I've had this post ready to go for a while. I prepared it as a contrast to what I expected to be a fairly lame first album from Yuuki Aoi. Well, Ao-chan was a heck of a lot better singer than I expected.
But Koeda, the current lead singer for supercell, is still something above and beyond. She is a tremendously accomplished singer, despite being no older than 16. The more I listen to her work, the more I like it.
Watch this video of the second Guilty Crown ED "Kokuhaku". In addition to a powerful voice, she has great musicality, combining phrasing and dynamics to enrich the song tremendously. No two lines are the same, each having a little twist or turn that gives it interest and meaning. And yet she emphasizes all the song's own rhythms and repetitions at the same time.
For me, this and her first song, My Dearest, are the most exciting debut of an anime singer since then-15-year-old Hayami Saori's ED for Touka Gettan, in 2007. This is from Nicovideo, so you may have to wait a minute for the video to appear:
Just to show that this one song is no fluke, here is the 15-year-old Koeda's first Guilty Crown OP, "My Dearest":
Now, I can't say I think her voice is "beautiful," as such. There is an edge there that actually turned me off when I first heard this song. But quality will tell. The more I heard the song, the more I admired her outstanding musical skill.
Who knows where her career will go. She is so young that a lot can happen, and lots of young prodigies flame out. In Hayami Saori's case, I think they keep giving her songs that may be more to the popular taste, but that do not use her voice's best qualities. But Koeda is more than a prodigy. She sounds like a mature singer already.
Of course, a lot of credit has to go to ryo, the leader of supercell. He's that strange looking guy with pudgy fingers and painted nails, playing the piano. He and the band create great pop music, in front of which Koeda (and it really is her in the videos) can work her subtle magic.
For anyone who doesn't know, 15-year-old Koeda and 17-year-old Chelly were chosen in auditions last summer to replace the departed nagi as Supercell's lead singer.
In an interview, ryo says that he actually did listen to all 2000 submissions he got for the audition, and there were many good ones. He laughed that Koeda gave him a feeling that she was "almighty." In working with her, he just gave her the score and told her to sing, without giving any special instructions, and she put the song through a "Koeda filter."
She did it once, then wanted to do it again, and did it completely differently. She did it about ten times and then went through the takes, deciding which parts of each she liked, and then did a final version combining them. She was like a human digital mixer.
Koeda is from Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, in southern Japan. In the videos, I like they way they have obscured her face with costume and a big microphone, so the young singer won't be too harassed by fans.
All music mentioned is available from CD Japan.