Welcome to the second edition of “Wide World of Vocaloid”, a new spotlight column that will be showcasing with diversity and breadth of Vocaloid music. In writing these pieces it is my wish that our readers will be able to learn more a about wide variety of musical genres and see how they tie in to Vocaloid productions. Last week in “Cowboy(girl?) on the Run” we took a look in the merging of C-Pop (C for Chinese) and Vocaloids in the 2008 Album: “The Promise of Hatsune Miku”. We also compared an contrasted the ability of Miku Hatsune to sing in English and Mandarin. This week will be taking things in a slightly different direction, specifically that of Vocaloid 8-Bit/Chiptune creations. Let’s take a deeper look into this style of music and its relation to Vocaloids after the jump:
What is Chiptune or 8-Bit Music?
For those of you asking “What the heck is Chiptune?!”, all you need to do it think back to those early days playing Mario Brothers on your NES or Pokemon on the original Gameboy. Chiptune began as form of music made out of necessity for early computing systems. Lacking the power to play more complex music, 8-bit sound chips were the standard in many early consoles. Never willing to sell human creativity short, I am not surprised that Chiptune slowly evolved into an art form in the 1990s and 2000s. Much like the Vocaloid programs and their associated music, Chiptune is also a genre consisting of almost entirely synthesized instrumentals. To get a good idea of what Chiptune truly is, lets take a look a some examples. We will begin with a video featuring “8-Bit Weapon” performing their song “Bombs Away” on G4’s “Attack of the Show” Episode #5058:
Next let’s take a look at rare Chiptune music video, featuring the Finnish Chiptune Band “Desert Planet” performing the lead song from their “Moonrocks” album, “Riot Sector 68”:
Finally we will end this section with a look at one of New York artist “Bit Shifter”‘s popular songs: “Hexadecimal Genome”. Bit Shifter’s music is especially notable due to the composition of all his work on a pair of Nintendo Game Boys.
Who is Sweet Vacation?
Moving on to the next part of this Vocaloid tie-in, let’s take a look at the J-Pop music group “Sweet Vacation“. This group is composed of the two musicians you see above: lyricist/keyboardist/musician Hayakawa Daichi and lead vocalist Sitapha “May” Uttaburanont. Since their official start in 2007 they have produced 5 albums and numerous singles which are available on iTunes and Amazon Japan. Their most recent album “pop save the world!” recently reached as high as #61 on the Oricon Charts. To get a feel for what they are all about lets take a look at some music videos by the pair. The first video is of the song “I Feel So Good”, their debut single from 2007:
Second in our feature is the song “～I・NEED・TO・GO～” from the aforementioned “pop save the world!” 2009 album. This song is definitely upbeat and comes with another interesting music video:
Vocaloid: Where it all comes together!
So how are we going to draw all this into one connected article? With Vocaloids of course! Enter “8-Bit Darling Project” and “8-Bit Darling Project; Deluxe” a pair of 2009 Vocaloid compilation albums. This ambitious album project brought together numerous Vocaloid producers and Sweet Vacation themselves to produce a unique series of cover songs. Instead of simply having Vocaloids Miku Hatsune, Luka Megurine, and Rin Kagamine reprise Sweet Vacation, these producers took things a step further by remixing many of the group’s hit songs, often with an Chiptune/Electronica flair. Both variations of the album (EP and Deluxe) are available on iTunes (only $5/$9!!!) or Amazon Japan.
Let’s now take the time to examine the fruits of the Sweet Vacation and Chiptune fusion: The 8-Bit Darling Project itself. First Miku Hatsune’s version of “I・NEED・TO・GO”, this PV was remixed by Sexy Synthesizer and even features the Sweet Vacation crew as their animated selves with Miku, very well done:
Now a comparison the Sweet Vacation’s “8-Bit Darling” (featuring another animated PV with Miku!) and Miku’s version remixed by U-Ji:
Let’s not completely leave the other Vocaloids out of this. If you watch the video below you will see Luka Megurine’s remix of Sweet Vacation’s “Trick or Treat” by producer eighteen degrees. This song steps further away from being purely 8-bit style but deserves inclusion nevertheless. Please excuse all the (Miku?! wtf) random art in the video if it isn’t to your liking as it was the only NND or Youtube link I could find:
Be sure to check out and support these artists on Itunes if you enjoy their work!
So is there other Vocaloid Chiptune-style Music?
The answer is an emphatic yes! Many original and remixed 8-bit Vocaloid songs exist waiting for you to find! One of the most popular and well-known within the genre is おにゅうP’s (OnyuuP’s) “Real-Life Stupid Game” ft. Miku Hatsune. A past visitor to the VocaRan charts it is a personal favorite of mine for the uplifting lyrics and positive message it contains. I have provided a Youtube embed below due to the presence of English Lyrics being available:
Another Chiptune Vocaloid Chart-topper is this somewhat melancholic “＊ハロー、プラネット。(*Hello, Planet.)”. Produced by Sasakure-P in 2009 it eventually merited the creation of this 3DPV by BrotherP later in the year (lyrics included):
**UPDATE** Here is a great recommendation from reader “Allen Walker”, enjoy Rin Kagamine’s “Continue?”:
To top things off lets end with one of the aforementioned 8-bit remixes, a wholly instrumental version of Melt by LSDj:
I very much hope that you enjoyed today’s feature and in doing so discovered something new about both music and Vocaloids. I encourage you to always explore all corners of the musical universe to find new and interesting things, whatever your fancy may be.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, and recommendations below. Did this piece stir your interest in the Chiptune scene? Anyone planning to follow Sweet Vacation now? What is everyone’s opinion on Vocaloid 8-bit/Chiptune pieces?
Thanks for Reading!