After writing about so many visual kei bands already, I thought it would be a great time to put down a few of the Japanese rock- and popbands I’ve been listening to. Stereopony is one of them and yes, it’s an all-female poprockband.
Credit: Ookami 87
Stereopony was formed in 2007 in Okinawa and consisted of Aimi (middle, lead vocals and guitar), Nohana (left, bass) and Shiho (right, drums). Consisted in past tense yes, because sadly they disbanded in 2011 to play for different bands. Nevertheless, with 11 singles and three studio albums they left enough music to enjoy. The songs of Stereopony are in the pop rock genre and are often used as opening songs for series and movies.
Stereopony anime openings
Stereopony and especially anime series are best friends: At least five songs were used as anime openings (Bleach, Mobile Suit Gundam, Darker than Black: Ryusei no Gemini, Tegami Bachi: reversed and the anime movie Yatterman). Their song Seishun ni, Sono Namida ga Hitsuyou da! was used for a Lipton tv-commercial and Overdrive was used for the Japanese tv-drama Pro Golfer Hana.
Listen to Stereopony
Below are a few examples of songs Stereopony released and selecting just a few is hard every time, but I tried to choose songs that are representative for their whole repertoire and are familiar. These are my favorites, so if you want to see more music video’s: check their Youtube-channel (and buy their CD’s. Scroll down to see where you can buy them).
Stand by me
If you like a Japanese rock song sung by a woman, this one will end up on your shortlist. Everything is just right about this: the full-blast start, followed by the quirky change right before the lyrics kick in, the backing vocals during the chorus, the calm piece at the end… This music video was shot in one space, they wear one outfit and the camera has one focus: them playing music. And that’s all they need.
I am a hero
I couldn’t find the PV of this song, so I just put the live version here. And honestly: who cares? It sounds just as good as the song on their CD. Aimi’s voice is absolutely stunning and amazing during the ‘almost’ a capella part. And those backing vocals that come in at the end – such a lovely counterpoint and the shift in melody is beautiful.
Hitohira no Hanabira
You might recognize this one, since this song is the 17th (that many already? wow) ending of the anime Bleach. The guitar in the beginning gives a little spice to the overall calm and peaceful song. There aren’t that many surprises in change of tempo or strange instruments, but that just works in this song’s favor. Aimi’s voice is clear and constant and really pleasant to listen to. And of course they didn’t forget to put a nice guitar riff at the end, to slightly put the rock in the popsong so to speak.
It’s really too bad you can’t hear them play live again since they broke up, but I wanted to show you one of their live shows anyway to show you what their shows looked like. This is also a video of their last live, so it’s a little sad to see the band members cry when they play their last song for an amazing crowd. Just look at the way everyone sings Hitohira no Hanabira along on the screen even though the band members already left the stage. They will be missed, and I can only hope that someday they will play together again.
Well, comparing Stereopony to visual kei might be overdoing it, since these girls are from a different genre. But I like the natural, slightly alternative look they’ve got going in most of their clips. Compared to the fairy-like and out-of-this-world appearances some visual kei bands use this gives you the feeling that they’re closer to you. Of course they’re just a bit more talented than most people ;-). Fun detail to pay attention to: the black cat that appears in multiple video’s and also stands on stage.
Where to buy their music?
If you liked their songs and want to buy their music, here are a few links to the music of Stereophony. Over the border has (besides their song Over the border) also Habunko, OVER DRIVE, Smilife and Happy A on it. MORE! MORE!! MORE!!! has Arigatou, Super Girl, I am a Hero and Hanahikaru Oka in the list of twelve songs. Stereopony – Best Of Stereopony has their great Stand by me, Hitohira no Hanabira, Everything OK and I do it on it, as well as Vibala Vibala.