at fault.

    Now, with that last bit, I think that’s where we differ. When I listen to a CD (a produced work that has the opportunity to iron out imperfections), I expect the end result to be somewhat flawless just as long as they don’t erase the performer’s little quirks that make them unique. If producing it to that effect is what’s required, then I’m all for it since it fits in with my preference. My reasoning is that if I wanted to listen to a raw version, I’d just attend concerts and be more forgiving about any mistakes that occur (see my Utada Hikaru concert report if you’re curious).

    And in reading your response, I get the feeling that you prefer the rawness of a concert performance over the meticulous ironing out that producers do in the course of making a CD, so correct me if I’m wrong on this one.

    Reply
  • June 11, 2010 at 3:54 am
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    OMG, I did see a video of her playing live and she should not go on tour again. I feel that that she had the forcefulness in the chorus but it felt forced/faked.

    I’m not much of a concert lover either. I do like some polish and usually the singer is doing the song for the hundredth show and they just try to fake it, because their burned out. I hear a lot of good anime songs, where the pitch and movements of the voice are perfect but they lack the connection to the song. I thought Marina made that connection. Sometimes the perfect song sounds too much like a karaoke version, the person has a great voice, hits all the notes perfectly, but forgets why the song written.

    “My Song” reminds me of another song with the same style of singing and emotion. It’s by K’s Choice called “wait”

    You wouldn’t call it perfect but the emotion holds true to the lyrics.

    Sometimes I fall for the overproduced stuff, like Scandal singing “Shoujo S” and completely away from anything I’ve ever liked is the Kannagi OP. I hated that song at first but it just sticks to you for some reason, probably because of the visuals with it.

    Reply
  • June 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm
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    @kalel33
    I can drink to that. After having heard her live, I don’t think I’ll ever want to repeat the experience once more.

    Have you taken a look at any of the Animelo videos. In case you don’t know, it’s a huge Anisong concert held in Japan and I’ve generally had a favorable impression as to how those turned out. Never seemed overdone at least and the artists seem genuinely enthusiastic.

    As for that youtube clip of “wait,” I actually hear and feel the emotions in this song and I’d rate it above “My Song” in any event. Especially with the backing instruments used :p

    And for Kannagi’s OP, it’s just trite, perhaps, but definitely catchy J-pop. The visuals do help and it does age decently, even if the short phrasing can occasionally get on my nerves.

    Reply
  • July 4, 2010 at 8:32 pm
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    I was wondering if you had a chance to listen to the Yui versions of the first three songs. Yui is a wonderful singer and that’s not really that contestable. I really thought Alchemy and Crow Song was better done by Marina. I thought that My Song was changed instrumentally and from a different emotional way that they aren’t really comparable.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on the comparison.

    Reply
  • July 5, 2010 at 10:50 am
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    @kalel33
    Not yet. My schedule’s been so backed up by all the stuff going on outside of anime that I’ve yet to be able to give it the full attention it deserves. LiSA, like you said, is a better singer, but it’ll be interesting to see how her performance on Alchemy and Crow Song goes.

    I’ll set aside a chunk of time sometime this week to give it its due.

    Reply
  • August 28, 2010 at 11:14 am
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    Actually, in my opinion, I liked all 3 songs :/
    Maybe i’m tone deaf or blind or something, but I thought they were well put together and sounded pretty good. I guess I can’t hear when something is just a little off pitch o_e.
    I really enjoyed their performance in episode 1 as I just rewatched it. They build it up really well; Sekine rockin’ on the bass, Irie slammin’ the drumset and the tense guitar rhythms. It was quite enjoyable. However, My Song…it’s nice and once you get the know the lyrics, it’s really meaningful, but I would prefer to watch the video while listening to the song. Plus, the song (full version) is like 4 minutes. Since i’m not japanese, I basically listen to the tune and the words and it’s captivating in a way. But that’s just my opinion. Please don’t flame at me saying something like, “That’s stupid”. this is just the way I think of it. x_x.
    As well, there’s a big controversy on the lyrics for Crow Song. I was wondering if you guys knew.
    Is it “Fly Away koko kara”? or “Find a way koko kara”?
    & is it “Found out mitsukeru”? or “From now mitsukeru”?
    Sorry for the hugeass paragraph. Thanks a bunch if you read this far (:

    Reply
  • August 28, 2010 at 11:18 am
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    @kalel33
    Yeahh, I have heard the different versions. LiSa is a pretty good singer. But she exaggerates alot o.o. Like in Alchemy she kinda belts out “Aruite kita michi furikaeru to” but it’s all good.
    I preferably like to listen to both versions, I like both :D.
    As for My Song, I think Marina’s version has more feeling (?) to it whereas LiSa’s version, at the chorus there’s the whole band coming is, sorta makes it more rock. But again, I really enjoy the songs from Angel Beats! and from Girls DeMo. They’re kinda hard to hate for me ><

    Reply
  • August 28, 2010 at 9:43 pm
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    @xCosplay
    Oh come now. I do hope that you do regularly visit here since I’m above that sort of thing. Well, unless you troll (which you aren’t doing) in which case, that’s when my gloves come off =p

    Feel free to express your opinion! I’ll disagree with it (as you can probably guess) because the instrumentation might have been good (and I’m on the fence about that) but the singing wasn’t. The lyrics can have a strong impact, and I won’t disagree with that sentiment, but it just didn’t work for me, especially since the singing didn’t sit with me too well.

    I’m not a lyrics person, so you probably will have to look elsewhere. Thanks for coming in to share your thoughts though!

    @Reliance
    I can see My Song being produced much better with its subdued tones since the song is a last hurrah of sorts. If there was a band backing it up, it kinda loses its context altogether and becomes just another rock song instead of something more meaningful.

    Reply
  • September 3, 2010 at 4:18 am
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    o my god!!! i can’t bealive this!!!My Song is the best baland i’ve ever heard in an anime and the girl who sings it has a great voise that saports the song!!!I jast love it!!!

    Reply
  • September 21, 2010 at 5:14 pm
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    I do like listening to both. The LiSa verion of “My Song”, after I’ve listened to it for quite awhile, is it seems like she’s just showing off her range and talent. Some parts of it remind me of Mariah Carey always having parts of her songs just for the “show off” portion. I still like it but it was a little too much grandstanding.

    Reply
    • September 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm
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      @kalel3
      I guess that might be enough to boost her stock to show that she can do diverse stuff? Mind you, I’m mostly speculating here, mostly because I haven’t listened to the LiSa version myself. I can see how that could get pretty annoying if they’re unwarranted and sound jarring though.

      Reply
  • April 5, 2011 at 11:54 am
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    OMG What is wrong with you people The Songs ARE AWESOME STOP DISING THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If you actually listen to all the songs you probably will like atleast 1 song
    I admit Marina Lacks in what LiSa(Yui) has but no one is perfect!!!
    In my opinion Marina produced some decent vocals for most songs and
    I admit LiSa’s Voice is Just much More Superior and that she gives out more emotion
    than Marina.

    Reply
    • April 6, 2011 at 5:48 am
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      @Some Dude
      I don’t know… I went through and listened to that big compilation album they released, and I can’t really say any of the vocals really sparked my interest. At least, there are just far better options available for singers who actually sing in tune and/or are more impressive when you look through the entirety of Japanese music (as for J-punk… that’s a harder sample that I’m not too familiar with). You are right in that LiSA is actually a bit better than Marina though mostly based on her range of expression.

      Reply
  • June 24, 2011 at 10:20 am
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    I love marina’s singing. I enjoy some of lisa’s songs, too, but when it comes to crow/alchemy/my song, I *much* prefer marina’s versions. I’ve considered whether it’s simply because marina’s are the “originals”, so they are the first ones I heard, but there are specific characteristics of lisa’s versions of the songs that I *do* *not* *like* for musical/aesthetic reasons. Personally, I love the sound/quality/characteristic of marina’s voice, and in many respects, I find her versions to be *more* emotional than lisa’s versions — or at least, more emotional in a way that touches me personally. These are all songs I actively listen to, on my mp3 player, in my car. I want to hear *more* from marina. I’d love to be able to see her perform live when I visit japan.

    But what do I know? It’s not like I have any musical training (*coughcough*)…

    Marina, you’re awesome! XD

    Reply
    • June 25, 2011 at 1:45 am
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      @sean
      It’s really hard for me to choose between the two since the singing in tune just kind of falls far from the mark that I wonder why they didn’t autotune the songs completely. I could see them avoiding that step if they wanted to make the experience a bit more authentic, but I wonder that had they done so, whether marina’s emotional outpourings would have been felt more keenly. She certainly could have used it anyhow!

      Regardless of whether we agree, glad you enjoy the music all the same!

      Reply

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