And a Happy Aloha~♥ (rainy here….) Friday to you ^^!~!
This posting of Unzipped♥ is a very very special one ~*as not only will we taking a look and listen to an idol’s music of yesteryear but also I personally will be taking you back to the very days of when I first encountered this particular gravure idol’s J-Music world so it’s a bit of double~nostalgia to begin your idol~lovin’ weekend ^^.
So for tonight’s Idols Unzipped♥ we’re traveling back to the year 2008 for an eye opening J-music experience of mine and I’m very happy to have you along =)…. but first what is the reason(s) that you visit here? Do you have this site bookmarked or are you subscribed or perhaps you’d arrived here one day by the means of a happy~accident, you know when you did a little Google search and clicked on a “relevant” link only to find something not quite as what you were originally searching for? In any case if you’re a return visitor then surely we share~♥ some thing(s) in common =). Could it be J-music or J~idols or perhaps it’s the whole J-Culture in general? In any case you may have on occasion been a bit hesitant to click ~* on a clip or music mp3 here …..however if there’s one “new” to you artist that you do venture to listen to today/tonight, make it this one as you’ll thank your finger for clicking ~* when all is said and done ^^.
It was the summer of 2008 in the latter days of May when for four days my musical attention had been placed firmly on an idol whom just a week prior I had had no previous knowledge of and when it comes to impulse J-Pop purchases it’s a definite weakness of mine (see numerous J-Pop adventures into the unknown I’ve written about right here over the years =) ) .
So a week prior during that summer of 2008 went kind of like this: Read a review by Ray @ IW covering said idol (sure you know of his numerous iconic sites!), saw some kawaii photos! Proceeded to order her entire available music catalog at the time @ Cdjapan. Whenever a “new” idol is introduced to me one of my initial curiosities is whether they’ve ventured into the music industry as it’s notably quite common even if some tenures are quite short lived still there’s always the hope of a glimpse right ^^!
Akiyama Nana up until then had released just four singles and one album between July ’06 and September ’07 and I may have perhaps acted hastily as I ordered all of these releases without hearing a single note or vocal (YES I can “sometimes” be even wacky that way!!!). This was actually a bit odd even for me as I would usually like to hear the artist/group first before taking the plunge into their works but call it wacky intuition but somehow I just had a good feeling, a happy vibe if you will that Nana~chan wouldn’t disappoint. Other memorable “blind” purchases that I’ve made in the past that worked out wonderfully were the debut of Speed, the debut of Morning Musume, Moritaka Chisato off a best of on the Oricon then…. , Sakurai Tomo, Nishida Hikaru, Tanimura Yumi whom enticed me @ our Book Off one fateful and wonderful day!!…. and Sakai Noriko to name just a few albeit most of these “blind” purchases were done while I was working at a music store which well gave me the possibility of a return if I didn’t care for them save for the Book Off venture… but Nah! I wouldn’t do that! =P I till this day have kept all of my Mission singles as proof of just that! And in the tradition of the aforementioned said “blind” purchases, or perhaps call it blind luck…. Akiyama Nana is a keeper! ^-^
Now I did mention that Nana~chan’s modeling career was indeed of the “gravure” nature and so before we go any further here’s a visual which will pretty well sum up her gravure~ness (today’s made up word =)! ) and in under two minutes no less!…..
~Akiyama Nana in all of her “gravure” sexiness~!~! captured in less than 2 minutes~
Just the notion of an idol let alone a gravure idol turned vocalist, one may immediately dismiss them to a land of cutesy melodies and bubblegum pop which admittedly was my very expectation. One can never have enough cute J-Pop though!… so this “blind” purchase was done with that very notion in mind, however on this particular summer’s Saturday when I got home from a brunch date, the Akiyama Nana collection that awaited me in the post had something very different in mind from the very instant that I placed her first single into the player.
Here hit play before I go on and while first impressions I know are MOST important and lasting I’ve chosen this momentous song to be Akiyama Nana’s “Hashiru.”
~Akiyama Nana “Hashiru”~
Really one of my most favorite J-songs all~time! “Hashiru”…a happy happy happy wall of psychedelic goodness and I really love Nana~chan’s vocals throughout this one ….fun, upbeat with just a touch of her wonderful falsetto (。ーωー。)♪ ！You will so get hooked by this infectious melody, it’s really that GREAT ^^!~!
Next~up is her second single “Orange iro” which has an amazing piano driven melody which is sweetly complimented with rhythmic lyrical phrases all set over a beautiful backdrop of 60’s fuzziness (。ーωー。)♪！～！
~Akiyama Nana “Orange Iro” mp3~
~Akiyama Nana “Orange Iro” (music video)~
Interestingly Akiyama Nana didn’t release enough music videos to officially warrant a pv DVD collection back then =( and here’s just one of two music videos which I’m aware of existing, here’s “Orange Iro”‘s pv ^^.
And note this next song ↓↓ has about a 25 second long intro which is a bit quiet but please don’t adjust your volume too much as the music will start soon!…
~Akiyama Nana “Futari nori”~
..initially “Futari nori” may sound like a typical J-Pop release but after a few seconds the arrangement fully kicks in and all of my false personal pretenses I mentioned a bit earlier were quickly washed away!!!! At first it was the accompanying musical arrangements that struck me as the writing is in-depth, with elaborate and deeply creative songs which draw deep roots of inspiration from periods such as the 60’s with an approach which is contemporary perfection~*.”Futari nori” was also released as the b-side to “Sayonara to hajimari” and the single version is presented without the intro which is on the album version (above). So if you’d prefer to go without the extended quite~ness then go with the single version ^^.
~Akiyama Nana “Hikari to kage no palette”~
And I’m also loving the jazz influences in “Hikari to kage no palette” as well! But Akiyama Nana’s vocals are also notably not of the cutesy idol genre at all and while her voice is indeed “cute”, her vocals are delivered in more of a sense of musical purpose rather than aesthetic lacing… hmmmmm I just don’t know how else to put that and I hope it makes some sort of sense! =P And some of the vocal arrangements are quite advanced pieces too! Initially you may not find her vocals to be particularly remarkable but give it some time and I’m thinking you will find hers to be pure ❤ !!!! Some of the songs are more straightforward but I think you will agree that many of the musical arrangements that will follow here are quite complex with a vast inclusion of various instrumentation and influences and I’d just been so so impressed by her!! Never in my wildest imagination had I been expecting this! I admittedly listen to a lot of cutesy J-Pop because I’m “slightly” addicted! …however Akiyama Nana’s releases had been somewhat of a breath of fresh air @ the time in a sense and this is mostly a state of self infliction, though I’m not complaining! =) ….though it’s just that I at the time had just rarely come across idol releases of this nature. And please do take note of the larger body of work here as a single song or two just won’t do Akiyama Nana any justice!! ….as her music is so varied and wide spread in gathering together so many different genres of music as you will hear over the next few track. Okay quite a bit of songs and I really wanted to upload them all but I must save something for your further intrigue into her RIGHT! ^-^ I do wonder sometimes if I tend to write too much and babble on aimlessly after awhile so instead of putting you through more of my possibly unnecessary words how about more sophisticated, well written, and inspired J-Pop delivered by Akiyama Nana (a then new “love” of mine!) and oh! yes more photos of course as after all she was a gravure idol putting that one lightly! ～♡ (*´∀｀*) ♪～♪。
~My then blind impulse ~* purchased Akiyama Nana CD collection during that summer of ‘08 ^^!
So here’s Akiyama Nana’s musical discography which had arrived on that wonderfully fated Saturday from many moons ago! ….and in all hindsight it turned out kind of ironic that after I had fallen so deeply in love with her voice and music it had then appeared as though Nana~chan may have moved on from her music career as her then most recent release was a single dating back to September 19th, 2007 which meant that she’d been inactive for quite awhile（´∩｀*)。 Still a bit later in this post there did occur a resurfacing of Nana’s musical career albeit it was a MOST brief one.
Some of these editions are first pressings too, so a few bonus cute trading cards were included which are designed with a cell phone appearance in mind. 🙂
Ah I love this particular photo ↑↑ she’s just so adorable!! ….and you do know that idol + guitar = ❤ always! ^^
~Akiyama Nana “Wakatte kureru tomodachi wa
hitori datte ii”~
Akiyama Nana’s debut song ↑↑ is a bright and cheery one and the musical arrangement will have you thinking clear skies and a joyous walk outside! ^^
~Akiyama Nana “Yoake mae”~
“Yoake mae” is pure 60’s inspired! …with those wonderful dreamy tones and I just love the bouncy piano arrangement that kicks in @ about 45 seconds into the song!
~Akiyama Nana “Aozora”~
“Aozora” is probably her cutest song melody~wise but even in this context the verses are still casual examples of rhythmic complexity but it all pays homage to the chorus sections which are definitely written with an aura of cuteness! 🙂
~Akiyama Nana “tiptoe”~
“tiptoe” is the b-side to “Orange iro” but it could have easily been an a-side in its own right. I think you’ll love its infectious jazzy influence and Nana’s vocal phrasing is a delight in its own here ー(*￣Ｏ￣)ノ！ ～！
~Akiyama Nana “Kuusou Glider”~
“Kuusou glider” (“Daydream;fantasy glider”) combines ska rhythms with a well driven rock/pop sound as they blend seamlessly in this energetic track. This is another fine example of the diversity presented in her works as a whole, such a great~great song!
~Akiyama Nana “Garasu no tobira”~
“Garasu no tobira” (“Glass Door”) has Nana performing with a wonderfully sassy vocal to this 60’s flavored “alternative” rock tune! I love her phrasing throughout this song …as it’s strong yet cute! ～♡ (*´∀｀*) ♪～♪。
~Akiyama Nana “Sayonara to hajimari”~
“Sayonara to hajimari” is the title track of Nana~chan’s 3rd single and this one is a lovely ballad …pure and straightforward with a beautifully composed chorus which soars ー(*￣Ｏ￣)ノ！
~Akiyama Nana “Kaeri michi~
The 12th and final song that I’ve chosen to share makes for the perfect closing song for this post as “Kaeri michi” is not only the final track on her album but it’s melancholy melody of sorts makes for the perfect closer as it has a “winding down” feeling that’s a bit difficult to explain in words …Mmm imagine a wonderful lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing but you and your favorite MP3 player as “Kaeru michi” plays in the background (sigh*…) (*´∀｀) うれしー♥♥♥！
For anyone interested in purchasing any of Akiyama Nana’s music her complete catalog can be ordered here @ Cdjapan.
~Akiyama Nana “Mini Live Tour 2006” Collage clip~
And lastly here’s a little bonus collage clip which is available as a bonus track on the first pressing Akiyama Nana’s 3rd single “Sayonara to hajimari” She’s even more adorable when moving right! …..and so here’s Nana~chan’s 2006 tour event all condensed into just under six minutes =)!~!
I had really hoped that Akiyama Nana would one day return to recording more music as I’ve totally fallen in love with her voice and the music written for her is so refreshing with well written pieces that sport individuality and a vast sense of diversity to them!! One can still dream ~* right! ^-^ as Akiyama Nana + MUSIC = pure ❤ ~!
But wait! There’s more =)!!~!!
Akiyama Nana ♥ continues…
Flash forward to May 29th, 2008….
..as I was looking for Hirata Kaoru’s virtual date clip I came across an article covering Akiyama Nana’s first shashinshuu titled “Pupil” in the very same issue of UTB! It’s always a great surprise when I look at some of my older idol magazines and then recognize an idol whom I wasn’t familiar with at all when I had first gotten the issue only to know of her later and then retroactively recognize her in old issues! =) My Akiyama Nana “infatuation” was still very VERY brand new but seeing an article on her in UTB was nonetheless a wonderful sight and talk about timing~!!
~Akiyama Nana “Hashiru”~
Now that I’d had awhile to listen to her entire catalog many many times I’ve decided on this to be my most favorite songs by her as aforementioned however with a little more time passed to soak it all in meaningfully since I first heard it, I now can honestly say it’s not of the “Amelie” factor, you know like when you just walk out of a theater proclaiming “this” to be the greatest film you’ve ever watched like EVER!! Only to later realize you may have just over reached on that announcement =P. No this is the real deal, one of the best J-songs I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering no doubt about it ^^.
Hit play if you passed up on it a bit earlier (shame on you!! =O) I think you’ll like it too …it has a sort of happy walking on sunshine kind of feeling!! A song that’ll brighten up any day no matter what mood you’re in. It’s really tough choosing a best though as I really think that all of her songs are great and that’s kind of rare even with someone as easy to please as me =P!, to love every song by an artist.
So this is that issue.
The April 2006 issue of UTB was the first to feature their amazing DVD extra!!! ….and with Aichan♥ gracing the cover you really couldn’t ask for a better looking cover too! Both Hirata Kaoru’s virtual date and Akiyama Nana’s little feature covering the making of her debut shashinshuu “Pupil” are on this issue’s DVD which has an impressive running time of 90 minutes!!! Nana~chan’s got a very cute speaking voice too I must say. =)
A few days prior her PB collection also arrived from Amazon Japan but her “Pupil” shashinshuu seems to have suffered some sort of moisture damage although it was completely sealed and brand new. This is the first time that I’ve seen something like this and I hope it’s not too difficult to get a replacement from them! UPDATE: Happily Amazon replaced the book free of any additional charges and they didn’t even want the damaged one back, I guess what purpose would that have amounted to? =P And so I did also give that copy away here all those years ago as the damage was slight making for a still collectible piece of gravure idol history~.
~My Akiyama Nana shashinshuu collection~
All 3 shashinshuu are beautifully shot and with Nana’s age difference in each being so noticeable despite their closeness in release dates, each has a really unique look in terms of Nana’s natural beauty.
~Akiyama Nana “Daydream” trading cards~
“Pupil” and “Daydream” also come with randomly inserted trading cards and the two that I got from the latter is pictured above. If you turn the cards over they look to form a larger photo of Nanachan but as 6 are required to complete the photo one can only imagine how many copies of the same PB you’d have to purchase in order to complete the photo! =O “Pupil” has four different trading cards available.
I really used to have a hard time bringing myself to scan hardcover shashinshuu as you just know that with each scan you’re damaging the book’s spine! Suffice to say I’ve since gotten much better at it =) However back then I only brought myself to scan a couple of images literally two =P which are just below:
The above scan is from her third shashinshuu “Light Bright” and next one is from….
..her second shashinshuu “Daydream.” ^-^ Below is the complete Akiyama Nana article (haha okay it’s more photos than words! =P) from the aforementioned issue of UTB, isn’t she soooooooooooooo cute!
I love that photo of her sticking out her tongue! (^o^)
Nana~chan’s definitely my favorite gravure idol turned singer/performer!! ^^
Now if only she’d continue to release more music! Please!!! =)
There’s just a bit more here =)!!~!!
“Nothing’s gonna change my world.”」
And for one last time tonight we flash forward to now October 3rd, 2008.
Akiyama Nana’s previous single “Onaji hoshi” had been released just over a year ago on September 19, 2007 and while all hope of more music from her seemed all but possibly lost, nearly to the day one year later she had finally returned with a new single release which was to my great delight! ^o^ I truly had begun to think that we’d heard the last musical release from this amazingly talented idol whom had so much more to offer I felt.
It’s so remarkable for a former gravure idol to release music of this depth and nature as I for one as aforementioned would normally expect something much more cutesy or bubblegum~my to say the least …and Akiyama Nana does neither, bringing with her attractive vocals, music deeply rooted and inspired by the 60’s, which just happens to be a decade I’m totally in love with and have been so for quite some time~, so much that my father once said that I perhaps should have been born in the sixties, you know me hanging Beatles posters all over my walls during my mid teens may have been a bit out of the box for my age and yet it all felt so SO right ^^.
As evidenced just above, Sayu’s then new shashinshuu and DVD had arrived on that same day as well! Every now and then Cdjapan sends a quite large box and it usually means a poster is included! My only wonder was …Sayu or Nana? LOL actually in all of these years of ordering through Cdjapan (roughly since 1999) they’ve only sent me one Hello! Project related poster that being a live C-ute poster. So really I knew it had to be Nanachan in the box this time. =) The Akiyama Nana poster above is actually depicting the regular edition release of this single whereas I ordered the first press edition which also included….
…one Nanachan trading card out of 5 random designs as well as a special fold out jacket. ^-^ It’s cute how they all depict a cell phone’s face. Back then I remember wondering what Nanachan could have been up to over the past year in her musical absence then ….? …well one thing was evident, that being she’d grown as an artist as the title track “Sora wo oyogu sakana” marked her debut as a lyricist! And with the same music composer back as well her infectiously wonderful breed of nostalgic pop continued as if she had never left us.
Something else that I that thought was wonderful was that Akiyama Nana was also credited in the liner notes as the “stylist”, now what could be better than being in charge of your own look? =) !~! A hair and makeup artist was on hand but from the sound of it Nanachan was directing it all.
~Akiyama Nana “sora wo oyogu sakana” mp3~
~Akiyama Nana “sora wo oyogu sakana” (music video)~
Really cute and candidly shot music video! ^^
“Sora wo oyogu sakana” is noted for its direct Elvis Costello influence while its coupling track “Start Line” (below) is heavily inspired by The Beatles. YAY!!!! The title track’s title alone creates a vivid and imaginative picture in one’s mind and neither track here disappoints. It was such a delight that Nanachan had taken that first step in furthering her musical career by penning the lyrics here herself as both tracks additionally represent such a high quality of musicianship and song writing and I just love these arrangements whole heartedly. There’s a different level of depth in Nanachan’s music catalog versus your average releases and these genres in particular lend themselves to a tried and true approach to music which will never go out of style. The Beatles in particular are responsible for influencing countless artists and groups over the decades (even in their own) and with such a well rounded and developed body of works left behind for us to treasure it seems that individually each and every writer is able to take an aspect of theirs and make it their own in a sense keeping the music alive and continuing its growth as new styles emerge and grow in time.
~Akiyama Nana “Start Line”~
I had been once again! really impressed by this her sadly final J-music release =( and while I had been most hopeful that Nanachan wouldn’t give up her musical aspirations as she had really shown the type of quality and true artist that an idol can become when coupled with the right type of direction and musical visionary.
She had all but vanished musically for an entire year that previous time…. and now in deep hindsight I just feel fortunate to have come across her music for it still stands as historically as some of idol’s very BEST ^^.
This has been a music is good for your soul production ^^.