Listening to music is a great way to immerse in a new language, so this is a thread to discuss Japanese songs as they relate to learning Japanese!
This topic actually came up in the chat on a Discord for the WK Movie Club so briefly summarizing my thoughts from there:
- I don’t use Japanese music to learn because I often barely pay attention to lyrics in English, and my brain doesn’t really seem to treat Japanese in songs as ‘language’ as easily as spoken Japanese.
- Sounds can be lengthened/distorted which is unhelpful
- Songs are often much like poetry, so flowery words and less common pronunciations dominate. I swear I hear ゆく(行く) way more often in songs than in everyday Japanese
That said, some songs, especially slower songs with clear enunciation I can think of:
A level up in difficulty:
A song that I had zero idea what was being said the first time I listened:
Bonus! 80s cover of an English song:
I discovered character songs in college (the first was TeniPuri—Echizen Ryouma’s album RYOMA) and, looking up and following along with the lyrics, I actually picked up quite a bit. Of course, it was mostly readings, but some meanings too since I’d check the translation at least once for many of the songs. When I started “properly” learning in 2021, I was surprised how many kanji spellings that I’d grown used to from character songs aren’t all that commonly used, at least not without furigana. Prepared me for LNs though lol
I can barely do anything purely listening though since I have a problem with zoning out/tuning stuff out, even in English, but there are absolutely songs that I discovered years ago (some of which I even memorized, mostly phonetically) that I listen to now and realize I can actually understand a lot of it, and it’s kind of a weird—although nice, definitely nice—feeling.
Since I mostly just vibe to music, I rarely count it as listening practice. Only if it’s a song I’d never heard before or else one whose lyrics I’d never paid attention to, and I actually made an effort to pay attention to the lyrics without looking them up. But it’s nice when I can pick up the occasional line (or half-line, as the case may be lol) without having to try.
Except in ロビンソン: ルララ 宇宙の風に乗る. There’s no wind in space! But I can’t just turn my brain off because I don’t even need it on to understand that line. It’s a nice song otherwise though… Or at least Ono Kenshou’s cover; I still haven’t gotten around to listening to the original.