The Old Man Series: Kobukuro

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A couple years ago I went through a phase where I was getting very bored with listening to the bubbly idol music I’d dedicated all my time to, and wanted nothing more than to broaden my music tastes and listen to more Japanese music. It was like fate; Kobukuro came to me in the form of two mildly attractive 30 year old men with amazing voices and heart-wrenching songs. Kobukuro, a duo made up of Kobuchi Kentarou and Kuroda Shunsuke.

I’d heard their songs by chance through dramas and such, but I didn’t really get to know them until I found a cover of Tsubomi by Tegomass, who I’d been a fan of for a while already. The song was amazing, so naturally I looked up the original artist and I was pleasantly surprised to find out who the song was by.

In fact, they were the first “old men” I’d ever found myself interested in, beginning quite the era in my Japanese music fandom.

Kobukuro is known mostly for the ballads “Sakura” and “Tsubomi”, both of which made famous thanks to the deep lyrics and karaoke potential. Most of their songs are written by Kobuchi, who unfortunately had the experience of losing his mother at the age of 18, so naturally a fair few of their songs are written in dedication to her. Because of that, it’s easy for anyone who has been separated from their parents or even holds their family close to their heart to relate with the lyrics in their songs.

The one thing I personally love about them is the raw talent they have in their vocals, and the fact that you really don’t need to understand the language to get the feelings they are trying to portray in each song. The music is simple; the lyrics are vague and poetic, and I find that hits me harder than anything else. They’re absolutely amazing live, also, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard such consistency in a concert before.

At the beginning, a lot of people can be rather put off by the music. Their famous songs are all ballads, and unless someone is a fan of that genre from the start, it can get rather boring after a while. But once you look deeper into their albums, you’ll find quite the variety. There is definitely an obvious bias towards the power ballad and jfolk genres, but there’s a lot of rock, acoustic and even pop songs on their albums. A personal favourite of mine is “Summer Rain”, a feel-good summer pop track from their most recent album, Calling.

I’m not going to say that their music is for everyone, because I know it’s not, but I’m sure that everyone can relate with at least one of their songs, and it’s impossible to deny the talent and hard work put into everything they release. Kobukuro are easily my favourite old men, and I never fail to jump at the chance to…force them on everyone around me.