Sneak preview released for new version of mega-hit rock song that will appear in U.S. theatrical screenings.
Sometimes, it feels good to be wrong.
When word came that Your Name, the hit anime from director Makoto Shinkai, would be having its vocal songs re-recorded with English lyrics for its American English-dubbed version, I was pretty skeptical. Yes, the new lyrics would be written and performed by Yojiro Noda, vocalist for Japanese rock band Radwimps, who supplied the soundtrack for the original Japanese-language version of the film. And yes, Noda has spent time living in the U.S.
Still, decades of listening to (and loving) Japanese pop music has left me without much confidence in the abilities of the industry’s stars to perform up to their usual standards when they switch to English even for part of a song, let alone the whole thing. Plus, Noda’s time living in the States came back when he has in elementary school, which was quite a long time ago for the now-31-year-old musician, so it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to expect his foreign language skills to be pretty rusty.
Perhaps most importantly of all, “Zenzenzense” (which translates to “There Lives Ago”), the song most strongly associated with Your Name, is so amazingly infectious that it’s hard to imagine any tinkering would leave it as perfectly catchy as it already is.
▼ The Japanese version of “Zenzenzense”
So really, I felt like this was pretty clearly a situation in which well enough should be left alone. And then Radwimps released a teaser video previewing the English version of “Zenzenzense,” which took about 10 seconds to change my mind.
▼ The English version of “Zenzenzense,” which retains its original title
Granted, it’s only a 30-second clip, with dialogue from the movie obscuring part of the song’s audio. In what can be heard, though, Noda manages to convey just as much style and emotion as he does when singing in Japanese, all while keeping the thematic beats of the original even after the transition to English lyrics, a portion of which are:
Back in the zenzenzense ‘till this day
Been looking everywhere for you
I followed the sound of your innocent laughter
And it guided me in the right way
Even if every piece of you disappeared
And if it scattered everywhere
While the impetus for creating the English “Zenzenzense” is Your Name’s North American theatrical run, which starts in April, fans in Japan will actually be the first to experience the full version. The new song goes on sale in digital format on January 27, and will be featured in special screenings of Your Name in Japanese theaters with Radwimps’ English songs accompanying the Japanese dialogue.
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