Shiina Ringo’s Carnation: A Reincarnation of the Spirit of Bjork …?!
Shiina Ringo, the front lady of the eclectic rock band Tokyo Jihen, is finally returning to her solo career for a bit following a two and a half year break.
With her comeback comes the release of her 13th solo single, Carnation — which has a dazzlingly beautiful promotional video, and also serves as the theme song of the morning drama of the exact same title currently airing in NHK.
So, what’s special about this new single?
Carnation struck me because it bears resemblence of Bjork’s music in spirit — and then takes it to the next level. The strings-only introduction instantly reminded me of Bjork’s Joga [MV], and throughout it all, strings continue to play an instrumental supporting role as far as the arrangement is concerned.
As for the melody, Carnation may not be Ringo’s boldest or most revolutionary endeavor, but then, the subject matter — carnation — is not anything like a living organism from outer space either. The tuneful, soothing, gentle spirit of its melody somewhat resembles Bjork’s Cosmogony  [Xiami] from her latest album Biophilia.
Like a mild breeze on a mid-autumn’s night, both tunes somewhat soothe the wounds inside my heart with nature’s intrinsic healing power, that is, the power of life, whether from the starry sky, the open forests, or the breezy seashores. All this points to one important realization as reckoned by both divas: that the hidden (healing) power of nature is simply beyond our imagination; it is up to us whether to make good use of it or to simply let it go to waste.
Now the B-sides. My Loved Ones, or Watashi no Aisuru Hito (私の愛する人), is an unmistakable track with distinct Latino beats and rhythms intermixed with slight touches of classical piano lines and electronic dance music [Xiami]:
Interestingly, Life Goes Just as You Want It to, or Jinsei wa Omoi Dori (人生は思い通り), the last track of the CD single, sounds almost like what Ringo would have produced with her alter ego, namely her band Tokyo Jihen. The typical jazz band sound therein leaves traces of The Lady is a Tramp [clip], Onna no Ko wa Daredemo [MV], and Kurumaya-san [MV] here and there:
Overall, while Carnation is a far cry from the prototypical rock girl image for which Ringo became famous, the single itself actually marks how much she has grown and transformed herself into a musician who excels in not only her originating genre, but also a variety of other tasteful genres. The chemistry among these different elements will serve to keep her music both unpredictable and irresistible.