I missed a week! For some reason, I didn't think last week was the two-week mark between my posts and completely forgot to update. Let's take care of this right now.
For this week, I've picked three songs that speak to the general tone of JPOP, in my opinion: groups instead of individuals, cheerful costuming and choreography, and a musical style that is common for the medium.
This type of song--a group of young women singing and dancing to upbeat music--is easily one of the most popular in JPOP. While it would be slightly more accurate of me to post something from a bigger group, such as AKB48 (which is HUGE in Japan), I really don't enjoy large groups due to a lack of individuality. Instead, I opted to post something from a rather generic 5-girl group: C-ute. This group's releases often fit a very basic style in terms of composition and video, almost as if the company is just following a checklist with each new single. In fact, this's group's label (Hello Project) is known for several groups just like C-ute: Berryz Kobo, Morning Musume, Smileage, etc. While I feel songs of this type can occasionally break out of the typical patterns (such as this one, albeit just barely), most of them sound eerily similar and bland when compared to one another. Living Alone in the City lacks energy, yet it fits perfectly into this archetype.
You simply can't have a JPOP music video without some kind of choreography. After all, how can one enjoy a JPOP video without cheerful teens/young adults gyrating to the hyper beats ? Good choreography is something that can turn an average song into something memorable, forever reminding you of the video anytime you hear it. This is the case in many of Dream5's songs for me. While their songs are typically predictable and unexciting, I always get a lot of enjoyment out of the choreography in their videos. It's not the most technical, sure, but there is an excited commitment to the routine from each member that I love. This is why I still return to the video for Come On!, my favorite song of theirs, over two years later.
While girl groups do seem to be far more common and popular in Japan, there are a good number of boy groups as well. There are groups which basically mirror girl groups like C-ute, singing upbeat pop (or occasionally ballads, much more common with boy groups) while dancing around and looking cute/hot. Far more common, however, are the "visual-kei" groups, almost always made up of entirely boy members. For those who are unaware, "visual-kei" refers to a style where band members often dress up in flashy outfits and makeup, attempt to look as androgynous as possible, and utilize typical band instruments to create music. While the specifics of costuming and music type can change heavily from group to group, there is a common aesthetic and sound that ties them all together. Guild's Yuwaku Rhapsody is a perfect example of this style.