Broadcast 2: Anly
Welcome back to our second broadcast of O!susume. I started off with an older band, so this time I decided to go with someone (much) fresher on the scene. Gotta hit those, uh, younger demographics or something.
Years Active: 2014 to Present (2018)
Core Members: Anly (singer/songwriter)
Point of Origin: Ie, Okinawa
Anly is a singer and songwriter from the southern island-chain prefecture of Okinawa. It’s actually difficult to compose much of a bio for her simply because her career is still so new; 2018 marks just the third year of being a recorded artist, having celebrated her 21st birthday just a month ago.
Like many singer/songwriters in her style, she started on the guitar when she as as young as 6 years old, being taught basic chords by her father. She had a brief stint playing trombone in her high school’s marching band, but quit soon after to focus on her own music, which she had been writing seriously since junior high. Anly’s first single Sixteen was released on January 19th, 2015, a day before her 18th birthday.
Her career took off from there, gaining even more recognition when she opened for established Jpop star Miwa at a live house concert in Naha, Okinawa. Anly was signed to Sony Music Records and her debut with the label, Taiyo ni Warae, was released in late 2015. Her debut album, Anly One, was released on April 26, 2017. This album includes Kara no Kokoro, which was used as the final opening theme for Naruto Shippuden.
Anly was likely exposed to British rock music from an early age, and while it’s hard to tell if it had any direct influence on her own musical style, it’s clear her love for the bands remains strong. A cover of Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven was included as a B-side on her third released single, and a cover of The Beatles’ Come Together was the B-side of her 6th single.
With a singer still so early into what is hopefully a prolific career, it’s hard to give an experienced review of her work. While not all of her tracks click with me, she’s still got plenty of time to play around and figure out who she and still wants to be musically. That being said, she’s still managed to release a few soul-meltingly good tracks in her very short time in the spotlight.
Both Anly’s voice and persona give off the vibe of an island-born folk singer, but now that she’s got the power of an industrial recording studio she’s proven she can leave that image behind if need be. My hope is that she continues developing in both directions. Anly’s songs are still fresh with youth and perhaps some naivete, but that’s not a complaint. It’s also been interesting to watch her presentation as an artist change as she transitions from being a born-and-bred Okinawan singer to a Tokyo-centered star. In the Japan Airlines commercial spot in which her hit track Fire is featured, Anly trades in her flowing floral skirts and windswept hairstyle for a boss leather jacket and a haircut that came out of a Tokyo salon.
here’s that CM; it’s unfortunate that this seems to be the only instance of Fire that exists online, because I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t need to do themselves the favor of going out and listening to that song. If you’re able to buy the album Anly One, that song is worth the price alone.
Here’s what I presume to be Anly’s first music video, released in 2015. Not entirely sure why the whole video looks like it was filmed through a cardboard tube, but it’s doubtful Anly was working with a large-scale production studio at the time.
And finally, here’s Kara no Kokoro, her other smash-hit song. This appears to be the best-quality version available on Youtube, so enjoy some Naruto graphics along with your kick-ass vocals.
I’d also like to point out that Anly is just the latest artist out of Okinawa to gain national attention. She follows in the footsteps of Gackt, Orange Range, HY, Namie Amuro and Yu Yamada, many of whom had their time at the top of the Oricon charts. Okinawa has had a complex history (to put it lightly) with the rest of Japan, with its status as an independent culture being subjected to imperialist influence both domestically and by the United States, who maintains military bases on the islands. Many Okinawans continue to put great effort into ensuring their heritage is not lost and that their modern rights are not further infringed; it’s possible that wider recognition of these bands’ roots can help draw more attention to Okinawa’s perpetual struggle.
Thanks for tuning in! We’ll be back in a few weeks with yet another artist from Japan-land.
Where Are They Now? 2021 Update
hooo-ly crap has Anly come far in these last few years! At first it feels like she’s done with light folksy days, swapping out her sundresses for more gothy and k-poppy looks. But the great thing is that no matter what new genre she tries on, everything blossoms from the same guitar strums that first put her on the stage six years ago, making every new step of hers a tribute to where she started from.
You’re getting three videos instead of two this time because it’s unfair to make me choose.
man, DAREDA isn’t my favorite of Anly’s newer stuff, but every time I listen to it I question why it isn’t. It’s impossible to not get snagged by the rhythmic changes in tempo and tone, listening to her voice pop and crackle in the flickering dark. Also this MV is in the running for “lowest budget set of 2020”, in which the production team seems to have temporarily displaced the residents of a foreclosed crack den, looked around, and then dumped a bunch more shit on the floor. Or maybe they just asked them to wait in the kitchen, as they seemed to have only used two to three rooms of the house. Love it.
I don’t know what I was expecting from Anly, but it certainly wasn’t a surprisingly good take on American country music? I want more of this. Someone get her a wide-brimmed Cattleman and a Silverado with 0%APR for 96 months, let’s make her the next ONE OK ROCK of Americanized J-pop stars!
And of course, a JPop artist can’t get this big without doing the obligatory upbeat soft-pop radio-pleaser marketed directly at the Japanese millennial/zoomer baito culture. Seriously though, Japan’s economy must be in way better shape than ours if this MV can get away with making shitty gig work look this appealing to under-30’s. Also when I get super rich and get my Tokyo penthouse, I’m gonna be looking out the windows every day expecting to see at least one mid-Oricon chart artist dancing around on a rooftop nearby. (For real tho, Anly’s bopping about makes everything about this song.)
Artist Site: www.anly-singer.com
Official Blog: www.ameblo.jp/anly-music/
Sources Used: Wikipedia, jpopasia.com (top image)