“Should I tell you how I feel inside? … I feel just like Gingham Check”
If you are following this blog, you are likely already familiar with AKB48’s fun and crazy “Gingham Check” music video. The official YouTube video is below. (I remind you to turn on HD and “CC” for English translated lyrics.)
I think that a lot of AKB fans — and all of the the big-butted critics — could not appreciate the nostalgic meaning contained within the lyrics however. The lyrics may have gotten lost in these humorous parodies of Japanese horror movies. The video was a lot of fun, but it has already been the subject of other blogs. I will not talk about that now — but I will share this screen shot I once used as computer wallpaper:
The video is so Japan-pop-culture-bat-shit crazy, and the music is so fast paced, it may be difficult for one to catch the endearing simplicity and meaning in the lyrics. Despite the crazy humor of the video, it is actually a sweet, nostalgic song. The original lyrics are by Yasushi Akimoto. The Japanese/English translation is available from Stage48 linked here. (I do think that the English translation for the JKT48 later is a much better translation.)
I always loved the original, but now I think I like the JKT48 version more. It is sung in an Indonesian-dialect. Turn on the HD!
Somehow, someway — I am transported back to my childhood. In this twisted, time-distorted realm, the JKT48 girls are there! We are at one of those Americana “theme” restaurants, which feature pop culture artifacts such as Marilyn Monroe posters, juke boxes, neon signs, gas stations, etc. I do not know how, but the girls transport me back to my youth in the early sixties. This JKT48 music video is all about how I wanted to go on a date with this one girl that I liked. Somehow she has also been transferred to this time-and-space distortion.
The Jakarta 48 girls will help me out, as you will see.
This video version is probably a little better at capturing the spirit of the original song lyrics. Gingham Check is another “boy’s perspective” song, a format often used in the Idol genre. (i.e. although it is sung by a woman, the lyrics tell a man’s story). I think the lyrics read better if said by a male, and that is how I will explain the song. (Although the video above does not describe the lyrics exactly, it is still closer than the AKB48 version.) The tempo of the song is the same — upbeat, fun, and contains those great searing guitar parts. I think they used the same music track as AKB48, but just added JKT48 vocals in Indonesian. The happiness of the music perhaps masks the bittersweet nostalgia and (perhaps) emotional pain of the lyrics.
The song is about a boy and girl walking their bikes to work on a summer morning. I will infer that they work at the same seaside resort. The young lady wears a blue and white “Gingham Check” uniform for her job. The boy is in love with the young girl, who, unfortunately for him is only his “friend”.
He feels very conflicted. He likes the girl but is too afraid to ask her out. This conflict is symbolized by the blue and white “Gingham Check” pattern on the girl’s uniform. “Blue-White-Blue” is the pattern the pretty young lady wears, but it is also the pattern of his internal conflict. He wants to tell her he likes her, but what if she rejects him? His good intentions are checked by his doubt — blue-white-blue …
You girls have no idea how hard it is to make that first move. If women have the physical pain of childbirth, then men have the emotional turmoil of asking a girl for a date. I know, you are sitting in the comfort of your computer chair thinking: “That’s so easy. He should just tell her!!!” Well, he does not want to ruin their friendship. You see, he likes her, which makes him happy, but he likes her so much it hurts. Conflicted in opposite directions … blue-white-blue … just like Gingham Check.
As the sea comes into view,
In a single shade of blue,
It will tell me all I have to do,
All it takes is just one word inside my mouth,
But I try to speak and nothing will come out ..
I remember having these same feelings. I think that anyone can relate.
The summer goes on. Everyday he thinks that THIS WILL BE THE DAY that he will finally tell her how he feels. But of course he doesn’t. Blue-White-Blue. Of course, he is kicking himself, but there is always the next day when he will walk with her to work again. Should he tell her? … “Yes-No-Yes” … feeling conflicted by LOVE cross-hatched by DESPAIR … Blue-White-Blue …
The summer days, begin to shorten, the days become cooler, and the boy realizes he will never tell her. They will work together again next summer, so he might tell her then.
Should we be critical of the boy for never having the guts to speak up? No. That he never tells her of his love — is maybe not such a bad thing. One has to have compassion, even for your former self.
There was once a great movie line read by actor Jack Palance in the old Billy Crystal comedy movie “City Slickers”. The Palance character describes a farmhouse woman he would often see while riding herds back and forth across the prairie. He describes her beauty, and the song she often sang as she hung out her laundry. Smiling, he tells the other cowboys that he fell in love with the woman, and goes on to say what the memory of her means to him. The other guys exclaim: “But why didn’t you approach her … she could have been the love of your life”! Palance replies “… She is.”
It may be difficult for a young person to understand that. When you eventually reach the nostalgic place a mature heart has traveled, you may understand. Do we have the compassion to forgive ourselves?
I am also going to include the “English Version” performed again by JKT48. English lines are onscreen. Although some lines feel a little forced, a little awkward, in order to match the rhythm of the song, I think that the simple sweetness of the Mr. Akimoto’s lyrics shine through.
Lastly I will share with you the cover by GooseHouse sung in Japanese. It is very sweet. Full of joy in the way that only GooseHouse can make it! Their version slows the song and captures the bittersweet emotions and simplicity of the original Japanese lyrics.
The music video is FUN and CUTE. It makes me happy, in my world that is otherwise filled with ugliness. The “Big Butts” will never understand. Yet another reason Why I Like AKB48 — and the 48 Families!
Starlight: The JKT48 Indonesian version took four months of light-speed travel to reach my world.