It’s February 3rd! Another round of the Battle of the Songs. This battle is a treat as we feature two artists from a country that celebrates a special day today that involves bean throwing.
Who will win this time? Click below, listen to each song, and vote for your favorite! But be warned:
Ogres Out, Good Luck In!
Today is the traditional celebration called Setsubun. This event marks the eve of spring according to the Lunar Calendar. You probably think I am crazy, spring in February! Are you ok? That is the coldest month in the year. Didn’t you see Chicago freeze over and suffer air colder than the Arctic’s?
Actually, the Chinese New Year is on Tuesday. And, it’s Chinese name is 初春, which means early spring (but that is based on the Japanese reading). Japanese also celebrates 初春 but they use it on January 1 as the country celebrates it based on the Western calendar.
Nevertheless, the Japanese derived Setsubun from an 8th-century Chinese custom called tsuina (追儺). In modern Japan, Setsubun is usually celebrated at community gatherings, schools, or in various families. Someone dresses up as the 鬼 or ogre — usually one of the parents or teachers — and tries to scare kids. Meanwhile, armed with a bag of beans, the kids try to force the ogre out of the house by throwing beans at the evil spirit. While throwing the beans, everyone chants “鬼は外! 福は内!” Ogres out, Good Luck In!
This sounds like a lot of fun. But to little kids, the ogres or demons can be scary. We had our Setsubun celebration on Friday and I had to comfort a lot of little girls, crying because the ogre scared them. Those poor little kids.
Eating Towards East-North-East
Another tradition for Setsubun is eating a large sushi roll called 恵方巻 or ehoumaki. The word is derived from ehou (恵方, which means favorable way) and maki (巻, roll). Traditional ehoumaki is made with kanpyō, egg, eel, and shiitake mushrooms. But, there have been new and different versions of ehoumaki around supermarkets and convenient stores.
While you eat this long roll of sushi, you are supposed to eat in that year’s direction in silence and with eyes shut. This is to bring good luck. For 2019, we have to eat it in the direction of East-North-East (東北東).
Let the Bean Throwing Begin
For this year’s Setsubun and for this Battle of the Songs, I picked at least two songs or artists that have “beans” in their name. It was really hard to find real songs that mention beans in the title as the majority of material I found on Spotify was very indie and I don’t know if it was a real song. Also too, since Setsubun is a Japanese celebration, I picked two songs from the country.
Let’s see what I picked!
Vanilla Beans – D&D
First off the bat is Vanilla Beans with their 80s’ inspired song “D&D”. I might have a slight bias towards Vanilla Beans as they were one of my favorite idols in the later part of the first decade of the 21st century. I actually got into them because of “D&D”. I don’t remember how I found this song but I did remember buying the mini-album that had “D&D” on.
I also had the opportunity to meet Rena and Risa at Tokyo Idol Festival in 2015. After seeing their mini-live, I went to their merchandise table to buy a poster so I could get a photo with them. As you see on the right, it was a really great experience. The girls are very nice! I don’t remember if I talked to them or not but they were really nice.
As I said above, “D&D” is a tribute to the 80s. This song just has every element of musical influence from this decade: the strings (which were big in 80s Japanese music), the synthesizer, the Eurobeat beat, and the drumkit. Even the PV is styled like it was filmed in the 80s as it is a parody of a Japanese music countdown show called The Best Ten, a show that was popular in the 80s.
“D&D” is a pleasant song. I really enjoy the girls using a soft, sweet tone when they are singing. And the instrumentation is pretty good too. It isn’t too over the top or obnoxious., it is actually really pleasant to listen to.
Overall, “D&D” is a pleasant song that will have listeners journey back to the 80s.
ANRI – Havana Beans (Dancin’ Tune)
Speaking of the 80s, this next song was ACTUALLY recorded in the 80s and by an idol famous during this decade.
I have mentioned about ANRI before when I spotlighted “Windy Summer” last summer. You can read more about her in that post. But, ANRIL shouldn’t be limited to her 80s, she had some great hits in the 70s and 90s. I actually discovered her when she sang the ending to the movie Tenchi Muyo! in Love 2.
“Havana Beans” doesn’t really feature ANRI singing full verses. Just a chorus singing bits and pieces all over. (Although, ANRI did write the lyrics to this song. ) The song is supposed to serve as a dance interlude midway in an album. It is quick, all over the place, bouncy, and catchy. Yes, there is not a lot of content as a song goes: its length is under two minutes, there isn’t much a story, and it is all over the place. But, the purpose of
“Havana Beans” is to remind listener what was music in the late 80s’ — especially on the dance floor — but also to take a breather from the other tracks off from the album, CIRCUIT OF RAINBOW.
Put it this way: It is 3 pm, you are sleepy and tired of spending time in front of the computer or the desk. You want a coffee break to have you get out that chair, stretch out those muscles, and freshen up with a cup of hot coffee. “Havana Beans” is like that coffee that refreshes as it livens you up and changes the musical scenario.
What Will It Be?
Now it is your turn to vote! Who will be the victor of the first-ever “Battle of the Songs”? Tell me in the comments below! Also, tell me why you choose a particular version! I can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
I am also part of The “Battle of the Bands” blog collection. After you vote, please visit the other battles from this blogger circle. There are really interesting battles!