Understanding Kikuo: Music that Tells a Tale


Kikuo’s song “Emptiness, Emptiness, Emptiness of Emptiness” on Youtube https://youtu.be/hL75gQUcu0A

ANABEL HOWERY, Staff Writer 

For many of you, Kikuo is most likely a musician you have never heard of before. I didn’t know anything about this artist either until about three months ago when I stumbled upon his music on YouTube. His unique style and lyrics quickly caught my attention, and I realized that I came across a music genre unlike anything I had heard before; it’s similar to Japanese pop, but underneath the bright and cheery vocals lies a dark and twisted undertone that gives listeners chills.
Listening to his music for the first time, I assumed he was a woman because his songs use female vocals. However, I discovered that he doesn’t use his own voice for his music; he uses Vocaloid, a singing voice synthesizer software that allows users to create lyrics and melodies with recorded vocals of a real person, who are generally singers or voice actors. The program uses synthesizing technology to combine the recorded vocals with the inputted lyrics and tunes, creating new and unique songs. It’s essentially using a person’s words from a recording to make music with certain syllables and added tones. If you aren’t that great at singing but want to create a song, or if you want to use a celebrity’s voice for your song, Vocaloid is a program that you could use.
Kikuo makes music primarily on Vocaloid and mostly uses Japanese virtual pop idol Hatsune Miku’s voice for his songs. Not much is known about the artist himself, other than the fact that he is a Japanese male. As you can guess, all of his songs are in Japanese, but if you take a look at one of his music videos on YouTube, English subtitles are available for western listeners to read.
So, what is so special about Kikuo’s music? Without reading the English translation of the lyrics (for those that don’t understand Japanese), his songs may seem like upbeat Japanese pop music that’s fun to dance to. However, as soon as you take a look at what Hatsune Miku has to say, the music is a far stretch from what you probably expected.
Kikuo’s style of music is generally described as creepy and unsettling. The lyrics of his songs discuss dark and sensitive topics ranging from loneliness to abuse, which some of his listeners can relate to. Some feel that his songs are simply just disgusting and nauseating, while others argue that Kikuo is shedding light on certain sickening yet real topics that are rarely discussed in public.
One of Kikuo’s songs follows the story of a young girl who is sexually abused by her father. Its name is “I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry,” and as you can guess, it is a very controversial piece. As I previously mentioned, many feel disgusted reading the lyrics of the song and are too disturbed to listen to it again. However, fans such as AishaSZ on YouTube have a different opinion and an interesting perspective about the message of the piece. 
AishaSZ comments, “I love this song for the mere lyrics. They’re beautiful and they express so many things. Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, rape, molestation, loneliness, loss and self-hate as well as a particularly peculiar sadness and emptiness that can’t be filled because of her rough past. It’s truly magnificent in a morbidly saddening way.” 
Some people appreciate Kikuo’s music because it offers empathy for listeners who have experienced some things mentioned in his songs, and exposes the horror that victims face in cases of abuse. On the other hand, some people have many negative things to say about the artist. 
When I asked sophomore Kuan Fu about the lyrics of “I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry,” he argues that they are “overly disturbing,” and if he had not read the lyrics the first time he listened to the song, his opinion would be “similar but toned down, as the music itself is extreme and adds to the creepy vibe.” It’s clear that there are two general major opinions about Kikuo: one for him and the other against him.
Another song created by Kikuo is called “Emptiness, Emptiness, Emptiness of Emptiness.” The name may make you guess that the music is quiet, but it is actually the exact opposite. Contrary to its name, “Emptiness, Emptiness, Emptiness of Emptiness” has a large number of filler sounds throughout the piece that seems random and unnecessary. However, Kikuo obviously put those filler sounds in the song for a reason, and he even emphasizes them by making them loud and clear during breaks when there is no singing. The random noises seem to have no meaning, which is precisely why Kikuo put them into the song. It’s as if they’re trying to fill in the blank spaces throughout the piece, similar to when we occupy our empty minds with useless thoughts and sounds. However, this is just my opinion, and I’m sure there are many different interpretations as to what Kikuo is conveying in the song.
Finally, the last piece I want to discuss is one of Kikuo’s most successful songs on YouTube. It has over 11 million views, with almost 15,000 comments criticizing or interpreting his music. Named “Love me Love me Love me,” the song has a sweet and eerie melody that gives me chills when I hear it. I, along with many others, believe that Kikuo is portraying the thoughts of a child who is a victim of the “golden-child syndrome,” which makes them believe that they can only be loved and receive recognition through accomplishments that display their good qualities, such as being intelligent or kind. 
A couple of verses that illustrate this are, “Nice results, huh? / Hey, hey, aren’t I a good kid? / Aren’t I a cute kid? / Hey, hey, I’m good, right? / Love me. / Love me. / Love me, more and more.” This obsessive desire to be loved and recognized is clear throughout the song and displays the psychological effects of what the “golden-child syndrome” can do to a child as they are growing up. Many listeners relate to this, as I’m sure many of you can as well.
These are just a few examples of his music; there is a lot more to explore, so feel free to take a look at his other songs! Although they might not suit your taste, I still believe that it’s important to be introduced to artists like Kikuo, who shed light on sensitive topics that most have never been exposed to. Kikuo is definitely a musician who does everything with a purpose. All his songs are masterpieces that he has spent lots of time and effort into creating, so I hope everyone can appreciate his songs, no matter what they think of them.