#1 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

Taking a cue from @mcghee's excellent KPOP thread (of which I am a frequent visitor/contributor) here on the Giant Bomb forums, I wanted to finally have a unified place to do the same for JPOP. I am a huge fan of both forms of music and would love to talk more about the songs I’m enjoying this year, especially considering how excellent it has been for JPOP thus far. Note that I am far from a JPOP expert, having just starting diving in last year, but I do listen to a lot of the new music that comes out. Feel free to bring things up I miss or get completely wrong!

I would like to do much the same as @mcghee chose to do in his thread and focus on new releases that members would like to key others in on. Of course, a bit of older material here and there is perfectly alright, but I’d like to keep the majority of the thread focused on the present.

Also, I highly suggest everyone use links instead of actual videos (after this initial post, I will do the same) because the KPOP thread proved just how bogged down one of these threads gets with twenty plus videos trying to load on one page.

I’ve been toying around with this idea for quite some time but was waiting for a really good song to kick it off. And here it is!!!

Some of you may be familiar with Charisma.com thanks to the excellent Top 10 Albums of 2013 list from @aurahack, which included Ai Ai Syndrome as the number 2 slot. After he brought this album to my attention (and several others’, including our own Jeff Gerstmann), I ordered it from Amazon Japan almost immediately. It was my first foreign CD order, costing me nearly $30--but holy shit was it worth it. Every track dripped with attitude and pulsed with fantastic, memorable beats. If I had discovered it earlier, it easily would have topped my list of favorite albums of 2013.

The video above is the first from Charisma.com’s new album (due out next Friday!), and I am already in love with it. It was one of those videos that I watched with a grin on my face and that tight sensation of joy gripping my chest. MC Itsuka (the vocal half of the duo) spits with just as much passion and attitude as her previous releases, hitting the beat with impeccable timing and flow. DJ Gonchi’s (the production half of the duo) beats are no slouch either, showing a skill that composers twice her age would kill to have.. The pair work so great together, and I highly recommend tracking down their past releases on Youtube. Their new album has just become my most anticipated one of the year, for sure.

Let’s post a couple more videos while we’re here, a few things I’m enjoying recently.

Here’s another of my favorites from earlier in the year. Ecosystem is a group I just discovered this year, and this video for Catharsis has sold me entirely on the group. Megumi (the singer) wraps her vocals around the rhythm of the instrumentation with precise perfection. Her every word drips with emotion and power, evoking a slightly darker tone than your typical JPOP song. She’s also quite adorable in that yellow sweatshirt. The beat is catchy as well, forcing me to tap my foot every time I listen to it. Sadly, this song still isn’t available for purchase (at least, as far as my meager Japanese skills tell me), so I’m stuck listening to this video time and time again.

Kurikamaki (a new group) may seem somewhat similar to Charisma.com at first (both female duos with a composer and an MC), but the two groups couldn’t be more unalike. While Charisma.com employs attitude and spitfire rapping, Kurikamaki is a much more light-hearted duo. They prefer a sound that feels more in place with the often-candied tones of JPOP--tinged with some pretty excellent beats (and even some record scratching, a personal favorite of mine). The pair has skillful rhythm in their singing too, fitting excellently with the composition. Also, as a fan of anything adorable, their bear outfits are heart-meltingly cute.

That should be plenty of videos for now; I don’t want to overburden the thread with everything I’ve liked this year right away. I just wanted to start off with a few songs to get things going. I may sprinkle in some other greats from earlier in the year, though, if this thread actually gets some play. Remember to please try to keep the number of embedded videos to a minimum if you decide to add something, to prevent the thread from exploding.

To quote @mcghee: “So what do you think? For better or worse, the [JPOP] discussion thread is born!”

#2 Posted by EdgeKasey (130 posts) -

Thanks for the links....counting the days to the Charisma.com new release.

#3 Posted by Video_Game_King (35995 posts) -

Can we all just agree that AKB48 is just the fucking worst?

#4 Posted by Zomgfruitbunnies (748 posts) -

Can we all just agree that AKB48 is just the fucking worst?

But I don't want to get stabbed.

#5 Posted by chatmonchies (16 posts) -

Can we all just agree that AKB48 is just the fucking worst?

Care to explain why you feel that way?

#6 Posted by Video_Game_King (35995 posts) -

@chatmonchies:

Because my experiences with them have not been pleasant?

#7 Posted by chatmonchies (16 posts) -

@video_game_king: fair enough, but I don't see how we should be in agreement that AKB is the 'fucking worst' because of your personal experiences.

#8 Edited by Video_Game_King (35995 posts) -

@chatmonchies:

A.) It was asked half in jest.

B.) I thought everybody else hated AKB48 as much as I do.

#9 Posted by EdgeKasey (130 posts) -

I don't mind the one tune...the one with the big crowd and everybody is dancing? That one is ok

#10 Posted by Hamborgini (21 posts) -

DIStopping was just delivered today. I'm not sure what my favorite track is yet, but like I I Syndrome, it was well worth the import cost. Besides, how can you go wrong with song titles like "Mr. BEER" and "100% Booby?"

#11 Posted by Daiphyer (1308 posts) -

So, I am a Japanese Arts and Literature student, and I am currently learning Japanese (N4 now)

What are some good songs with simple lyrics that would help improve my listening?

#12 Posted by Hamborgini (21 posts) -

@daiphyer: You might try listening to Ulfuls. While they aren't a J-Pop group, Matsumoto's singing is loud and clear, and they have a number of slower songs from which you'd probably be able to pick up a few new words.

Samurai Soul and Ashita ga arusa are some good ones.

#13 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

@hamborgini: GOD, I wish I could buy that right now. Sadly, I don't have anywhere near enough cash on hand to order a Japanese CD.

This thread didn't generate very much attention, but I was taking a bit of a shot in the dark, I suppose. Still, I'll at least make sure to post a vid or two in here every week or so to give anyone who's interested an idea of some songs that have come out this year. This week, I'll post a few more mainstream songs to counter the slightly stranger fare I posted above.

Sakura Apparition - Dempagumi.inc

This song is one of my favorites from this year, from one of the groups I most enjoyed from 2013. They are bubbly, upbeat, and adorable--everything you would expect from a JPOP group. Their songs, including this one, may be a little too intense for some listeners, but I really enjoy their energy.

Yumeno Hajima Rin Rin - Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

We can't not have some Kyary in the first page of this thread! For those who aren't familiar with her, Kyary is a young singer with a penchant for over-the-top, out-there music videos (although this one is pretty tame) and bizarre outfits. Also, her compositions are done by the masterful Yasutaka Nakata, a god among composers. His electronic beats are at the center of many of my favorite groups, such as Perfume and Capsule. This song in particular is a bit more normal than her usual fare but just as catchy and bound to bring a smile to your face.

#14 Posted by EdgeKasey (130 posts) -

@wemibelec90: I appreciate the links, so please keep them coming! :)

#16 Edited by Petiew (1330 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

Can we all just agree that AKB48 is just the fucking worst?

Why's that? Their music is hardly inspired but it's catchy enough and largely inoffensive. I like them enough that I sat through the entire 4+ hour election that aired yesterday.

#17 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

Today, I'll post a few less typical-sounding songs that I've been a bit obsessed with for the last week or two. These may be far less to everyone's liking, but I find them quite fascinating and interesting to listen to.

Chucky is Coming - Where's Andy

A very small, relatively unknown group for this one. From what little I can tell (with my pathetic Japanese skills), it seems this song is trying to reference the '88 film Child's Play, something that is just bizarre enough that it makes perfect sense for a Japanese group. I also find the whole thing supremely catchy; the main chorus has been stuck in my head for weeks. The video is worth a watch, if only for the intensity of the main vocalist.

Kakkurau - Akiakane (skip to about 0:38 to get to the actual song)

Now for something entirely different. As best I can make out from my research, Akiakane mostly covers previously released songs and/or does illustrations that better bring them to life. This release seems to be (to my knowledge) an original song of her creation. It features some pretty intense beats and a powerful yet beautiful vocalist. The video is also quite interesting, with some odd editing choices and animation that looks almost rotoscoped at times.

As always, feel free to tell me what you think!

#18 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

Time to post again! Since this will be my second post in a row, I won't be able to post again unless someone else posts after me. Given the lack of popularity for this thread, that might be awhile. I'll post a few extra songs today to tide us over until I can post again.

Pari Pari Paarii - Meg and Patron

With all the Vibribbon discussion on the site lately, I immediately thought of this song. It definitely feel like it fell right off that game's soundtrack, albeit a bit more modern and intense. Also, the video looks so similar to the game that I can't help but think it was influential on the style.

Parallel Spec - Gesu no Kiwami Otome

This one's a bit strange, almost sounding like freeform jazz. It's a bit minimal at times, but the craft at work here is phenomenal--each of the players know their instruments quite well. This may not be for everyone, but I find it so fascinating that I wanted to include it here.

Adventure - Alexandros

Adventure is pretty simple: a J-Rock with a great beat and catchy lyrics. There's really not much to say about it. I just really like the way it sounds, especially their choice of when to sprinkle in some English.

Matatabi Step - Passepied

This is a group that some of you are going to absolutely HATE. The main singer has a ridiculously high-pitched singing voice, one that will turn off a good deal of listeners. Personally, I love it. It meshes with the band's music perfectly and manages to stay stuck in my head for days after.

Dance All Night - E-girls

Boy, I really love this song. Dance All Night not a song that tries to do something different or creative--it just packs a fantastic beat that I cannot get enough of. The sound is quite interesting, meshing two early-2000s styles perfectly: Europop and the Latin craze. I...it's just so damn catchy.

#19 Edited by Illuminosopher (318 posts) -
#20 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

More songs!

fake!fake! - A Crow is White

Man, I love the way this video looks. The animation is extremely striking, full of life, and unbearably adorable (particular the main girl's look). It's great fun to watch, energetic and slightly insane. The song is pretty damn catchy too.

Oh Jane - Rina Katahira

I feel the best way to describe this singer is a Japanese Michelle Branch. As a huge Branch fan, this is pretty damn alright in my book. While Oh Jane is not my favorite song of hers, it still features everything that makes her work great: skillful acoustic guitar, a nice beat, and an atypical singing voice.

Dream Box - Yasuha Kominami

This has quickly become one of my favorite songs of the year. It is extremely sincere and absolutely beautiful. Sadly, the video cuts out much too early, nearly trimming two entire minutes from the song's length. Even still, it's absolutely worth listening to.

#21 Edited by Jazz_Bcaz (210 posts) -

How is there a JPop thread without mentioning Babymetal making waves in the metal scene at the moment?

They seem to have the most crossover western appeal since PSY right now, and hell it's the first 'metal' anything I've not instantly cringed at in a long time. Very soon they will land at Sonisphere and a London show. I can't wait for reviews.

#22 Posted by SteamRickroller (246 posts) -

Does anyone know if the BiS disbandment show at Yokohama Arena is being livestreamed anywhere?

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#23 Edited by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

@jazz_bcaz: Personally, I didn't see the point. After I saw Alex tweet about them a few months ago, I figured everyone knew about them at this point. I have their first album and really like most of it, particularly the less screamo-y tracks (as someone who hates that part of metal).

#24 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

This week, I’m only going to talk about one group--a duo everyone needs to know about RIGHT NOW. This duo goes by the name FEMM (which seems to stand for, bear with me, Far East Mention Mannequin’s Agency Syndicate), coming out swinging into the Japanese music scene earlier this year. At this point, they have released eight videos since February, and each of them is completely amazing. These videos are packed with loads of style, creative editing, sharply written lyrics, and some fantastic composition. I’m going to link three of their videos here (as embeds just this once, to encourage people to view them), but I urge everyone to view the rest if they like what they see here--each of them is worth seeing.

This is definitely my favorite song FEMM has released so far. It has SUCH a good beat, especially during the chorus. I just can’t get enough of it and constantly have it on repeat. The video is one of the simpler ones, but it still packs some very creative uses of perspective and choreography to make something memorable.

Wannabe is my second favorite song. There’s just so much to like about this music video: skillful lyrics, stylish editing and framing, great performances from the two women, and a really catchy song (particularly the chorus). It just barely gets edged out by Astroboy in terms of pure enjoyment but is still a phenomenal song.

This is actually my least favorite of the bunch, in terms of the song itself, but I couldn't neglect including it. I mean, just look at the title! While the title may make you think this song is about male prostitutes, the lyrics actually reveal it’s about women screwing men in order to get things they want. It’s such a bold thing to make your song about, and I love it to death for what it says. Also, the lyrics are superb, clearly having being written by someone who knows English fairly well. The choreography is pretty...special too. This is one of the best “what the fuck did I just watch?” JPOP music videos I’ve ever seen. Make sure to watch to the end for the best parts.

#25 Posted by EquitasInvictus (2004 posts) -

I'd like to contribute my favorite j-pop cover.

T-Tommy is still relevant... right?

#26 Edited by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

Let's get back to a variety this week, shall we?

Beam! - Nuclear Love

I really enjoy everything about this video. The song manages to be catchy while switching between a few different styles throughout. Also, I can't get enough of the repeated usage of "beam" in the chorus, no matter how simple it is. As for the video itself, it uses a very interesting visual style and tells a crazy, yet somehow perfectly followable story. It's worth at least one view just for its absurdity.

Hadakano Hadakano Hadakano Kiss - Juice=Juice

Juice=Juice is a group I put onto my Top 10 for last year even though I felt they could use some work. This year, they have gotten progressively better with choreography and singing to a point where they seem a bit more palatable to the masses. I still don't enjoy them nearly as much as other groups, but they can be fun from time to time. One thing their songs do have is amazing instrumentation, such as the flamenco-y beats found in this song.

10 Things I Care About - Marie Ueda

Time for your weekly dose of cuteness. I adore this singer's earnestness during this video, performing her little heart out--and being absolutely adorable while doing it. Her voice, particularly the way it gets deeper and warbles on certain parts, is like an overload of cuteness for me every time I listen to it. The instrumentation here is pretty good too, complimenting her voice well. I can't wait to hear more from her.

Another week down! Let me know what you think, if you want, or suggest things you might like to hear more of. I don't know everything about JPOP, but I do try to listen to a wide variety.

#27 Edited by CorruptedEvil (1728 posts) -

FEMM put out a new song, it's not very good. It's slow and lacking in any energy.

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#28 Posted by Humanity (8809 posts) -

@corruptedevil: I think it would be probably one of their best songs if the lyrics weren't so uninspired. At first I thought they were kind of a subversive band that mocked the entire pop culture, but listening to their other songs I actually think they're a very classic pop act.

I think Astroboy is probably the worst of their songs that sounds incredibly trite and generic. Fuck Boys is probably my favorite because it does something interesting and isn't just a throwaway pop song. The overbearing auto tune goes a long way in destroying any sense of originality in their music and honestly a lot of their beats seem a little too familiar.

It seems to be some weird project to churn out a bunch of semi-catchy pop'y club songs with minimalistic production values, and while somewhat interesting from a weird academic perspective it doesn't come close to a unique act like Charisma.com

#29 Posted by CorruptedEvil (1728 posts) -

@humanity: Except I don't actually like listening to Charisma.com unfortunately. I like the bit of an edge FEMM has in some of their songs, reminds me of the Teddyloid stuff from Panty and Stocking.

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#30 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

@humanity: FEMM certainly isn't anywhere close to Charisma.com, but I find them very fascinating nonetheless. The videos in particular are well put-together for being so minimalist. I can agree that the beats aren't mindblowing or super creative, but they do the job nicely in my opinion. I like most of their songs so far, although I couldn't explain why. I know when I like something musically, but I have a hard time putting it into context.

#31 Edited by Humanity (8809 posts) -

@wemibelec90: @corruptedevil: There is obviously no right or wrong when it comes to music, I was just adding in my 2 cents. I like Charisma a lot but I will also admit that since they don't sing in english (rap) I tend to tune out if the beat of the song isn't particularly catchy. Strangely I don't have that issue with someone like Yelle and I don't speak french either. I suppose rapping is just a bit more monotonous than singing if you don't understand it.

#32 Posted by PenguinDust (12450 posts) -

Perfume released a new single this month, "Cling Cling". A few others singles have also dropped in recent months, "Hold Your Hand", "Display" and "Ijiwaru na Hello". I really like "Hold Your Hand" and my fandom for this pop group continues. "Cling Cling" is their 20th single. They released the album Level3 last year, but since "Sweet Refrain" from late last year wasn't on it, I hope they'll drop another one by the end of this year. That would be sweet...

In a related topic, I've taken to listening to a lot of crazy, but well produced mash-ups lately.

#33 Posted by wemibelec90 (1549 posts) -

@humanity: Music taste is a very weird thing indeed. I can rarely predict if I'm going to like something, even from groups I really enjoy, so it's a bit of a guessing game for me too. I actually really enjoy music where I can't understand the lyrics (although I'm getting there slowly with Japanese). Likely, this is because I've never really cared about what was being said in a song and instead focused on how it was being said/sang. It's fascinating, really. I wish we understood what it was about a person's brain that makes them inclined to like country over rap or something similar.

#34 Edited by EuanDewar (4757 posts) -

I started listening to Shiina Ringo today cause my mate is a big fan o'hers and blimey is she class. Outside of her my knowledge is fairly limited. I know Cibo Matto, Scandal and Kyary, of course.

Also Boris who have only have like one JPOP album in their massive discography but they're unbelievably fucking rad so I'll mention 'em anyway.

#35 Edited by Humanity (8809 posts) -

@euandewar: Shiina is amazing. Very good diversity in the vocal range and music arrangement make her albums really interesting to listen to.

#36 Posted by SteamRickroller (246 posts) -

ONE OK ROCK released a new song for Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Taika-Hen and it's... actually suprisingly good. Not anything mind-blowingly amazing, but still among the better stuff they've done

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#37 Posted by CorruptedEvil (1728 posts) -
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