Lennon or McCartney?
Some time ago, Someya of Lamp tweeted a video called “LENNON or McCARTNEY.” In it, over 500 famous people are asked a simple question: “Lennon or McCartney?” For decades, “Lennon or McCartney” has been a fun topic of conversation to be shared with friends over some drinks. For me, my answer to the question changes over time. This, however, got me thinking about Lamp. You see, in my mind, you could easily ask the same question in regards to Lamp.
Nagai or Someya? Now there’s a question for you to ponder upon.
And to me, Someya is the McCartney and Nagai the Lennon of Lamp.
It feels so obvious to me. Look no further than Lamp’s second-to-latest album, Yume. Arguably the definitive songs of the album are the opener and the closer: Nagai’s “Symphony” and Someya’s “Sachiko.” Both fantastic pieces of music — trying to choose the superior song would be a pointless exercise. But to me it just highlights my theory. I just feel like, you know, in some alternate universe, if each of the songs were assigned to a Beatle, “Symphony” would be a Lennon and “Sachiko” would be a McCartney — even if neither song sounds very Lennon-esque, McCartney-esque, or even Beatles-esque. Not to my ears anyway.
“Symphony” is eerie. It has the Lennon-like dreaminess to it. The lyrics, too, feature beautiful, psychedelic imagery — if not quite on the level of “tangerine trees and marmalade skies.“
“Sachiko” is possibly the more “pop” of the two. It’s the “love song” — by the time it reaches the second chorus with the “いつかはこんな風に 終わること分かっていた” (“I always knew it would one day end like this“)… you have a pretty good idea of what the song is about. (Although, to be fair, the lyrics are the work of Sakakibara. But really, I feel like the importance truly lies in the melody.)
Both songs are equally as beautiful and full of nostalgia.
Nagai is also not as productive a songwriter as Someya. This mirrors the way things were especially in the Beatles’ later era. Similarly to McCartney, it feels like songwriting just comes more naturally to Someya. In saying that, I don’t mean in any way to downplay his abilities, nor to imply that what he does is “easy” for him. With the level of perfection you hear in Lamp’s music, I’m sure nothing they do is “easy.” Still, whatever the reason may be, the majority of songs on any given Lamp album are always composed by Someya.
In Lamp, Someya is the driving force. Not only does he push himself to make Lamp the fantastic band that they are, he also encourages and makes it possible for Nagai and Sakakibara to truly do something amazing — he makes them reach their full potential. Because Someya knows that his band mates can be goddamn incredible, if they want to.
And this is, once again, exactly how it was in the Beatles. It’s well-known how McCartney was the driving force in the band. Things like Sgt. Pepper and the rest of it — that was all him. His job was not only to write the amazing music that he did, but also to push Lennon, Harrison, and Starr to be the best. Because they had to be the best — they were the fucking Beatles.
And Someya knows that his mission is to make his band not just any band, but fucking Lamp.
Someya, like McCartney, is the melody maker of Lamp. Look at a song like “Kimi to Boku to no Sayonara ni.” Sweet and melancholy, the melody is so heart-achingly beautiful that I genuinely do not understand why Lamp doesn’t enjoy the success that it deserves. This song truly is pop music perfection. And it’s so “Lamp” — it’s a song only Someya could’ve ever written.
Nagai, like Lennon, is the self-doubting genius. Just like Lennon, he is often shy and embarrassed of his best work. Lennon famously thought that his voice sounded so unbearable, he had to always drench it in reverb in an attempt to hide it and to not draw attention to it. Nagai is the same. Just take a song like “Tsumetai Yoru no Hikari.” Music does not get much better than this. And yet, when Lamp played it live on a recent tour of theirs, Someya revealed during the show that he literally had to force Nagai to perform it. Even though it’s so perfect; so magnificent.
In closing, if I was asked the question of, “Nagai or Someya?” Then my answer would be…
Both. Because, just as it was in the Beatles, the beauty of Lamp lies in the richness of its music, and that richness is something that comes from them having — through some miracle that defies all odds — such a huge amount of talent and inspiration in all of its band members.
Lamp and the Beatles. We get to listen to all of it. Man. How good is it to be alive?