So around a month or so ago, the well-known Japanese alt-rock band SHISHAMO released a new album, or rather a collection of their best songs over the span of five years and five studio albums. When it first got announced that they would be releasing a best album, I was actually going to write a “prediction” kind of post where I’d guess which songs would be included but I got lazy and it was too late at that point lol. I finally got to listen to it recently so instead of a prediction post, allow me to give my overall thoughts on it, from the perspective of a SHISHAMO fanboy.
But first, let me go through a brief history of SHISHAMO, in case you don’t know who or what I’m talking about.
SHISHAMO is an all-female three-piece alternative/indie/pop rock band, based out of Kawasaki, Kanagawa. The band got their start in 2011 while still in high school, as lead vocalist/guitarist Miyazaki Asako, drummer Yoshikazawa Misaki, and former bassist Matsumoto Aya were a part of the light music club (yes, like K-On!). The trio started writing original music in their sophomore year and in order to test their musical skills, they competed in a teen-based concert/contest as seniors, where they ended up winning the grand prize, as well as Asako winning the best vocalist award. But the success for SHISHAMO did not stop there. This group of high school students were graced with the opportunities to host a radio show, produce their own full-length album, and even go on a national tour. As more and more attention came their way, the trio would go on to pursue music seriously after they graduated from high school.
In November of 2013, SHISHAMO released their first studio and self-titled album, SHISHAMO. The variety of emotions, catchy lyrics, and overall being very relatable to the youth demographic is what made this band and their first album something special. After a ten month period involving doing their solo live concert and performing at multiple summer festivals across Japan, bassist Matsumoto Aya decided to leave the band for good in September 2014, as she made a promise back in high school that she would quit music once she turned 20. They would then replace Matsumoto with another bassist named Aya, Matsuoka Aya. SHISHAMO, with the newest addition of Matsuoka, would go on to create 8 singles and 4 studio albums, perform at many live events including at the historic Nippon Budokan in 2016 and garner a large fan base of teens and young adults that genuinely love the music they create.
There have been many, many SHISHAMO songs that have become massive hits whether that be “Boku ni Kanojo ga Dekitanda” with its great expression of youthfulness, the sweet and summer festival-inspired “Kimi to Natsu Fes”, or their most popular track to date in “Ashita mo”. A lot of those hits are, obviously, included in their recent best album so I just want to talk about this particular collection and what I think about the specific song selection.
I have two different thoughts about it:
On one hand, I believe it’s an excellent collection of the work and music they’ve created in the six years they’ve existed. If you’re a SHISHAMO fan or especially someone who is interested in checking out what this band is about, this best album is one you could consider taking a listen to. Not only did they include this specific group of songs due to their popularity (and the fact that most of it is just their previously released singles) but these really showcase the history of the band and how their musical style has evolved throughout the years. Hearing a more fun and upbeat song like “Ryousan Gata Kareshi” from 2014 and comparing that to 2017’s more mellow and emotional “Hora, Waratteru”; it really makes you think, ‘man, this group has changed a lot since then’.
But on the other hand, I’m a bit disappointed. Most of the time the ‘greatest hits/best’ albums that artists release just consist of all their singles and a few other songs within their albums that got popular (they could include remixes of their songs as well)… SHISHAMO goes the same route and I personally don’t like that. Not because I think some of their singles are bad, a lot of the songs in this album are some of my favorites, it’s just that I feel like they missed out on including A LOT of really good tracks that may have not had the same amount of popularity as their singles. And as a person who has listened to all of their albums multiple times, I can guarantee there are a bunch of those.
Songs like “Ikitakunai”, the bittersweet and certainly relatable “Sayonara no Kisetsu”, “Minna to Uta” with its cheerfulness, “Boku, Jitsuwa”, “Mahou no You ni”; all of those are so damn good yet they missed getting a roster spot.
But the BIGGEST surprise in my opinion was not including a song like “Nakaniwa no Shoujotachi”… it blows my mind! That song is so reflective of the band’s expression of youth and what it’s like being a teenager, and I’m just very surprised they didn’t add that one in. Plus, I believe it’s one of the greatest SHISHAMO songs ever.
To sum up this post: SHISHAMO BEST is a great collection of their music throughout the years, but I really wish they either thought about which songs to include more thoroughly or just expanded the selection. There are so many tracks that are not included in this album that, I believe, are worthy of being called their ‘best’ songs and it’s just such a shame they had to be left out. Sure, you can easily just go listen to those from the albums themselves but I think when you have the opportunity to compile a best album, you should take full advantage by choosing songs of different kinds. The obvious choices, ones that weren’t that popular but you’re still proud of them, sleeper hits, personal favorites, et cetera et cetera. Rather than a ‘best album’ meaning an artist’s most popular songs/singles complied into one album, it should have a more personal connection and a carefully selected list of songs that an artist can look at and go ‘these really are the best songs we’ve created’.
But that’s just my opinion. SHISHAMO BEST is a great album but I wouldn’t say it’s their ‘best’ attempt at a best album.
So that’s all I got for today. What are your thoughts on SHISHAMO BEST? Definitely let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!! 😀
7 replies on “Thoughts on SHISHAMO BEST (And My Problem with Best Albums)”
They’ve been on my radar for forever actually. Now that they have a ‘Best’ album out it’s probably time to start deep diving lol. Thanks for the write up! I can’t full remark on their actual material, but it’s always interesting to see a serious fans thoughts on an album like this!
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Glad I could convince you to listen to them a little 😛 If you do ever listen to the best album and become more interested in the band, I would definitely suggest checking out SHISHAMO 3 since I personally believe it’s the best one out of their discography (but all the other albums are great as well lol)
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Alrighty, I now have two albums to be on the lookout for to listen to in the near future!
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“[…] I really wish they either thought about which songs to include more thoroughly or just expanded the selection.”
I do wonder how much creative input and control the band themselves have in compiling this ‘Best’ album. It’s imporant to note here that SHISHAMO is (iirc) signed to a subsidiary of Universal Music which is for the most part is both one of the oldest and biggest record labels in Japan — wherein I believe putting emphasis on the former (and maybe a little on the latter as well) might give us an idea as to the nature of ‘Best’ albums in general.
From a purely business perspective I’d think it’s safe to say that generally ‘Best/Best of/Greatest hits’ albums are (in a bit of a cynical way of putting it) but another means of creating ‘new’ media for public consumption. The idea that putting together all the A-sides (the title track) of a band/artist’s best selling singles into one big compilation does make sense if the underlying thought to it is more or less: if it sold well the first time, then it can only sell well a second time. In fact this is already true when you consider that a lot of standard albums are composed the same way — with a good half of the song lineup (if not even more at times) coming from singles that were released prior.
Why the A-sides in particular and not the B-side tracks can be chalked up to the notion that people bought singles because of the A-sides and nothing more. Now, this might not always be the case, but it’s the safest and way of determining what’s ‘popular’ and ‘well-liked’ with the least amount of effort. *Safe* is the operative word here because, at the end of the day, record companies would like their CDs to be sold. An album full of widely known songs throughout the years would (arguably) be more appealing to people who only casually listen to them, than an album of B-sides and specific album-only tracks that only hardcore SHISHAMO fans would know. I would surmise that the former would be less risky of a release when taking into account the wider market who might not all be big SHISHAMO fans.
You are right however in saying that it’s a missed opportunity to put out songs that people might not have heard before. In saying that I can’t help but remember SCANDAL’s second ‘Best’ album (that came out only a year after their first one) which had *nothing but* B-side tracks in it. It *is* doable and, given how this is only SHISHAMO’s first ‘Best’ album, it’s entirely possible that they pull off the same feat if they ever come out with another one.
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I see, I see; that’s certainly a better way of looking at it. But yeah as you noted with the safe way of compiling these albums, the best album “norm” still kinda irks me lol. Like I get it and understand it from a business viewpoint but I’m just still bothered by the fact that this truly isn’t the “best” of SHISHAMO. And I don’t know if they do take this into account but some of the B-sides that I would’ve wanted to see on the album were still pretty popular on a platform like YouTube. All of their MVs have at least 2+ million views, and even “Boku, Jitsuwa” got 3.4 mil which is up there with some of the single MVs. As I said in the post, I think compiling a best album should consider multiple factors and given that YouTube/free online video sites/music streaming services are obviously super accessible platforms, it’s definitely something to look at regarding the popularity of songs, now that we’re in the digital age of music… I might be rambling at this point lol
But yeah, I shouldn’t fret too much since you are right; they could release a second best album.
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As someone who generally ends up liking the B-side tracks over A-sides myself, I agree (xD), though I can’t really think of a good way of establishing what the “best” songs of a band would be. While I was reading you post the most I could come up with would’ve been the band coming out with like poll or something, but I can see the difficulties that that would present. I didn’t think of taking ccount YT viewcounts, and I know that Apple/iTunes and Spotify (..? I think, not sure about this one) keep track of user playcounts so all of those could definitely be a good starting point. The only “problem” that I could see that might stem from using views as a way to gauge popularity is that it’s not a one-to-one representation of a viewerbase — where one song could’ve just been viewed by the same person multiple times over. Though I guess if someone’s replaying the same song that many times, then it *must* be good, so yeah :))) Not at all, I’m very fascinated by media behavior, and it was interesting hearing your take on the stuff.
Yep. I wouldn’t put it past to SHISHAMO to pull something like an unplugged/all-acoustic best album or a straight-up remix best album too really :p
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