I Never Thought I’d Say It, But I Actually Miss Macross Plus’ Goofy Ass Logo
Okay, look, since everybody has said their peace about the Macross Frontier OST, and how it’s Yoko Kanno, blablabla, I thought I’d give my own take on it. Not being a fanboy or affected by trends, name dropping etc. I took this OST as if it were any other OST done by any other person regardless of reputation other than that which I perceive and judge by myself as an individual. Yoko Kanno’s name doesn’t mean anything to me by itself if she doesn’t deliver excellent music, and did she………sort of. Is it the best OST of the year? Probably not, after all the year is young. Is it an amazing OST? Not by my standards. Is it okay to listen to? Mostly yes. Let’s look at this in a little more detail shall we.
Track 1 Frontier 2059: This track touches off a problem I have with the whole OST in particular and that is it just sounds like standard Yoko Kanno music that she would put in anything. There’s no real power or definitiveness to at that I can really make it. It’s sort of like the kind of song you’d hear at the unveiling of a play when the curtain is drawing. It starts off slow and builds up a little towards the end, but could have been in any John Williams scored movie in the 70’s for all I really care. And this is one of the better songs. An 8/10.
Track 2 Welcome To My FanClub’s Night! (Sheryl On Stage): So are we starting the final battle or a rather whiny sounding pop song here. Which is it. It has some power and feels dramatic, but the lyrics and vocals just don’t work for me at all. For some reason it sounds like an Aya Hirano song. It’s not the worst vocal song I’ve ever heard, it’s just……well idol-pop. A 5.5/10.
Track 3 What Bout My Star: The Daft Punk like song of the series. Starts off like one with the same lyric repeated over again over again for a bit and a techno song before heading into a bit of pop and then WHAT BOUT’ MY STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR again. It’s one of the few vocal songs I find at all decent, but that’s really not saying much. Really a lot of work could have been done on making the overall composition less repetitive and a little more effort could have even gone into making it less synth sounding. I mean I like synth but it’s just not used to any great effect here. A 6/10.
Track 4 Iteza Gogo Kuji Don’t be late (Sheryl On Stage): Sheryl’s signature song in the series, and you better hope it be good, which it is. It’s one of the few Sheryl songs on the OST that I’ve found really enjoyable. Gone are most of the whiny sounds of the first 2 Sheryl songs and that sound is replaced with passion. It feels like some actual work was put into making this song catchy and memorable and the producers of the show must like it more then the others too as they use it a fair bit. It just…..I don’t know, captures what I imagine Sheryl’s music should sound like when I look at her on stage where the other ones fail. A 9/10.
Track 5 Vital Force: Here we go, a song that makes me think Macross when I hear it. Again I feel some effort was put into this military march like song. It has a sense of grandeur to it as well in how it draws on an orchestra to provide it with all the energy it needs as a piece. I’ve always felt Yoko Kanno works best with an orchestra and tends to be extremely hit and miss with everything else and this BGM reaffirms that feeling. A 9.5/10
Track 6 Triangler: Oh Ho Ho Ho Ho! Ha ha hrmmmmmmmmmmmm….you again. I think I’ve already described how I feel about this song and yes it is in running for flat out worst Opening of 2008. 1.5/10
Track 7 Zero Hour: Here’s Yoko Kanno doing Yoko Kannoesque things again with this piece that uses lots of percussion. Luckily it actually work out for me, although maybe that’s because it sounds like it’s from Top Gun. It’s kind of got that mission well done feel to it with how uplifting it is and later on it even adds in some new instruments. This is an example of what I’d call a hit from Yoko Kanno….but there will be misses I assure people. A 9/10.
Track 8 What ‘Bout My Star @Formo: Is it just me or is Megumi Nakajima a much better singer than May n’? This version is much much better even in the accompaniment. By withdrawing all that overproduction typical of an idol-pop song and replacing it with what I call a little bit of heart and soul, the overall feel of the song has been changed entirely. In fact so much better is this song then the other one that it’s actually earned my highest score so far on the track. A 10/10.
Track 9 Innocent Green: A quiet piano song that’s nice to listen too, although it’s a typical Yoko Kanno song that starts off slow and either builds by adding in new instruments that give way to a warbly sound or never builds and then cuts back to the original slow bit just as quickly. This is among the latter. It’s not bad, but again I can’t help but feel she’s phoning it in a little again. A 7/10.
Track 10 Aimo: A rare case of one of Yoko Kanno’s gibberish songs that doesn’t sound like crap to me. Perhaps it’s because it’s still has some Japanese with only a few of her random noises that sound like words thrown in. That and I think it’s probably mostly due to the fact that Megumi Nakajima is an absolutely amazing discovery of a singer. Had this not been Megumi Nakajima I don’t think it would have been as good, but with her it takes on a majestic quality instead of just annoying me. It also could be that it doesn’t feature the tribal music sound common in a Yoko Kanno gibberish song. If there’s one problem I have with it it’s that it’s just too short. A 7.5/10.
Track 11 Big Boys: Okay finally we get to another song where I can try and express what I mean by Yoko Kanno being Yoko Kanno-ish. What is that clapping percussive noise going along with the song that doesn’t mesh well with it at all. It’s that darn tribal beat like thing she does trying to share it’s place with a march like tune and then there’s some random triangle sounds you can here in the background and then it cuts away to that tribal sound that she’s done about oh….I don’t know, at least 20 times in Turn A Gundam, Macross Plus, Escaflowne and other assorted works I’ve heard from her over the years. It could easily be in any Yoko Kanno soundtrack and that’s why I’m cool towards it. To me this is a miss from Yoko Kanno. A 4.5/10.
Track 12 Private Army: Here’s where I run into some problems on the OST, because this song sounds pretty much like the last one, and it get’s the most awkwardly placed/misused track in the series award for me for being the damn launch song. Tell me, if you’re conveying that somebody is going into the fight of their lives and you ask somebody to give you a track that will help you in doing this, do you accept it when they throw on some Mariachi music to try and psyche up the viewers. I know I wouldn’t. Yoko Kanno ladies and gentleman……another miss. A 3/10.
Track 13 SMS Shoutai no Uta ~ Ano Ko wa Alien: I like me my marching music, but this sort of crosses the line into borderline circus sounding. Not to much that it doesn’t keep that marching feel, but it’s just a little too goofy for me to imagine a proud team of people out to save the galaxy one ship at a time. A 6.5/10.
Track 14 Ninjin Loves you yeah!: It’s the darn carrot song. By all rights I should hate this song for sounding like something I could crank out on a Casio (face it the back up sucks), but again Megumi Nakajima manages to give it a charming feel that probably wouldn’t have been there if it was somebody else. It’s amazing what she’s managing to do with a composer I feel is phoning it in a little. A 7/10.
Track 15 ”Choujikuu Hanten Nyan-Nyan” CM Song (Ranka Version): Again and absolutely bland accompaniment that sounds like it could be any old Chinese Restaurant commerical made charming by Megumi Nakajima’s participation. Gotta love the Nyan-Nyan song. A 9.5/10.
Track 16 Alto’s Theme: Eh….it’s all right. It’s a theme I feel is meant to convey Alto being kept down by trying to manage all the conflicting aspects of his life (which aren’t quite so conflicting anymore now that everyone’s in the same school), but it’s just…..well all right. A 7/10.
Track 17 Tally Ho!: Effort again! Hooray! I don’t recall this song all that well, but it reminds me of Dogfight, which is good. I have a feeling this a battle theme of some sort…..but perhaps it reminds me too much of dogfight and I get the feeling that Yoko Kanno is recycling ideas…..oh well, I can give this song some regard for at least being noteworthy. A 9/10.
Track 18 Target: John Williams? Is that you? This is pretty much my favourite BGM in the series being the battle theme (that works I might add)….even if it sound like something right out of Star Wars. Again, Yoko Kanno seems to work best when she’s utilizing an orchestra. A 10/10.
Track 19 Vajra: The suitably menacing Vajra theme that does it’s job well. Not the best “bad guy” theme I’ve ever heard but works. Also sounds kind of like the theme to 2001 A Space Odyssey at times. Either that or Batman. An 8/10.
Track 20 Twinkle: Hey Piano! I always like piano and this is pretty decent sounding overall. Kind of has a melancholic feel to it too. Another example of Yoko Kanno hitting without the orchestra……is what I might say but for the fact that near the end it gets a bit too typical Yoko Kanno with the warble sound and drags on a little too long. Oh well, a hit/miss. A 6.5/10.
Track 21 Aimo ~ Tori no Hito: A longer version of the one from above remixed slightly with more instrumental. Again Megumi Nakajima sees the day through. A 7.5/10
Track 22 Takeoff: Top Gun sounding song again that cuts into a full orchestra and then takes on a majestic quality. Pretty uplifting (as in right up to the skies limits as if your taking off) still….actually a little more so. Do I need to say it again. Also gotta love how the composition actually gives you a feeling similiar to what you’d imagine from reading the title. A 9.5/10.
Track 23 Infinity: Okay so this is the song that everybody is orgasming over and I can’t understand why. I mean it’s okay, but really . This one of the ones that played during the big battle in episode 7 that I felt just barely fit what I’d imagine a big battle theme sounding like. I guess they were going for the Minmay factor and sort of succeeded. It also kind of sounds like the Black Cat opening theme a bit to me. Again, kind of whiny sounding, but luckily the backup takes front stage in this idol pop/rock piece enough to make it listenable. It’s alright, but not the best Sheryl song. Also tends to drag a little during some sections. A 7.5/10.
Track 24 Diamond Crevasse: Along with Don’t Be Late, this is the only Sheryl song I really like to any extent, although this one wins out overall. It’s not overproduced, it’s not whiny/waily sounding (Very key) and it’s just a nice relaxing composition that doesn’t have me clicking the mute button. What more can I say…..well it’s a great closing song (beats the snot out of the opening song….then again everything does) that leads you out of an episode quite nicely and is one of the few closing themes I actually listen to on a regular basis of series I’m watching. (The other being Code Geass’ ending). One of my three top songs on the OST. A 10/10.
Macross Frontier OST 1 Overall Rating: 7.4/10
So that’s teetering between good but not great, and very good for me. To me this is by no means the best OST I’ve ever heard, but it’s the best I’ve heard all year by sheer virtue of it being the only one I’ve really had a chance to listen to all year. That’s not saying much. It’s looking to be a little bit of a slow year for anime music so this is probably going to sail it’s way through to a bunch of awards (I mean it’s got Yoko Kanno name power behind it) and tons of praise, but really it’s sits nowhere near my top ten of all time (I’m actually working on an article for that as I type this). As is probably obvious I preferred the Megumi Nakajima and Orchestral pieces and frowned upon most of the May N’ and more synthesized sounding pieces. That’s really about all I have to say about that.