Music Hour: Pastel * Palettes
Recently, I’ve been keeping myself busy by writing about the (as of this writing) seven bands from the Japanese franchise, BanG Dream! For those of you who are unfamiliar, BanG Dream! is an all-girl band multimedia project consisting of video games, comics, anime, live concerts, etc. I got into it myself through their rhythm game and can’t get enough of it. The music in particular has really resonated with me and has given me a newfound appreciation for Japanese Pop/Rock. Originally, I was only going to cover my favorite groups, but I’ve had so much fun writing these articles that in the end I decided to try and cover all seven groups. One group I have yet to cover is the fictional Pastel*Palettes, a band of Japanese idols. I have to admit, I was initially dismissive of them, mainly because I could never get into the concept of idols and therefore believed that their music wouldn’t appeal to me. I came around eventually and recognize that they have some worthwhile music. What follows is an overview of the group and what music I think is worth checking out.
BanG Dream! was originally conceived with the premise that the voice actors could play the instruments of the characters that they portray. As of this writing, there are indeed four bands that meet this criteria and frequently perform live in concert. The last three groups consist mostly of voice actresses with no musical experience and provide the speaking and singing voices of the characters only. Pastel*Palettes is one of these groups and consists of five members. They are: Amita Maeshima as Aya Maruyama, Ari Ozawa as Hina Hikawa, Sumire Uesaka as Chisato Shirasagi, Ikumi Nakagami as Maya Yamato, and Sawako Hata as Eve Wakamiya. As the lead vocalist of the group, Amita Maeshima is the member who has stood out to me the most, having a black belt in karate and former idol herself who was part of the idol group SUPER☆GIRLS. I recently watched a fan-made documentary where I learned that her journey towards becoming an idol was not an easy one, and had to work hard and overcome obstacles to get to where she is today. I found her story truly inspiring and my respect and admiration for her grew a lot after learning about her struggles. I’m going to post the first part of the documentary here and highly recommend watching it.
Much like the other groups in the BanG Dream! franchise, the music of Pastel*Palettes is produced by Elements Garden, a group of music composers who have produced music for numerous artists, anime, video games, etc.
For anyone wanting to give Pastel*Palettes a listen, I recommend checking out their first album, called TITLE IDOL, which was released last year in May. This album collects seven songs that had previously been released as singles, and four new songs. Speaking for myself, it took awhile, but I finally came around to recognizing that they have some good, not to mention catchy, pop songs. Amita’s style of singing took some getting used to, but I find her voice quite soothing at times, and I can feel her passion and energy when she sings. The rest of the group mostly provide backup vocals, and I think they do quite well at harmonizing with each other. That being said, some of the members do get a chance to shine, such as Sumire Uesaka, an established singer/voice actress herself, who co-sings several songs with Amita, such as “Yura-Yura Ring-Dong-Dance.”
For me, this song ranks up there as one of their best songs. I love the music in this song, not to mention that Amita and Sumire sing very well together. I also really like the lyrics, which are surprisingly sad for such a colorful group. Speaking of the music, the instrumentation on many of the songs that are produced for BanG Dream! are always a treat to listen to, and that’s certainly the case for Pastel*Palettes.
Overall, TITLE IDOL is an enjoyable album that offers the best that Pastel*Palettes have to offer. While not everything is to my liking, there are plenty of songs on here that take my interest, whether because of their catchy hooks, harmonies, instrumentation, etc. If nothing else, it’s certainly nice to listen to something that’s different from the more “traditional” rock bands that are in the game, such as Afterglow or Roselia.
If you find that you can’t get enough of TITLE IDOL and want more, there are several songs that have only been released as the B-sides to some of their singles and can be easily found on YouTube. While writing this article, I went ahead and listened to them again. If there’s one song that I would recommend, it’s “Days of Embrace♪,” another duet song, only this time it’s Ikumi Nakagami who gets to show off her singing.
While there not as easily available to find outside of Japan, Pastel*Palettes also cover popular Japanese songs, such as opening and ending themes of anime. Covers are another unique element that sets BanG Dream! from other Japanese musical franchises and have introduced me to Japanese music that I would have never discovered myself.
BanG Dream! ☆LIVE
While Pastel*Palettes as a group are not capable of performing live in concert, Amita Maeshima herself has frequently appeared at several concerts, and has even headlined two shows all on her own, although some of the members do make guest appearances. It’s great that she’s able to do this and admire how dedicated she is to bringing to life on stage her character Aya Maruyama.
Brand New Pastel Road!
While Pastel*Palettes may not be a real group, there music is the real deal, and that’s good enough for me. While I was initially dismissive of them, I eventually came around to recognizing that they have some great songs and look forward to what they release in the future. While Pastel*Palettes may have originated from a video game, you don’t need to play it to enjoy the music, unless you want the full experience. So, even if you don’t care for video games or anime, I hope that you’ll be willing to look past the language barrier and let the music speak for itself.
- https://en.bang-dream.com/music/cat_music/pastelpalettes/ — List of musical releases by Pastel*Palettes
- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWy887F5DcK6B0AwON13rWg — Pastel *Palettes’ Official YouTube Channel
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn about some of the other bands in the BanG Dream! franchise, feel free to check out these articles.
Music Hour: Afterglow
An overview of Afterglow and their music, from the rhythm game BanG Dream!
Music Hour: Poppin’Party
An overview of Poppin’Party and their music, from the rhythm game BanG Dream!