Rhythm Heaven Gold World Vocal Album
Rhythm Heaven Gold World Vocal Album
July 29, 2009
Buy at CDJapan
The Rhythm Tengoku Gold World Vocal Album features the five pop-based vocal themes from Rhythm Heaven performed in a variety of languages and arrangements. This album provides a clear statement of the worldwide impact of the series’ music and it’s impressive that the vocal themes have been translated and performed in so many languages. Yet the listening experience is one that only brings short-lived novelty value, so the album is hardly a great listen in the long-term.
The album begins with the Japanese versions of the vocal tracks for Rhythm Tengoku Gold. These pieces are straight-up J-Pop and exhibit a very childish feel. The fan club theme “Doki! Kouiu no ga Koi na no?” sets the scene with sounds like something straight out of a dating simulation with its youthful vocals, sentimental piano, and upbeat strings. “Koi no Rung Rung Paradise” for The Dazzles meanwhile intersynchs a youthful female lead with some backing singers. The Frog Hop theme provides a twist on the rock ‘n’ roll format with its novelty vocalist while the Karate Man theme “Rainy” is filled with cheesy disco-grooves. The staff credits theme “That’s Paradise” is a slightly more serious theme featuring a male vocalist, yet it still has that superficial and peppy feel so characteristic of youth-targeted J-Pop.
Contrary to the album title, this album doesn’t cover all the vocal tracks for the game. Material with relatively sparse vocal lines are absent, such as the hypnotic “Karateka” and “I Can’t Wait For You”, leaving a sample of just five tracks from the soundtrack. It feels like quite a pathetic sample given the series’ soundtrack release spanned three discs and 140 tracks. Besides many of the instrumental tracks were catchier than the vocal ones anyway. Instead the rest of the disc space is dominated by arrangements and foreign language versions of the five aforementioned vocal themes. These include long arrangements of three of the Japanese vocal themes with a few more beats and guitar solos. There is also a totally intolerable live version of the Fan Club theme featured as a bonus track.
The foreign language versions are simply renditions of the same songs with different vocalists. This isn’t necessarily comfortable, since J-Pop music sounds even less natural when presented with a English or Italian vocalist. For the English language version, the vocalists often seem uncomfortable with the material, such as in “That’s Paradise” with Frank Legree’s slightly restrained and embarrassed performance, or “Stuck by the Rain” with Ayaka Nagate’s misfitting, poorly intonated vocals. While I understand the other language versions, the German version is particularly amusing, since the harsh articulation of the language seems completely incompatible with the smooth instrumentals. Of course, the French version sounds oddly romantic too.
The album clearly isn’t intended for extended playtimes. The original vocal themes are pretty generic and unremarkable in the first place, though they fit the game quite well and the target audience would like them. However, I don’t think even those would be prepared to sit through versions of the same theme in Japanese, English, Germany, French, Spanish, and Italian. Not only are the themes generally incompatible with other languages, but it’s simply unappealing to listen to a piece of music multiple times in incomprehensible languages. To me, this album seems more like a statement than anything remotely worth purchasing. It could serve as an expanded single for those just looking for the vocal themes, yet the hefty pricetag shows people are probably best off sticking to the more diverse and enjoyable full soundtrack release.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Charles Szczygiel. Last modified on August 1, 2012.