YAPOOS – YOUR REIGN [KIMI NO YO] (1992)

lyrics by JUN TOGAWA | music by NOBUO NAKAHARA

I kind of went back and forth on the translation of the title for this one. It can mean a lot of things – looking at it literally, one could interpret it as ‘your age’ or ‘your generation’ but I think that the most likely reference is to the Japanese national anthem, “Kimigayo,” which translates to ‘His Imperial Majesty’s Reign.’ The wording slightly differs – from ga to no – which left me with a conundrum. How should I translate it?

I ended up going with “Your Reign,” as I feel like it keeps the reference to the anthem while also opening up the context of who the kimi of the title refers to exactly by simply writing ‘your.’ Anyway, I think this is a love song, but wrapped in patriotism metaphors. It also could just be straight patriotism, but I’m not sure. I may consult the book on this one.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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URBANGARDE – THAT GIRL, BEING DOLLY [SONO SHOUJO NINGYOU NI TSUKI] (2013)

lyrics and music by TENMA MATSUNAGA

I’m using the official translation for the title that they gave on their music video. The title is an allusion to the title of Takeshi Kitano’s directorial debut, localized as Violent Cop in English but Sono otoko, kyoubou ni tsuki in Japanese, which would translate to something like “That Man, Acting Violent” in English. It’s all very complex. I changed the actual usage of the title phrase in the body of the translation for readability and comprehensibility, so be wary of that.

I think this song is a commentary on the objectification of idols and how trapping it is? That’s my read on it.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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DENKI GROOVE – EDISON POWER [EJISON-DEN] (2000)

lyrics by TAKKYU ISHINO & PIERRE TAKI
music by TAKKYU ISHINO & DJ TASAKA

A mystery of a song, but very Denki Groove. Seven full minutes of seemingly meaningless lyrics, sound effects, and a fun beat. 2000’s VOXXX is generally a pretty good album, even if it’s a bit more on the experimental side compared to some of the band’s other albums (save for “Nothing’s Gonna Change,” there’s a dearth of real pop singles).

There are rumors on the internet that this song was banned from radio airplay in Japan due to “causing unease in listeners,” but I can’t substantiate this claim. Fun to think it might be true, but also I don’t know who in their right mind would play this song in the first place.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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CHARISMA.COM – NO DATTE (2014)

lyrics by ITSUKA | music by ITSUKA / MASAAKI ENATSU

I complain about translating Japanese rap, but I do it anyway, mostly because there are songs I really like and I want them to be properly introduced to the world. Charisma.com are a pretty good example of ‘acts that I wish people had talked more about,’ though I think they got some press, mostly for being like, former-OLs who were rapping. They were more than that, though!

Not really sure what the title is supposed to mean, it’s written in romaji as-is, but I’d guess it means like, “no buts?” No from English, datte from Japanese, where it can mean a lot of things, ‘but’ being one of them. Just leaving it as-is, because why not?

Translation and notes under the cut:

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SUCHMOS – STAY TUNE (2016)

lyrics by YONCE/HSU | music by SUCHMOS

I’ve seen a few Japanese people on the net rib Suchmos for their reliance on like, English phrases shoved randomly into their lyrics, especially considering they’re not totally correct. Generally speaking, I try and keep it close-ish to the original, but there’s a bit in this with a random Japanese verb in the middle of an otherwise English phrase, which proved a bit of a challenge.

Anyway, don’t kill me for selling out and tranlsating a pop song, especially one that’s looked down upon by almost everyone I know. Sometimes I just want to translate fun songs that I dance to. Thank you.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – LAST APRIL 26TH [SARU SHIGATSU NO NIJUUROKU-NICHI] (1988)

lyrics by JUN TOGAWA | music by NOBUO NAKAHARA

Social commentary, which I wrote while going ‘I’ll never do it! I’ll never do it!’ I shouldn’t say this, but this was an act of desperation, really. I couldn’t write it. I had avoided it – I avoided it, I avoided it, and then only the final track on “Daitenshi no you ni” was left. This was Naka-chan’s song, and he told me he absolutely wanted me to write lyrics for it, and I wanted to write lyrics for it too. But with these lyrics, it made recording the song weird. They’d say, “One more time from ‘The pregnant woman says,'” or “From ‘I’m afraid to give birth.'” I think the other members were laughing too.

I was very shocked by Chernobyl. Wars are unending in other countries, but I am not a part of the generation that experienced war in the country I live in. But of course I’m living in the only country to be hit by an atom bomb. And so because of that, I think that the fear of atomic weapons can be felt more realistically here than in other countries. The incident at Chernobyl was a tragedy marking the first time my generation could experience the fear of nuclear power in real-time. I was so shocked that even I – who with all my power wanted to avoid writing social commentary – ended up writing something. I thought, ‘this could happen in Japan too.’

What I was afraid of more than anything was pregnancy. The effects of radiation can linger for tens of thousands of years, but at that time, it was carried on the wind and traveled all over the world. Even in western Europe high levels of radioactivity were detected in breast milk and spinach. Yes, it’s terrifying when a bomb is dropped and tens of thousands die immediately on impact, but it’s more terrifying to consider the lasting effects on children in their mother’s wombs, who are hurt, and the effects it can have over tens of thousands of years on not just humans, but on animals, plants, and life itself. The fact that pregnant women and mothers must be worried about this future is incredibly scary to me. Incidents where lots of people die are relatively common occurrences all over the world. You have to get used to it, and we should never go to war, but that day, just being in Japan meant facing head-on the terror of nuclear weapons, on a different level than just regular war. That mothers will fear giving birth to the children in their bellies is a fear found only with nuclear weapons, and so that was what I put the most effort into in this song. It was a special occurrence. I haven’t written about anything that actually happened besides this. There hasn’t yet been a war that has directly wrapped up my generation, but this incident made me realize that we’re all wrapped up in these vivid accidents.

There was no opposition from the other members. There was never a point originally where we said, ‘OK, we’re going to cut out social commentary.’ I think it was more a matter of just not liking it. But we’ve never performed this song live, I don’t think. It was made through sequencing, so it would have been difficult to do an arrangement for the band. On the other hand, I had wanted to take the album closer to a concept album, and this song was originally longer, but I had it cut down.

Jun Togawa, Jun Togawa Complete Lyrics Commentary Collection ‘Partly Cloudy with Sturm und Drang’

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – CITY OF PRAYERS [INORI NO MACHI] (1988)

Lyrics and music by YOICHIRO YOSHIKAWA

Another track off of Daitenshi no you ni / Like an Archangel, this one features a debatably orientalist portrayal of an unnamed Middle Eastern city. It’s difficult to track down information about this song – like what inspired it – but my guess is that someone took a trip to the Middle East, came back, and wrote this song. Instrumentally it’s probably one of my favorites on the album, though I do wish the subject matter had been handled with more… care.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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