It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen this hard in love with…any band, really. I am so happy I found this Japanese band! I needed to listen to more Japanese in preparation for the JLPT and my usual favorites just weren’t doing it for me. I was just listening to random J-Pop and J-Rock playlists on Youtube (and skipping most of the songs) when I first heard this band – and I’ve been obsessed ever since! To the point where now when I try to type Wednesday in Japanese, their name comes up before the word ‘Wednesday’ on its own.
Their name? 水曜日のカンパネラ, or, Wednesday Campanella.
And the best part is Yuuki – who has long held a ‘meh’ attitude towards music in general – also loves them. I’ve shown him all the bands I love and he would listen, read the lyrics with me, say he likes them in a vague sense and then a month later won’t remember who they are. But he’s actually engaged when we listen and watch Wednesday Campanella, and we have debates and discussions on what the lyrics and the videos mean, and as you’ll see below, laugh together about the craziness. The drawback is that when they release a new video I have to wait to watch it with him…
It’s hard to place them in a category. Maybe a mixture of pop/hip hop/alternative? The best description might be “unpredictably quirky without pretension.” That’s a mouthful, but I think it’s accurate. They’re definitely not for everyone – but I love ’em. This is meant to be a brief introduction to the band, and some of my favorite songs and videos that they’ve produced. I’d like to talk about two of their songs (not included here) in more depth, so look for that in a future post.
I can’t imagine a better place to start than with the first song of theirs that I heard, 「シャクシャイン」, or “Saksaynu.” It’s named after a famous Ainu chief from the Edo period, and the song mainly focuses on the largest northern island of Japan, Hokkaido. I’m not sure what caught my attention more – the homemade style of the video (and that it didn’t involve schoolgirl outfits or backup dancers), the combination of traditional-sounding music with rap, the incorporation of a sneeze into the song, how well she captured what walking around the streets of Japan feels like, or just how refreshingly different it was than anything I’ve ever seen in J-Pop. Without further ado:
I knew I had to hear more. As I looked through the song titles and saw that nearly all were either named after historical or mythological figures, I realized I’d found something right up my alley. Then I watched the video for 「桃太郎」, or “Momotaro.”
My first reaction? WHAT IS THIS. Then I burst into laughter and couldn’t stop singing “Kibi-kibi-daaaan, oni-taaai, oni oni ta—iji,” for about a week. As I learned more of the lyrics, I was impressed with how they managed to make the story of Momotaro so relatable. “My only friends are pets: a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant. The friends I used to play with all went away.”
So I knew Wednesday Campanella had the ability to combine music styles, to make fun and entertaining music videos, to make me laugh, and to make me want to travel more. What about dance? Well. Along came 「メデューサ」 or, “Medusa.”
Shall we d-d-d-d-d-d-dance tonight? Keep-pon-pon-pon-pon-on moving on…I can’t stop dancing around the apartment to this song.
Others tell an interesting story that leave me thinking, like 「チャイコフスキー」, or “Tchaikovsky.”
And of course their newest one, 「チュパカブラ」 or “Chupacabra”…
Back to the lighter side of Wednesday Campanella (oddly enough, given the song title), here is 「ディアブロ,」 or “Diablo.” This one is so weird and random! It reminds me of Samurai Champloo. I love it.
Though she speaks so fast, a lot of their videos have subtitles so it makes for some good Japanese practice. The earlier videos were mostly just lyric videos, although they are pretty creative and pretty fun to watch. 「パフ」 is another good example, but for this list I chose 「ヒカシュー」, or Hikashu (named after an older band I may have to check out now…).
I’m going to round out this list with a song that parallels the first one about Hokkaido. This one is actually based on Okinawa, and you can hear the influence in the music and the lyrics. It’s called 「ユタ」, or “Yuta,” which I read is the title of shaman on Miyako Island.
I’ll be honest and say I’m not a huge fan of the video, so this one I’d actually suggest letting play in the background (and definitely don’t watch it if you’re prone to seizures). But I love the song itself, it’s one of my favorites.
Though you only ever really see Komu_I, the singer of the group, there are two other men involved in the music writing and producing. From what I can gather, Hidefumi writes a lot of the music, while the mysterious “Dir. F” does whatever else needs to be done. You can see that he directed some of the videos. I believe the man in the photo below is Hidefumi.
Yuuki said I should use the following photo, so I’ll use it to close this post. Let me know what you think of Wednesday Campanella! If you want to see more of what I’ve written about Japanese music, you can check here for some of my other favorites, or here for some good songs to listen to for beginners to Japanese.