It’s GACKT’s Birthday, woooo!
˓˓(ृ ु ॑꒳’)ु(ृ’꒳ ॑ ृ )ु˒˒˒
…or rather, it was GACKT’s birthday.
I’d been thinking of translating the little blurbs about songs in the Best of the Best tour pamphlet for a while now. Caught up in the excitement of celebrating GACKT’s birthday, I randomly started doing it on the 4th. Alas, I didn’t finish until today.
Anyway, the writer here is Mami AKAGI, but she includes direct quotes from GACKT in the descriptions. The blurbs are scattered over a double-page spread. I will be going from top to bottom across both pages, save for points where the wording makes a different order more logical. Also, the photos in this part of the pamphlet consisted mostly of stills from concerts and music videos, and since those don’t come under fair use, I’ve chosen to use the single’s cover when applicable.
Let’s get on to it then, shall we?
A combination of danceable Latin grooves and sly lyrics. If the basis of GACKT’s work is the profound, beautiful yet painful world view depicted in his first solo single, “Mizérable,” which had “Death, Life, and Love” as its main theme, then “Vanilla,” his second solo single, audaciously shows off the wide breadth of GACKT’s musicality with great impact.
“I can write different kinds of songs because I put myself up to it. But it’s not like writing just anything will do. If you concentrate exclusively on broadening your scope, you lose sight of the main axis of your work. So this type of song is an exception rather than a rule.” Those are the words of GACKT himself.
GACKT’s dancing during live performances of this song is so erotic, women get wet one after the other just from watching.1 Or so it’s said. This deadly number lands a direct hit on the listener’s body and earthly desires.
絵夢〜for my dear〜2
While this song also has a double meaning, it was originally written in memory of MALICE MIZER’s drummer Kami, who passed away suddenly.
“When I came out to Tokyo I barely had any friends, but of the few I had, I got along with Kami the best. I couldn’t communicate very well with other band members, but I could have fun with Kami. We’d argue sometimes, too. That’s the friend I lost. When he died, I wrote this song….” (GACKT)
The song exudes a deep sadness, not just because of the lyrics, but because of the musical composition as well, and the listener can’t help but shed a tear. This beautiful song draws you in, and leaves you with a lingering serenity long after it finishes.
A pop-rock tune with a strong grip that grabs people’s hearts in an instant. The lyrics contain sarcastic remarks directed against a certain company president GACKT was feuding with at the time. But at first glance, the song could be taken to be about a fickle lover. It’s not unusual for GACKT to hide double entendres or even triple entendres in his lyrics. This is one such song, and it also serves to bear witness to the high level of GACKT’s writing ability. According to GACKT: “This song is part self-destruction (*laughs*), and part resolute declaration: ‘I’m leaving you and going forward on my own.'”
At concerts, there are call & response sections before and in the middle of this song, and it’s not unusual for the whole thing to go on for over 15 minutes. It’s a song representative of GACKT’s work that sets up the climax of a show in a big way.
GACKT’s VISUALIVE concerts are packed with elements to stimulate each and every human emotion. Of those elements, the one most likely to massage the acupoint for fun is “U+K.” During shows, dancers in cat suits come out on stage, and GACKT radiates cuteness as he frolics along with them. Even so, what’s truly surprising about this is that GACKT has been performing the song this way since the concerts for his first album, MARS. In other words, GACKT has probably been aiming for a unique show with high entertainment value since way back then.
The title, “U+K,” comes from the initials of Ukyō KAMIMURA (=MALICE MIZER’s Kami).
Even now, this song is a must-have for live shows; it’s the ultimate killer tune that can make sad children laugh, and put a smile on everyone’s face.
A song expressing GACKT’s commitment to the fans, band members, and staff—his dear friends, in other words—as well as to himself. The lyrics contain GACKT’s strong resolve to keep on fighting and singing, no matter how beaten up he gets along the way, not only for the sake of friends who are still with him, but also for those who have moved on.
“It’s been 14 years since I went solo, but I still believe the things that are written in this song,” tells GACKT.
The lyrics “wazukana hikari wo mitsukereba ii / ima wa taiyō ga agaranakute mo / ‘furidashita ame wa itsuka yamun da ne…'” [“All you have to do is find the slightest light / Even if the sun doesn’t rise now / ‘This rain will stop eventually, right…?'”] sound like something you’d say to push yourself onward, and they perfectly express the succession of struggles GACKT was going through at that time. YOU’s impressive violin, staying close to GACKT’s lyrics, also calls to mind the bonds of friendship.
Kimi no Tame ni Dekiru Koto
“Te ni shita egao no kazu yori / namida wa ooi kamoshirenai kedo / soba ni iru / sore ga boku no kimi no tame ni dekiru koto”
[We probably cried more than we laughed but, / being at your side / that’s what I can do for you]
GACKT says that when he wrote this phrase, he reached a single conclusion: “This song will come to represent me.” That conclusion was spot on.
This is a deep, sweeping love song written with the VISUALIVE Requiem et Réminiscence in mind. The above phrase is also a sincere reflection of GACKT’s own views on love. The music is soft and catchy. However, the falsetto in the song raises its level of difficulty considerably!
Papa lapped a pap lopped
This is a rock tune that shows off several strong points that charm the audience as GACKT sings and cuts a rug with the dancers. There had been dancing for “Vanilla” and “U+K” during the MARS tour, but with this song there was a greater focus on “showing,” expressed in the formula “singing + practiced, sharp dancing = putting on a bewitching show.” The performance of this song is the culmination of that idea.
Incidentally, writing the music was a really tough process. Deciding on a title was also difficult. Apparently, what happened was that since there was this “pa-pa-ra-pa, pa-pa-ra-pa” sound in the intro, that sound became the words “papa lapped a pap lopped.” Therefore, originally the title wasn’t meant to have any meaning in particular, but a sexual nuance was added afterward. 3
“When you’ve lost someone dear to you, you’re adrift in sadness, but you have to take one step out of that misery; you have to move forward toward some goal or purpose. At that time, you have to let that person go, leave them there and move on. That’s what this song is about.” (GACKT)
During VISUALIVEs GACKT tells the story from the piano, carefully, giving us plenty of time to listen. YOU’s violin adds nuance to the performance. It’s an artful number which creates the illusion you’ve fallen into a mystical painting. It also lets you fully enjoy GACKT’s skill as a pianist.
Starting off with a quiet verse, going to a melodious pre-chorus, to an intense refrain, this song unfolds in a complicated way. GACKT was surely blessed with musical talent from a very young age, for he composed the original melody used in this song when he was but 17 years old. “I thought, hm, maybe I can use that again. I rearranged it, and it turned out like this.” (GACKT) The driving, mysterious phrases are also a nice accent.
The ever-advancing, piercing, driving force found here is that of an exhilarating, passionate rock tune.
“I wrote this song during a trip to Hawaii when I was just starting off with the Moon Project. I thought, ‘Man, I need an energetic song for this.’ I was out for a drive with YOU, going really fast. Then I sang, ‘yaburi suterareta Magazine,’ and YOU said ‘kegarenaki tamashii.’ ‘Eiga no you na One-Scene,’ ‘anata nara anshin.’ Ahaha…we were just taking turns singing like it was a word game. I remember we said to each other, ‘You’re good at this!’ Ahaha!” (GACKT)
That anecdote itself seems like a scene from a movie, but later, “ANOTHER WORLD” would become an important song within the VISUALIVE tours MOON ~Kagen no Tsuki~ and ~Jōgen no Tsuki~. At the same time, this song would go on to become a stand-out GACKT track even amongst the songs most representative of his work.
Your beloved, who had spent their days drowning in endless tears since you died, has finally learned to love again.
This song writes out the thoughts toward such a lover, one who has regained their ability to smile, and moved on. The lyrics are warm and gentle, and although there’s also a certain heartache, the song overall feels like the caress of a spring breeze, and radiates a shining light.
“When I write songs, I’m always thinking about my own death, because I don’t want people to be sad when I die. I want everyone to smile. I don’t want people to just be listening to sad songs and feeling down, I want them to be able to rise up after falling down once. In the end, I want them to smile for me. That’s why I often put that message into various songs. In short, for me, a song is also a will.” (GACKT)
GACKT has a wide vocal range to begin with, spanning more than an astonishing four octaves! He can even produce an angelic falsetto that has been dubbed the “God Falsetto.” That incomparable skill, especially when used to create that angel’s voice, is one of the major characteristics of this number.
“It was from around the time of this song that I started thinking it would be interesting to use falsetto more, so I started approaching the task.” (GACKT)
The way the band comes in and out with a pretty heavy sound during the chorus is a fresh approach. At the time, it was a song for GACKT to challenge himself with.
A beautiful, heart-wrenching ballad. It can be said one of the highlights is the way GACKT’s emotional vocals soar from peaceful stillness to energetic motion. Also, the piano version during VISUALIVEs, like “Sayonara,” hits the audience with GACKT’s excellent skill and sensibility as a pianist, leaving everyone speechless. Moreover, there’s this little known anecdote: right after GACKT wrote this song, he kept saying, “I want to get Chitose HAJIME to sing it.”
“I imagined the kind of undulating, melodic embellishments of Okinawan folk music, and was convinced that if she sang this song, it would surely turn out well. But there were objections from the record company, and it never happened. *Laughs bitterly* I still think that if there’s ever a chance to do it, I’d like to have her sing this song.” (GACKT)
Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume
“This song is also about death.” (GACKT)
Even so, with lyrics like “kimi ga oikaketa yume nara / kizutsuku koto ni osorenaide” [if it’s the dream you’ve chased after / don’t worry about getting hurt”], this up-tempo tune overflowing with a sense of forward momentum carries a strong message that gently spurs the listener onward. During concerts, everyone puts their hands in the air and gets hyped up. It’s a standard song that brings everyone together as one.
“What’s interesting is actually the music video. Around that time, the expenses for music videos were getting higher and higher, so most of the extras in this video are actually members of my staff, or people from the record company. That’s kinda cool, isn’t it? Ahaha.” (GACKT)
A thoroughly enjoyable rock tune that bursts out the moment you hear the engine turning. This song was written in memory of one of GACKT’s dear staff members.
“His death was so sudden I couldn’t believe it at first, but after that, several other things happened, and I really came to understand that that’s the nature of parting with people; it’s a sudden thing. But this isn’t a sad, painful song. I wanted to say, ‘We can remember you and talk about you with smiles on our faces now. So we’re running onward like this. We’re okay now.'” (GACKT)
“Black Stone” is a perfectly cheerful song because it represents those feelings. Incidentally, the song is named after GACKT’s staff member, as well as the onyx jewelry he gives his friends as amulets.
When translated to Japanese, this song is entitled 「贖罪」[shokuzai = redemption]. This song with a double meaning contains an oath, similar to a vow of revenge, to return in full the favor of being defeated.
“Certainly, it’s true that my thoughts lined up with those of the character in the story,4 but around this time, there were many people that I was separated from. It’s not that I was particularly upset with them for leaving. What I absolutely can’t forgive is becoming antagonistic, hurting your own friends…those kinds of thoughts were connected to the story, and the lyrics turned out as they did.” (GACKT)
The heavy sound, the contrasting melody…. It’s an overpowering song that seems to hit your whole body and soul.
GACKT’s 6th album DIABOLOS centers on the darkness in people’s hearts, and paints a picture of a tale of conflict and trying to find your reason for being. In the VISUALIVE that brought DIABOLOS to life, GACKT sang while dancing with the “Lords of Darkness” (the masked dancers). The lyrics are erotic, but the song isn’t so much sexy as it is cool. The instrumental is likewise passionately cool, and overall the song has a solid stylishness. The title, “Dispar,” is a coined word.
It had been a year and five months since GACKT’s previous single. This single, which served to announce the curtain rising on the VISUALIVE tour Requiem et Réminiscence II, is a frenetic rock tune that starts off with a powerful chorus and is packed with both a heavy, pressing weight, and a light, forward-dashing movement. The lyrics include the concept for the whole RRII tour, for which “retribution” was a key word.
“In the music video there’s a man who shoots himself in the head with a gun. The many cyborgs he had killed come back to haunt him and take over his mind, and in the end he blows his brains out. That’s the kind of retribution expressed through this video.” (GACKT)
What’s more, at the RRII VISUALIVE, “Jesus” is the first song performed after the opening video sequence. Overwhelmed by the awesomeness of it all, the whole crowd went wild in the blink of an eye. The band killed instantly, stealing everyone’s hearts.
When it comes to “GHOST,” you think of the robot dance.
The robot dance came about because the protagonist of RRII was a cyborg. The dance was of such high quality that even though you were watching a living, breathing, human being, it gave the illusion that what you were seeing was actually CG! You could say that it’s a mode of expression unattainable through ordinary efforts. GACKT’s first-ever released electronica track magnificently blends digitally-created sounds with the band’s music. The lyrics explore the theme, “What is a human?”
“The difference between humans and cyborgs is whether or not they have a soul, right? But what if there were someone who had a soul inside a body made of steel? You could call them human, couldn’t you? I was thinking those kinds of things at the time, and gave expression to that inner, psychological world.” (GACKT)
This song, including the dance, has surprises, impressive moments, and depth, keeping listeners on pins and needles. It’s a song GACKT can boast about to the world.
Journey through the Decade
This song was the theme song for the tokusatsu drama Kamen Rider Decade. Shōko FUJIBAYASHI wrote the lyrics, and Ryo composed the music. This was also the first time GACKT tried to sing an original song for which he hadn’t written the music and lyrics.
“By this time, my own singing style was well-established, and I thought I would be able to sing other people’s songs fairly well. To a certain extent, I think I wanted to test myself, too.” (GACKT)
In truth, that song ended up being gallant and manly, just like a hero. To men and women, young and old, and the children sitting in front of the television, the GACKT-ness of the encouraging song came through perfectly. In the music video, GACKT co-stars with Masahiro INOUE, who played Kamen Rider Decade.
This is the first of four singles released consecutively over 4 weeks to celebrate the 10th anniversary of GACKT’s solo debut. It’s an electronic, hype dance track. The lyrics, filled with the type of things girls at that time thought but didn’t necessarily say out loud, freely make use of gyaru expressions such as “oshaberi wa”5 and emoji. GACKT appears on the album cover dressed as an agejō. It’s a very playful single.
During the RRII VISUALIVE, the Agejō Dancers came onstage, and enjoyed playing a game and dancing with GACKT. This super powerful, hyped up song made everyone smile, and became quite the party tune.
Faraway ~Hoshi ni Negai wo~
The second of the four consecutively released singles celebrating GACKT’s 10 years of solo activities. Everyone can get in the groove and enjoy this killer tune, which has a good balance of pop and rock. The melody makes you feel like you’ve got blue skies spread out before you, and the handclapping that comes in after a while is kind of cute, making for a charming number. During the RRII VISUALIVE, GACKT impishly riles up the crowd, yelling out, “Let me see you wave it!” It’s now an established custom for everyone to wave their towels around in time with this song.
The last of the four singles released consecutively to commemorate GACKT’s 10 years as a solo artist. It’s a number written with the tale of RRII firmly in mind. The third such single, “Lost Angels,” was also written specifically for RRII; within the story, “Lost Angels” is a requiem for the massive number of people who had just lost their lives. In contrast, the lyrics in “Flower” present a time long after that tragedy, as those still living remember their departed loved ones.
“Umare kawaru nara yorisou hana ni” [“If we’re reborn, it’ll be as flowers that reach out to each other”]
At the heart of these beautiful words, under many strata, is a layer of emotions. “Flower” could be considered one of the conclusions of RRII; it goes to unbearable depths, directly attacking the tear ducts. It is the ultimate love song.
Stay the Ride Alive
The theme song to the movie Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider W & Decade Movie War 2010. This was the third time GACKT sang the song for the Kamen Rider series. The music conveys a grand sense of scale, while the lyrics explore the theme of “passing the baton in Life.” GACKT’s voice is dignified and strong, and what’s more, it makes you feel the loftiness of the ideals expressed in the song. For this song as well, Shōko FUJIBAYASHI provided the lyrics and Ryo handled the music; it is therefore originally the work of others, but GACKT has completely made it his own. It goes without saying that the song makes you feel GACKT’s presence, but it also makes you feel the presence of his voice itself.
In March of 2010, GACKT formed a rock band called YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz (YFC for short) with the goal of “increasing the number of manly men in Japan.”6 “EVER” was made to fit into the YFC shows. Apparently, the song was initially made as a really rough and serious rock song, but then GACKT said, “let’s try a goofier approach.” And so the song was sprinkled with a bit of 1960s Group Sounds flavor, a dash of 70s surf, a pinch of hard rock, and a few other ingredients to concoct the playful dance rock tune it is today. GACKT says that it has the same sensibility behind it as “Vanilla.” This song would go on to rile up audiences not only in the domestic YFC tour, but also in venues around the world.
An adolescence spent laughing and being reckless with friends. After spending time like that, there are many things that come into perspective when you grow up.
“I sang this as a mature adult, as a message for young people. The lyrics are good, and the ‘da-rara da-ra’ melody in the intro is a new and original musical phrase. It turned out to be quite an interesting song.” (GACKT)
Continuing on from the Kamen Rider series, the music and lyrics were written by Ryo and Shōko FUJIBAYASHI. The music video, shot in the middle of the night on the streets of Shibuya, is like a short film and makes you feel like you’re really there. It’s well worth watching.
UNTIL THE LAST DAY
Lyrics: GACKT & Shōko FUJIBAYASHI. Music: GACKT & Ryo
“When they finished the song and brought it to me, at first it didn’t go well at all, and I said, ‘shall I write it?’ So I ended up helping with the song’s creation mid-way through.” (GACKT)
That’s why there are joint songwriting credits on this track.
A solid, loud, hard rock number. This song was performed at YFC shows, but the YFC version, with its sights set on the world, includes English lyrics. The official [Best of the Best] tour will see the first live performance of the Japanese version.
It had been two years since GACKT released a song that was entirely his. The Japanese instruments, strings, and the band’s dignified sound come together and harmonize, taking you through many tales within this one song. It’s a dramatic number with its own unique vision of the world. GACKT’s rich, evocative vocals are the most fantastic part of “HAKURO,” and make you realize that this is the evolution of song as a mode of expression. The “God Falsetto” here is particularly brilliant.
“I was singing, trying out different things, and a staff member who had been listening said, ‘That’s pushing the limits of what an ordinary person can sing,’ and I thought, it’s not like I’m trying to make a song for karaoke. So I said, well then, I’m gonna make it so absolutely no one can sing it! Ahaha! That’s how that falsetto came about. Ha!” (GACKT)
A song no one can imitate. That is GACKT. The first live performance of this song will come during the official tour.
Jōnetsu no Inazuma
This, the B-side to “HAKURO,” is a number that bursts through with such force as to utterly destroy the afterglow of its companion track. (LOL) “Jōnetsu no Inazuma” is filled with a glaring heat that makes you feel a certain Latin quality within the composition. As for the lyrics, GACKT states:
“I wrote them while thinking back to the reckless days of me and my friends. At the time I was struggling with the question, ‘what do we need to go higher?’ When I was writing these lyrics, for the part that goes ‘“jōnetsu no ore-sama!!!” torimodose!!,’ I was seriously torn between writing ‘ore SUMMER’ or ‘ore-sama.7 *Bursts out laughing* But I digress….” (GACKT)
This song will undoubtedly take the venue to the boiling point. The official tour will see its first performance.
WHITE LOVERS—Shiawasena Toki—
With “snow” as its theme and written from a woman’s perspective, this mid-tempo ballad is endowed with both a certain delicateness and a grand sense of scale. Through his songs, GACKT conveys all the ups and downs of life’s emotional roller coaster, from sadness to the resolve needed to take a step forward and move on. This is also such a song, and features the “God Vocals” only GACKT can achieve. With strict attention paid to the smallest detail, even the most careless seeming lyric carries subtle shades of meaning, and how the listener interprets those words depends on their own life experience. Only GACKT’s writing could have such terrifying profundity. People will probably still be listening to and loving this song well into the future. “WHITE LOVERS” will be performed live for the first time during the official tour.
A new song scheduled for release on the “best of” compilation album.
“This song’s theme is ‘Men aren’t the only ones fighting, women fight too.’ In MOON SAGA -Yoshitsune Hiden-, Tomoe Gozen was a warrior, but in that era, there were a great many women other than Tomoe Gozen who were fighting on. That’s why I tried writing on this theme of women who, like men, take up arms for the sake of those important to them.” (GACKT)
GACKT’s song excellently portrays the distinctive kindness, tenderness, and inner strength of women. This is the first song in GACKT’s discography with a female warrior as its protagonist! The prospects that lie beyond this newly opened door are quite exciting.
“CLAYMORE” will be performed live for the first time on the official tour.
This song will likewise appear on the planned “best of” album. It is a power ballad with a Japanese sensibility in the style of “Setsugekka -The End of Silence-” and “HAKURO.” The melody, lyrics, and singing, the images the song brings to mind, its atmosphere…everything is so painfully beautiful. Since most “sakura songs” are graduation songs, sakura are often used as a backdrop to signify the season and memories. But in this piece, the sakura themselves are life, meetings and partings, memories filled with laughter and joy, tears, the fleetingness of it all…they also represent the characters, and the whole tale itself. Once you’ve heard it, the strong magnetic force of this song will keep it close to you, until it seeps into your bones. It is a clear departure from all the other sakura songs out there. Or rather, let me state it thus: with this song, a new masterpiece has come into this world.
The official tour will see the first live performance of “Sakura, chiru.”
1. The original Japanese uses the word 濡れる (nureru) which can mean “to get wet” in both the perfectly innocent sense with water and the perfectly human sense with not water. Unless talking about women getting wet isn’t considered risque in Japanese, I’m not being needlessly pervy with the translation. ↩
2. 絵夢 is a made-up compound composed of “picture” and “dream.” I’m not sure how GACKT wants us to pronounce it, but if we were to cobble together readings for these characters (including readings used in names only) we’d end up with: emu, eyume, eme, eibu, kaimu, kaiyume, and kaiibu (though I think 夢 only gets pronounced as “ibu” when in the initial position). I personally always think of it as “emu,” which sounds like the Japanese pronunciation of the letter “M.” ↩
3. If we take this at face value, GACKT really does think there’s something sexual about the phrase “papa lapped a pap lopped.” Having worked in Japanese high schools and seen the way kids (=boys) look up “dirty” words in their electronic dictionaries and giggle at the results, I would not be at all surprised if what happened was that GACKT picked up his denshi jisho and started trying to find words that would fit in with the “pa-pa-ra-pa” sound, read the archaic meanings of “pap” and “lop,” giggled, and thought he was titling the song to the effect of “Big Daddy licks your flaccid nipples” rather than something that just sounds kinda dumb. There’s also the possibility that Ms. AKAGI is in cahoots with GACKT to spread the idea that a meaningless phrase is actually kinky *wink wink.* What’s your favorite theory, O Reader? ↩
4. That story being Final Fantasy VII Dirge of Cerberus, whose protagonist, Vincent Valentine, struggles with the sin of not protecting the woman he loved, and all the messed up stuff that happened afterward. ↩
5. “Oshaberi wa” meaning something like “I’m a talkative person.” I guess it’s made even more gyaru-ish by the fact that it’s written オシャベリゎ rather than おしゃべりわ. ↩
6. GACKT uses the kanji 漢 (which can be pronounced “otoko” and mean “man”) instead of the usual kanji 男 (which is usually pronounced “otoko” and means “man”) to differentiate between manly men and wimpy men. I am therefore thoroughly amused by everything described in this passage. ↩
7. “Ore” being a particularly manly way to say “I,” I’d translate “ore SUMMER” to “MY summer.” The other option, “ore-sama,” is just a really conceited way for a man to refer to himself (and if one in real life actually called himself that, he was either joking, thinking out loud, or being a dude bro). ↩