thanks a bunch for providing the links
Caught wind of a new 4-piece band called Powann who just released their debut EP, BLUE. They've got a really upbeat sound that, despite how wee-pop-as-fuck-cutesy their vocalist is, caught my attention super quickly. (And I don't say that as a slight, I genuinely enjoy Moe's voice.) Their style of songwriting reminds me of Sweet Revenge, ableit more bright and bubbly than said group in sound. Worth checking out!
Time for some new songs. Man, it's so hard picking which ones I cover!
Junjou - Leo Ieiri (this is not a Youtube link, because Leo's videos are always shortened there)
Leo Ieiri is an old favorite of mine, an artist who can switch between a poppy style and a more rocky style with style. Junjou is her newest (rocky) release, and I really enjoy it. It's got a great beat that has me tapping my foot with some easy to remember lyrics. The video is fairly simple but enjoyable to watch alongside the song. If you're interested, also check out Chocolate from earlier in the year. This is a slower, pop-oriented song that I think is absolutely gorgeous in both composition and voice. It is definitely one of my favorites of the whole year.
D=Out was on my Top 10 list for JPOP here on Giant Bomb, a visual kei group (intense rock focus and members who dress rather androgynously) with some pretty good composition. This new song of theirs is just as good, if not better, so I thought I'd add them here. It has a fantastic beat and some very skillful playing from each of the members. I absolutely LOVE the bass solo, as a huge bass fan, that starts at about 2:42 in the video. It's just a really fun song to listen to.
I'll be the first to admit that this song isn't the greatest, highest-class pop song out there--but I love it anyway, especially the beginning. It has a pretty good beat and some fantastic energy up front, building to the excellent moment where the group shouts "Everybody odore (dance)!" The chorus is pretty intense and fun too. I think it loses it a bit around the halfway mark though, when the girls try to rap--quite poorly, in my opinion. A bit shaky overall but a pretty entertaining time if you're willing to give it a chance.
Also, I feel that this image is one of the most Japanese things I've seen in a long time.
@johncallahan: Glad to hear it! My whole point for starting this thread was that I wanted to expose at least one person to a song (or multiple) that they really enjoy, as that's what happened to me with the KPOP thread (and in fact, that thread sparked my desire to get into JPOP as well last year). It's great knowing someone is legitimately enjoying this thread.
@belegorm: It really depends on what you want, in terms of style. CNBLUE and Alexandros are a bit pop-rocky, Scandal is a punky girl rock group, visual-kei groups like D=Out have a pretty interesting sound (and visual style), and I really like Spitz for some softer rock. And of course, there's always Babymetal. I don't listen to as much rocky stuff, so my recommendations are a bit limited. Sorry.
This week, let's do a few songs that are a bit mellower (and stranger).
Here's a bit of a weird one. It's from a very small group with a plainly miniscule budget. The video isn't really anything special (although I do like the design of the girls' outfits). Even with the lack of flair, I will say that I have an intense fascination with this song. For reasons I can't explain, I love it to death, listening to it time and time again. Something about the rhythm and the cadence of the voices is immensely pleasing to my ear. Odds are, this won't be to everyone's tastes, but I suggest at least giving it a shot.
I think I might love this song solely because of the main riff--it's so catchy and entertaining that I can't enough. That isn't to say that the rest of the song is bad, necessarily; it just lacks oomph from the vocalist. Even saying that, I think her carefully-paced singing style can be enjoyable throughout this song.
Here's one from way back in the year (actually, the end of last year). After School is a predominantly Korean group--and a pretty good one, at that--that has attempted to branch out into Japanese markets, like many other groups before them. Their first attempt featured some really terrible Japanese pronunciation, but they practiced and came back for round two with Shh. This song is a pretty excellent one, especially once it gets going. It has a fantastic beat and energy that keeps building until a superb release.
Since this is a rather slow week for new stuff, I figured I'd do some older stuff this week instead--none of these songs came out this year.
I haven't linked any Perfume yet, mostly because I didn't care much for their release this year, but they are one of my favorite J-Pop groups. Their songs meld pop and electronic music extremely well, and I love watching the trio perform their expert choreography in each video. Spending All My Time is my absolute favorite song of theirs, mixing an absolutely perfect beat that never gets old with a repetitive, but well-paced, vocal track and a fascinating music video. Even with how much I love it, I was very hesitant to post it here due to it being one of those songs I don't think a lot of people will like, mostly due to its repetition. It is the same riff and lyrics again and again, with very minor differences, from beginning to end, something which might annoy most listeners. I really hope you still give it a try, because it is easily one of my favorite Japanese pop songs. For those of you who just hate it, hopefully this video link for the more palatable (and also excellent) Spring of Life will quell your annoyance.
Secret is a group of Korean girls that has occasionally released their songs--or entirely original ones like this one--in Japanese. This song and video do what Secret do best: sing a cutesy, catchy pop song while being absolutely adorable. This was one of the earliest "modern" Japanese pop songs I was exposed to, and for that reason, it holds a special place in my heart. Listening to it again right now makes me realize I like it for another reason entirely: it has some easy to follow Japanese, perfect for someone like me who is learning the language and can recognize some words. It's just a fantastic and heart-crushingly cute song.
Yet another example of Korean group trying to break into Japanese pop charts (which Girls' Generation did most of last year, to the annoyance of their Korean fans). This song placed in the number 3 spot of my Top 10 list for JPOP songs last year, mostly due to its high-energy composition that makes it hit so incredibly hard. It demands your attention from second one and doesn't let go until three-and-a-half minutes are up. The incredibly catchy beat and lyrics make it stick in your head for hours (or days) after hearing it. It really just has to be heard to believe.
Another slow week and my second post in a row (meaning I can't post again unless someone else does). I guess this week I'll do a few songs from groups I've already covered--just to be lazy.
Here's another FEMM release, which are being cranked out an an alarmingly quick rate. This isn't their best release, but it has a really interesting rhythm that enjoy. The chorus, in particular, is really memorable for the way it subverts the beat and does things a bit differently. I'll be very interested to see where this group goes after this first set of releases dries up, and they have to do it all over again.
This video came out after Matabi Step, the first video I posted from this group. It features much the same type of sound but packs a lot more poppy energy. The main riff does some interesting things and sticks out in a great way. Once again, if you don't enjoy the high-pitched voice of the main vocalist, you likely won't enjoy this song--although it is a bit easier to tolerate in this song, I feel.
3355411 - Yasuha Kominami (not the full song)
I have really fallen in love with this artist, particularly her EP from this year (featuring this, Dream Box, and two other great songs). There's a ton of great things about this song: the beautifully emotional voice, the catchy guitar riff, and way the energy rises and falls throughout the song and keeps you guessing. For reasons I can't really explain, it has stuck with me more than probably any other song this year. I don't expect many others to share my opinion, however, as I could see many people finding her voice extremely annoying, especially the way she often breaks into rough screaming lyrics (something I usually hate but love here). Still, I highly recommend at least giving it one listen before giving up on it.
@onimonkii: That song is crazy and catchy: the perfect combination for a Japanese pop song. I can easily see how this got stuck in your--scratch that, our heads.
For this week, I am using all non-Youtube video (Jpopsuki, to be precise) links for songs that aren't on Youtube. Welcome to the somewhat annoying world of trying to find Japanese music videos online.
Yuki is a pretty long running artist in the JPOP scene, having made her debut in 1992. Her music has changed a lot over the years, with this most recent album (coming out soon) seeming to trend to a Kyary/Perfume-esque sound. It starts out fantastically, building the vocal loop that persists throughout most of the sound. The beat then drops in, practically demanding you tap your foot. Finally, it breaks into the verses, interesting in their slightly off-kilter rhythm and high-pitched cadence. It's not my favorite song of this style, but it's an interesting one nonetheless.
I've really enjoyed this song since I discovered it early this year. It's a bit different from your average pop song, featuring a diverse group of vocalists and instrumentation that feels more like an indie band than a pop group. They definitely have the pop chops, however, with a superbly catchy riff that suits the various vocalists perfectly. My favorite part is after the first chorus, where the different members do a bit of vocal freestyle before heading back to the chorus. It's a fun song, from top-to-bottom, and that's why I love it.
Miwa is a pretty famous pop singer/guitar player that even those outside the JPOP scene tend to know for her anime themes, particularly this song which was featured as the opening theme on a season of Bleach. She is also known (at least, in my opinion) for her label, which brutally and efficiently scrapes any of her videos off of Youtube within days of them going up. Enough of the backstory: the song itself is a pretty rocking, yet poppy, song that I have loved ever since I first heard it a few years ago. I actually encountered this song completely by accident before I was even into JPOP--and proceeded to listen to it enough that I memorized several of the lyrics without knowing a lick of Japanese. It's one of the most catchy songs I can think of, easily worming its way deep into your brain and refusing to let go.
This week, I'm going to mix things up with a little theme--songs I dislike lyrically but really adore the compositions for.
Some interesting string usage and distortion effects on both voices and instrumentation make this fascinating to listen to. Unfortunately, I absolutely can't stand this song in particular when the girls open their mouths. I just find their style absolutely appalling and often find myself shutting the video before it gets to the actual singing part.
I can't even really describe this one with words--I just know that it sounds really cool. It's got a gorgeous sound that somehow manages to use the random-sounding effects perfectly in time with the lyrics. I just wish the lyrics themselves, or the voices of the girls, were interesting to me at all. Still, what a fantastic usage of instrumentation.
This starts strong and gets even better. The almost marching beat gives the song a fantastic lead-in to the beat--which is when the song becomes truly memorable. Also, this is the song where I have the least amount of issues with the vocals. In fact, listening to it now, I feel like I may be able to count this just as a good song on the whole. Such a superb use of rhythm.
@onimonkii: That's an...interesting style for a music video. Very manic.
Let's do some songs that aren't focused on intensity and craziness this week, shall we?
This song is absolutely gorgeous from top to bottom, both in instrumentation and vocals. The chorus is immediately memorable from the first time you hear it and manages to stay catchy no matter how many times I put it on repeat. It's one of those songs that makes it impossible for me not to smile every single time I hear it.
Passion and emotion drips from every single line of this song. Surprisingly, it manages to remain beautiful while also being quite catchy, keeping a rhythm that has me tapping my foot. It manages to avoid that frustration I feel with many slower songs, aching for something to happen. Dream features the perfect pace to keep you listening while retaining every ounce of its power.
A relatively new song from this year (actually, it isn't even out yet for purchase). This is another breathtakingly powerful song, one I was enthralled with from the moment I first heard it. It's a much mellower song than the other two I posted above, having a bit of an R&B feel, but it still manages to grab me so powerfully from beginning to end. It's a stunning show from the vocalist--and it features a large amount of Japanese I understand, making me like it even more.
Anyone listen to old-school J-pop? YMO is one of my favourite bands:
Computer Games (1978)
Riot in Lagos (1980)
Kimi Ni Mune Kyun (1983)
These guys had a pretty big influence on the development of synth-pop and electronic dance music, as well as anime and video game music.
@jagged85: I've tried going back to some older stuff, but a lot of it just doesn't appeal to me. I'm really into how it sounds now, which is why I got into it in the first place. Still, it's always interesting to see old music videos from another country, as they are extremely telling of where that country was in that time period, I feel.
Not much of a theme this week--just picked a few songs that sounded interesting!
Here's another one of those songs with a vocalist that may not quite appeal to everyone's tastes. She has a cadence that sounds pretty grating the first time you hear it--giving it a chance, however, reveals an interesting song with some unique vocal rhythms. It's a strange song for a pop song, bouncing around in style, but it's one of those songs that pops into my head at random every since I heard it. Worth at least one listen.
I love the instrumentation in this song. It's such a happy, upbeat song that perfectly mimics the energetic enthusiasm of the group's members. For such a herky-jerky sound to the vocals, it manages to work really well; I particularly like the parts when the tempo increases. The video is typical Japanese ridiculousness, with a fun rotating record prop the members run around on in time with the song. All in all, a very entertaining song and video.
Hang with me for a sec--describing this one is a bit tricky. Reol and Giga are just one of many "groups" out there who create songs solely for the purpose of using vocaloids and animation to make their own music videos, particularly on the site NicoNico which is famous for them. This song was originally created for famous vocaloids Megurine Luka and Kagamine Rin, but the creators of the song also recorded a version with their own vocals, a rather common occurrence as well. This video I linked is of their version.
Whew, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the song itself. It's a poppy, electronic song with some lightly autotuned lyrics tying it all together. The beat is absolutely fantastic from top to bottom and the vocalists, a man and woman voice, pair together superbly. I love the bridge in particular, with its back-and-forth singing and perfect matching to the beat. A supremely catchy song that I greatly enjoy.
@harpell: I've heard some Radwimps before and they aren't bad. I personally often dislike the vocals in their songs, but they do have a knack for some interesting sounding instrumentation.
Again, not much of a theme this week (mostly because there was one song I really wanted to post and couldn't find anything else that fit with it!).
The final release of the year for FEMM (the album is out now!) and it's the best one yet. Everything is top-notch here: the stellar beat and instrumentation in both the chorus and the verses, a fantastic breakdown section in the last minute, absurdly catchy vocals that fit the beat perfectly, and an impressively choreographed and shot music video. It definitely feels like this was what they were building to with all these videos throughout the last few months, and I couldn't be happier with the end results. This is absolutely my favorite song of theirs, surpassing Wannabe, and is almost guaranteed to end up on my end of the year list.
As someone who loves a good pop-rock song (catchy singing + guitars/drums), Kasumi is fantastic. It has great instrumentation, a superb vocal performance, and a catchy pace that kicks into high gear for the chorus. There really isn't much more I can say about it--just go listen!
This one is a bit different. For the first half of the song or so, this sounds a bit like rap or hip-hop mixed with a pop song. The singer has a great voice and some intense presence, which works to her favor here. Oddly, the song then changes to something entirely different. The beat switches to a dance/electronic tempo, and it starts to resemble an American club song. By the end, it sounds nothing like it did at the beginning, something I think makes it a fascinating song unlike anything else I've heard this year. Definitely worth a listen.
Oh boy, my hate-love relationship wit FEMM is so strong. Each time I watch their videos I just sit there being frustrated. The direction is top-notch, the music is (often, not always) great but the lack of personality from the two singers is just so dumb. think a big reason to why I come to like certain artists and bands are because of their personality, and since FEMM is supposed to be this android/cyborg/robot-something, they totally miss out on this. Never going to be sure how I feel about them.
Well, might as well write something about jpop as well.
Koda Kumi - HOTEL (seriously tho' fuck AVEX for just putting out half of their MV's like wtf)
Koda Kumi's latest is so goddamn catchy. The beat is great and Koda Kumi's voice still has such a cool range. It's really rad to see how far she's come.
This little Japanese indie band makes some really nice music. Their latest album is full of tunes that's perfect for a rainy day or when you just want to relax to something.
From piana's latest album. I'd rather recommend you listen to the whole album, but this song is one of the better ones on the album. It really made me sway at home at least.
I know everyone on this site loves Charisma.com by now, but I hope you've all heard this collab. Also the music video is just goddamn fantastic.
@hampe: That's understandable about FEMM, but yeah, it seems to be the direction they are going. I kinda hate how tightly they hang to it, even down the public relations for the group talking about them as if they weren't human, but it's at least unique. Thankfully, that doesn't really bother me much and I can just enjoy (most of) their music.
Also, you posted some good stuff. Koda Kumi has never been my favorite, but I can at least appreciate how different her songs can be. Haven't heard the middle two before now, but they are interesting. That Tempura Kidz song is great too, but I did actually post it around the time of its release. Of course, I wouldn't expect you to have known that, so no harm done.
As I said, I'm catching up on a month of awesome stuff y'all been posting here. So here's an update! I continue to fall more in love with Passepied with each song I hear. Yasuha Kominami is incredible. The song @wemibelec90 posted is high up on my list of favorite of the year, and I just bought her latest album to boot. So good job there. Now I continue my journey down the list!
Tickee Tickee Tickee on the Beach!
@johncallahan: It's great to hear that someone else likes Yasuha, particularly that song I posted, as much as I do. It really felt like she was one of those artists who only I would like because of her weird cadences and particular style, but I'm glad that this isn't the case.
@wemibelec90: Like, stuff like that is why I love this thread so much. Cause I never would've known that I liked it, much less have ever found it on my own. I think you were spot on with your write up of her. I also love the way she switches her voice up throughout the song.
This week, I'm going to go with songs that have some good energy (beats, guitar, etc.).
Let's start with a song from really early in the year (January). I have mixed feelings about this song. I really like how it starts--building energy with some light synths and auto-tuned voices. This energy carries over into the chorus quite well, making for a catchy--if not impossible to actually understand--main part of the song. The parts where it loses me, however, are the more screamo-type parts. I really dislike this type of "singing" and it hurts my enjoyment of the song quite a bit. Still, it is worth a listen for everything else.
I thought that "badly" spoken English from Japanese singers would get less funny at some point. It hasn't yet, as evidenced by my amusement at the beginning of this song. All joking aside, this song makes a great first impression--a pretty ripping guitar riff follows the opening and just gets better throughout the song. I'm a little less impressed with the lyrics, particularly because they make the whole thing kinda sound a bit too nu-metal for most people's tastes, but it works decently in this case. My one disappointment is the lack of a great guitar solo, because it surely feels like this song should have one.
This song first debuted in Korean, since the group in question is mostly known as a KPOP group. I couldn't not post it here, however, as it features one of the best beats I've heard in a song all year: it starts from second one, grabbing you and not letting go. It just hits so damn hard, making it impossible for me to not tap my food or nod my head (or both!). The lyrics are quite good too--although I think they work a bit better in Korean, due to some odd timing to the music in Japanese--but pale in comparison to the absolutely fantastic beat. Give the Korean version a listen as well, if you like; I think it's the better version of this song.
This week, I want to do something a little special. For those of you who are unaware, @aurahack is a user here on GB who listens to a LOT of music, not just JPOP, and occasionally writes about it. Her Top 10 Albums of 2013 list was my first fantastic exposure to this, introducing me to groups like Charisma.com (and everyone else here on GB, of course; including our own Jeff Gerstmann) and Capsule. In that list, she linked to a music blog of his, something I happily followed after my enjoyment with his picks for 2013. It's a great blog (which you can find HERE) that has sadly been left unattended for some time, likely due to a busy personal life. For this week, I chose some great songs from this blog to repost here, as a way of honoring his wide music tastes and excellent skill in describing music (something I still suck horribly at myself).
The first thing you may notice about most, if not all, of these songs is that they tend to sound a little...different. This song is a great example of this. @aurahack noted in her blog that this artist has an, "...odd and bizarrely captivating inflection in her singing..." that, "...lends itself well to the album's overall style." I won't lie and say that I find her voice a bit grating in spots, and I'm still not sure if I really like this song after several listens, but I can't deny that it is a supremely different song--and sometimes that's all you need.
Some may call this cheating, since this is more rap/hip-hop/electronic than pop, but I deem "pop music" anything that appeals to a wide demographic--which I think this fits quite well. Fair warning given, however. I particularly like the chorus of this song, which has a nice laid-back riff to support the simple but catchy chorus. A favorite quote of mine from @aurahack's blog on this artist is, "There's a carelessness, almost giddyness, to his attitude that really captivates me," a quote which I feel comes through clearly in this track.
Zettaiteki na Kankei - Akai Kouen (non-Youtube)
This song comes and goes so fast that you can practically blink and miss the entire thing. This is another song that I'm not quite sure I like, even having heard it several times. There's an interesting energy to it, particularly in the fantastic instrumentation, but the sound of the lyrics rubs me a bit sorely in spots. It definitely doesn't sound like your average mainstream J-Rock song, that's for sure. @aurahack says it best, I think, with the assertion that this song, "...should be the new textbook-standard for 'short but sweet.'"
A very unique and different electronic song. The instrumentation is fantastically varied in its sound, yet somewhat aggressive on my ears in a way that I can't decide how I feel about. Shiina Ringo lends her voice to the song, suiting the song surprisingly well: in fact, I would easily call it the best part of the song. @aurahack agrees with me, noting in her blog that, "The delicately edited instrumental is the perfect backdrop for her vocals. It's shibuya-kei at its finest and even at 4 minutes, it feels like it's over far too fast."
Zanarkand (violin cover) - Ayako Ishikawa
Okay, this last one wasn't actually featured on @aurahack's blog--but the artist, Ayako Ishikawa, was. While I was looking for potential songs, I was reminded of her went to Youtube to maybe find something of hers to include. What I found was a cover of the track Zanarkand from FFX, easily one of my favorite (if not my favorite) video game tracks to date. I was unbearably excited to hear what it sounded like, as both a huge fan of Zanarkand and of violin music in general, and I was not disappointed. Somehow, the artist managed to eke even more emotion and power out of the track, making me nearly tear up in response to its beauty. I LOVE the way this sounds and can't easily put into words how it makes me feel. Consider this an added bonus to my post!
Thanks again to @aurahack for bringing me, and others, so much musical enjoyment. Feel free to check out her blog for more music, JPOP and other, if you need some musical inspiration!
@onimonkii: Please, Frank. Inshow-ha.
@wemibelec90: No joke—I just got home after a relatively long week of work (crunch time!!!!) and this put a HUGE smile on my face. It legit warms my heart to see anyone care about the stuff I do on the side for fun like that blog. I'm really glad you like reading it and discovering stuff from it, thank you. ;_____; You are right, though. I've been profoundly busy for the past few months and it's led me to put that stuff on the back burner. I would like to get back to it when I have the free time but that might not happen for a while, unfortunately.
All the recommendations you've listed there are ace picks, though. 100%. Ayako Ishikawa especially. VOCALO CLASSIC is a wonderful album. Here's some extra, EXCLUSIVE CONTENT of stuff I've been diggin' around with.
I seem to have already recommended Suiyoubi no Campanella, but I'll go ahead and recommend them again because they're just so fucking good. KOM_I is my bae.
Like @onimonkii mentioned, I've been basically listening to Inshow-ha non-stop for ... I dunno, a week, now? Their new album, (Not) Nuclear Love (or Affection) is such a succinct pleasure that I've been unable to turn it off repeat. It's been the only thing to distract me from my other regular jam of late, TOKiMONSTA's Desiderium.
After only being available to fanclub members, Meliyas' (known better to you and I as MC Itsuka of Charisma.com fame) new full-length album MAJO LP has spread across the internet, spawning a PV for its arguably strongest song, "Miteiru Zo." I love MAJO LP so much, largely because I thought DIStopping to be a big disappointment. Meliyas' album delivers far more out of what I wanted from them when it comes to new material.
A new trio has also debuted, Color Code, with their first single/EP "I Like That". The rest of the tracks on the EP are a wee bit forgettable but "I Like That" is a damn good, catchy, upbeat song. Definitely fills the J-electro vibe that I've been missing for a while now. It reminds me a lot of Koda Kumi remixes, only... well, not being a remix.
This is also not really pop but it's really worth sharing because I think it's one of the best albums this year. Brave Wave, a label operated by Mohammed Taher, recently released a new 茜 -AKANE- album titled Journey. AKANE is a duo composed of Saori Kobayashi and Yumiko Takahashi, both of whom have been trying to get this album released for a considerable amount of time. Brave Wave was wonderful enough to pick it up and publish it, and I couldn't be happier because it's an absolute trip. Even if it's thematically singular, it's so stylistically varied that it manages to carry the same "sound" across every track without ever feeling repetitive. You can stream and buy it off Brave Wave's Bandcamp page, something I highly recommend you do. This is my personal favorite off the album.
I wish I had more to share though, I'm sorry. ;-; I've spent so much of the year paying attention to the Japanese and Korean scenes that I missed out on a lot of really good stuff elsewhere, so I'm catching up on a lot of it now. Makes me miss anything that I'm not really digging into. D:
@aurahack: I'm glad I could inspire some good feelings! I'm not lying or trying to flatter when I say you (and @mcghee with his KPOP thread) have exposed me both more music directly and to the idea of finding weirder stuff out there. My Top 10 list for this year is going to be a much stranger and diverse one thanks to this and I couldn't be happier with the way my music tastes have been influenced by you. You are most deserving of a pat on the back in my opinion!
I also find it funny, and thrilling, that I posted a song earlier in the thread that you just noted (Beam!, which is pretty great) and that you posted another song (I Like Dat) that I had intended to post in the future! I, maybe nerdily, consider it something of an honor to have actually found something you would have likely posted on your music blog BEFORE you posted it; it makes me feel at least a little legit in the tastes and songs I try to post in this thread. I will be certain to check out the other stuff I'm not familiar with that you've posted--particularly that MAJO LP that seemed cool when you first talked about it on your blog months ago. Thanks for finding the time to post!
This week, after the staggering amount of time it took me to compose last week's post, I'm going to take it easy and post some recent stuffs. Enjoy!
This here is an interesting "alt" group, made up of another group's (Nakano Fujo Sisters) female members all dressing up as boys to perform. There doesn't really seem to be any reason for it--their voices are still easily pinned as female for the most part--other than "because Japan," which is why I like the concept so much. Okay, back to the song. The first thing you will likely notice is the utterly fantastic riff, most of the reason why this song stuck with me at all. The vocals certainly aren't amazing, but they do a serviceable job sounding anime theme-ish and catchy. Well worth a listen for the instrumentation alone, however.
I posted a Reol (and Giga) song a while back, an electronic pop number that I found quite catchy. This song feels like it came from the same ideas, just a bit less intense in composition. It has a nice, easy rhythm to it, actually, something I enjoy just sitting back and taking in with a smile. It's a bit less auto-tuney than the last song as well, allowing some of the natural beauty of Reol's voice to shine through. I think this song nails the melding of pretty vocals and a catchy, but not too intense, electronic beat. A great song.
Here's the highlight of the week, at least for me. Triampersandy is a relatively new group (debuted last year, if my info is correct), one I'm VERY impressed with thus far. This song is the best of theirs I've heard yet. It stays subdued for most of the song but kicks into high gear with a catchy "indie rock" riff for the chorus. The vocals are where this song really shines, though. The singer has great presence and flow, giving a lot of energy to her vocals. She's...just great, reminding me of a dozen different singers I like in all the best ways possible. I feel I'm not really doing this song justice, my words failing me for the evening. Just know that ringAring is grabbing me in a way that few songs have this year; hopefully, that's enough to get one listen out of you.
BONUS!: Unicorn Parade - Cupitron
This song isn't too great, truth be told. It's not bad, but I feel it relies a bit too heavily on auto-tuned vocals and whiny synth instrumentation to be memorable. Why did I post it then, you might be asking? Well, I was surprised to notice, upon first watching this video, that it appears to (mostly) take place in that crazy Robot Restaurant that everyone--including our own Drew Scanlon--has been talking about online. I haven't been able to verify this fact, other than eyeing pictures of the place alongside the video, but it appears to be the case. I just thought this was an interesting little detail that may amuse some of you, as it did me!
This week, I'm doing songs with interesting sounding composition.
I chose this song for very unique sound, almost circus-y in nature. It feels like something I would hear in a haunted house at some weird theme park. The whole video has an eerie feel, which works quite well for the song as a whole. I don't think song is really that strong, but it makes a great first impression with its instrumentation.
There's a great peppy energy to the instrumentation in this one, where you can really feel the fun the band had playing it. The vocals are interesting too, sang slightly off-time in a really memorable way that I enjoy returning to time after time. The chorus is a bit rougher around the edges, but I think it still works for this particular song. One warning I have for anyone watching this is that it breaks into a bit of an acting thing halfway through; be prepared to skip around it.
Finally, here's a more electronic-y song for you guys. It has a great beat and a constantly changing riff that rises and falls in some really interesting ways. I particularly like the bit right after the chorus. Vocally, it's not bad either, keeping up with the varied sound of the beat. Give it a listen!
A quick note for anyone who may poke their head in here. If you can give this a bump, I would appreciate it; otherwise, I can't post again due to too many posts in a row. Thanks!
I listen to a lot of Japanese girl rock and indies stuff, but when it comes to just happy feel-good pop, the music of Hello Project is my guilty-ass guilty pleasure.
Anyway, I bring this up because, after over a decade in the idol world, Hello Project's second longest running group (after Morning Musume) is "going on indefinite hiatus." The members of Berryz joined Hello Project as part of the Hello Project Kids Audition back in 2002, when all of them were still in elementary school. Some of the Kids were chosen to form a group, and Berryz Kobo debuted in early 2004. The initial idea that members of Kids would rotate in and out of the group, but that idea was scrapped pretty quickly (the remaining Kids eventually formed the group C-ute in 2007).
They've been in the business for over half their lives, and been a group for a decade (only losing a single member), which is pretty much unheard of in the idol world (outside of another former HP group, Melon Kinen-Bi). They've never been huge, but they hold a couple of records and have won several awards, as well as performed all over the world, so they had a pretty good run. Some of the members are now in college, some will go on to variety shows, a couple will keeps singing, but most will likely just fade away. There's no doubt that they'll still pop up every so often to do a number or two during the occasional Summer or Winter concert though, so all hope isn't lost for Berryz fans.
Personally, they were never my favorite, but they were always a constant. They were pretty half-assed, especially compared to the performing dynamos that are the other Kids group, C-ute, but that was always their charm.
@johncallahan: You have no idea. I spend several hours each week listening to most everything I can get my hands on, looking for things either I like or I think would fit in well here. Don't worry too much about it--this thread isn't going anywhere!
@asilentprotagonist: Considering that many anime openings are done by JPOP groups, you can certainly consider them to be part of the genre. You'll find that these often go against the natural sound of the group, often for the worse (Perfume's experiment with this last year is a great example, imo), but some are pretty good.
For this week, I'm choosing a handful of songs that are a bit more...eccentric in some way, even for JPOP.
Still not sure how I feel about this one. The song itself is a very odd-sounding one, adopting various tempos and beats throughout. It has a crazy flow to it, rising and falling pretty much whenever it wants to, that somehow manages to work for the most part despite itself. The chorus in particular manages to have a decent rhythm that sounds...well, not catchy, but interesting at least. The video is MUCH stranger, flipping between bright colors and happy dancing and morbid imagery and plenty of shadows at the drop of a hat. It fits the song perfectly, feeling almost as spasmodic.
Even with the fairly high popularity of Christianity in Japan, I'm still a bit weirded out every time I see Biblical imagery or words in Japanese songs. This song doesn't focus much on either, other than its name (which you hear in the song itself). It's a strange track, very indie in its not giving a fuck about anything normal sounding. The verses are plain and disinteresting, but the chorus breaks into a screamy mess that is somehow pleasant and emotional. I don't think I like this song, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.
Remember Babymetal? Well, this group takes it a step further (at least, I believe they do), purporting to be "Japanese Death Pop." It's both more poppy and more metal at the same time, which appeals to me (as a pop lover) and frightens me (as someone who hates metal, particularly screamo). This song has some pretty fantastic pop sections, bits that are good enough that I almost wish they were in their own song. Throughout, a metal riff is playing in the background, which kicks into high gear when the man (who is actually the group's producer) decides to do some not-quite screamo lyrics. These bits aren't great, at least for myself. It's an interesting counterpoint to Babymetal; this group isn't quite as talented, in my opinion, but does some interesting things.
I didn't know we had a Jpop thread. Although you guys have already covered Suiyoubi no Camanella and Seiko Oomori it looks like, which have been the two biggest mindblowers of the year for me.
Not even close to the same level, but I've also been pretty enamored with You'll Melt More lately. The album they put out is pretty hit or miss, but when they do hit, it's some of the catchiest stuff I've heard in a long time.
Here's their "tribute" to NEU!
This song (Sukiyaki) has not left my head for a month, I wish I was joking. It's franking starting to creep me out.
They also did a collaboration with Hakoniwa no Shitsunaigaku, which again, is super hit or miss, but it did produce this awesome, slightly shoegazey song. With accompanying super awkward video.
detakunai, detakunai, detakunai, detakunai...
This week, let's go with groups who play their own instruments.
Lovendor is an all-girl band (which are surprisingly common in Japanese music); I'm Clumsy is the only song of theirs I've listened to--thanks to having little time to do anything but listen to newish music. It's a decent little pop-rock song, with some simplistic yet effective instrumentation and some meaningful lyrics (which are easy to note thanks to the constant subtitles on this video). I'm not the biggest fan of the vocal style, as I feel it doesn't flow as well as it could with the music, but it's still an interesting song that makes me want to listen to more of their catalog.
Scandal is another all-girl band (see what I mean?) that I've been following for awhile. For each of their new releases, I listen and hope that they will finally catch on for me--with this release, I think I finally have. This song solves the one problem I have with most of their songs: cohesion. The vocals and the instrumentation both work fantastically, and, more importantly, work well together, something I think a lot of their other songs lack. This is a great, catchy song, and it makes me hope for more of the same in the future.
Mamadrive is a recent discovery for me, and I'm excited to go back and hear more of their past work after hearing this song. It has a great sound right off the bat, even with its fairly simplistic instrumentation. The vocals switch from passionate to haunting in seconds. I'm in love with the "chorus" bit, a simple but powerful musical yell that is somehow also catchy. It has a very defined sound of its own, selling the intended emotions of the song extremely well. It all comes together to make a song that manages to feel small yet large at the same time.
This week, I'm going to do something a little different. With the release of Hatsune Miku Project Diva f 2nd this week (which I'm enjoying VERY much), I thought I might post a few of the songs I like from the Vocaloids in those games. Note that these all come from the Project Diva f games (three from the first one and three from the second) and that these games comprise all of my knowledge of Vocaloids. Also, these videos are all just the animations used for the games as that was the easiest way to find all of them. Enjoy!
From my limited knowledge of the whole Vocaloid scene, I feel this may be one of the most well-known songs. There are countless covers of it from various JPOP groups--and for good reason. It's a great upbeat pop song that has a very catchy flow to the lyrics, particularly in the chorus. The Asian-theme instrumental parts shine on the instrument breaks, with the solo being particularly memorable.
Here's something with a bit more oomph from my favorite Vocaloid, Rin. The vocals in this song demonstrate the interesting rhythm that the robotic-sounding voices can bring, suiting particularly well to songs like this (and rhythm games, for that matter). I particularly love the bits in the lead up to chorus. Instrumentally, this song is pretty damn awesome as well--ripping guitar throughout and a fantastic drum beat underneath it all.
If I had to pick a song from the first game as my favorite to play, this would have to be it. It has a really fun beat that suits the gameplay quite well, particularly the chorus bits. It doesn't hurt that it's also quite awesome to listen to. The lyrics sync with the beat so damn well, making a sound that I can't help but nod along to no matter how many times I hear it. It picks up in intensity at the very end, making for an even greater sound (and stiffer challenge in-game!).
This song has truly fantastic instrumentation. It's a catchy and exciting riff that grabs you from second one. It's so damn simple, but it works beautifully. The chorus is the best part, working in tandem with the harsh vocal track in a way that is quite memorable. It all works so well together.
After four really upbeat songs, here's something a bit slower that shows off a bit of the range of the Vocaloids (and those who create songs for them). This song uses a much more subdued instrumental track, but it packs a great punch while also staying out of the way of the vocals. I really enjoy the songs with multiple Vocaloids, as getting to hear control of the song jump between them is a treat. I also love when they pair together, making something that harmonizes quite well.
Finally, another slow song. In fact, this one takes quite some time to build in energy. It's a very traditional Asian sound, paired with an almost ballad-type song with both Meiko and Kaito, two of the older Vocaloids. It works surprisingly well, even in this slow state, with a hauntingly beautiful sound even with its robotic nature. When the beat finally picks up--first about halfway through and then again near the end--the song gets really great. The voices sync together and it's just breathtaking to hear. Make sure to give this one a chance.
With this week's announcement of their new album releasing in February of next year (the 18th, to be precise), I figured that now would be the perfect time to talk about Capsule. This group is an electronic "shibuya-kei" duo comprised of Yasutaka Nakata and Toshiko Koshijima. Nakata is a god among music producers, creating the music behind many hit groups such as Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and helping on tracks with countless other artists. Capsule is his own project, what he works on in between other artists' music with his longtime friend Koshijima. His style is very distinctive and extremely skilled, making for some of the best electronic beats you will ever hear. I am unbearably excited for February, especially after hearing (from some advance tracks heard at live shows) that the group may be returning to the intense and frenetic form that they are known for.
I've picked out a few tracks I enjoy from Capsule. These are three very different tracks, showing the different focuses each of their past albums have had (and there are a LOT of them). I hope you enjoy and feel free to tell me what you think!
I fucking love this song. It features one of the most intense beats from the group and a slick synth line that I never get tired of. This beat gets even better on the "chorus" of the song, picking up in severity and making it literally impossible for me to not nod my head along with it. I also particularly like the last instance of this chorus, where it somehow manages to get even more intense and BETTER. This song is also notable for actually featuring Nakata's vocals instead of Koshijima's, a rarity.
Also, the art for this album is possibly my favorite album art ever. Just saying.
Here's something a bit more mellow (although not really THAT mellow). I love the distorted vocal track that the song opens with--and repeats throughout the song. The verses that follow are beautifully melodic before returning to that great halting bit for the "chorus." There's even a great rap-esque vocal part that flows pretty damn well and sounds great at the same time. It's all held together by the superb beats of Nakata, mixing things up just enough to stay interesting for the entire song without also stealing focus from the vocals. It's a great track.
Last year's album was quite different. Instead of the intensity usually found in Capsule tracks, Nakata opted for something a bit more subdued and thoughtful. The album still features some great beats and instrumentation but in a much different style than in albums past. Control is a great example of this, feeling more like a musical journey than just pure intensity. The vocals are light, used only when absolutely necessary (and to great effect), and the instrumentation features a lot more care than one might expect from the group. I certainly didn't like this album as much as the more intense albums--mostly because I'm a sucker for a good intense beat--but I will say that it has a personal feel that makes it very worth listening to, if only to get a bit more into Nakata's genius mind.
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