The result is unintelligible in either language, but it still sounds cool.
One of the most clever and original musicians in Japan today is Taiiku Okazaki. Not confined by musical genres or lyrical rules, his catchy pop songs are funny but also so well crafted it would be an insult to simply call him a novelty act.
Every song has a unique concept behind it, such as his latest single “Natural Lips.” In it, Okazaki penned mundane Japanese words that are sung in such a way that it sounds like he is speaking English. The result is probably a little jarring for speakers of either language, but see for yourself.
He does sound like he is speaking English except that none of his words make any sense at all. He kind of reminds me of that little person from the dream sequence in the original Twin Peaks.
On the other hand, with the way Okazaki slurs his vowel sounds (“Na” becomes “Ner”) he doesn’t sound Japanese either, but thanks to the subtitles we can make out that he is actually singing about splitting the check on a seafood rice bowl, among other things. There’s also the hook, which translates to “Ugly woman? No, beautiful woman” both of which refer to Okazaki himself in the video.
For a more clear example, here he is reading a note in Japanese that he pronounces in an “English-like” manner. This time around it sounds a little more like German to me, but is an interesting technique nonetheless.
岡崎体育 (@okazaki_taiiku) January 07, 2016
By the way, the funk music accompanying Okazaki on this track has a distinctive flavor that might sound vaguely familiar to some people out there. That’s because on guitar is none other than Ray Parker Jr. of Ghostbusters fame.
「Natural Lips」は予算少なくて僕が自分で監督したよ！映像合成して女装しただけのクソ低予算MVになったよ！ ちなみにギターはあのレイパーカーJr.が弾いてくれています！すごすぎ！ギター界のレジェンドにオファーした結果、… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…—
岡崎体育 (@okazaki_taiiku) May 26, 2017
All of Taiiku Okazaki’s songs have some sort of lyrical madness behind them, such as his first video from his latest album XXL, titled “Kanjo No Pixel” (“Emotional Pixel”). It’s a hard rock song that inexplicably becomes about animals dancing in the meadow and an alienated alligator partway through.
His breakout YouTube hit came last year with his music video titled “Music Video” in which all the lyrics simply describe what is happening in the music video…and every other music video out there these days for that matter.
Taiiku Okazaki is certainly on a roll, and hopefully he’ll continue to shake things up in Japanese music with his distinct brand of parody, quality, and ingenuity.