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Chage & Aska – Love Song (English translation)

Chage & Aska – Love Song (English translation)

Chage and Aska (aka Chageasu) were a powerful music duo through the 80’s and 90’s in Japan.  My wife grew up listening to them and is very fond of their song “Love Song”, which is a simple, honest, and warm song very different in my mind from much of what’s produced today.  To me it captures the optimism and remaining innocence of Japan’s prosperous 80’s and early 90’s.

Below you’ll find the song with timed subtitles so you can read along and understand the meaning as well as the full Japanese, romanized, and translated texts.  At the end there are a few translations notes.

This post makes limited use of material for the clear and express purpose of analysis and education (in this case the translation, analysis of song lyrics, and the study of music from a past Japanese era.)  I in good faith believe this falls squarely under the category of fair use.  If you believe otherwise please click here to contact me directly to discuss your concerns.


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On the left you’ll find the original Japanese with romanji underneath and on the right is the translation. Due to Japanese sentence structure often being opposite of English it’s not uncommon for line 1 of the Japanese to correspond to line 2 or 3 of the English and vice-versa throughout the translation.  Due to this song’s simple sentence structure though it has a mostly 1-1 correlation with each English line reflecting with the Japanese line to it’s left is saying.

Please do not take this material and post it directly to other sites or blogs.  I put a lot of effort into these translations and post them here as part of the content of this site.  Feel free to link to this page or share it via the social media buttons at the bottom of this post.  Thank you.

Chage & Asuka - Love Song (English Translation)

Translation notes:

I originally posted a translation of Love Song back in 2013.  I’ve done a number of freelance translation jobs since then and refined my approach so I wanted to revisit it to touch up some inaccuracies and improve it.  Previously I took a stricter literal approach to translation which I’ve come to realize doesn’t work as well for music.  When translating music it’s important to lean towards transmitting the intended feelings and ideas.  Small differences in translation can make big differences in feeling.

As an example, all of the translation for the given line below could be considered valid based on the meanings of the words in the Japanese.  (a) is very literal; (b) is literal but phrased more smoothly by inserting pronouns, using more natural verb tenses, or using alternate vocab of similar meaning; and C is slightly embellished to reflect what a native English speaker would say in the same context and spirit of the song lyric.  Options a and b are accurate but awkward or emotionless but c is more reflective of the song.

  1. Lines 4-5 「ひどいもんさ 生きざまぶった。半オンスの拳がうけてる」
    1. “It’s a harsh state, my way of life’s been beaten. The half-ounce fist is hitting back”
    2. “It’s a harsh thing, my life’s taking a beating.  I’m hitting back with a half-ounce fist”
    3. “life’s beaten me down, I’m only hitting back with a half-ounce fist”
  2. Line 6 「僕はそれを見ていたよ 横になって」
    1. “I was seeing it laying down”
    2. “I saw it happening, while laying down”
    3. “I saw all this happening, while just laying there”
  3. Line 12 「君が想うよりも 僕は君が好き」
    1. “More than you think, I like you”
    2. “More than you believe, I love you”
    3. “More than you can imagine, I love you”
  4. Lines 21-22 「抱き合う度にほら。 また君増えて行く」
    1. “Each time we embrace take a look, again you come to increase” (a pure literal translation)
    2. “Each time we embrace take a look, again you become more”
    3. “Each time we embrace take a look, you become more and more”

1.c. uses the English phrase “life’s beating me down” since it matches the meaning well (despite not literally matching the words.)  The word ‘only’ was inserted too to create a contrast between what the world is giving him and what he’s fighting back with. This contrast isn’t clear in more literal translations.

2.c. While the Japanese is simple and not flowery, a direct translation of the words doesn’t convey the feelings of passiveness and helplessness that Aska is singing about.  Seeing it ‘happening‘ while ‘just‘ laying ‘there‘ adds words that aren’t in the Japanese but preserves the meaning.  Care needs to be taken though that adding words doesn’t add meaning or nuance not in the original material.

3.c. The Japanese word “想う” generally means think or believe, but once again the established English phrase “more than you can imagine” was very appropriate for the intended feeling.  Also 好き ‘suki’ can be ‘like’ or ‘love’ depending on the context.  In this context it is clearly referring to romantic love.

4.c. is not literally accurate to the words but it is accurate to the meaning. While it doesn’t incorporate the Japanese word また (again), directly the repetition of the word “more” incorporates the concept.

Discussing these details might seem to be overkill, but it highlights challenges in translation.  Each line requires an active choice from a range of possibilities and just racing through doing a textbook translation of each sentence won’t really let the song be enjoyed in the translated language.

Music Monday – Eric Clapton, Change the World renditions on shamisen and by Korean acapella singer

Music Monday – Eric Clapton, Change the World renditions on shamisen and by Korean acapella singer

While I intend to post a wide variety of things both old and new, NHK Blends has been catching my attention lately with some very beautiful and culturally inspiring renditions of pop classics using traditional Japanese instruments very masterfully performed.

I present Eric Clapton – Change the World played on the chuzao shamisen.

Fast forward to 0:46 if you want to skip the intro.

 

While browsing YouTube one day my wife discovered a young Korean man named Inhyeok Yeo who does very interesting one-man acapella covers of songs including the song above (Eric Clapton’s Change the World.)  While I don’t know as much about Korea as Japan I do have a fondness for it as well and have been there several times, so I’ll occasionally feature Korean music and artists here as well.

Music Monday: Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’ played on the shamisen

Music Monday: Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’ played on the shamisen

The January 07, 2017 episode of NHK Blends featured Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off played on the Shamisen.  Unlike my earlier post of Madonna’s Like a Prayer which was very recognizable, I like how this performance melds it into a more traditional Japanese sound.  The performance begins after a 50 second introduction.

Hikaru Utada – Keep Tryin’ translation

Hikaru Utada – Keep Tryin’ translation

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Hikaru Utada has long been one of my favorite JPOP artists.  Her voice is more dynamic than many other Japanese female signers and her lyrics are a little more metaphoric and deep than typical JPOP.  She has a history of making very unique and creative music videos as well, and this one is no exception.

Translations are provided for educational purposes only and to provide analysis and deeper understanding of the artists work.  If you are interested in Hikaru Utada at all please purchase her work.

If video stutters or stops, pause it for a minute until it has a chance to buffer.

(Japanese/English lyrics via Google Docs embedded PDF)
http://www.aluminumstudios.com/media/articles/translation/Hikaru_Utada-Keep_Trying.pdf