K-ON2! Original Sound Track Vol. 1 – Review

Album Title: K-ON!! Original Sound Track Vol.1
Anime Title: K-ON!!
Artist: Hajime Hyakkoku, Aki Toyosaki, Madoka Yonezawa
Catalog Number: PCCG-1062
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: July 21, 2010
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia


Tracklist:

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
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

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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

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Happy rainy day

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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

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Gatten da!

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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

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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.

Rating: So-so

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.

12 thoughts on “K-ON2! Original Sound Track Vol. 1 – Review

  • August 1, 2010 at 3:27 am
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    I don’t know, to be honest I thought this volume was more of the same as what the first season soundtrack had produced. With the exception of Usagi to kame though, for which I couldn’t stop laughing. I like to think that Toyosaki was trying to convey that Yui was mentally retarded. She succeeded.

    But otherwise, nice to hear that there’s an improvement, since given your review of the first season OST I would never had thought you would touch this.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2010 at 4:16 am
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    Mmm, the rest of the album may be unremarkable but I wouldn’t mind having “Happy rainy day” on my iPod. Sounds like an excellent background tune to play on a loop during my regular walks.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2010 at 9:00 am
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    I hardly recognized the difference between the two series OST. I thnk the background music was just too generic. I mostly remember the songs, not the background music for this show.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm
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    Actually, that last song is supposed to be Toyosaki imitating an eight year old girl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5jK-wUH1zM Props to her for managing to sing so badly on purpose (or so I assume). That’s not an easy task. I think the song isn’t so bad with visuals to accompany it… haha.

    You could also say that Yui, her role, is someone who’s suffered too many blows to the head anyways.

    The only purpose I would use listen to this soundtrack for… would be comedy relief.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2010 at 4:40 pm
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    There are a couple of pieces in S1’s OST that, after revisiting, I think are pretty noteworthy:

    6. Yumemite ne
    29. Ringo…RIngo…Ame (the beginning weird wind/synth melody is awesome IMO)
    35. Ano Hi no Yume

    no. 6 and no. 35 are nice ballads, I think they’re pretty well done.

    As for S2, I don’t hear much stylistic evolution (consistency is good?), although perhaps there’s more diversity. I’ll have to give it a listen.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm
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    I love it, typical slice of life kind of music =)
    what you need for a nice quiet day :3

    Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 12:54 am
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    @mrwan
    I know what you mean since when I listened to it, I was pretty sure they took off a lot of the melodies from season 1’s score. The only point of difference I heard was that it was just dressed up better even if the melodies are still kind of eh. I’ll argue that it’s an improvement though. Enough to make the soundtrack so-so :p

    Also, I think Toyosaki nailed Yui’s personality well, but man, it’s still a horrible experience. I can see the humor value in trolling people with that song though.

    Finally, I touched it because I was morbidly curious to see how it would turn out. Second-season soundtracks from the same franchise usually tends to suffer from rehashes, and this one is no exception. What I didn’t know was whether it’d be boring. It wasn’t terrible, thank goodness.

    @Diego
    It’s a nice piece to be listening to if you’re looking for that generic slice of life stuff. But for fantastic slice of life anime music, you can never go wrong with ARIA =D

    @Canne
    Doesn’t everybody remember the songs? Also, generic is probably a very apt term to describe most of the tracks here. The execution of said genericness is enough to give it plaudits. Mostly because of exceeding low expectations.

    @Yu
    Toyosaki is capable of singing poorly. I can’t be the only one who cringed at her squirrelly voice on GO GO Maniac. As always, she manages to impress in bringing out that retarded moe vibe that Yui channels.

    @lelangir
    I hesitate to declare any major degree of diversity since there’s more generic slice of life music more often than not. At least S1 had those spiffy guitar themes that kinda broke the bland factor that Hyakokku was throwing at us. S2… no electric guitar themes, mostly synth synth synth, and that’s about it…

    @Fabrice
    I’d still put forward the idea that there are better ones to choose from though. K-ON’s soundtrack is hardly what people would call memorable.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 1:12 am
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    It’s kind of ironic that a show about light music doesn’t actually have amazing music.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 1:48 am
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    Horribly dull. While I kinda liked the character songs, these just failed to stand out in any way (except for Imouta no Asa, the only song you showed here that sounded quite okay). As Yi said, it’s kinda ironic that a music-orientated show has such a generic OST.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 5:29 pm
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    Pretty ironic that the background feels so dull when the show is about a light music club like everyone else said. The image songs sounded better than this… well except Go Go Maniac of course… :p

    Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 8:03 pm
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    @Yi
    I think Hyakokku is just a noob still trying to learn the ropes. I’m pretty sure I’d be able to compose better snippets of music than he can :p

    @Omurqi
    That’s probably as energetic as the soundtrack ever gets unfortunately with Imouta no Asa. You’d think there would be more because of the characters’ bent towards exuberance.

    @chikorita157
    Well, I’m not much of a Toyosaki fan, so I can’t really bring myself to like much of anything she does, so her works would be exceptions for me.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm
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    K-ON!! music is all about the OP/ED songs! But at least these generic songs work decently in the series. *shrug*

    Reply

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