Yumi Nakashima (of GO!GO!7188 and chirinuruwowaka) is a consistent songwriter

“GO!GO!7188” was a Japanese band active between 1998 and 2012, with music varying between different styles of rock, punk and pop. Most of the music was written by Yumi Nakashima, now active in the indie rock band “chirinuruwowaka” (“チリヌルヲワカ”) and the more experimental project “YAYYAY”. To me it doesn’t matter what band she is in, because the music is always in Yumi Nakashima’s own world.

“Aa Seishun” (“あぁ青春” / “Ah, Youth”) by GO!GO!7188.

How is Yumi Nakashima’s music? It’s beautiful, eventful and hard-hitting, with strong melodies and clichés used in a thoughtful and varying way, making it both easy and hard to understand. The melodies are often a bit dark and mysterious (just a bit, a very lighthearted bit), but usually dissolve in something happy and nice. Chorus and verse are sometimes present but the songs often float around in other kinds of structures, since Yumi really does whatever she wants in her melodic and sometimes anti-melodic songs. The songs are experimental, but they never get lost in the experimentation, and they’re also very poppy.

“Like the melody and lyrics I make, I don’t think it’s basically simple. It’s often said that the melody is strong and you don’t know where the chorus is” – Yumi Nakashima (auto-translated quote)

Her songs mostly rely on the compositions. Not that much on effects, production or trends. This makes them raw and bare, and they could be covered by a lot of other artists without losing the quality. What I’m trying to say with this is that her songs are bigger than herself (even if no one would cover them better than Yumi sings them herself).

“I don’t do anything special about getting strange. But this time, I was a little worried, and I often talked with the members that the song I made might have become orthodox, and I remember being told, “It’s not normal at all.”” – Yumi Nakashima (this probably means that her songs are weird, but I’m not 100% sure (auto-translated quote))

“Rakuda No Namida” by GO!GO!7188.

And seeing Yumi Nakashima as a front-person is pretty fun. She is shy and a bit uncharismatic on stage, but her vocals are powerful and unique and she uses them completely fearlessly, which makes her cool and charismatic in an anti-way, which in the end makes her a really interesting front-person. She has stated herself that she actually started to sing out of practical reasons only (“[…] I wanted to play the guitar, but I never dreamed that I would become a guitar vocal. But I felt like I was driven by necessity (laughs). I happen to be able to play the guitar and I don’t have any vocals, so why not do either? That was the beginning of GO!GO!7188” (auto-translated quote))

A live clip of GO!GO!7188.

Yumi Nakashima has been a consistently great songwriter ever since GO!GO!7188’s first song “Taiyou” (“太陽” / “Sun”) (source) from 1998, and I’m trying to figure out how she’s been able to do this. She has never moved too far from her original formula. Trying to replicate earlier success can easily come out as unauthentic, but this is not the case with Yumi Nakashima. She never sounds outdated. She just seems to have something unique inside of her, that’s almost entirely unaffected by current trends and ideas, that always comes out in her music.

All videos above are with GO!GO!7188, but if you wanna hear something from chirinuruwowaka, check out this from 2011 and this from 2019!

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