Mini-Rant: The Music of Carole & Tuesday

Just to be clear, none of the following is to say that Carole & Tuesday is by any means a bad show, or even a below average one. There are numerous excellent aspects I’m happy to praise, including of course its general style and overall aesthetic, which is (unsurprisingly) far more sophisticated than any other title this anime season has to offer. More to the point, I’m enjoying watching it every week and am glad it’s going to have 24 episodes, which will hopefully be used to really flesh out its cast and do a solid job in terms of pacing.

But. My biggest problem with Carole & Tuesday is the one I never thought I’d say about any show with Watanabe Shinichirou at the helm: the music.

It’s not that I’m anti-pop. It may not be my favourite genre of music, but there are plenty of pop artists I like, both indie and mainstream, English-speaking or not. I also don’t think viewers necessary need to be fans of any particular genre of music to be able to enjoy it in a film or series – case in point, I really don’t tend to like rap or hip-hop, but I grooved to Samurai Champloo just fine. No, the issue I have with Carole & Tuesday is that the music just isn’t especially unique or memorable – a pretty major issue when the entire plot revolves around two girls who, according to the narrator, manage to create such a truly ground-breaking and inspiring musical experience that it literally makes history. Kinda hard to forget that part when we’re reminded at the start of every episode.

Now I’m sure plenty of anime viewers would argue that not all of Watanabe’s shows have featured iconic, or at the very least extremely memorable music, so why would I be singling out Carole & Tuesday? Respectfully, I completely disagree. There’s not a single Watanabe-directed show out there in which I’ve failed to remember the music specifically as one of its best qualities, and not a single one where I can’t recall a handful of tracks, discounting the OP/ED just to be generous. That goes for those titles in which the music itself was not an integral part of the story, including Zankyou no Terror (man that has a great soundtrack) and Space Dandy. I may not have liked all the tracks equally, but they sure as hell got stuck in my head, and for the most part in a great way. Even Carole & Tuesday’s OP/ED strike me as fairly lacklustre though; inoffensive, to be sure, but far from any of the words I associate with the music in all of Watanabe’s shows, no matter who was sitting in the composer’s seat: distinctive, organic, infectious, innovative, impactful. Even just plain old ‘catchy’ would be stretching it a bit for me.

The shows needs -way- more of this type of music/scene.

The good news is, Carole & Tuesday still has 20 episodes as of this writing in which to render my above mini-rant completely void. And personally speaking, I’m greatly looking forward to eating my words.

Question of the post: What are your thoughts on the music in Carole & Tuesday? Do you have a much greater appreciation for it than I do, or are you also waiting for something with more impact?

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11 thoughts on “Mini-Rant: The Music of Carole & Tuesday

  1. There’s always a challenge filming stories that involve artistic superlatives. If a book or a manga describes a gorgeous painting or a smash hit piece of music, that’s all in the reader’s head, but if that story gets adapted for film or anime, then the creative team has to come up with something that’s at least plausible enough for the audience to suspend their disbelief. If a song in the movie is supposed to be a smash hit and your audience yawns through it, that’s a problem. “That Thing You Do” is the classic example, and for that movie they pulled it off, but that was just one song – that band was never supposed to be the second coming of the Beatles or anything. That’s an awfully high bar for any set of performers, even fictional ones.

    I’m not watching C&T – I wanted to, but, you know, Netflix. I hope the music gets better for you as it goes on, though.

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    • Agreed, and I definitely have a lot of sympathy for creators who write about some kind of artistic creation that then needs to adapt that creation to screen. I certainly don’t envy anyone the job, and pleasing everyone is always going to be an impossible task. That said, Carole & Tuesday is an anime-original, so it’s not as if the creators needed to adapt anything they themselves did not come up with. Moreover, the narrator explicitly tells the audience that the characters, or at least their music, -is- supposed to be some kind of second coming. That’s a lot to live up to, and so far I think the show has been falling rather flat in that regard.

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  2. So far I’ve loved the melodies but not the lyrics so much. Also while I love the ED, the OP kinda actually gets on my nerves a little bit. It might just be because I’m not used the sound yet.

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    • Imo but the OP is a lot better than the ED, which all but puts me to sleep. Neither are what I’d call great though. I don’t dislike the melodies of the insert songs but they’re just kinda ‘there’ for me, without a strong presence one way or another.

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        • Yeah, I just find it very dull, probably the dullest piece of music so far in the series. I know musical taste can differ wildly though, so it’s definitely not my intention to call out other people on what they like. 🙂

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      • I like the ED a lot personally, mostly because it feels like some kind of ’80s synth-pop Cindy Lauper-ish throwback. I don’t think it’s some amazing song, but it feels very distinctively like a tribute, while a lot of the rest of the music in the show feels just… kinda there.

        The last episodes at the talent show actually have made matters worse for me, because it’s one thing to hear from everyone that C&T are sooooo amazing even though their music is pretty average at best, and it’s another to see them win agains OG Bulldog’s “Anthem” which was actually a genuinely original, innovative piece of music.

        Then again, true to the talent show experience.

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        • I like the OP music better, but mostly just for the starting guitar riffs – though the visuals are quite lovely, which is probably what sells it most for me.

          Yeah, I don’t watch talent shows myself, but the one depicted on Carole & Tuesday feels relatively true to form. I haven’t been a big fan of the last couple of episodes, in part for that reason… except for the Mermaid Sisters, of course. I all but spat the water I was drinking out of my nose.

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  3. I can’t say the music is anything special, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for the story and just accept that it’s in-world great. I’ve heard a lot of people say the songs are generic, though, so it’s definitely not just you and me.

    I’m still not quite sure where the story’s going, though, and I worry that I’ll have a far more severe problem with the story’s take on music in general. I sense there’s a thin red line of “music is feelings!” and they use the AI as the cool trend/cold heart combo metaphor.

    I’m becoming increasingly disenchanted with the show’s comedy, for example. I hated the AI scam in episode 4. If you’ve got an AI at that level, it might as well be able to write music. But more than that you get the feeling that the show will cast people who get music as techno-illetarate (not being able to parse 1-star ratings, for example), and I’m also not sure what to think of the manager’s credentials at that point, as he seems to blunder through a layman’s idea of how to promote music. It’s as if the show brushes off anything professional, and good music is made in the backyard. It’s stupid and flat and boring, and it’s not a good angle on music, in my take. Why set it in the future and on Mars, when all you’re doing is caricature inhumane production models, and lovable dorks with heart.

    I’m holding out hope that the resolution is going to merge the two streaks at some point, so that what you hear now is actually more the seeds of what’s to come. You know, like AI can’t take care of music by themselves, but they’re a useful tool? (I’ve had fun with a recent Google Doodle that would harmonise any tune you put in in the style of Bach. Some of it was aweful, but some of it was actually interesting and gave well known tunes an interesting twist.) There is a sense that neither side’s perfect at the moment, so it’s not impossible.

    I’m not as optimistic as I’d like to be. I mean, you set your story on Mars, in the future, and then you name and reference songs that are old even now? Why?

    I did really love that first session between Carole and Tuesday, where they sounded awkward at first, then found something that worked, lost it again, and found it again – a little quicker this time.

    I did find the muzak that our manager disliked more interesting to listen to than the songs of our heroines. I’m still hoping for a little a merger here, when AI-music idol and our heroines’ stories converge. Not sure though. But if so, the songs could be more conventional right now on purpose. They’re dull in the singer-songwriter-with-a-guitar way rather than the Stock/Aitkin/Waterman overproduction manner (if we’re referencing the rough time frame of the songs referenced), so there’s that.

    So far, though it seems the inverse of Kids on the Slope, where we had this new foreign music invade, for a progressive and creative feel. Carole and Tuesday so far feels reactionary – bring back the good old times. Parts of the show are really good, so I hope they won’t go straight-forward nostalgia in a futuristic setting. That wouldn’t work for me.

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    • I’d be able to suspend my disbelief and accept the music as in-world great if the show wasn’t specifically about music, but since it is, I’m firmly of the belief that said music should actually be good.

      I’m not quite as worried about the story (yet), because I don’t mind more deliberately-paced shows and think that Carole & Tuesday has enough time to perhaps tell a bigger and more nuanced story than it’s letting on at the moment. If it was only one cour then I’d definitely be nervous, but I have to assume there’s more to everything than currently meets the eye.

      You’re right that it does feel very much like an inverse of Kids on the Slope in some ways. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen I think, but it’s an excellent point.

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  4. Pingback: Anime Blog Posts That Caught My Eye This Week (May 10, 2019) | Lesley's Anime and Manga Corner

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