Release Date: 2007.11.21
Product Code: AVCD-31328/9
Label: avex trax
Format: Physical Single
In an industry as dynamic and competitive as the J-Pop industry, every record label must continuously struggle in the endeavor of remaining up-to-date and managing to accommodate every niche and interest group. In some instances this might mean a record label has to be daring and experimental, by picking up new artists which might or might not be a sound investment. Few record labels take this risk, especially with foreign artists. However avex trax seems to be one of those few who are willing to take that risk as long as the artist carries some potential. In the past few months, avex has been introducing several new faces in the J-Pop industry. The Tibetan/Chinese singer alan happens to be one of the newest addition to avex trax.
Alan Dawazhuoma was born in 1987 and grew up in the Meiren valley in the Rongxar county of the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China. Ethnically speaking, alan is of Tibetan descent. Her mother actually was a singer in the past, while her father is a civil servant. alan was always oriented towards music. She started to sing from a very young age and also started to learn how to play the erhu at the tender age of eight. A year later, alan was selected to play the leading role in a television drama titled “Tai Yang Nu Shen”, where she pursued the career of an actress.
alan attended a musically oriented high school and later enrolled in one of the most prestigious music schools in China, the China National Chinese Opera and Dance Drama Company. In these years, alan worked hard on pursuing a career as an artist. In 2005, alan made her musical debut with the cover album “Sheng Sheng Zui Ru Lan” under a Chinese indies label. The album has sold approximately over 50,000 copies. In October 2006, alan would participate in the Shanghai International Art Festival, where she managed to win second place at the 9th Asia New Singer Competition. In July 2007 she graduated at the China National Chinese Opera and Dance Drama Company with impressive grades.
alan was scouted by avex while their branch, avex china was holding auditions in Beijing. A few months later avex would schedule her debut single “Ashita e no Sanka”. The single was released on the 21st November. avex promoted this single fairly well for a debut single. alan performed “Ashita e no Sanka” in three variety shows, appeared on several events to promote her single and appeared in a few magazines. This single charted at #64 on its first week on Oricon and has sold around 2,062 copies, which is fairly satisfactory for a debut single and for its’ particularly unusual genre.
Ashita e no Sanka
The title, “Ashita e no Sanka“, roughly translates to “Song Sung for Tomorrow”. The whole creative process of this particular song suggested a high quality track. The lyrics were penned by Nojima Shinji, a famous movie and TV drama scriptwriter in Japan. The composition was the work of Kikuchi Kazuhito, who frequently works with popular artists like Ayumi Hamasaki. To top it all, alan’s Tibetan-style vocals were showcased in their full glory bringing the listener an epic and powerful title track.
One can clearly note how alan sets herself apart from the typical newcomers. Her vocals suggest years of vocal training and practice. Her low-notes are not particularly striking and are fairly soothing. However her high-notes are definitely something unique and unusual and are bound to attract attention in the future. The chorus is particularly powerful, where alan unleashes her so called “wailing” which sounds so haunting. It’s fairly impressive how alan manages to hit those high notes and hold them for so long, while managing to sound like she was in control throughout the whole track. It’s also highly suggested to watch her live performances of this track, since they manage to live up to the studio version.
The instrument choice matches her “mountain-notes”, which are reminiscent of her Tibetan roots and the traditional Chinese folk mountain songs. I was particularly attracted to the traditional arrangement, which takes influence from contemporary enka and Tibetan music. The instrumentals are fairly mellow, as if they are only there to assist alan’s powerful vocals. In fact, at certain instances one can almost feel that alan is drowning out the background music with her high notes. The instrumental choice contains some percussion and string elements, bringing forward a cold and desolate atmosphere, fitting for the winter season.
The music video was offered for complete streaming prior to Alan’s debut at her avex official website. It was shot on a beach at Hokkaido, which was also alan’s first time at the island. The promotional video is highly artistic and makes heavy use of imagery. alan’s face, her outfit and images of nature are frequently utilised. The filming style utilises a variety of filters to reflect the mood of the track and there are also some computer graphics elements inserted to render the scenes more dramatic. The result was quite powerful and aesthetically pleasing. There is also an extra introductory clip from the DVD edition which speaks about earth, referring to her as out mother and our awareness towards taking care of earth. Overall the whole video ties in the concept of safeguarding the planet for future generations.
“Sakura Modern” retains the Chinese elements, most particularly with the selection of instruments. There is an extensive use of bells and Asian instruments. The elegance brought forward in this mid-tempo ballad is quite pleasing. It’s as if one can materialise a mental image of an oriental scene. The slightly upbeat tone of this track also makes it particularly catchy to listen to. Overall the focus of this track seems to be on the arrangement and composition of this track. alan’s vocals here aren’t as exciting as the title track, but she still manages to bring forward a satisfactory performance and a new element to this single. She uses her vocals differently, fitting in with the mood and tone of the track and having a more assertive tone, as if she is relating a an ancient fairytale.
This single was particularly attractive in the manner that it brought a refreshing breath of air from the typical formulaic J-Pop. alan’s style is particularly appealing since it delves into various unusual genres, which makes her stand out of the rest of the industry. I appreciate her unique, powerful and clear vocals, her ability to manage to hit high ranges and the decision to focus on folklore music, especially since her vocals would be wasted on mainstream pop.
“Ashita e no Sanka” was definitely an excellent debut single and despite the fact that it was not a huge seller, the packaging of this single produced a very high quality release. Overall I was quite impressed with this debut single, which manages to bring so many new elements. Although alan doesn’t seem the kind artist who would make it big in Japan, she is definitely someone that deserves attention and has a lot of potential. I shall be definitely keeping an eye on her releases in the future.
- Ashita e no Sanka
- Sakura Modern
- Ashita e no Sanka (Instrumental)
- Sakura Modern (Instrumental)