TOKYO: Weird as it was at the time, in retrospect it’s a little easier to see how “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” became such a worldwide phenomenon when it was released by Pikotaro, aka Japanese comedian/musician Daimaou Kosaka. Yes, it’s a dumb song that’s barely 40 seconds long, and is entirely about combining pens, pineapples, and apples, but Pikotaro handles the borderline nonexistent subject matter with such sincerity and cheerfulness that it’s easy to get swept up in the irreverent fun.
But while “PPAP” is by far Pikotaro’s greatest hit, he’s released a number of other songs since. Remember that time he made a song about vegetables, where idol singers slapped him on the butt? Good times. Good, silly times. So let’s see what kind of wackiness Pikotaro is up to in his latest song, which just came out last week and is titled…”Everyone must die”?!?
As the video opens, we see Pikotaro standing in inky darkness, the only light coming from his halo, which is clearly a round fluorescent light bulb attached to a snaking clip anchored to his back. “The sky is blue and clear,” Pikotaro speaks, sounding like a minister addressing a congregation. “White clouds move slowly. Children Run around. Adults laugh a lot,” he continues, and as he paints this positive mental image, his surroundings become bathed in inspirational light.
“Everyone is born,” he points out, speaking to one of our only communal experiences that we share with every living thing in the world…and then he slams home the other one: everyone dies.
The song settles into an unsettling pattern, doling out uplifting, life-affirming spoken-word statements, but with Pikotaro always eventually coming back to the fact that everyone dies, which is really the only time he does any real singing, smiling as he proclaims “Everyone must die” no fewer than seven times in the three-minute song.
Up until now, it’s seemed like an effort in futility to go looking for any sort of meaning in Pikotaro’s music, but…what’s going on here?!? Maybe he’s slipped into a deep depression after failing to produce another hit on the level of “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen,” which propelled the previously largely unknown entertainer into the international spotlight, collaborating with artists from around the globe? Has his marriage to a beautiful swimsuit model 15 years younger than him hit a rough patch?
Except…neither of those explanations would really make sense, since Pikotaro doesn’t sound remotely sad as he repeatedly sings “Everyone must die!” He’s actually got a smile on his face, and the way he intersperses the harsh truth with gentle statements like “Let’s walk hand in hand. Let’s look into each other’s eyes” and “Where does the wind come? Surely from your heart” show that he’s got neither a personal death wish nor relishes the thought of others perishing.
The timing of the release of “Everyone must die” might be a hint, as it came out right in the middle of Japan’s Obon festival, in which the spirits of the dead are said to come back to their home towns to visit their living descendants for a few days. Death is part of the cycle of life, and it looks like Pikotaro has simply decided to sing about that in a more upbeat fashion than other songs and poems that have examined the limited amount of time we’re given in this world. It’s an unavoidable aspect of being alive, so there’s no use facing the fact with anything other than a smile.
“In the end, I wish you happiness and health,” Pikotaro tells us. “We’ll meet again,” he promises, with his original Japanese vocabulary including “dokoka de/somewhere,” implying that it might be in the afterlife. And then, to wrap things up, we get a final reminder, but for the first time with light radiating from the background, that “Everyone must die.”
So ultimately, there are two possibilities:
Pikotaro’s “Everyone must die” is a poignant, incredibly unique take on life’s impermanence, and also how that impermanence does nothing to diminish life’s value
Pikotaro wanted to make a really weird song, like he’s been doing for pretty much his whole career.
Oh, and of course, there’s also the most likely explanation, which is that both of those are true.
Source: YouTube/-PIKOTARO OFFICIAL CHANNEL-公式ピコ太郎歌唱ビデオチャンネル via Jin
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