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.

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