KOKIA ~ Follow the Nightingale

  1. Follow the Nightingale
  2. say goodbye & good day
  3. Follow the Nightingale (original karaoke)
  4. say goodbye & good day (original karaoke)

KOKIA, whose real name is YOSHIDA Akiko, was a child inspired by music since her birth in 1976. She originally studied to be an opera singer, which is evident in her rich voice, full of vibrato. In addition to her career in Japan, she has had several releases in Europe, namely France, and she has toured the continent in concert. She also studied for four+ years in the US, and thus has good command of English.
Follow the Nightingale is KOKIA’s 17th single and was released on November 21, 2007. Its first two tracks were used as the opening and ending themes, respectively, to the Nintendo DS game Tales of Innocence.

I find one of the most delightful things about Follow the Nightingale to be that it is like a 4:36 symphony. The song’s beginning is almost like a prelude or an adagio first movement with whispering and steady whole notes from KOKIA and is reminiscent of an awakening. A shaker for a few measures forms the bridge between the introduction and the chorus, which is driving and passionate. As always, KOKIA uses vocals for more than just the melody. She sings Japanese backwards, but as though it was written in romaji instead of kanji. “Attamijah ira tagonoma rakikotatta” is really 「会った時から、物語始まった」 (The story started from the time I met you). The music coasts into the next movement, an adante in which KOKIA wonders about life. After a recapitulation of the chorus and verse, KOKIA goes into an operatic movement supported by predominately piano and harp followed by a more lush instrumental, but it seems a little out of place at first. Then the music modulates into the coda, which KOKIA begins by repeating the same melodic sequence, but each time, a different drone vocal note is harmonizing it, and the song ends with a burst of energy. Despite the song’s variety of musical ideas all happening jam-packed, it is an amazing package that will get stuck in your head.
Language: Japanese (normal and backwards)
Mood: confident and pensive
Tempo: andante, allegro
Composition: A
Arrangement: A+
Overall: A

say goodbye & good day is another song of departure from KOKIA and is a more modern contrast to Follow the Nightingale in both sound and arrangement. The rubato introduction is a little shaky, but unique; rubato is not often utilized in jpop, so it’s interesting to hear. As the song progresses, the arrangement becomes increasingly warmer with strings and more acoustic guitar. The percussion prevents the beat from dragging and holds the song together even more. The final chorus has the richest support and the most embellishment, and it shines. Lyrics-wise, it is a pretty generic goodbye song, but KOKIA gives some insight with lines such as, 「小さなことにも全て意味があった」 (every little thing had meaning). I imagine this song would suit the end of an RPG like Tales of Innocence very well.
Language: Japanese with some English
Mood: nostalgic, acquiescent
Tempo: moderato
Composition: A
Arrangement: A
Overall: A

In my opinion, this single is good enough to be a double A-side, just as are most of KOKIA’s singles. The songs balanced each other well, and both are treats in and of themselves.
Overall: A