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With a career spanning three decades as of next year and nearly 350 of their own songs released to date, B’z have had a long career in music by any measure. Their long-term success has led to its vocalist Koshi Inaba and guitarist Tak Matsumoto to occasionally be propositioned to create songs for other artists—many of whom were beginning their careers.
Kodoku no Runaway
The first of these collaborations was “Kodoku no RUNAWAY” (Lonely Runaway, 孤独のRUNAWAY). The artist in question was female guitarist Ataka Miharu who would soon be best known as the guitarist of girl rock duo KIX-S. Although not explicitly advertised as much, this version of the song actually features B’z outright. For the sessions, Tak wrote all-new music and Koshi provides chorus vocals that are now familiar to any long-time B’z fan.
One year later, B’z would do a self-cover of the song and develop it into the one that would become an early live staple for the band: “Kodoku no Runaway” from their third mini album MARS. Many of the same guitar licks and vocal hooks are present, but it is expanded into a vocal showcase for Koshi. The most prominent showing for the song was in a featured slot for B’z LIVE-GYM Pleasure 2008 -GLORY DAYS-, when it was played more in its revised, hard rock “Mixture style” reversion from B’z The “Mixture”.
As announced yesterday with news of the B’z COMPLETE SINGLE BOX, an all-new B’z song entitled “CHAMP” is now serving as the theme to a 7-Eleven Fair commercial. The commercial has been embedded below and gives our first taste of the upcoming 2017 album:
The song should take a similar path as did “Exit To The Sun” from EPIC DAY when it was used as a drama theme in November 2014 and was included on the eventual album in March 2015.
The fifty-third B’z single “Seimei/Still Alive” is now officially on sale! It has debuted at the top of the Weekly Oricon Singles chart with pre-orders sales in excess of 61,000 physical copies already moved. If you still don’t have a copy on the way, you can obtain one via CDJapan, YesAsia, or Amazon Japan.
As is always the case, the band have chimed in with their release message to mark the occasion which we have translated for you below:
In addition, the UCC Black x B’z commercial featuring “Seimei” is now on air:
What’s more, a making-of video for the special B’z-branded cans of UCC Black that will be available to winners of the 10,000-draw lottery was also made available on YouTube. The tongue-in-cheek video features the beans used to create the coffees being exposed to “Seimei” before being packaged and serves as a solid preview of the song as well:
B’z New Single
2. Still Alive
3. Sekai wa Anata no Iro ni Naru
Bonus DVD: 「Still Alive」 Music Video
Pre-order CD-Only Edition:
Pre-order CD+DVD Edition:
Pre-order “B’z x UCC” CD Package Edition:
NOTE: CDJapan offers release-day delivery, YesAsia offers free international shipping, and Amazon.jp typically offers lower price with later delivery
One of the more curious oddities in B’z lore and its accompanying fandom is the origin of the name “B’z“. A great many explanations have been proffered over the years (including both competing and supporting explanations by Tak and Koshi themselves in various interviews after being asked the question innumerable times). As many now no doubt know, “B’z” is pronounced the same as “bees” and occasionally as “bi-zu” (ビーズ) as a phonetic replacement by fans in Japan though the band use the former.
In 2012, as part of the B’z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free- tour that saw the band play both coasts of the U.S. and Canada, a camera crew from WOWOW followed the action and recounted it in the documentary Only Two. The title of which originates from Tak, who stated when asked about the founding of the band:
“In the beginning, I wanted to found a band with four members, but… [after meeting Koshi] I thought, ‘Only two is enough.'”
Later, when asked if he had a clear vision of the path B’z would follow, he added:
“I had a clear vision from the start: I wanted to form a band that could succeed in making hit songs, you know. That’s why I started a band with just two. In general, every member of a band is egotistic. I didn’t think it’d be well organized with so many opinions.”
As for the name they later took as their own, the most prominent explanation over the years became that B’z wanted to be an “A to Z” sort of band, a band from which you could expect any sort of music. This was shortened to “A~Z” and then “A’z“, but the poor connotations quickly made it an unfavorable candidate, which led to “B’z”. Tak also mentioned in a 1989 interview that the idea of having a “Z” at the end was the result of a casual remark by a staff member whilst they were recording their earliest demos. Another article quoted Tak as saying he liked the idea of using a “Z” in the name and thought having a “B” would be appropriately masculine, with the number of associated B” rock artists out there. Thus, adding the two together formed “B’z“. Another related rationale that emerged in the press was that the band wanted to be inclusive of their favorite rock artists, and thus the name “B’z” included “B” for The Beatles and “Z” for Led Zeppelin.
As it turns out, there’s an element of truth to most of the popular explanations out there. From the aforementioned documentary, in their own words, here is an English-subtitled account of the band explaining the way the name came about:
The first “Seimei”-themed version of the “Seimei/Still Alive” single hit airwaves today during Detective Conan and has been preserved below for those that wish to see it. The single will be released on June 14th and also includes the Detective Conan theme “Sekai wa Anata no Iro ni Naru“.