Language is not a barrier

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One of the first questions that might come to your mind when taking your first step into the world of Japanese music is: What will I understand of what they say? What sense could lyrics have if I can’t understand a single word? These, in reality, and in terms of music, aren’t real problems. First of all, today thanks to the internet it’s possible to find almost all the translated lyrics you need, so in case you care about the meaning of a particular song the problem doesn’t exist.

But there’s more: Think about all the people that can’t speak English in the world yet enjoying songs from all the mainstream acts singing in this language: They can’t understand a single word of these songs, yet they enjoy them because the music meets their tastes and the English language just sounds cool and is globally the most popular. There’s nothing bad in it obviously, but when it comes to other languages, especially Asian ones, people tend to feel a bit more hesitant even though the matter is the exact same: They can’t understand English as they can’t understand Chinese, Korean or Japanese, so they kind of voluntarily create this limit by themselves. It makes no sense, right?

The reason is simple: Hearing a language one is not used to listen to and seeing all those ideograms may be uncomfortable and give a sense of feeling “far” from it: But the reality is, that is just an impression. So the best thing to do is keep listening to this language without imposing limits to yourself, and this impression will fade away in no time. After all, there are so many amazing things to listen to that this won’t even annoy you.

Here’s a short list of reasons why Japanese lyrics aren’t a problem:

1. You can easily find translations everywhere in the web.
2. Japanese is a very melodic language, and hearing such different lyrics is something new and refreshing for your ears.
3. It may be your chance to get interested in this fascinating language and start learning it.
4. Of course, you’re completely free of not caring about lyrics.

In case you enjoy japanese music but you’re too lazy to search lyrics everytime or, very simply, you don’t care about it, it’s completely fine anyway. Sure, Of course you may miss something like the poetry in a song or the message that a particular artist wants to convey, but it’s not a huge issue as it seems. I’m like this too most of the times, and I can tell there are many people doing the same.

There are several ways to interpret the voice and lyrics in music, and everyone is free to do it in the most personal way: You may like the way the lyrics sound or are spelled, you can give them your own personal meaning, or even consider the voice as an instrument hitting notes. Let’s take capsule’s last album CAPS LOCK, for example: Yasutaka Nakata recorded the vocals from Toshiko, the singer, by making her pronounce simple words with no singing at all. He then put together all the recorded words and gave them melody, creating a collage that resulted in a human/artifical singing voice. The words he put together have no logic, so the lyrics have no sense at all and are voluntarily incomprehensible: The voice itself becomes an instrument, giving priority to the musicality of the pronounced words and not to the literal meaning (that doesn’t exist in this case).

In the end, either you care to understand japanese lyrics or not, the initial language barrier is just an apparent limit that doesn’t exist, but only a factor that can be freely faced in any way you prefer. It’s only up to you, and however you’ll decide to listen to japanese vocals and lyrics, it’ll be completely fine.

– Alex