Monday, April 02, 2012

Koeda -- What a Singer!

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.


Cerephi said...

The song reminds me of the ending from Kimi ni Todoke lol. Not the most attractive voice, but I think the skill is there.

My favorite anime song this season is the ending for Another. I think I've already listened to it 100x+~

Highway said...

I think I'm with you about the first time listening to it. There's an edge that definitely doesn't appeal to me right off the bat, and I don't know if I'd listen to it enough to get over that. But I do love the music style of supercell, even though I first heard of them like a month ago (I'm super new to anime and Japanese music).

Erik said...

Personally I'm the other way around. I deeply admire her voice, but I hope I never have to listen to the awful generic pop/rock music of Supercell again. I hope to hear her sing again in a more interesting environment, but I'm not betting on it, unfortunately.

Tobias said...

I'd call her "musical skill" over-the-top acting. Supercell used to focus on melody and lyrics, now the arrangements get ever noisier and the singing sillier.

hashi said...

Thanks to everyone for the varied opinions. Good stuff.

@Erik -- You got me. I like "generic pop/rock," if it feels good to me, lol. What music would you prefer, either as non-generic pop/rock or some different style? I'm always eager to broaden my horizons.

@Tobias -- I understand how you can think of her style as "silly," since it is complex to a level that could seem excessive. But I got past that feeling, myself, and found something I thought was rich and wonderful.

I note that ryo chose two singers from those auditions: Koeda with the rich and complex voice and style, and the much purer and simpler chelly, whose work I found much more accessible, at first.

Des said...

Regarding what you said about the girl in the video, is it really her in it like what you said? Just curious cause supercell have been using "actors" for their MVs for quite awhile now. Would really appreciate it if you could provide links on the info :/

Regarding Koeda,I didn't like her voice initially but after listening to her songs for a few more times, i kind of got used to her singing and didn't find it irritating anymore. Instead i am finding myself liking her style, at least for Bokura no Ashiato(BRS's ED).

Chelly on the other hand was easier to get used to. Her Departures (GC ED1) got me hooked instantly.