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Songs of Hata Motohiro - evergreen -

The jukebox has returned with a little refreshment for the new year. Let the heart keep warm with the vocals of Hata Motohiro, whose music that I've featured in a few of my earlier articles. I was first introduced to the singer by my Japanese teacher. Coincidentally, the name had almost immediately struck a chord for I was somewhat certain that I had heard of him somewhere. Yeah, the ending theme of 'Sakamichi no Apollon' - Altair - was written and performed by Hata Motohiro. Right then, I realised that I also knew a little about his career...somewhat. Anyway, he has been performing for more than a decade, including the years as an independent singer-songwriter. Today, I shall select some of my favourite numbers of Hata Motohiro. Once again, let the heart keep warm.

Naturally, the best album (pun absolutely intended) to start would be the two-disc compilation titled 'evergreen' which was released in the last quarter of 2014 (October 29th). The best album reached #6 on the Oricon weekly chart, and was awarded the Kikaku Shou (some sort of project award I suppose) at the 56th Japan Record Awards. 'evergreen' is filled with new sounds and mixes from studio and live recordings. 21 songs have been included, making this compilation an ideal choice for those who have just gotten acquainted with Hata Motohiro's work.

Please hold the flour, eggs and tomatoes as I reiterate my appreciation for 'Himawari no Yakusoku', which is the main theme for 'Stand By Me Doraemon'. Apparently, the song is Hata Motohiro's longest and biggest hit to date. I just realised that there are different versions of the song. However, that doesn't quite matter since whichever melody that was played through the earpieces back then remains etched in my mind. The benevolent image of Doraemon always looking out for Nobita overlaps the hopes and promises that the song portrays through the eyes of possibly the future Nobita. "I want to stand by you (just like how you have stood by me)..." My heart simply melted. Oh, and I'm fond of sunflowers.

Has anybody watched the anime film 'The Garden of Words' by Shinkai Makoto? I (still) haven't, and it was supposedly a highly recommended and critically acclaimed piece from the same person who made '5 Centimeters Per Second' which I had caught only the first part. Anyway, pardon the digression. The image song for 'The Garden of Words' is 'Kotonoha', which is Hata Motohiro's 15th single. The cover art was done by Shinkai Makoto himself. The song depicts the struggles to stay rooted in one's life under cruel odds and such, and the unlikely yet blossoming connection between two lonesome souls. The pitter-patter of the rain adds a tinge of helplessness to the tune.

The two-disc compilation also includes Hata Motohiro's major debut single 'Synchro' which was released on November 8th 2006. The song marked his nationwide prominence as 43 radio stations around Japan selected it as one of their rotation songs. The simple design of Hata Motohiro strumming his prized guitar on the cover pretty much defines what his music roots are about. The breadth of emotions that is contained within a frame of words is just brilliant. It is no wonder that many of his songs have been used as television and movie themes. I'm glad to have gotten acquainted with Hata Motohiro's music.

Of course, there is also 'Altair' which isn't featured in the best album but easily remains one of my favourite songs. Ah, the good old days of jazz with Kaoru and the gang are still in my mind!

Let the heart keep warm.

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

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