“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
There has been a great deal of news, either good or bad, in our lives and around the world in the last week. None more shocking than the death of Russian singer Origa on January 17. A talent that has been heard by less than ten percent of the world’s population but snuffed away too soon. Let’s take a moment to reflect on and remember Origa’s beloved career.
Maybe you have heard this voice on your television, if you have cable TV, or on the internet. Maybe not. I do believe she was only well-known in the Japanese, Russian, and anime communities. But, how she rose to fame during the 2000s in these communities is as normal as any other artists. After graduating from music school in Russia around 1990, Origa (original name is Olga/Ольга) decided to pursue a music career in Japan. It didn’t take long when she got a contract with a music agency in 1991 and released her self-titled debut album four years later. Japanese rock musician Hamada Shogo described Origa’s voice to be beautiful and angel-like when they worked together for the 1995 charity single “Waga Kokoro no Maria”. She went on to team up with legendary anime music composer Yoko Kanno to sing the theme songs of the popular video game turned anime series “Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex” in 2002. She later released other video game or anime-related songs that were composed by Yoko Kanno, who became a dear friend to Origa.
First Opening: “Inner Universe”
To tell you the truth, I don’t know much of Origa’s music except what she released for “Ghost in the Shell”. I used to watch a lot of anime back when I was in middle and high school. And one anime-themed TV block that I frequently watched was Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim”. I remember when “Ghost in the Shell” first premiered on Adult Swim. I will never forget when I first listened to Origa’s “Inner Universe” and instantly became mesmerized. The song fits the show’s dark, futuristic, and war-like premise as the melody is full of electronic instruments that has an eerie presence. What adds to the mystery is the vocals; with the pureness of boy soprano Ben Del Maestro and Origa’s seraphic/angel-like sound. Every time I listen to “inner Universe”. I always think that. maybe. one of the song’s underlying themes is that you can always get something beautiful and good from darkness.
Second Opening: “Rise”
I can also admit that I never really watched “Ghost the Shell” past the opening part. Unlike “Inner Universe”, the show (or the original Playstation game, in fact) didn’t really catch my attention. I don’t really enjoy war or shooter-type things. I am not THAT type of girl. However, the show’s second opening, “Rise”, turns the tables as the song has a “hard electronic meets rock”, down-to-earth sound that is so different compared to “Inner Universe”. Origa’s versatility is shown here as her voice goes back and forth from an earthly, alto one in the verses to a pure, high one in the chorus. I love the melodic turns in the chorus takes, it’s quite breathtaking.
Like the Jane Austin quote from above, let’s remember this hidden jewel with an angelic voice by not mourning on what the world lost. Instead, thinking of the pleasures that came from Origa’s music.
How about you? What is your favorite Origa song?