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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BILLIE IDLE – AND AGAIN [SOSHITE, MATA] (2019)

lyrics by POUR LUI | music by KEVIN MARKS

The one and only Cal gave me some money to translate the lyrics to BILLIE IDLE’s new single. I do like the video, which is supposed to be like, a send-up of Heisei-era music programs, and it’s incredibly accurate. To the point that elicits many of the same reactions from me.

I don’t usually translate idol music because it’s not exactly my favorite genre and the idol style of lyrics (a bunch of vaguely connected statements) aren’t exactly my forte but I try my best if it’s for a friend. Also I am an unfortunate Pour Lui stan because I really like the cover of her solo album, and so I will allow it this time.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – NOT AFRAID OF A FALL FROM GRACE [HAITOKU NANTE KOWAKUNAI] (1988)

Lyrics and music by YOICHIRO YOSHIKAWA

Another track off of Daitenshi no you ni / Like an Archangel. Yoshikawa pulls double duty on this one, writing both the music and the lyrics. Sounds vaguely secret agent-y, with all the talk of passwords and stuff.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – IRON FLAME [TETSU NO HI] (1988)

lyrics and music by TOSHIRO SENSUI

Another track off of Daitenshi no you ni / Like an Archangel, which remains my least favorite Yapoos album, but the process of translating it has been enlightening, mostly because it’s made me appreciate at the very least the lyrical content of the songs, even if I can’t really vibe to them musically.

Sensui sure does love his metaphors, huh?

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – THEME [1992]

lyrics and music by JUN TOGAWA

It’s Yapoos’ theme song! Essentially a joyous fuck-you to everyone who doubted them or read too far into their music and featuring a kind of questionable English chorus that I’m leaving intact, albeit bolded.

Fun fact: this is one of the few songs that Togawa composed as well as wrote the lyrics to. She usually composed 1-2 songs on each later Yapoos albums, with all the members taking turns writing lyrics and music. I can’t think of any pre-Yapoos songs that she had a hand in writing the music to, but I could be wrong.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – LIVING IN THE FOREST [MORI NI SUMU] (1988)

lyrics by JUN TOGAWA | music by MITSURU KOTAKI

One of my personal favorite tracks off of Like an Archangel / Daitenshi no You ni, this “Living in the Forest” sees Togawa on home turf, using naturalistic metaphors to describe a depressive, disassociative state in which she becomes one with the forest. The entire song reminds me of the concept of ego death, the flattening of one’s consciousness into their surroundings… Togawa doesn’t state her reasons here (other than that she’s tired), so that’s up to us to figure out. Is it heartbreak? Is it existential anguish? All of the above?

Translation and notes under the cut:

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