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The Musical History of the Japanese Rock Duo B’z

It’s a special #SongLyricsSunday today! It’s my birthday! Happy birthday to me!

Today’s #SAS prompt is to “compare two songs and discuss an association between them. You may want to discuss their context and highlight the similarities and differences between both chosen songs.” So, my choice is two songs from the legendary Japanese rock duo B’z. This duo, comprised of Konishi Inaba and Tak Matsumoto, made their debut in 1988 with the single “Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite”. They have released a handful of singles and albums while going on tour in Japan but also Canada and the United States. They are accomplished musicians as Tak Matsumoto is a Grammy Award-winning Japanese guitarist. The duo is also the best-selling music act in Japan and has their handprints at Hollywood’s RockWalk in California.

B’z has been around for about 33 years. Their music today is way different from their debut in 1988. To celebrate my birthday (as I am a huge B’z fan since 2001) and that B’z finally put their entire catalog on Spotify (something that I have been listening to nonstop since Friday), I decided to do a comparison between their debut song (“Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite”) and one of their latest (“Wolf”) from their 2019 album NEW LOVE. Do you notice any similarities or differences? Let me know in the comments!

B’z Debut Single: “Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite” (So, Let Go of That Hand)

On September 21, 1988, B’z made their debut with the single “Dakara Sono Te Hanashite”. A song that showcased Inaba’s talented vocals as well as Matsumoto’s wicked fretwork. However, it does show that it is a product of its time with the synthesizers and samplers. However, don’t discount the song as it was the public’s first glimpse something that would become a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Inaba wrote the lyrics as Matsumoto wrote the music. Here is a translation of the song, credits go to the B’z Wiki:

An easy time, just like being in a dreamy state
As always, you love showing off
The words we said to each other…
They’ll keep haunting me wherever I go

Why? What is it you’re trying to do?
For how long do you intend to clutch onto summer?
I can’t fulfill your request anymore

So let go of that hand!
At once, right now, get out of my way
I’ll be all right alone
There’s nothing for you here
Wanna be without you

It’s the main street that catches my attention
Yet you’re still glancing around the lanes
The smell reaches my nose…
Sharp scents that clutch on desperately

Why? What is it you’re trying to do?
Tell me what is it you actually want?
That’s enough! Open your eyes and wake up now!

So let go of that hand!
At once, right now, get out of my way
I’ll be all right alone
There’s nothing for you here

Hurry, let go of that hand!
In short, get out of my way
I don’t wanna hide the facts anymore
There’s nothing for you here
Wanna be without you

So let go of that hand!
At once, right now, get out of my way
I’ll be all right alone
There’s nothing for you here

Hurry, let go of that hand!
In short, get out of my way
I don’t wanna hide the facts anymore
There’s nothing for you here
Wanna be without you

B’z Latest Song: “WOLF” from the 2019 album NEW LOVE

full version

“WOLF” was released on the album NEW LOVE in 2019. It was the theme song for the Japanese adaption of the hit American drama series SUITS. It incorporates a lot of musical genres: hard rock, blues, and jazz (which is way different than the synthesized pop-rock found in “Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite”). B’z is well-known now for its hard rock sound as Tak Matsumoto is well known for inventing a type of blues called the Kansai blues. Tak Matsumoto is really into blues and jazz as he attended jazz school as a young adult.

The band had this to say about the song:

The song features words that are imagined in the style of Kai (the lead character in the drama) who barks at the truth even though he sometimes struggles for the justice he believes in. We completed “WOLF” in a rock-style that makes the body move to the music that is unique to B’z.

Here is an English translation of the lyrics, again thanks to B’z Wiki:

I like fast cars
No doubt, their performance
Cuts through the wind so much that it hurts
And makes me forget everything

Buttoning up in front of the mirror,
Preparing for the worst I open the door

I am a wasteland
If I take it easy it’s a Game Over
The wind is too strong to talk about love
like a roller coaster
Endless troubles
Hold down my shaking heart
When I see your eyes I just want to howl

I was enveloped in a dream, as if hugged by someone
But all so fleeting it just disappears

If you are afraid of being hated
Do you think you can accomplish anything?

I am a wasteland
If I take it easy it’s a Game Over
The wind is too strong to talk about love
I’m not manipulated
By merely present pity
Shown now and then
Even completely alone I just want to howl

I am a wasteland
If I take it easy it’s a Game Over
The wind is too strong to talk about love
like a roller coaster
An all-star of desire
I am well fed by friendship
Tell me if you love me
I can throw away everything, it doesn’t matter
I just want to howl for you


Same, But Different

Did you notice any similarities or differences between the two songs?

If you didn’t, let me explain them to you. Of course, the similarities are that both songs are by B’z with the lyrics written by Inaba, and the music was done by Matsumoto. And then you can say that both songs are under the genre called Japanese rock.

However, there are differences.

The Composition

“Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite” was written in the pop-rock style of the ’80s. That is because that was the popular rock style during the 80s in Japan. Also, Matsumoto was influenced by a super popular band at the time named T.M. Network. Matsumoto was actually a support member before creating B’z, so a lot of the influences from T.M. Network are found in B’z’s early works.

“WOLF”, on the other hand, is mostly a rock song with blues and jazz indeed. This is probably due to the influences Tak Matsumoto working more with jazz and blues artists like American guitarist Larry Carlton (of Fourplay). Carlton’s musical style inspired Matsumoto’s composition style, thus influencing the creation process of “WOLF”.

The Lyrics

if you take a look at the English translation for “Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite”, the lyrics are all about a bitter breakup. “I don’t need you anymore” and “I am ok all by myself”. You can see that the character was hurt by the actions of their ex-lover. You can see the pain through the words. But, it does beg to question: did the ex-lover cheat on this heartbroken romantic and now is hurt by what that person sees?

On the other hand, “WOLF” is probably influenced by the plot of Suits. I have never seen this series, neither in Japanese or English, but it does feel like the lyrics do reflect the show. You can see a character similar to the main character who is seeking truth in the midst of deception. It is so hard that this person wants to give up, but it encouraged them not to. Though the lyrics have a tough stance, it seems like this is a song of encouragement and so different from “Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite”.

The Guitar Style

If you notice that the two songs have different kinds of guitar playing. For example, listen to “Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite”. You notice in the introduction that it features a lot of pick squeals. And one squeal lasts for a second or two. Some have described Matsumoto’s guitar playing in this song as deep (with the sound), but it is blazing hot at times. The guitar in this song takes the lead alongside the vocals, but there are times where you might not hear the guitar at all due to the synthesizers.

But in “WOLF”, you can see that the guitar is more subtle. It doesn’t take much of a lead except in certain parts. It shares the same volume and energy as the piano, bass, and vocals. However, you can hear the guitar part throughout the tune, especially in the verses where guitars are somewhat quiet. I feel like Tak Matsumoto’s guitar playing in “WOLF” is more toned down than in “Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite” as his playing is more down-to-earth and relaxed.

What other similarities do you hear in both songs? What differences? Tell me in the comments below!

The Rules for #SongLyricsSunday

(This challenge is currently hosted by the generous Jim Adams.)

Anyone can participate in #SongLyricsSunday, even if you aren’t a music blogger! If you want to participate, here are the rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Pingback to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

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The Musical History of the Japanese Rock Duo B'z

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Jim Adams

    Apparently I was not clear with my instructions and now I know when I try something different, I will have to explain it better.

    1. aisasami

      Maybe I should be clearer in the post. Though the songs are from the same band, they are different. B’z music today is way different than today. It is hard rock now and in the 80s it was synthrock. That is the difference and then the similarities would be Tak Matsumoto’s guitar riffs.

  2. renee

    Very interesting lyrics! I love to read the lyrics from all these different artists

  3. Ramil Hinolan

    It is nice to listen again to some old music. I am old not to appreciate the music of today but I find it so refreshing to hear the songs of yesteryears during my growing up years. It brought so many memories.

  4. Ivan Jose

    The lyrics of those songs are striking. I love listening to music from different genres and decades, of course. It’s a nice walk back into memory lane reading about these artists.

  5. Cristina Petrini

    Thank you for introducing me to this duo. There was a time when I only lived on Japanese rock music and I miss that genre!

  6. Agnes

    First time I have heard of this group. Thank you for embedding the YT video I was able to listen to their music.

  7. Kenneth

    its my first time to know about this band and their music,,,its nice to hear tis alternative song of the 80’s i wish they hav e gone internationally…

  8. Susan

    I played a bit of the videos you linked. They do sound very different then versus now! I love 80s music so I think I actually prefer the older one.

  9. Eloise

    I’ve never heard of them before, sounds good! Loved watching the YouTube video of them rockin out!

  10. Dominique

    They have been around a long time! I remember the style of music in the 80s — it is definitely different from now. It’s great that they were able to adapt to stay relevant!

  11. knycx journeying

    Thanks for introducing them and it’s true that they are simply legendary! They are also one of the greatest selling band ad I think many would enjoy their music tremendously – Knycx Journeying

  12. barbara

    I can sure tell the difference between their earlier song and the later one. Sorry, I’d never heard of this band. Nice sound, and I seem to like the first video best.
    Hope you had a wonderful and Happy Birthday! 🙂

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