|Album Title:||K-ON!! Original Sound Track Vol.1|
|Artist:||Hajime Hyakkoku, Aki Toyosaki, Madoka Yonezawa|
|Release Date:||July 21, 2010|
|Purchase at:||CDJapan, Play-Asia|
|1. One more tea?||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:46|
|2. Asahi wo Abite||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:56|
|3. Futari no Sekai||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:50|
|4. Dance of pickled scallion||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:38|
|5. Temptation with rain||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:38|
|6. Tostada||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:39|
|7. Imouta no Asa||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:50|
|8. Dragon God||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:56|
|9. Hamster no Dance||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:37|
|10. Ano hi no Kaerimichi||Hajime Hyakkoku||2:02|
|11. Tamamushi Zushi no Sankaku Jougi||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:41|
|12. Digital fancy doll||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:50|
|13. Gatten da!||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:37|
|14. Tea with you||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:37|
|15. Reason that doesn’t develop||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:41|
|16. Cherry’s feelings||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:52|
|17. Worry of cherry||Hajime Hyakkoku||1:41|
|18. Happy rainy day||Hajime Hyakkoku||2:03|
|19. Amefuri||Aki Toyosaki, Madoka Yonezawa||0:57|
|20. Usagi to Kame||Aki Toyosaki||2:45|
Review: I had plenty of misgivings going into this album. K-ON!’s soundtrack is an utterly dull affair that showcases composer Hajime Hyakkoku’s ability to swamp the listener in an endless flood of aural tedium, but in K-ON!!, you’d hope that he’s learned from the experience. So credit where credit is due: Hyakokku shows signs of promise with this soundtrack, and the result of his hard work is an album that is a marked improvement over the first season’s. The music is livelier and you can actually feel the energy that Hyakokku channels though the rhythm and tempo. These efforts aren’t enough to propel K-ON!!’s score into the upper echelons of music that come from the slice of life genre, but it’s listenable on the whole, and that’s a step in the right direction.
Already, the first couple tracks radiate life. The mundane aura that permeates K-ON!’s OST still remains in its reflection of the show’s seemingly pointless moments, but the tiny dose of energy that Hyakokku fuses in with the score is enough to put it a cut above the first season. This is especially noticeable in tracks like “Asahi wo Abite,” which employs an upbeat synth melody that brings an image of K-ON!’s characters having fun while trying to maintain some semblance of putting effort into practicing their repertoire to mind. The piece is light-hearted and its energy feels like a fresh breeze that blows away the first season’s soundtrack’s stale air.
Asahi wo Abite
Further on in the album, “Imouta no Asa” is one that stands out in the way it utilizes Japanese instruments in conjunction with the synth backing it up to create a blending of the traditional and the modern in a wonderful fast-paced track that grows as it conveys the zest that the characters have in their pursuit of enjoying high school life to the fullest. Closer towards the end, “Happy rainy day’s” presentation is quaint in that the twinkling harmony and percussion do an excellent job in their depiction of the slow raindrops pitter-pattering upon the streets and sidewalks. The mellow melody exudes the warmth and contentment of being inside, looking out and taking in the scene quietly, surrounded by friends who share in the wonderful experience.
Imouta no Asa
Happy rainy day
But if there’s one thing the samples above reveal, it’s that the melodies are incredibly simplistic, and so, I maintain that the reason why I can enjoy them is because of the harmonies that prop them up are implemented well. So woe be to tracks like “Tamamushi Zushi no Sankaku Jougi,” which fares poorly since its xylophonic melody feels bland and empty. Combine that with a drab rhythm backing it up and you have the kind of boring fare that composers should avoid like the plague. I’m also not that fond of “Gatten da!” either since its barrage of synth never supplies a catchy melody to latch onto. While there’s some funky vibes to be had, the track feels emotionally empty, and so, I’m not wont to listen to it outside the context of the anime (if I were to watch this series, that is).
Tamamushi Zushi no Sankaku Jougi
Those tracks might be boring, but they’re harmless in that they don’t leave a painful impression. The same cannot be said for “Usagi to Kame” which is a testament to how terrible Toyosaki can be when she sings. I’m not sure what impression Toyosaki is trying to put forward here. Is she trying to sound like an 8-year old girl? She doesn’t. Is she completely drunk and someone had the misfortune of succeeding in goading her to sing like an 8-year old girl? Or is the idea to come off as an elementary school student who has self-inflicted one too many blows to her head? Either of those are possible. Whatever she’s doing, the screeches, slurring, and off-key singing are bad enough to warrant consideration of being in violation of the 8th Amendment should the U.S. government ever use this song as a tool for punishment. Ending the soundtrack with “Usagi to Kame” is a terrible way to go, spoiling Hyakokku’s otherwise decent efforts, and leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth.
Usagi to Kame
Composing slice of life music is no easy task, and K-ON! was never known for having particularly good background music. Still, bad Toyosaki vocals aside, this album manages to deliver Hyakokku’s competent efforts that show some improvement over his previous score even if there are still areas that he needs to work on before his work can even compare to some of the more proficient composers out there. That day may come though, and so, I do hope to see incremental improvements down the line as he finally figures out how to compose decent melodies to seamlessly weave in with his harmonies.