Long time no see! …I don’t know how I let myself fall so behind with this blog. Well, actually, I guess there is a legitimate reason. Rather than posting about the songs I was interested in here, I’ve been investing a lot of time in translating and subbing my favorite songs.

Go check out my YouTube channel, MatsuSubs! (a.k.a. “soundslikematsuda”.) You’re bound to hear a lot of great Vocaloid songs you haven’t heard before, all subbed in English. I occasionally upload MMD videos I’ve made as well, so it’s a good time all around.

Right now, I’ve been trying to work on some holiday songs.

(Don’t worry, I’ll still try to post here as well. I might share additional thoughts on the songs I translate.)

Before I begin, remember that this is a list of my personal top 10. This doesn’t reflect the actual popularity of any songs that are or aren’t on the list. It’s just my choice of the songs that interested me the most in 2014.

For this list, I’m going to be ranking the songs based on which ones have the most personal lasting power. That is, the ones that I feel like I’m going to be listening to for years to come.

With that said, onto the list!

10. I’m Happy Girl
Galaco – KagomeP

It was difficult to pick what should be #10 on the list. I have so many other songs that I loved that were also in competition for this spot, but this song won out for a few reasons. I love KagomeP’s style. His music is always sexy and dance-worthy, but this one feels a little cuter than some of his others. It also scores points for uniqueness, having Galaco as the vocal. You just don’t see her very often and it’s a shame. I hope that he’ll use her a little more because he made her sound really nice here.

09. 正弦のセレナーデ | The Serenade of Restriction
Hatsune Miku – okameP

While all of the other links on this list go to the original NND location of the songs, this one goes to YouTube. That’s because the original was deleted. I’m still not entirely sure why it was removed from NND. This song made it onto my list for a reason and I’m glad that I still have it because I think it’s absolutely breathtaking. I even went as far as to translate it. Its lyrics are just so delicate and loving. It always makes me feel something every time I listen to it.

08. REFLEXIVITY
Hatsune Miku – daniwellP

DaniwellP is one of my absolute favorite producers; certainly in my top 3 if not my #1. His songs are usually the catchy earworm variety, but they’re usually extremely cute. I wouldn’t say that this song is as “cute” as what he normally does. It has a cool, intense kind of feeling to it, especially with the video. It was a nice change from the usual, but it still maintains all of daniwell’s characteristic charm and appeal at the same time.

07. キマシタワー! | Kimashitawa!
Hatsune Miku & Megurine Luka – satsuki ga tenkomori (さつき が てんこもり)

This song became the thing I always listen to when a new chapter of Tokyo Ghoul comes out, so I guess it has more personal value to me than anything else. It’s great for any scenario where you’re just EXCITED that something has happened. Of course, I love its original context, too; being excited that two girls look like they’re about to kiss or get involved.

06. Drag the ground
Hatsune Miku – Camellia

Okay, I guess I have to link to another one on YouTube. As far as I know, this song was never uploaded to NND because it was released as a single. This song always gets me pumped up. When I play handheld games, I prefer to keep the sound off and I listen to my own music, so whenever I started a wifi battle in Pokemon XY, this was what I listened to. I kind of consider it my own personal battle theme now.

05. オノマトペメガネ | Onomatopoeia Glasses
Hatsune Miku – nekobolo

The lyrics of this song blow my mind. It’s about something I’ve thought a lot about as a writer; the way that words can be deceiving. Essentially, each person will hear and perceive something differently because of the individual meanings they’ve placed upon words. At least, that’s the meaning I take away from this song. That aside, I find it so easy to fit myself into the somber atmosphere of the song. Every time I listen, I find myself feeling it.

04. by your side
Hatsune Miku – Ogawa Daiki/BabelP

Pure emotion – that’s what I get from this song. BabelP always has this incredible way of tuning Miku’s voice to make you really feel what she’s singing. There’s so much longing and desperation behind her voice. She knows that the relationship is messed up, but she can’t help but cling to the person she loves, hoping that she can still at least remain beside them. I subbed the song here, so you can enjoy it to its fullest.

To find out what made my top 3, follow me below the cut!

Read the rest of this entry »

Believe it or not, I have come up with an alternative. Rather, I suppose I should say that it was handed to me by a friend of someone else, so… It’s been passed down through the grapevine. If you’ve been listening to music from Nico Nico Douga for a while, then you would have likely been familiar with the sites Nicomimi and Nicosound, which were both used for converting the audio from NND videos for your downloading pleasure. After Nicosound ran into the law, Nicomimi also went down in fear, causing many fans to wonder where they were supposed to download their music. Legal alternatives exist, but there are also many songs on NND that aren’t available for download through any means. That was one of the main reasons why people loved those sites so much for their services. If you’re a new fan, then you’re also probably scrambling to find a way to download these treasures.

While there have been certain sites and programs to assist in downloading and converting in the interim, many of them weren’t very satisfactory, outputting audio at lower quality than their originals.

But I have the perfect alternative for you today. It’s a little thing called Nico Nico Audio Extractor. If you use the Chrome web browser, you can download it as an extension and start using it right away.

First, before you even start using it, let me tell you some of its conditions. It works perfectly, but it took me a little bit of playing around with it to figure out its quirks. First of all, it reads the data in your cache to be able to download the audio off of videos. It will work with any video on NND (including those with “nm” numbers; ie, videos uploaded in Flash format), but the videos need to be completely loaded. Not only that, if you leave a video up for too long, it might encounter an error and you’ll have to start over by refreshing the video page. You also need to have your tabs open in one browser window. For some reason, it will fail if you are trying to use it from multiple windows. That’s about it, though. It might take a while for it to convert some videos, but many will be ready to download instantly. The audio quality it outputs as is exactly the same as what it was uploaded as, too, which is incredible.

This is definitely the best alternative I’ve found and I’ve been enjoying it immensely, so I hope this helps all of you who have felt lost without the conversion sites!

fukayomi

I decided to impose a challenge upon myself today. I feel absolutely crazy for doing such a thing now. I’m sure you can gather what that challenge was, based on the subject title of this post. For some people, this may be an easy task, but I currently have 3,810 songs featuring Miku on my harddrive. 147 of those are marked with five stars to identify them as ‘favorites’. You see my dilemma? How to do you whittle 147 down to 10?

As I went down the list, rather than pulling out ones that I saw, my memory started to throw songs at me, reminding me of which ones I valued most. Bear in mind, however, that I still had to make many tough cuts and hard decisions to narrow it down to 10. I wasn’t going to let myself get away with 11 this time. That said, I was able to put them in some semblance of order from ‘most important’ to ‘very slightly less important’. Starting with #10…

#10 Splatter Party by camellia Nico Nico Douga | YouTube (sub) It was a coin toss between this and one of camellia’s other songs, Drag the Ground, but this one came out on top. From the first second, this song has so much atmosphere. It feels dark enough to count as an unofficial Halloween song to me. I’ll admit to something silly – it’s one of the songs I put on while I battle people online in Pokemon. DESTROY THE CUTE WEAKLINGS. A-ahem… There are infinitely many sides of Miku, and I love them all, including her evil, blood-thirsty side.

#9 Melody Line by SmileR Nico Nico Douga | YouTube (sub) Melody Line is one of those kinds of songs that isn’t necessarily about anything. Its lyrics are kind of generic, and yet, it knows how to make even the most cliché lines strike you directly in the heart. SmileR is really good at doing that. I considered Highway for the list, but Melody Line still remains, in my opinion, his best song. If you can listen to this and somehow not feel happy, then I’d be worried that you have the devil in you.

#8 恥ずかs××× (Hazukasxxx, “Embarrasxxx”) by LamazeP Nico Nico Douga | YouTube (sub) “More than Po Pi Po?” you ask. Yes. Much more than Po Pi Po. I adore this song. It depicts Miku in a way that aligns well with the way I would see her if she had a specific personality. I love the type of character who’s always embarrassed and awkward and clumsy and thinks about the person they like to the point that they’ll fall over. It’s just… cute. Many of Lamaze’s songs are cute, though, and often lack a point, but this one illustrates one specific thing so well. Every line gets you closer to knowing this Miku. I even love the video. All of the illustrations were done by Lamaze in that familiar style of his. It’s all perfect. IT’S PERFECT.

#7 Undefined -End of Sorrow- by Tiara Nico Nico Douga | YouTube (sub) Now for a total change of pace. Melody Line and Hazukasxxx look like sunshine and rainbows compared to this song, but many of my favorite songs are ones that move me. If it’s powerful enough to make me shed a tear or two, then it’s an instant fav. Undefined is hard to define. It feels like Tiara had something very specific in mind while she wrote this song, but I still can’t wrap my head around what the story was supposed to be. It’s clear that it’s about someone who can’t move forward because of themself. That much makes sense. As for the rest, I’m not sure how much of it I’m supposed to take literally. Whatever it’s supposed to be, it’s beautiful. That’s all that really matters to me.

#6 paranoia by MezameP Nico Nico Douga | YouTube (sub) I feel like this song goes well when paired with Undefined. There’s something about them that feels similar to me, but I can’t place my finger on what it is. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier to discern what this song is about. The singer is in a relationship with someone. She loves them, but she knows that their relationship can only be a bad thing (for unspecified reasons), so she tells them that they need to part and bids them farewell. It pains her to leave them, and, even though she tries to make herself hate them to forget about the love she has, it just won’t work. One could say that it sounds like a tribute to Romeo and Juliet, as it sounds like she’s considering killing herself (or both of them) so that they can be together. I also happen to hold this song close to my heart because it strongly reminds me of two of my own original characters.

Now, to keep this post from getting out of hand, follow me below the cut to see which songs made my top 5. Read the rest of this entry »

zunko and flower

Zunko (left), flower (right)

It seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new Vocaloid being released. It makes me groan sometimes when they don’t sound like they have potential, but I have a lot of hope for these two new ladies.

First, let’s discuss v flower, a new gender neutral voice from YAMAHA who was released on the 9th of this month. I was a little confused by this Vocaloid at first. I think it’s safe to call flower a ‘she’, but the voicebank is technically labelled as ‘unisex’, same as VY1 and VY2. It seems like they may have added the character to the software later, as ‘v flower’ is the name of the software, while the character is simply known as ‘flower’. And, yes, it’s all lowercase for stylistic purposes. Just go with it. As you may have noticed with my links, even the Vocaloid wiki made sure to keep the character separate from the software page.

flower has a very interesting, androgynous voice. I first heard her in the HoneyWorks song “Inokori Sensei” (イノコリ先生). I gathered that it was a new Vocaloid, but I couldn’t figure out whether it was a male or female voice. I sort of preferred it that way, but I’m alright with her character image. I think I still would have preferred a more androgynous character who didn’t have a specific gender assigned to it, but I find the design appealing enough to forgive it. She doesn’t follow many of the typical Vocaloid design cliches. The hair is always the most important feature, and I personally like hers a lot. It’s unique and pretty daring, since I wouldn’t expect black and white to be very popular among a rainbow of other characters. Her official page describes her as being “kuudere”, which means that she can seem distant, but is actually very gentle at heart. (It’s the same personality type as Matsudappoiyo, for comparison.) As for her voice, I find it pleasant to listen to. It reminds me a little bit of Iroha, but I know it’s not fair to compare. I already hear it as a distinct, unique voice that I would probably be able to identify without being told. It helps that HoneyWorks gave her a boost, so I hope to see more popular producers bumping her up into the top 100.

Next up is Tohoku Zunko, a Vocaloid by AH-Software Co. Ltd. (AHS) who hasn’t been released yet. There have already been a handful of demo songs uploaded to NND by some fairly well known producers, however, so I’ll link to those below for you to listen to. Tohoku is one of the regions in Japan that was affected by the tsunami that occurred in 2011, and Zunko was created to raise awareness and provide support. Her green design is based on zunda mochi, a sweet green soybean paste that is a specialty of the Tohoku area. It’s also what her name “Zunko” originates from. I really enjoy her design. Aside from VY1 and possibly Gakupo, she’s the only Vocaloid we’ve seen with a design based on traditional Japanese clothing. She’s also one of the few Vocaloids to have specific personality traits. The guard she wears on her chest represents her love of archery, and, according to her official page, her dream for the future is to own a cafe in the Tokyo area. What a dream! Even if she can’t make it to our world, I’m sure AHS could fulfill her dream and make a cafe dedicated to her.

Her voice provider is Satou Satomi, known for her role as Tainaka Ritsu in K-On!!. Personally, I can barely hear Ritsu in Zunko’s voice. I like what I’ve heard so far, so I’m going to stay positive about her. AHS seems to be doing a good job.

v flower
Melancholic Shoegazer (メランコリックシューゲイザー) by ANDRIVEBOiz
Inokori Sensei (イノコリ先生) by HoneyWorks

Tohoku Zunko
Pastel Imagination (パステルイマジネーション) by Shir
Zung! Zung! by DaisukeP (だいすけP)
Uruwashiki Ōyashima (麗しき大八洲) by tamachang
don’t disappear by Ayano/MedicP

Following my post about Pharrell’s remix of Last Night, Good Night, I decided to do a little test of sorts. I muted his video on YouTube and put on a number of different Livetune songs, trying to find one that matched with it. In the end, I decided that Pink or Black fit the best, and I took it into Premiere to remix it.

Pink or Black was the song used to promote a cosmetics line by Shu Uemura called “Six Hearts Princess” (6HP), and its video was created by Murakami Takashi. Sound familiar? Same guy again. Murakami has a bit of history with Livetune at this point. He may also ring a bell as the guy who did some work for Kanye West, including his video for Good Morning. The original video for Pink or Black never featured Miku in it, though. When I finished editing the video, it felt refreshing to see Miku dancing along with this song.

It was just a quick edit on my part, but I hope that you can enjoy Murakami’s visuals and amazing Miku model now without having to suffer through Pharrell’s remix. You might wanna check it out as soon as you can because there’s no telling how long it will be there before YouTube decides that it shouldn’t be.

And, this time, I fear that it may be down for good. Again, I’m not the maintainer, so I can’t speak with certainty, but things are looking pretty certain this time from where I’m standing. A few days ago, Anime News Network ran an article reporting the arrest of the maintainer of NicoSound. It’s been a few months now since NicoSound went down, so I was a little surprised to hear that the law finally caught up with him now. More surprising to me were the figures he made on the site. The site itself was never directly making money, but did draw in cash through advertising. How much? 130 million yen. That’s about 1.3 million US dollars. Granted, a portion of that probably went into supporting the site, but I was still surprised to hear that a niche site like NicoSound was able to pull in so much just from ads. ANN’s article didn’t say what he had been charged with yet, but I can imagine that things will get worse now that everyone knows how much he made on a site that allowed users to download other people’s music for free.

In any case, Nicomimi is down now. I hope that the maintainer wasn’t forced to shut it down. Hopefully he took it down by his own decision following the news about the arrest of the NicoSound maintainer. Unfortunately, even if he did take it down himself, there still may be a chance that the law will be after him next anyway… If they aren’t already.

Now that it’s come to this, it feels difficult to say when we’ll see another conversion site. It was a brief miracle that Nicomimi came back at all. Doujin.us went down momentarily and is now fighting some server issues, but I would recommend them as a way to satisfy your Vocaloid mp3 fix. The maintainer of that site always fights to keep it up and running, so I’m sure that it will be a matter of time before that one’s back. For those who have never been to Doujin.us before, it’s basically an archive of full Vocaloid albums. They’ve expanded over time and now include Touhou, Kantai Collection, and other doujin music releases.

It occurred to me recently that, while the people who are reading this are likely already Vocaloid fans, there are probably a lot of fans out there who weren’t into Vocaloid when it started gaining traction. I feel pretty fortunate to have been riding the wave from the moment it first began to swell back in 2007. Thing is, there are likely a lot of fans out there now who wouldn’t be familiar with the songs that I’m familiar with. For instance, even if you know of Matryoshka, you might not know Francium. There isn’t anything wrong about that, but I believe that if you’re going to be a Vocaloid fan, you should be a Vocaloid fan with a diverse diet of music from today and yester-yester-yesterday. (At least, if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, it really helps.)

It would probably be impossible for me to list the top songs from every year until now, let alone find the room for them in one post without greatly stretching the page. That’s why I’m going to share some songs from long ago that still stand out in my memory. Take my hand now and imagine that you’re back in 2007, experiencing Vocaloid for the very first time. MMD existed, but in a very early form. It was more common to see hand drawn PVs and 3D videos made from scratch in programs like Blender.

It’s hard to say which video was the oldest I had ever seen at this point, but I distinctly remember how much I wanted to see Miku move.  I was drawn in by her design and was fooled by her voice and felt fascinated that what I was hearing wasn’t human. Vocaloid was still so new, but I had a feeling that it could be something very big, and I wanted to see it grow.

Now, follow me below the cut for a list of the 11 songs that made my top most memorable. Why 11? Because I like to go that one extra step.

Read the rest of this entry »


【ニコニコ動画】[MMM・MMD] 魔法 / 結月ゆかり

I have a rather interesting song to introduce you to today. If you happen to follow cillia’s works, then you have likely already heard her cover of Mahou (魔法). When I first heard the song, I knew that it was a cover based solely on the fact that it told me so in the title heading. I realized later that the reason I hadn’t heard the song before was because it didn’t begin its life as a Vocaloid song. You see, I’m normally up on these things. It’s rare for a cover to become popular on the Vocaloid 100 without me having heard it first. After a quick snoop, I discovered that it was produced by Furukawa Honpo (古川本舗). The most surprising part of this search was realizing that the song was originally sung by Chomaiyo (ちょまいよ), a popular utaite. If you’re interested in hearing that original version, you can find the official video right on YouTube. It has its own unique video, which I’m sure I could extensively dissect if I wanted.

But this is a Vocaloid blog, so we’re going to get to the real reason I’m bringing this song up.

Today on the top 100, a new MMD video appeared featuring Yukari. It’s the one I chose to use as this post’s main video. If you watched cillia’s video for the song, then you’ll notice that ula, the creator of the MMD, chose to base their video’s main setting around cillia’s illustration. It’s not the first time someone’s done something like that, but I found it very quaint and cute in this instance, considering the fact that cillia’s video itself is a tribute.

The video is very simple, focusing mainly on Yukari as she sits at a table alone, singing and sipping from a cup of steaming tea. The thing that I found the most powerful about the video is the part that many people may find jarring – the movements of the model. They aren’t smooth. They’re actually very jerky and unnatural, reminding me more of the way that an animatronic character would move than the movements of a real human. Having some animation experience of my own, I’m aware that it takes a lot of practice to achieve smooth movement. In this instance, however, whether it was an intentional artistic decision on the part of the video’s creator or not, it turned into something I appreciated.

It reminded me that the voice I was listening to had once been from a real person, now belonging to a program. Yet the words of the song still sounded just as beautiful and deep. Once again, it reminded me that human emotion can be carried through the things that we create. Whether Yukari is human or not became insignificant because I could still sense the feelings of Furukawa, cillia, and ula.


【ニコニコ動画】【GUMI】 ばいばいスカイブルー 【オリジナル】

It’s been a little while since I’ve made a post, and not for lack of good songs. However, today, I’m going back in time to bring up a song that I think deserves more attention. “Bye Bye Sky Blue” is from August of 2012, and it’s by hanatabaP, a producer I think you may be familiar with without even realizing it. If you’re familiar with the song “GIFT”, one of Gumi’s more popular songs, then you’ve already heard a song by this producer.

To me, the intro is the most impressive and memorable thing about this song. It immediately grabbed my interest when I first heard it and my ears still perk up every time it comes up on my playlist now. (I get the feeling it’s sampling those particular piano chords from something, but I can’t quite place it. If someone can confirm that, feel free to shoot me a comment.) BerrySubs was already kind enough to translate the song, and you can find the lyrics for it here. However you choose to interpret the intricacies of the song, it’s clear that it’s an earnest love song. I personally believe it’s about a person who is bad at expressing themselves. For one reason or another, they were unable to clearly convey their feelings to the person they liked and lost their chance to be with them. The music paints a vivid image of a summer romance in my mind. It’s the sort of thing I need on a day like today when we have snow in April.

For the curious and concerned – yes, unfortunately Nicomimi seems to be experiencing problems. It hasn’t been converting anything for the past few days. Hopefully the issue will be resolved sometime soon.