:: the site

I like music. I like Japanese. Somewhere in that intersection, Melody Cafe was born.

Melody Cafe is a website which reviews music (mostly from Japan), provides translations of song lyrics, presents news about upcoming CD releases (and occasionally artist events), and gives information about music artists and CDs. Most of the artists mentioned here range from obscure to moderately popular in Japan. By “popular,” I mean that the average Japanese person walking down the street would know the artist. That being said, the average Japanese person is not familiar with most of my favorite artists.

This website originally began as a series of web pages on my old personal site back in 2001. It quickly became apparent that the kind of content I wanted to write (CD album reviews, information, tracklists, and translations of Japanese song lyrics) did not lend itself well to individually hand-coded HTML files. The layout and formatting were also in dire need of an upgrade.

Then, along came the blog revolution. After seeing how well the blog format worked for the kind of website I would like to create (I cite musicwhore.org specifically as one of these sites), I started making occasional Melody Cafe posts to my personal blog. I came to the conclusion in 2009 that letting Melody Cafe have its own blog was the best way to post this content on the web. In the past five years, I have been too busy with professional study and training to move this site to a new server until recently, which is where this site is now.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 About No Comments

:: iconoclastiac (the webmaster)

Define: Just another music junkie who has previously lived in Japan.

Likes: sunsets, solitary walks on the beach, helping people, music (making and appreciating), karaoke, manga, drawing (especially manga), cats, Japan, and too many other things.


[ Tableau Blanc ] :: personal blog on WordPress
[ Elysium’s Gate ] :: original manga (undergoing reconstruction)

much less frequented:
[ DeviantArt Gallery ]

if you leave comments on my website, I will get back to you usually within a week. If you e-mail me at:


(replace the text [nospam] with the @ sign when copying and pasting), I may get back to you faster.

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 About No Comments

:: Music reviews and ratings

For music reviews, Melody Cafe gives three number ratings on a scale of 1 to 10. A rating of “10” is roughly equivalent to saying, “this is superb; music cannot imaginably get any better than this.” A rating of “1” means “this causes me to lose hope for mankind.” A rating of “5” means average. Note that this does not mean mediocre (see definition #2). By “average,” I mean the average quality of CDs you see being offered in a large CD shop. Taking an average of artists who have made it to major labels, I would say that the average quality of music is above mediocre (there are individual exceptions of course). The rating scales:

MC G-factor: this number is given based on how good I think the music is. By “good,” I mean production quality, singing quality (for vocal CDs), melody, strength of songwriting, integration of instruments, etc.

MC L-factor: this number is given based on how much I like the music. I (like most people) like music for many different reasons, not necessarily because it’s good, although that is often a factor.

Fan factor: this number is given based on how the average person who is already a fan of the singer/artist/band/group would likely rate the work. The fan factor will tend to be higher because a fan has bias in favor of an artist they already like and know.

None of these ratings have priority over the other. They are meant as a reference point for you, the reader, to figure out how I feel about a particular piece of work. Everyone has different opinions. If I”m reviewing something, of course it’s all in reference to my own biases.

but…what does it all mean?

Having a “G” and “L” rating are attempts to separate what is good from what I like. It’s my firm belief that the two are not equivalent. For instance, what you respect in a leader and what you prefer in a best friend can be two widely different things. Similarly, what you respect about a musician’s songwriting can be different from what you like to listen to for fun.

In general, when the “G” rating is much higher than the “L” rating, it means that I don’t like the CD as much as I recognize it is probably a good piece of work.

When the “G” rating is much lower than the “L” rating, it’s what you call a guilty pleasure — something that you know isn’t so good, for example smoking, but that you enjoy on some level anyway.

aren’t you still biased (toward what you like) when you rate “how good” something is?

Yes, of course. What you like and what you think is good can never be completely separated. What you think is “good” comes from who you are as a person. That plays into your personality, the kind of music you grew up with, the values you hold, the reasons you listen to music, etc…

then why have number ratings at all?

If we have imperfect standards, should we throw them away and have none at all? The numbers you find on this site are merely markers, indicators, that tell you about how I feel about music. Some reviewers prefer to do away with numbers and ratings completely. I feel that it’s better to know how a reviewer feels about something in relation to how they feel about other things. If you find that you agree with my reviews, then this site will be more useful to you in terms of music recommendations and the like. Ultimately, it’s just another resource.

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 About No Comments

:: Policy and terms of use

All data on this site (kanji lyrics, CD data, news) are things I have taken from other people, most often music artists’ websites and online stores. I use them non-commercially for the purposes of: (1) archiving that information, and (2) making it available to others in the hope of introducing music to more people. If you are offended or feel I am using any of this data wrongfully, contact me and I will remove the offending or misused material immediately.

All interpretation on this site (romaji lyrics, lyric translations, reviews, artist spotlights) is done by me, after becoming thoroughly familiar with the original source material. That means I listen to a CD many times before I review it, and I transliterate and translate song lyrics from the original source booklet, not “by ear.” Because these things are my interpretation, please don’t plagiarize or claim credit for them. If you see my words being plagiarized or other people are claiming credit for them, please let me know.

You are free to use anything that’s considered interpretation (again, that’s romaji lyrics, translations, reviews, artist spotlights, and so forth) for any non-commercial purpose. It would be great if you could contact me before doing so; I would really appreciate hearing from you! Thanks for your understanding.

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 About No Comments

:: About lyric translations and transliterations

These are some things to keep in mind when referring to my transliterations and translations. Every person who does translation work has their own style. This can be confusing to Japanese learners who are trying to figure out what’s the proper way to render a phrase in roomaji or what a translation means.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a linguist or Japanese scholar. I may use terminology for grammar and linguistics inaccurately. I am only trying to explain my general way of romanizing Japanese. That being said, if I wrote anything blatantly untrue with regards to grammar or Japanese, please contact me to have it fixed.

I use a Hepburn-derived system with my own personal modifications when transliterating lyrics. I’ve developed these notations over the years as I learned Japanese and wrote roomaji in ways that helped me understand the relations between words and letters. They are meant to balance two goals: (1) to make Japanese more easily read by English speakers and (2) to reduce ambiguity. By this I mean that you should be able to translate my roomaji texts back into hiragana/katakana without losing any phonetic information. There are too many idiosyncracies to document here, but here are some of the main points:

– Hepburn is more of a phonetic than a systematic way to transcribe Japanese sounds and characters. Whereas the Japanese goverment approved systemrenders 「しょ」 (“shi” followed by a small “yo”) as SYO, Hepburn spells it as “SHO”, which I use because it’s closer to the actual sound. IMO, people who are searching for romanizations of their favorite songs would prefer phonetic guides to how they’re sung, especially if they are unfamiliar with Japanese.

– Particles are a class of words that, to oversimply things, often function in Japanese similar to the way prepositions (“under” “by” “for” “of”) function in English. I usually translate particles phonetically:
「は」 “wa” (instead of the official “ha”)
「へ」 “e” (instead of the official “he”)
「に」 “ni”
「の」 “no”
「も」 “mo”
「で」 “de”

EXCEPTION: I translate 「を」 as “wo” (a particle that tends to appear between an object and its verb), instead of “o,” which is how it’s usually pronounced. This is to distinguish it from the letter 「お」”o.”

– I add apostrophies in words with 「ん」 (“n”, achieved by typing the ‘n’ key twice in roomaji input) if not doing so would confuse it with other letters usch as “na”, “ni”, “nu”, “ne”, or “no.”
  EX: Pon’yo = pon + yo, to distinguish it from Ponyo = po + nyo

– write extended vowel sounds as their kana equivalent. EX 「こうどう」 = koudou. NOTE: this is pronounced more like “koh doh” with both o’s drawn out, NOT like “koe doe.” Some systems use umlats (ô) or lines above the vowel, but these characters are not supported by every program or browser, so I prefer a more universal transcription approach.

– PLEASE NOTE that spacing between words is highly subjective and there are billions of variations on how people do this. In the Japanese language, words are not separated by spaces. Not spacing words in English letters would make things pretty unreadable. The question is, where should one separate sounds to make the romanization the most readable? I have differing opinions about where to put spaces, and you may see me inconsistently separate words in one lyric and keep them together in the next. A few guidelines I generally follow:

– separate particles from other words. Some people attach particles to the end of a word; I like to clearly separate them. EX: “tooku e” instead of “tookue” or “tookuhe”

  Exception 1: the particle is at the end of a verb, or is part of a verb conjugation
    EX: “kaetemo” (from verb “kaeru”) instead of “kaete mo”

  Exception 2: the particle (most often “ka” and “mo”) is commonly attached to the end of a noun, especially a pronoun or a question (who, what, where, why, how) noun.
    EX: “nanimo” (from noun “nani” = what) instead of “nani mo”; “nanika” instead of “nani ka”

  Exception 3: the particle is in the middle of a phrase that is considered a word itself
    EX: “tenohira” (palm of the hand) instead of “te no hira”
    EX: “maniau” (to make it in time) instead of “ma ni au”

– connect the roots of conjugated verbs and everything that comes after them
  EX: “tsuzukete” instead of “tsuzu kete” or “tsuzuke te” or “tsuzu ke te”

  Exception: the verb is followed by a noun, adjective, particle, or other distinguishable part of speech
    EX: “irarenai no ni” instead of “irarenainoni”

  Fuzzy areas:
  1. the verb is followed by any commonly used phrase, which takes precedence
    EX: the verb-phrase “kaerunda.” (“kaeru” + “n” + “da”) If the verb is used with the questioning phrase “darou”, I would write it as “kaerun darou” or “kaerundarou”, but not “kaerunda rou”

  2. The verb is in the “te” form, followed by another verb, particularly “kuru” or “iku/yuku”
    EX: “tokete” + “yuku”; I would write this either separately or together, depending on my mood and the total length of the verbs if joined together.

  3. Spacing between type 3 verbs and their “noun” roots
    EX: “benkyou suru” or “benkyousuru”
    EX: “aisareru” or “ai sareru”

– add hyphens between words that I feel are too related for a space, and not related enough to be jammed together.
  1. before honorifics (“sama” “san” “kun” etc) EX: Hikari-kun, ore-sama
  2. before group suffixes, except “ra”: EX: “watashi-tachi”
  3. after honorifc prefixes except where they have become part of the word (“go” and “o”) EX: o-kashi, go-sotsugyou

– Transcribe katakana in capital letters. Although this is a weak analogy, katakana is often used to show emphasis. Capital letters are sometimes used in a similar way for English.

Monday, February 27th, 2012 About No Comments