Compiled here are the lists of each host's top ten slow songs.
01.Speed - Carry On My Way
Speed was my first foray into JPop. Up until that point, I was only familiar with anime and game music. So there I was; in college and downloading some anime song from a website instead of going to class. The site admin had a recommendation to check out Carry On My Way so I figured why not? I took a listen and was instantly hooked. I then found a website that had Speed PVs for download; which in 2000 was hard to come across. I quickly had all their PVs up to that point and had them on constant loop as a sort of screensaver for my computer. This song is single-handedly responsible for the entirety of my JMusic library and ensuing habit; which now is in upwards of 3TB of videos. I owe everything I have come to love in life to this song, and the 2nd part of the chorus still makes me all teary eyed...
"Kasukana hikari ga mieru Ano basho e mou ichido kyou kara mata hajimereba ii So carry on..."
02. Gackt - Rain
I got into Gackt because of 'Another World'. Definitely not his best song, but it was the first song I heard from him and I knew that he was something special. I quickly found out that the real draw to Gackt is his flair for the epic. This shows in uptempo songs like 'Death Wish' (my fave non-slow Gackt song) and in Rain. I first heard Rain on the very awesome Moon album and it quickly became one of my favorite tracks. I then found a live clip from CDTV and got to experience his emotion while singing this song. To call it 'epic' is a disservice; it is 'Gackt'. Rain is the very definition of how a perfect song is composed. The ending is especially breathe-taking. It's also very fun to sing in the car :)
03. Mizuki Nana - Hime Murasaki
Mizuki Nana has quickly become one of my favorite female artists. I'm not really sure why, as her sound is something I thought I'd grown out of. Her very JPop-iness sound I've equated to Hamasaki Ayumi (when she was good) with a tinge of the anime/jpop vocalists of yesteryear like Hayashibara Megumi. She's not sugary like Shokotan, not as "look at me" as Koda Kumi, but also not someone who's going to be as strong as an Utada. I first heard her 'Justice Believe' single which was a great blend of pop and orchestral background music; I really dig that combination! So, further exploring her discography, I came across the B-side to her 'Wild Eyes' single, 'Hime Murasaki'. Talk about a great find! The backing track is very majestic with an epic nature to it and her vocals during the chorus are a perfect match. Rarely does a JPop artist release a slow song that can capture me as completely as this song has.
04. Gackt - Emu ~for my dear~
I've seen this (and pronounced this) song spelled a couple different ways. I'll use the wikipedia spelling from now on. Emu is one of those songs that is good because of the vocals. I don't particularly think the backing track is that great (until the solo), but the raw emotion that Gackt puts into the vocals is a wonderous thing that I think only Gackt can do. There's not much that I can say about this song besides...Wow. It's another very powerful song that must be song at the top of your lungs while in your car :)
05. Aqua Timez - Aki no Shita de
So listening to the Dare ka no Chijoue album, I think this song stands out like a sore thumb. I both don't consider this an 'Aqua Timez song' yet consider it their best. The beginning instrumental instantly makes me think that this song will be great. When the verse kicks in, I just think, "OK, standard verse, but I like his style so far." Then the chorus kicks in and it becomes badass and quite epic in its own right. This is one of the few slow songs I listen to to get me pumped for hockey each week and after listening to it at least once a week for over a year, it still does the trick! If you don't fall in love with this song, you and I will never see eye-to-eye on music :P
06. L'Arc~en~ciel - Hoshizora
If you're surprised that a Laruku song hasn't made the list yet, you should know that what attracts me to them are not their slow songs. Not to say that they're bad, I just don't really care about them. One of the few exceptions is 'Hoshizora' from their Awake album. I know the main draw to this song are the anti-war lyrics, but I don't EVER care about lyrics. My viewpoint on music is that the vocals are just another instrument; and as long as they sound great, I don't care what they're saying. Such is the case with Hoshizora. Hyde's voice is something I will treasure for the rest of my life, and the songs where it shines are truely a gift to fans. When he can build a song so that when the chorus hits, and he's still not at his climax, my ears are at full attention in anticipation. I love it when he gets so into a song that he feels the need to just sing, without lyrics. And when he does these kinds of songs live, how he just looks out into the audience or closes his eyes to savor that epic feeling of where he is and what he's doing. I dare you to sing this song without getting a feeling of empowerment with your own voice. Truely epic...
07. SiD - Ajisai
I downloaded the Ajisai PV as one of those "new this week, why not try a new artist" kicks I go on every now and then. Needless to say I became an instant fan. I quickly found their album Renai and was surprised when I loved every single song on that album. We've featured the album on the show so check the Episodes List page to hear what Zer0 and I thought. SiD is definitely not the band that I grew so fond of anymore, but I can always watch this stunning PV and be reminded of how awesome they used to be!
08. L'Arc~en~Ciel - Pieces
So 'Pieces' is an odd one for me. When I got the Best Of CDs and heard this song, it became one I skipped for reasons mentioned above. I never really watched the PV, and couldn't understand why fans seemed to like it so much. Then I saw it live. Seeing this song be performed as the finale of a L'Arc concert is a spectacle to behold. This is another example of seeing Hyde get so into a song that he just needs to close his eyes and revel in the moment the band just created for everyone. The 'Live in the USA' version (which I was in attendance for) had sparks showering behind him (I cried) and the Grand Cross Conclusion version is equally as epic. Unfortunately Youtube doesn't have either performance, so here's the one from the L'Anniversary concert.
09. Olivia - A Little Pain
Everyone knows this as one of the songs from Nana, and that's exactly where I first heard it. I have sat here trying to think of something deserving to write about this song, but the only thing I can think of is that it's just beautiful. It's also my cat's theme song because it's what was playing when I was driving her home from the shelter the first day I got her :)
10. Utada Hikaru – LETTERS
A bit of a departure from Utada's slow songs is the acoustically-pleasing Letters. The best version of this is the MTV Unplugged version. I like how she's basically reading a letter for the lyrics but the backtrack is what really made me pay attention to this song. I don't really know how to classify this style other than 'eclectic' and when the chorus kicks in, it's just got a jazz club feeling to it...even though it's not jazz. Ya...I think I'm just looking for things to type at this point...
01. GReeeeN – KISEKI
“KISEKI” is an unconventional ballad; an intimate love song delivered with a very masculine sound. As the group yells out the chorus I found it hard not to get chills. It is one of the few songs that can make me feel sad, uplifted, and nostalgic all at the same time. I find it nearly impossible to listen to this song and not get choked up.
02. m-flo – come again
The first song I heard by m-flo was “come again.” It’s a great song about getting your mind off somebody. I love it because it doesn’t take the over the top route and try to sound tragic; I can connect with the song because the music and lyrics perfectly fit the theme of the song.
03. Shiina Ringo – GIBS
The lovely Miss Ringo can always inject a great deal of emotional power into her songs. It’s hard to describe why I love “GIBS” so much. One of my favorite quirks of the song is in the line “I wanna be with you” which is written in the lyrics as “i 罠 B wiθ U.” To me, it always felt like she was emphasizing how hard it can be to say those words sometimes, so it added an extra level of greatness to the song. But then again, I’m a nerd, so, whatever.
04. Angela Aki – MORAL no Soushiki
It was difficult choosing between this song and “Uchuu” from her debut album, “Home.” Though they are both amazing songs, it was “MORAL no Soushiki” that made me realize what a brilliant artist Angela Aki is. This song is epic, it centers on the funeral of “morals”. In the song, ideas like love and wisdom are embodied as attendants of the funeral. The composition is gorgeous, and the lyrics are quite interesting.
05. GLAY – Winter, Again
This song, while not as epic as songs likes “Missing you” or “Kodou,” is a testament to the timeless quality of GLAY’s music. The intro always makes me think of the chill of winter, and by the end of the song, I always find myself singing along to the chorus before I ever realize it.
06. Momoe Yamaguchi – Ii hi Tabidachi
This song is a classic, and that’s a big reason that it’s on this list. On first listen I fell in love with this song, it’s dramatic, gorgeous, and I have yet to hear a cover of this song that is not great. As Japanese music fans, we are often busy keeping up with current releases, but this song is a perfect example of why it never hurts to go back and check out the artist that came before Utada and Hamasaki.
07. RIP SLYME – ONE
A song that focuses on how great and important it is for people to be unique could have easily been cheesy, but RIP SLYME was able to craft a strong and genuine anthem for the people of Japan.
08. DOUBLE – BED
“BED” is another one of those songs that’s hard to describe why I love it so much. I’ve been listening to this son for such a long time. It’s a classic, and a great example of how a good R&B slow jam can be pulled off. The sisters voices are perfect together, and the I always found the lyrics to be interesting in the relatively safe world of Japanese music.
09. Utada Hikaru – Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro
This is far from Utada Hikaru’s strongest song, but the lyrics are so moving and at often times, depressing, that it stuck with me when I first heard it.
10. Kato Miliyah – Dear Lonely Girl
How could I not love a song that samples “Sexual Healing?” Not only does Miliyah make the most of the original, she makes it her own.
1. Shiina Ringo x Saito Neko - GAMBLE
"It didn't get my attention on Zecchoushuu at all, and then she put it on Heisei Fuuzoku... it's got harp, and piano, and electric guitar, and it's so dramatic and epic and perfect!...I play it incessantly."
2. B'z - Raging River
"Seven and a half minutes long but it doesn't feel like it!...It's so well done, because through the instruments, you can hear the inner turmoil..."
3. Nakashima Mika - oborozukiyo~inori
"Such a creative track!...a good combination of pop instruments and traditional instruments."
4. OLIVIA - Crystalline
"It's such a great combination of sexy and confused.... This song sounds like what stars in the eyes looks like, if that makes any sense."
5. GLAY - Missing You
"It's just so fucking epic, and it's not strictly speaking 'slow', but it's definitely a ballad... as far as the mood of the song."
6. Mizuki Nana - hime murasaki
This song is just so motherfucking EPIC. LoKi sent me a bunch of his favorite songs, and this one he'd specifically cited as one of the few slow songs that he liked. I figured I'd give it a listen and holy crap, it was incredible! I immediately ranked it with other favorite epic songs. It's probably going to be one of my favorites for a long time.
7. LUNA SEA - Providence (NEVER SOLD OUT Live version)
Even if you don't already know the studio version of "Providence," the violin intro to this version of the song will pique your interest. It's absolutely beautiful. The studio version of the song, while absolutely gorgeous, simply doesn't have the raw emotional power of the live version. This performance has the song slowed down & drawn out, making it much more dramatic and much more satisfying. The melody is simple, but it's enough to get to you.
8. Hamasaki Ayumi - M
Of course Ayu is on the list somewhere. I juggled with several Ayu songs, trying to figure out which one was most worthy of the list. This one made me tingly the first time I heard it, the guitar solo is great, her vocal range is rather impressive, and it's got that dramatic buildup. Admittedly, this song no longer gives me tingles, its impact has faded. But that's probably only because I've listened to it a thousand goddamn times.
9. Onitsuka Chihiro - infection
A sharp contrast from number 10, this song has a simple arrangement that haunts you, climactic moments, great strings, amazing vocals from Chihiro, and gorgeous lyrics with amazing imagery. The first time I heard it I was amazed. Unfortunately, while she has other very beautiful songs, nothing from Chihiro matches it in power.
10. Okuda Miwako - aozora no hate
This isn't normally the type of thing I'd put on this list. The arrangement is your basic electric guitar pop/rock mid-tempo ballad thing, sure, all well & good. The melody doesn't strike me as being particularly creative, there's no epic tingly moment for me. But this song has gestalt. It's dark and desperate and you're not really sure why. Perhaps it's the emotion in her vocals, perhaps it's the specific combination of sounds. I don't know. But this song gets me every time I listen to it.