Grooving to the Very End

Using a diverse pallet of funk, hip-hop, big beat, house, techno, blues, soul, jazz, and more, composer Hideki Naganuma illustrates a vibrant variety of serotonin-laced jams. Unlike traditional artists, most of his songs do not use lyrics to provide the “meat” of a song. He instead uses sampled vocal cues that act as compliment to the instruments.”Teknopathetic” is a standout song in his discography, as it relies more on its vocals to send a message.

The song establishes a chorus which is repeated many times:

Stop
playing games
Thinkin’ I’m done
exchanging names

Beginning on the second repetition of the chorus, a woman’s chanting provides a rhythmical backing. A “conversation” between the two persists.

Later, the second verse employs the use of iambic pentameter:

You’ve been taking much too long
tryna’ find what’s going on.
Wasting all my precious time
while you’re making up your mind.
You think you’re really in the know,
waiting for the sign to go.
I’ve been waving that green flag
and you still ain’t moving.

A sense of rhythm is maintained through the lyrics, as the first seven lines stick to a distinct seven-syllable beat, broken by the last line’s six. Additionally, the first six lines contain three sets of consecutive rhyming pairs, adding to its poetic nature.

“Teknopathetic” speaks of “love and its troubles”, evident through its usage of dating terms and conversational vibe. This pairs well with Hideki’s other song “The Concept of Love” which shares a similar overtone. The break at 2:54 uses a dissonance of synths followed with disharmonic piano plinks, the woman’s voice is noticeably replaced, and it ends abruptly after the word “stop”. The dissonance is disorienting and contrasts to the harmony present earlier. Both the woman singer leaving and the abrupt ending signify the termination of the speaker’s relationship. Love is complex, confusing, unpredictable, and at times, pathetic.

Jet Set Radio Future (the work where “Teknopathetic” is featured), is a video game depicting an alternative future to Japan. Freedom of expression is illegal and gangs of teenagers roam the streets, fighting against oppressive forces via graffiti and roller blading. Released in 2002, its namesake stems from its explosive soundtrack featuring both licensed hip hop and Japanese punk rock, as well as tracks original to the work.

3 thoughts on “Grooving to the Very End

  1. Aaron Q.

    This song is similar to the one I chose in that the lyrics to an extent hide behind the other aspects of this song, in this case the very digital and claustrophobic composition. I think the purpose of the language and the actual poetry is to benefit the song and the game rather than stand on its own, but in order to do that well it has to be really good poetry, or else it would be pretty annoying. Even when the word choice doesn’t draw attention to itself, every word still means something.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Krys B.

    This song is insane in the best way possible. Even though the lyrics seem hidden behind the instrumental, the repetition of “stop playing games” while the song seems to get more and more intense is super powerful. It’s as if there’s a battle between the lyrics and the instrumental that may be representative of the complexities of love that you mentioned. I also think that when the second verse comes in and the instrumental calms down feels like the lyrics are winning, but immediately after the instrumental comes back with more intensity which is like springing back into the argument. Overall this is a great song and I think your breakdown of it helped a first-time listener to really understand the meaning or even form their own meaning! (also the album art is sick)

    Liked by 2 people

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