Original Music in DDR Part Three: Yasuhiro Taguchi

February 27, 2015

The final installment in this series will look at a relative newcomer to DDR, Yasuhiro Taguchi (TAG). TAG’s history with DDR is a bit different since he actually first started out making stepcharts for DDR but his first song “El Dorado” debuted in GuitarFreaks and DrumMania V3. His first musical appearance in DDR would be “SABER WING” and “HOW TO PLAY” (which is a song acting a tutorial for DDR) in DDR X. He is the sound director of DDR as of DDR 2013 possibly due to Naoki leaving Konami for Capcom. There’s few things things that TAG is known for: Producing Dance-Pop/Eurodance/Trance/Hardcore Techno for games like DDR but is more known for his Rock/Fusion music in GFDM, His deep (and over the top) voice which he like to use as spoken word and shout in some songs especially as SUPER STAR MITSURU, and sometimes he is known as being like DJ YOSHITAKA (even though he’s spends more time being a singer and producer of several BEMANI games nowadays) since they both are known to most make songs that sound really similar (A lot of DJ YOSHITAKA songs’ BPM are 185 for example). I personally enjoy most of TAG’s music but even I know most of his songs are similar with few exceptions like his work under CAPACITY GATE and a few other exceptions. Here are a few aliases that TAG has used:

TAG – His main alias that used mostly for Dance-Pop/Eurodance/Trance/Hardcore Techno/Synthpop music in games like DDR and IIDX but used for Rock/Fusion songs in GFDM. His electronic music works under TAG leans towards songs with a four to the floor beat. Decent alias but a lot of these songs do admittedly sound similar.

TAG underground – Alias used  for Hardcore Techno songs. he is known for the two evolved series songs, “Roponggi EVOLVED” and “London EVOLVED”. Song charts for these songs are usually difficult and are regarded as boss songs.

SUPER STAR -MITSURU- – An initially mysterious alias that is used for Eurodance/Eurobeat/Trance/Hardcore songs that are similar  to TAG except this is treated as a separate alter ego for TAG. TAG’s alter ego of SUPER STAR MITSURU is known for being over the top whether it is his deep and over the top vocals which are spoken/word, equally over the top dancing like in “She is my wife” and outfit. Also tends to have a reoccurring in-joke of saying “ONLY ONE (insert word)” especially for genres. SUPER HEROINE -AYAKA- is a variation used for songs for when ERi is the vocalist like in “He is my only star” There’s also an album under the SUPER STAR -MITSURU- alias as well. Similar to TAG’s other music but with shouting.

CAPACITY GATE – An alias used for TAG’s more interesting and more unique songs that usually leans towards having breakbeats. Explorers genres like 2Step such as “Destiny Sword”, Electronic Reggae like in “Shiny World” and Drum and Bass in “Tp-RZ”. Personally, I feel that songs under CAPACITY songs are more creative and a nice refreshing change of pace. Also an initially mysterious alias as songs under CAPACITY GATE do not sound too much like TAG’s usual music.

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Original Music in DDR Part Two: Junko Karashima and Yuichi Asami

February 25, 2015

Today, I’ll be looking at both Junko Karashima (jun) and Yuichi Asami (U1) together in one part as while they created some of DDR’s music, it is not as much as Naoki Maeda, and these two use very few aliases. Let’s look at jun first.

jun is one of the few other music artist people know about in DDR. jun is known for her mostly happy and uplifting songs  and being the vocalist for TËЯRA with Naoki. There are few things that people notice about jun’s music is that most of her songs are Happy Hardcore that tend to be boss songs but she did dabbled in other genres occasionally like Dance-Pop in “dreaming can make a wish come true”, R&B in “No Matter What”, Eurobeat like in “SUPER SAMURAI” (one of the very few songs from jun with a male rapper) and even did a remix of PARANOiA called “PARANOiA Hades” which is surprisingly dark and evil sounding. (PARANOiA Hades and No Matter What were done around when jun was depressed which is why they sounded more darker than her usual fare.) Another thing is that occasionally her songs have both an English and Japanese version and usually jun sings the Japanese version while there is another vocalist for the English version. When a jun song has both English and Japanese versions, one or the another is chosen at random in DDR but there’s a few easter eggs to access the Japanese version.  jun has also worked on other games like QUIZ MAGIC ACADEMY and recently has left Konami to work on CROSSxBEATS where she contributed the song “DAZZLING SEASON”. Personally, jun’s music is catchy and I do like some songs from her like “PARANOiA Hades”, “UNBELIEVABLE (Sparky remix)” and some songs as TËЯRA  but I don’t like her as much Naoki because with few exceptions, most of her music is kind of the same and lacks variety.

U1 is at least for a while was one of the other artists contributing for DDR’s music for a while but unlike Naoki and jun, is still working for Konami and has even branched out to other games like jubeat, and beatmania IIDX and is now a sound director for FutureTomTom. He has also worked on games like NBA POWER DUNKERS and RUMBLE ROSES. U1 first initially created songs for the home releases for DDR but has branched out to arcade versions of DDR nowadays. U1’s music has traditionally been diverse whether it is Eurobeat like”Midnite Blaze”, Rap-Rock like “IN THE ZONE”, or Hardcore Techno like “Go for the Top” and although some of the music are on the more generic side, he did create more unique songs like “MAKE A JAM” a Dance-Pop songs with Reggae toasting, and “Cutie Chaser” which is a song that combines dance music with the waltz 3/4 time signature. Although nowadays I think he kind of stuck in a rut creating songs like Dopamine which is him basically ripping off Sota Fujimori semi-occasional trend of Hardcore Techno songs with cliched Dubstep breakdowns. While U1 uses aliases like Naoki, most are only for one unique song but he does a few more notable aliases though.

U1 (and any variations) – Used as main alias with different genres , not much to say beyond that.

2MB/2.1MB underground – If there ‘s anything U1 is famous for it is creating hard dark sounding remixes in Hardcore Techno of various songs in DDR which tend to be more harder than the original songs. Usually U1 will remix a Naoki Maeda song (he did make a remix of London EVOLVED by TAG underground as 2.1MB underground) and will not remix the same song/series more than once. This is one the best alias as U1 usually is great at putting a darker twist of the different songs he remixes. U1 has also created “Illegal Function Call” for beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro which is a Hardcore Techno song that is not a remix of anything but is similar to his 2MB works. He is also known for his remix of MAX called MAX.(period) which is a song that only appeared in DDR Extreme CS considered to be the last DDR at the time.

U1 overground – Used for Hardcore Techno songs that are somewhat similar to his 2MB works but are usually more uplifting. Song like “Go for the Top” are decent but I’m not a personal fan of more recent songs like Dopamine which sounded too much like Sota Fujimori (even down to Dubstep breakdowns)

Next time, I’ll look at TAG, one of the only other prominent in-house artist for DDR. (Since Supernova 2, more BEMANI artist are starting to work on DDR like dj TAKA, Ryu, L.E.D but there are more known for their music in other BEMANI games like IIDX)


Original Music in DDR Part One: Naoki Maeda

February 25, 2015

Dance Dance Revolution, (at one point) is the most popular dance video game in the world is well known for its variety of music and innovative gameplay. Some of the songs that are popular in DDR are made for the game, but only one man could make 90% of the Konami originals and its Naoki Maeda! (At one point) Nowadays, Naoki is the producer of Capcom’s game CROSSxBEATS and has left Konami.

Naoki Maeda was a employee for Konami who made music for the BEMANI music simulation series and other Konami video games such as Salamander. In the BEMANI series, he makes various types of music under different pseudonyms. He is the producer for the series but very little is known about him and the reason he makes a huge chunk of original music with only around 5-10 other composers compared to the many artists that contribute to other games is because DDR used to have a deal with Dancemania with tracks from the label appearing in the games. However, the deal has ended recently and only “Unbelievable” by EMF, “Sunrise (Jason Nevins Remix)” by Duran Duran, and a cover of Britney Spears and Madonna song’s “Me Against The Music” by Helen are the Dancemania songs in DDR SuperNova 2. Some songs that were also from the DanceMania series re-appeared in Dance Dance Revolution X but they are directly licensed and their edits are different. Naoki used alias for his music starting with 180 (referring to PARANOiA’s in game BPM) since in a interview he said that back then, it is taboo for musicians in the Japanese video game industry to be credited under real names.

Working with other artists: Naoki Maeda has produced some tracks for the formally in house (now with Avex) J-Pop group BeForU a group with Riyu Kosaka, Ayano Tachibana, Hiromi Nishiuchi, Megumi Fukushita and formally Yoma Komatsu, Noria Shiraishi, Shiyuna Maehara, Risa Sotohana, Miharu Arisawa, Sayaka Minami.

He also worked with Jun (Junko Karashima) as TЁЯRA a group making so-called “Hyper J-Pop” and J-Rock. Naoki composes while Jun sings and make the lyrics but Naoki also sings in two songs “Ichizuna Koi (Hyper J-Euro Mix)” a cover of a song from TM Network and “Parasite World” a dark Hard Rock song under TЁЯRA underground alias featuring Jun and Naoki on vocals. The two has also collaborated with Daisuke Asakura and Uchu Sentai NOIZ. Has worked with Tatsh and Junk Hirata as PlatoniX for beatmania IIDX 10th style only.

Guide to Naoki’s aliases: (Warning:  What I say about each alias will be based on my opinion and for now only aliases with more than one unique song will be featured)

NAOKI – Main alias used for Eurobeat styled Eurodance songs. Most songs in this alias except a few like TAIYO are in English. Usually fun to listen and dance to but a little cliched at times and certainly not the best Naoki can do. Vocalists are not usually from Naoki himself but there are a few exceptions like Paula Terry. Songs with Paula Terry credited are usually more emotional and moody, except for Passion of Love which is more upbeat in style.Latter songs lacks some Eurobeat characteristics of earlier songs like for example “My Only Shining Star” is bit more trance like and “will” is very different from other songs in the alias in that the song is more dance-pop like.

NAOKI underground – Naoki uses this alias when producing trance or techno songs. Usually with the exception of Poseidon, all songs are dark sounding and some of the Naoki Underground songs are instrumental except for “L’amour et la liberte” sung by Paula Terry in French and “Tears” sung by Noria Shiraishi in Japanese under the alias EK. This is surprising given that Noria usually sings happy and sometimes annoying songs. Usually better effort is put into the songs of this alias than his main alias.

NM – A alias usually used for pop and ballad songs. Songs are usually hit or miss but for part they are tolerable depending on your opinion about pop music. The Lonely Hearts is a similar alias used for ballads as well.

De-Sire – Breakbeat and Drun and Bass alias. Usually used for Trip Machine series of songs but other songs like “Healing Vision”,  and “Tsugaru” a song with two alias from Naoki Maeda which suggests the song has both ethnic and digital influences. This alias in my own opinion and most other people would be regarded as one of the best.

N.M.R. – This is an old alias used by Naoki to make house songs.  All the songs under the alias has vocals but they are sampled.  Most of the songs are forgettable and generic but “Celebrate Nite” is known for being catchy and being a hip house song. “Let Them Move” a song from this alias is known for being irritating and boring at the same time  because of the vocal sample. In the pop n’ music series, this alias is used by Naoki to compose and sing J-Pop songs.

mitsu-O! – A rarely used alias used early in DDR. The songs are usually reggae or in the case of “My Summer Love” europop mixed with reggae influences. Like N.M.R. most songs are forgettable  although “My Summer Love” is noticeable for resembling Ace of Base hit, “The Sign”. I think the song is bit annoying but also a little bit catchy. There is also mitsu-O! summer spin off alias used for a remix of “Make It  Better” which suggests the remix is smoother and more calm.

RevenG/RE-VENGE – Naoki is also known for creating Ethnic/Worldbeat music fusing world music with electronic music and is regarded as one of the best and most memorable alias as some of the songs under the alias are difficult. Some examples are Irish Jig of “bag”, Indian Raga music of “exotic ethnic” or Japanese festival music of Matsuri of “Matsuri Japan”. RE-VENGE is used for songs with more of a harder feeling.

DIVAS – Old alias used for a few R&B songs like “Baby Baby Gimme Your Love” and “Secret Rendez-vous” (Note: This has been covered in Japanese as “PLATONIC-XXXwith Tatsh). Pretty standard R&B music typical of the late 90s to early 2000s but I guess its decent.

COMING SOON: Future entries in this series will look at jun, U1 and TAG.