A Brief Look at Three Newbies on the Anisong Scene

With each year comes a flurry of new anisong artists who ply their trade. Some burn out quickly and disappear never to be heard from again. Others manage to stick around for just a bit longer. Rare is the artist that manages to become a permanent fixture on the scene. Nevertheless, I randomly feel compelled to comment on the promising ones in recent months whom I will be keeping an eye on. Plus, it will be fun to look back on this a few months later to see how accurate my predictions have been.

The first, and perhaps the one with the most hype, is 15 year old Suzuki Konomi, winner of the 5th Anisong Grand Prix. While her youth and sheer vocal strength suggests a very bright future ahead, the past record of Anisong Grand Prix winners does make me cautious. Anisong Grand Prix judges tend to pick people with very generic voices to please everyone; Kawano Marina and HIMEKA are prominent examples and aren’t artists whom I would ever listen to repeatedly.

The other two winners failed to fare much better. While Kita Shuuhei’s debut single Breaking’ Through fit his tense and somewhat strained voice, his butchering of Natsume Yuujinchou’s “Issei no Koe” is a sin for which he would never be forgiven. Sasaki Sayaka, meanwhile, has shown that she has degenerated into mere cute fest, which I get more than enough of from the seiyuu singers. That said, Suzuki does have the best voice among the winners thus far, and has released a solid debut single. Still, I’ll rein in my expectations until I have heard more of her works. I can only hope that her talent is tapped upon.

Next up is the much anticipated Haruna Luna, who is lucky enough to secure a tie-in with the popular anime Fate/Zero and composer Yuki Kajiura in her debut. The results, however, have proven far from stellar. While there is nothing offensive in the song “Sora wa Takaku Kaze ga Utau,” there is just no hook. Honestly, I do not recall anything so bland from Kajiura since “Calling.” The b-sides of that single does not help Haruna’s situation the slightest, as she proves herself a competent but largely uninteresting singer.

Finally, we have Ieiri Leo who released her debut in February, for Toriko. Among the three, she seems the most confident in showcasing her vocal abilities. This confidence is absolutely crucial because singers should be more than just pleasant voices capable of delivering the lyrics as written without trying to add their own flair to the performance. They are musicians, artists in every sense of the word. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that the voice is an instrument like any other, and the true maestro would know how to get the most out of it. Ieiri is one of the few singers who are not merely karaoke-ists. This is especially noticeable in the full single, where the a-side was performed with a lot more energy and modulations, while the b-side was sweet and innocently optimistic. Her style may not sit well with some, but honestly, where is the fun in music if we are not allowed to critique the musician’s interpretation of a piece?

All in all, the past few months has given us three good singers, all of whom show a fair amount of promise. Do tell me if I have missed out on anyone else!

Jen

I have been a contributor to Anime Instrumentality since late 2009 (blimey...). Being a lousy musician trained in cello, keyboard and voice, I feel obliged to censure the other amateurs who have the cheek to release their rubbish to the world, and to affirm those who actually deserve their salary. Nothing gives me more joy than listening to good music, though I admit that writing scathing reviews on bad ones comes close.

11 thoughts on “A Brief Look at Three Newbies on the Anisong Scene

  • May 17, 2012 at 8:21 am
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    Judging by her performance on Choir Jail, I think the hype surrounding Suzuki Konomi is well-founded, but, sure, it could all fall apart for a number of reasons. We won’t get to know how deep her talent is until she has recorded multiple songs over the course of several years. Any number of pop stars have shown the ability to put out a hit or two, only to end up looking talentless in the end.

    Suzuki Konomi is still quite young, so I hope she has an opportunity to grow into the role of singer, and is lucky enough to be offered good material to work with, while not having to suffer through the advice of bad producers and managers.

    Reply
    • May 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm
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      Yea. Now we just now she has a good voice, but that doesn’t naturally make one a good singer. She needs expression and diversity if she were to stay. I definitely hope she does. I would much rather hear more from her than many other singers who just won’t stop releasing new material…

      Reply
  • May 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm
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    Holy crap, Suzuki Konomi is only 15? Her voice definitely doesn’t sound it. If she gains a bit more power, and her voice deepens a teeny bit more with age, I could see her becoming something between Halca and Kurosaki Maon in the best way possible. Def excited.

    For Haruna Luna, I kind of mirror the “very competent but in no way outstanding” feeling.

    I actually liked (as of right now) the voice of Ieiri Leo the most. She has the Yui-esque breathy, and a bit childish-sounding tone that accents vowels, especially her a’s. I am likely one of the few people out there who loathes excessive vocal embellishments/decorations (to a point they kill vocal jazz for me completely, since it tends to take the approach of highly-stylized vox), and so singers like May’n make me rage. Hard. So, after reading OP’s description of Ieiri Leo as a very stylized singer, I was surprized to really like the Leo. Her voice is kind of refreshing since she does play around/modulate a bit, but it sounds really GOOD, not trying too hard/covering up poor singing skills with tricks, and unique (as opposed to the over-user female “soul” style).

    Also, hahaha, first post ever on the site, and I already rag on the admins’ favorite style =3

    Reply
    • May 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm
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      I would give her a little bit of an edge over Kurosaki Maon, but that is more cause Kurosaki hasn’t been as distinctive. Her voice reminds me of Faylan while her expression is closer to May’n. Her songs are also rather generic. So she doesn’t appeal to me as much simply cause she isn’t very distinct, and I can live without her.

      There has been many many comparisons between Ieiri and YUI. Definitely founded, because their voices are quite similar in quality. My main complain with YUI is that the way she uses it doesn’t differ much from song to song. For YUI, I just have one or two songs I listen to once in a while, but I definitely cannot survive an album of her.

      A lot of expression issues also depends on the singer in question. Some just kill a song when they try… But there are others, like KOKIA, Oda Kaori and Kuriyama Chiaki (at times) who are generally more dependable.

      Reply
      • May 22, 2012 at 12:29 am
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        Yeah, I agree on the Kurosaki Maon sentiment. She can be a bit hammy, and May’n definitely comes to mind. Not quite to the point of, say, Mami Kawada (ugh), but I see your point. I was referring more to sheer lower-range vocal power, and hoping that the expressiveness that Suzuki Konomi does have will be refined in a good way.
        I see your point about YUI, but, you must admit, that singer can make an awesome hit. Life pretty much got me into JMusic back in my shonen-exclusive early high school times. Yeah, she’s monotonous, but that may not be a bad thing for a single-focused industry. Plus, we haven’t heard much of Ieri to say just how varied her music style will be either =/
        And totally agree on the last part about expressiveness depending on artist. Oda Kaori is actually a singer I very much like. Heck, my favorite Japanese singer, Lia, is pretty expressive herself (Karma, Natsukage <3), I was just saying that many singers simply can't sing without decorations, or ad so many that it completely ruins everything.

  • May 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm
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    Wow, Suzuki Konomi and Ieiri Leo are quite good singers. I’ll keep an eye out for them in the future.

    I agree with you on Haruna Luna. Her voice is good, but the song itself just falls a bit flat to me. I do disagree on your statement that “Calling” is “bland”. I like that song a lot, and I’m not sure why you would call it that. Nice video parody there, too.

    I’m actually slightly disappointed that you didn’t mention Eir Aoi. In my opinion, her performance in fate/zero’s MEMORIA is excellent. I believe she’s pretty new, although not as new as these three artists. She also released a fate/zero tribute album called Prayer with some good songs on there, including an orchestral version of MEMORIA, so please check it out if you can.

    Reply
    • May 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm
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      Ah, I was waiting for someone to disagree with me on ‘Calling’. What I meant was the the composition was bland. Just listen to the instrumentals, and you will see how little progression and colour it has. However, Oda Kaori is just one of those natural musicians who can always carry the music, making the song better than it would be under anyone else. Her delivery there is passionate yet sophisticated, which makes the song entrancing, even for me. Doesn’t change the fact it’s dull, but I do like it.

      As for the video, that was the only one that didn’t have its pitches adjusted. It actually made me a little uncomfortable…

      I’m afraid I have to differ from you regarding your opinion of Eir. I listened to the tribute album, and her way of singing comes across as tense and unnatural, much like May’n, actually. It just doesn’t cut it for me…

      Reply
    • May 22, 2012 at 12:35 am
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      I do like Eir Aoi “theoretically,” but I think her main problem is that she simply doesn’t sing in songs where she can shine well (still, being unable to mold to a song style is a minus). Most songs I hear with her are either too downtempo for her, or LAMENT, which is way too stereotypical over-energy shonen. Maybe if she does some other anime beside fate/zero? Just a thought…

      Reply
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