I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com. Uematsu and Roth are responsible for helping take game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” orchestral concert series. After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.” I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.
“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story. The album is very much a product of Japan, as subjects range from the ordinary to the mythological to the poignant to the fun and the just plain bonkers.
The album starts out with the tropical beats of “Here Comes Conga Boy” followed by the harmonica-laden, “Gimme Gimme,” which is about a kid who goes around asking anyone and everyone for money. Things take a turn for the odd with “Hikkari Pikkari,” a story about a sprite who’s job is to reflect the sun’s rays off of his shiny bald head and onto the Earth. “No Worries!” carries a message about being happy with who you are…even if you happen to be a penguin. “Whistle A Song” is a happy ditty about the voyage of life, and “The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko” features the star-crossed lovers of Tanabata. The tone goes back to not-so-serious with “Coconut Castaway” and “The Chef Who Used His Noodle” the second of which chronicles the creation of a certain noodle dish. “Every New Morning” is a lullaby, as a mother wishes her child a good night. “Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail” is the rock lament of a Power Rangers-esque villain who laments about his kids being made fun of in school. The Swhail wishes his adversary would declare: “Without the Swhail I would be lost/Unemployed and eating taco sauce.”
As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it. That said, the songs feature a wide variety of different instruments and styles. Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout. As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl. While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.
Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs with my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.” I’ll give it a listen whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!
4 out of 5 Swhails.