Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.
Tsugi no Ashiato is a Japanese Pop Music Album That Should Be Given Much Praise
Since I’ve written so much about the famous girl group AKB48, I would be doing the group a disservice if I did not give the album Tsugi No Ashiato a comprehensive review. Tsugi No Ashiato (The Next Footsteps) is the 5th album from this girl group from the Akihabara area of Tokyo. It was released on January 22, 2014 by King Records. The album is the follow-up to the one called 1830m released in 2012. Since I have the Theater Edition of the album, I will list the track listing for the album. You are about to see a review of a Japanese pop music album that more than likely has not seen much exposure in Western nations. How does this album sound over 8 years after its release?
Track Listing for the Album Tsugi no Ashiato
- (SNG) Koi suru Fortune Cookie (Fortune Cookie In Love)
- (C/W) LOVE Shugyou (Love Training) Note: C/W means that the song is a coupling song.
- (SNG) Sayonara Crawl (Goodbye Crawl)
- (C/W) (Strong Flower)
- (C/W) (The Wind chime That Day)
- (SNG) Eien Pressure (29th major single for AKB48)
- (C/W) Aozora Café (Blue Sky Cafe)
- (SNG) UZA
- (C/W) (I'm for You)
- (C/W) (Our Reason)
- (SNG) So Long! (Mayu Watanabe stars as the center for this song).
- (SNG) Gingham Check Note: SNG means that the song is a single.
- (SNG) Manatsu no Sounds Good! (The last single to feature Atsuko Maeda as a member of AKB48)
- (C/W) (The Road to Adulthood)
- (NEW) Chireba ii no ni... AKB48 Kenkyuusei
Tsugi no Ashiato Was an Instant Sucess
What makes this album particularly significant is that it was an instant success! It debuted in the top position in Japan’s weekly Oricon musical charts and by February 6, 2014 the album would end up selling over a million copies! It was the second such AKB48 album to sell this many copies.
Tsugi no Ashiato A Longer Review as of 2022
Your question may be is Tsugi no Ashiato that good to sell such a large number of copies? Great question! If I had to answer that question quickly, the answer would be a resounding yes! If this album is worthy of such sales, you can only imagine if this group could go any higher in terms of their success and they sure have.
The album starts off with the upbeat "Koi suru Fortune Cookie" which is AKB48’s 32nd major single. After a good song called "LOVE Shugyou" comes the best-selling 31st single called Sayonara Crawl. The single set a then record on May 22, 2013 for the most number of singles sold. The next song called "Tsuyoi Hana" is a beautiful song that can make the listener cry! It almost did it to me. The only difference between the regular and theater editions is that the theater edition has a bonus track called “Chireba ii no ni.” There are also contributions on this album by Rino Sashihara of HKT48, Rena Matsui (SKE48), Miyuki Watanabe and Sayaka Yamamoto of NMB48. Sashihara is the center for Koi suru Fortune Cookie. "Aozora Café" is another excellent that has a guitar solo in it! We also hear the great up-tempo song called "Gingham Check." In 2022, it is challenging to state which song is the best or my favorite but if we had to pick one without really thinking long and hard about it, the choice goes to “Blue Sky Café.” The song is lyrically is about a girl that has had lots of fun at the pool in the summer and she wants to drink canned coffee at the Blue Sky Café while making love to her boyfriend. She wants to relax enough as the song refers lyrically to the magic of time. It is something truly great that this group had a song this catchy. The song has a rock style solo in it too for good measure. “Our Reason” is also one of the strongest points of the album and this is a song about a girl that is full of anxiety because she is bad at love. She wonders why her boyfriend confessed to her. She is wondering whether they will be together in ten years’ time. In spite of the song’s message this is one of the best songs ever by AKB48.
Final Thoughts About "Tsugi no Ashiato"
Overall, Tsugi no Ashiato is a very enjoyable listen for those that have a liking for Japanese pop music. The Japan Times newspaper even reviewed and analyzed this album and it said that this album “encapsulates the hits and misses of AKB48 and modern J POP perfectly,” (Michel, 2014). I think you could say that this statement is pretty spot on. If songs like UZA are the lowest point of the album, Tsugi no Ashiato is still a pretty darn good release even for AKB48 standards. Put away those albums by No Doubt and listen to AKB48’s Tsugi no Ashiato! You will be glad that you did! Even the song known as Blue Sky Café isn’t sad in the literal sense but instead, one of the highest moments in the history of AKB48.
Are there any real misses in this album? Great question! That deserves analysis on its own given the enormous popularity of AKB48. The first real weak link or miss if we can call it that is the third song which in English translates to “Goodbye Crawl.” The singing in this song is very melodic but it is one of those songs that you may love or hate depending upon the type of pop song that you enjoy. It is upbeat for sure but it lacks the hooks of other songs on this album.
That stated, there are not many weak spots on this album which would make it average at best. Overall, this 2014 studio album by AKB48 is pretty darn good and almost excellent.
What is missing here is the fact that a few of the songs are a bit on the melancholy side. If you are a casual listener, you might find the album bland in some aspects due to having to accommodate so many different voices and to satisfy Japanese culture’s obsession with this whole idea of being cute enough. But for the fan that really loves AKB48, they will consider this album a big success.
How Was Tsugi No Ashiato a Commercial Success?
We would be doing this album a major disservice if we did not address the massive commercial success that Tsugi No Ashiato enjoyed upon its release. The album sold 962,000 copies thus taking it to the top of the Oricon musical charts. This marked the first time in 5 years and 2 months for an album to sell over 900,000 copies in its first week of release since the album called EXILE BALLAD BEST by the artist EXILE. That album sold 944,000 copies in its first week of release. However, this album for AKB48 was their best first week selling album. I'm trying to put this into perspective and this achievement to come so fast for this group is just amazing! I knew they are talented but even I could not have foreseen this coming!
Michel, P. S. (2014, February 18). AKB48 "Tsugi no Ashiato". Retrieved from The Japan Times: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2014/02/18/music/cd-reviews/akb48-tsugi-no-ashiato/#.XM-QguVKjIU
"Koi suru Fortune Cookie" Music Video
Rate the AKB48 Album Tsugi no Ashiato
The Song Known as Blue Sky Cafe
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2019 Ara Vahanian