Misaki is AKB48's first enka singer. If you've never heard of enka, don't worry, I'd never heard of it either. Basically, it's what they call it when modern Japanese artists perform music that sounds like traditional Japanese music. This style of modern yet old school Japanese music is more of a post-war expression, as prior to the war ryukoka was what they called it when artists performed traditional-sounding Japanese music. Most of today's enka music consists of sentimental ballads.
Misaki's first solo single was "Mujin Eki," which did very well and earned her a newcomer award at the Nihon Yusen Taisho. Now she's back with " もしも私が空に住んでいたら ," which Google translates as "If I Lived In The Sky." (Phonetically, it's pronounced "Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara.") It's a truly gorgeous ballad featuring all sorts of lush strings as well as piano and traditional Japanese instruments. It also sounds like there are some horns in there, particularly during the chorus. As for Misaki's vocals, she does a great job of conveying emotion here, her voice filled with longing and hope. She also sounds wise beyond her years, her voice sounding as mature as it does beautiful.
Track two is an enka version of AKB48's hit "フライングゲット" (translation: "Flying Get"). Needless to say, this version has a totally different vibe than the original. It's truly awe-inspiring to hear how they transformed it into this take on it, which features traditional Japanese instruments galore. All sorts of wind instruments and string instruments that I can't even begin to identify. The one thing they did not do is turn the song into a ballad for this version. Even though most of today's enka supposedly consists of ballads, this take on "Flying Get" remains a mid-tempo number, allowing it to retain just a hint of a pop vibe.
The third and final B-side here is " 津軽海峡・冬景色," or "Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki," which Google translates as "Tsugaru Strait winter scenery." It's a cover but I'm not sure who did the original version or if it was originally an enka song. It's quite wonderful though. Soaring strings, wood instruments, organic percussion and some very impressive, shiny horns come together with Misaki's endearing voice to create quite the inspired and sweeping song. As with "Flying Get," this isn't a ballad either. In fact, it's more of an up-tempo song. It almost sounds more like an orchestral song than an enka song, assuming that most enka songs sound like the first two tracks here, but regardless of what genre or genres it might be, it's quite the delightful gem. (This single also includes instrumental versions of all three tracks.) -Michael McCarthy
A limited edition, first pressing version of this single is also available and features the alternate second B-side "Ojisai Hashi" in addition to a DVD featuring the music video for the title track and behind-the-scenes footage.