When people ask me, “what kind of music do you listen to?” I immediately shudder. It’s not a difficult question to answer, but my answer could be so off-the-wall that they’ll never talk to me again (this is a recurring irrational fear of mine). So depending on who they are, I give “safe” answers.
- I listen to the classics. (Then I give examples of pop/rock/jazz artists.)
- I listen to anything and everything! (Then they’ll follow up with “Who?”, and I die.)
- I listen to music from different countries (heavily implying Japan)
- I try to look for music that isn’t normally played on the radio. (no, I’m not a hipster)
All of these are true. My tastes are wide, and I find that I could latch myself to almost anything. But I don’t really go out of my way to look for new music. I look at my sizable music library and wonder if I really need more, then end up playing something like Steely Dan’s Aja album. Shut up, it’s brilliant!
What I don’t tell anyone is that most new music I listen to comes from anime, by way of OP/ED songs. It doesn’t sound like much, until you factor in at least half-dozen anime I watch every season. And I pick up an average of one non-current show every month, so… yeah.
So what kind of anime songs do I prefer? I love old mecha OPs the most. You know, those songs that incorporate elements of the show in the lyrics, where the titular mecha’s name is sung with gusto. Those are the best karaoke songs. Unfortunately, they don’t make such songs anymore, save for the occasional retro/throwback show.
Failing that, I’m always on the lookout for songs that do represent the show in spirit and mood, if not lyrics. I’m not really picky with an anime song’s quality, I value the context more.
Hmm, how about some (recent) examples?
- Preserved Roses (Valvrave OP) – its breathless, bombastic arrangement definitely scores the show’s tone
- Bloody Stream (JoJo OP2) – the fantastic OP animation helps, but it’s a suave and stylish song by itself
- Jiyuu no Tsubasa (Attack on Titan OP2) – I actually like this better than Guren no Yumiya, because it’s deliciously ironic given its timing and placement in the show
- DreamRiser (Girls und Panzer OP) – sums up the tone of the show quite well, with its “I love what I’m doing!” vibes
- Sayonara tte iu (Majestic Prince ED1) – the haunting tune is a clever juxtaposition for the show (which starts out light and comedic but becomes increasingly ramps up), adding an entire level of class to it
(I’m not really in love with Valvrave that much, but Preserved Roses is pretty great on its own!)
I like listening to anime songs because they evoke memories of the shows themselves every time I give them a spin. Sometimes I even create a MAD/AMV in my mind as I listen, piecing in my favorite scenes.
Sometimes an anime will feature non-Japanese music. It could be referenced in the show–one of the first things I did after watching Cromartie High School was get my hands on a Queen album–or be played as a BGM or even an OP/ED! You know what, I got into Yes thanks to Roundabout being the ED of the JoJo anime. And thanks to Initial D, I have an entire folder dedicated to EUROBEAT.
Then I branch out from there. I didn’t end at Yes–I got into the rest of classic progressive rock, like Rush, King Crimson, and Jethro Tull. Thanks to the character of Dio Brando, I started listening to Black Sabbath. Every now and then, I watch an anime that makes me interested in a new genre of music, like Initial D (Eurobeat), or Kids on the Slope (jazz). Most of what I listen now have been influenced by anime, directly or indirectly. Culture!
Going back to that question in the first paragraph, why don’t I answer it with “anime music”? Because I’ll have to explain it like this!