Welcome to the IMPACT series where I dissect notable and iconic sequences from games and movies, and how they broadened my mind and left a lasting impression on me, years to come.
For all of the times that they say it’s impossible
They built all the hurdles, the walls, and the obstacles
When we’re together, you know we’re unstoppable now
I have always longed admired the Japanese music industry. The breadth of genres in which they cover is immense and impressively unique, unlike their Korean counterparts. There is a reason why there is a J in front of the genre “J-Rock” because it mixes the sensibilities of rock with a unique Japanese touch.
ONE OK ROCK (OOR) is perhaps the perfect example of J-Rock done right. Heavily inspired by another legendary band, Linkin Park, OOR blends English and Japanese lyrics, with deep social themes and just good old fashioned hard beats that make for a nearly unbeatable combination.
But how did I first discover this band?
It was through a film of course, the Rurouni Kenshin series which always ended their films with a ONE OK ROCK number.
The moment I heard the song The Beginning play over the end credits of the first Rurouni Kenshin (2012) film, I knew that I had to go find more of their songs and see if they were good.
I was dumbfounded and ecstatic to find that so many more incredible tunes were to come from ONE OK ROCK, and yes … they could sing English as well as Japanese.
To this day, you can play a OOR song and I will immediately jump up and start belting out the lyrics. They have been a staple for me, on every single Ipod, phone and whatever else device that can play music, because to put it simply, there are times I cannot last a day without hearing an OOR song at least once.
I will delve more into how their songs have helped me get through tough times later.
But what is important to me about OOR is their incredible ability to create really emotional songs without compromising their overall message and melodies. They have gone through so many versions of rock, without ever really losing their unique flavour. Emo rock, Pop Rock, Hardcore, Alternative … but throughout it all, OOR has never lost their intensity and their relevance in appealing to struggling young people and inspiring them to be better.
ONE OK ROCK, to me is the personification of the angry, angsty, teen that resides in all of us, but uses that energy to create instead of destroy.
One of the only bands that caught me so wholeheartedly, that I had to attend their first ever concert here in Melbourne.
It was amazing. I was jammed into a tiny concert hall, that could barely fit all the other hardcore fans like myself and the energy was contagious.
For those who know me, I am generally a bit of a paranoid wreck when squished so close to hundreds of other people. I am always afraid that someone will hurt me, steal my wallet or do something else that is despicable.
But for ONE OK ROCK, the intensity in which they played live and sang so hard, made me lose my inhibitions. For the first time, I went wild and was fist-pumping, screaming and jumping up and down to every beat, every word and every song.
I don’t think I screamed any harder than I have, when I heard Taka sang The Beginning. The whole crowd was just so amped.
What makes OOR so good, are their powerful vocals, catchy lyrics, along with hard hitting rock melodies. Taka himself is a vocal prodigy, with the ability to soar high above trashing metal sounds and capture deep angst within us all. He can project like no-one else and maintain high notes all whilst running and jumping everywhere on stage.
His English pronunciation is practically perfect, a very rare sign of a man in possession of perfect pitch, as often Japanese people struggle with English sounds.
The band itself named themselves ONE OK ROCK, because of their habit of practicing at One O’Clock in the morning. Japanese wordplay actually dictates that the sounds of “R” and “L” are almost indistinguishable from one another, so it slowly morphed from OK ROCK into ONE OK ROCK.
If I am honest, there is a reason why Taka is the face of ONE OK ROCK, because his vocals are just so amazing, that they elevate the rock melodies that accompany them. His earnest delivery of every line and seamless transition from English to Japanese then back to English is remarkable.
Every song, from the harder rock anthems like NO SCARED to the softer soothing songs like Be the light really proves how Taka’s voice seems to just represent the cries of millions of young people who are in strife.
His voice simultaneously soothes you, comforts you and lifts you higher. His delivery lets you know that it’s OK to be in pain, and at the same time, reaches out to give you a helping hand to get back up.
It’s why, whenever I am in a dark place, I listen to ONE OK ROCK.
Its emotionally poignant to me, to hear their songs.
Every single one of us have that band that you own a lot to. For me, OOR is that band.
I found them on my own, and grew deeper and deeper in love with them, with each song I heard from them. I was probably the only hardcore OOR fan amongst my friends too, for a very long time, so the connection felt even deeper.
What really cemented my love for this band was my first ever solo travel trip, to Queensland for University Games, which was held in Gold Coast.
At the time I was a member of the fencing club and was competing up there for fun. But it was also strangely lonely, and I found myself wandering around alone a lot.
What kept the feelings of isolation away was OOR. They inspired me to fence better in the competition, explore more of the tourist town and just have a good time, venting my emotional state.
What I learned through OOR is that sometimes, your favourite songs can become the perfect emotional catharsis you need to banish bad moods and lingering thoughts.
Songs like The Beginning, Mighty Long Fall, Renegades, Broken Heart of Gold and Deeper Deeper helps unlock something inside of me that I can’t express anywhere else, even in writing. It allows me to experience the highs of certain emotions without really compromising my own emotional well-being.
In a lot of ways, it allows me to scream and vent my frustrations and anger to the beat of a great meaningful song and get a sense that some of the weight on my shoulders have been lifted.
And it is always those songs that give me that release.
Beyond the strong emotional attachment I have to their songs, OOR also opened the door to a lot of new J-Rock bands that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Bands like NOISEMAKER, The Oral Cigarettes, BAND-MAID, MY FIRST STORY (Taka’s younger brother’s band) and dozens more populate my Itunes Library and all their work would have never been discovered if I didn’t fall in love with OOR first.
Honestly, I probably don’t give OOR enough credit for just allowing me to really helping me express how I feel deep down inside about a lot of things, about situations that I struggle to control emotionally and to have a song that I can really plunge myself into without any inhibitions.
They really do represent a voice inside of me that needs to sing and scream.
ONE OK ROCK isn’t just another band to me. They represent a voice that sometimes needs to scream and emote above my usual rational self. I spend so much of my time controlling and understanding myself, that sometimes I need an escape, a way to express myself beyond my own control.
Listening to OOR does exactly that. The lyrics, the melodies, the beats and the voices just allow me to vent everything inside of me and make me feel like I am not alone.
No matter what anyone says, the band that you chose to follow as a teen, will always be the band that truly lets you explore the depths of your emotions. You can get older, wiser and supposedly more mature, but the moment you listen to your favourite teenage band again, you get that rush of adrenaline and energy that can only comes with young angst.
ONE OK ROCK, is more than just a truly unique band that mixes Japanese and English together. They’re the voice of hundreds if not thousands of young fans from all over the world who want to know that what they are feeling, isn’t just limited to them. It’s the roar of a crowd that understands you and is with you.
Only through rock, do you get that power.
And that is why they are my favourite band of all time and will always have a special place in my heart.