For our first serious song analysis, explanation and theory, I decided to chose the song Standard. We will proceed as followed: I give you the elements analysed, how many lines, definitions, rhymes etc. from both Japanese and English lyric. Then I will try to explain the song's context with concrete elements, and proceed to theories. Once it is published, based on your theories and commentaries, the song analysis will be edited with your suggestions. You can go back onto the song analysis any ime you want to.
Analysis of Standard
The song Standard has been written by Masafumi Gotoh and released for the first time in the Nano Mugen Compilation 2014 CD album compilation. The song is made of 6 verses, each have various amount of lines for a total of 17 lines, and isn't written like a poem. Scansion is useless here. Each verses have couplet rhymes, excepted the last one that has enclosing rhymes, and many words end with the "a" sound so assonance can be found numerous time in the Japanese version. The English translation is a good adaptation, the Japanese version has a lot of couplet rhymes and it's quite respected in the English version.
A lot of repetition can be found, the word "Quirky" is written 6 times, "Young girl" 3 times, "Young" 3 times too plus one time implied on line 5 "Boys around their early twenties". "She" and "Her" referring to the girl are a lot present. Many "Contrast" between words and verses are to be found in the lyric (we will explain it more later). What we aren't sure of: On line 6 "The young girl still sings as her quirky self", implied metaphor between quirky and young.
To summarize: The couplet rhymes combined with repetition, creates a linearity in the song, until the last verse where the rhyme is different from the start, breaking the linearity. The whole song is a game of contrast and antonyms.
Explaining the song
This part will be about summarizing the story, and draw something concrete out of this song based on our elements and analysis. The song narrates us a day of an unknown girl, who is young and quirky. She has dreams and is at least surrounded by people. She likes to sing and she draws attention, every young boys are captivated by her (line 5). She keeps singing until she dies. That is all for the summarize part. Let's go deeper into the song meaning
Explaining the song's message
Let's ask ourselves questions, for instance, is this song really about a girl? From the beginning to the end, the song narrates the story of a quirky young girl, she has no name, no symbol, no physical description. The only way to identify with her is in line 2 "Out of her small dreams", she is human and dream like all of us. Thanks to the repetition in the song, the girl is the center of this story, the main protagonist and we know that she is different from other people. Also, she sings, that's her main characteristic since she is doing nothing else in the lyric than singing until she dies, in line 16-17 "And though she was eventually forgotten, she just sang, still her quirky self".
A message can be rapidly drawn out of this, that is to say, keep believing in what you are doing, in what you love the most, in yourself. However, some messages are implied, almost hidden. In which world is she living? To live in a world means that you are surrounded by things. 3 things are clearly surrounding her: an old woman (line 4), young boys (line 5) and a clergyman (line 9). It shows that she most likely lives in our world.
How is this world actually? Well, the girl is living in a world that is surely limited to her country border, her city maybe, so she isn't travelling but rather living in a limited perimeter.
Now, that's where things are getting interesting. She is living in an old world, made of conventions. I'm going to use contrasting elements and antonyms to proves it. First she met with an old woman. Being a woman starts around the age of 20, to have the adjective old next to it amplifies the age of the woman. She must be aged of 40-60 years old. Then, a clergyman is introduced to us later, a clergyman is a man of the church. To become a clergyman at a young age is really not common. Plus, Church and religions are known to be old, from their existence to what they are teaching. Clergyman is the perfect symbol of the past.
It's interesting to see how Masafumi Gotoh is playing with contrast in this song. The first line of the first verse says "A quirky young girl sings from Monday morning", while the first line of the second verse says "Her first empathizer was an old woman in a red coat". Monday, morning, young, girl, to be "out of her small dreams" (line 2), all of this are synonym of "Future", even the line 3 "signs of hope blossomed" is something that we can refer to future.
The whole first verse is the symbol of Future, and this strong symbol isn't appearing in any other verses. The very first person she met in the song is an old woman, something coming from the past, who has lived more than the young quirky girl. On the 3rd verse, these elements of future (young girl, quirky) are squeezed by elements of past from the second verse with "old woman" in line 4 and "A clergyman" in line 9. Note that verse 2, 3 and 4 are the only one made of 2 lines, "Old woman" is opening the verses, and "clergyman" is closing them. This clearly show that she is surrounded by old things.
Masafumi Gotoh not only uses words to create a contrast, but is also playing with the lines' order, sending an implied message, which is "a young girl is living in a world filled with convention and old rules". Maybe you did not realize it, but he actually concludes this message and somehow the story on line 10 "Her small dreams became the standard today", implying that the story is settled in the past, and that her small dreams, which are actually things which have became common, true today, in our everyday life (we can for instance thinking about gay marriage, maybe she was in favour of it, promoted it, against everyone who thought that it was impossible, and that today it has become the standard, something common. This is just an example).
To summarize the whole story, and the message is now clear, the song is about a girl being different, nobody is like her, she had new ideas, believes and a new way of life, she had supporters, and because she kept having faith in her, her believes became true. The message is, believe in yourself, in your dream and do not give up whatever is happening because one day, your dreams will come true.
Now that we know the message, the context, we can start thinking of what is truly happening in the song to the girl. This is just a theory, based on arguments, you can agree or disagree with me, nonetheless, feel free to share your arguments in both case. Though I don't understand who is this old woman in a red coat (I did researches and found nothing) and I really believe this is something very important, the song is taking place where the religion is leading everyone, since this world is old and the story might have taken place before the 18th century, plus having written "clergyman" isn't here for nothing, religion has a strong place in this song. Being quirky at that time, especially for a girl, was synonym of being a witch. A witch who bewitch young boys by her voice (also maybe thanks to her physical appearance, but I can't prove this), and this is something that the church doesn't approve. From the clergy, she is a witch and must be burned.
In reality, in our world of today, she incarnates hope, future, new, and does nothing wrong since it has become the today's standard. I believe that she actually had been burnt alive at the center of the plaza, just because she was different, the "clergyman in a suit shouting out from the center" (line 9) is here to shout out her and expel the demon from her. That is cruel, and everybody is used to watch this (line 14,15 and 16 "Though nobody stopped to watch, not even to point a contemptuous finger, and though she was eventually forgotten"), however she kept singing until she died, still believing in her. If this theory proves to be correct, that would mean that Masafumi Gotoh is narrating us a different story from what everyone thought it was actually.
In any case, Standard is a great song and this song shows that Masafumi Gotoh, even if it looks like a simple song, has written something deep. We all thought it was another song composed just for doing the opening of the Nano Mugen Festival 2014, with a story that everyone will forget, that just like the girl, will eventually be forgotten, to finally prove that it was another beautiful work from Masafumi Gotoh. Yes, I'm personally proud of what he is doing. I support him in my own way, and he does the same thing for me in his own way, making music. Beautiful.