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Station To Station: Music Station For August 17, 2012 Featuring Green Day, Mai Kuraki And Miwa

This week, popular Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart rolled out a special campaign celebrating five years of Hatsune Miku. She’s a character attached to a popular line of vocaloid software (a computer program allowing people to create digital vocals) and probably better known in the Western world as the hologram pop star that pre-dated Tupac at Coachella. I went into a Family Mart earlier this week and let me tell you, it was overflowing with Hatsune Miku merch. Weird times.

AKB48 Special Medley

In case you needed confirmation that the AKB48 hasn’t decreased whatsoever, their newest album 1830m sold 625,401 copies on its release day. Tokyo Hive says that is more than their last album sold on its first day in stores so expect a big number when the Oricon Chart comes out next week.

I’ve yet to listen to the album so instead of write typical cheap shots at the group…no lack of that online!…so instead I’m going to rank my favorite song titles from AKB48’s newest album because…oh man, this is the ’85 Bears of great song titles. Let’s do this:

Honorable Mentions: “Miniskirted Fairy,” “Romance Hide-and-Seek,” “Night Of Running Away From Home,” “Sea Bottom Seen Once”

5. “Love General Elections” – Finishes fifth because this could just be a song of devotion to the group’s genius marketing scheme. Gets on the list because it could be about an election geared at…love?

4. “Go Scandalous” – Fits the group, yeah?

3. “Run, Penguin!” – Really want to see the lyric sheet for this one.

2. “Lemon Puberty” – …it goes sour???

1. “Jung Or Freud’s Case” – Now this is intriguing…did not expect a title like that from a group like AKB48.

Kis-My-Ft2 “WANNA BEEEE!!!

So how about that new single from Kis-My-Ft2. It is bad.

No what isn’t bad? The new EP from Post Modern Team and Twangy Twangy! Listen to that instead please.

Mai Kuraki “Special Morning Day To You”

Bad English aside, this new single from Mai Kuraki is about as middle-of-the-road as an easy-listening ballad can get. Save for some wet-sounding baking vocals late in the song…which is a nice touch, but also nothing really revelatory…this could have been made using the J-Pop equivalent of a popsicle mold.

Green Day “Oh Love”

Green Day will be headlining this year’s Summer Sonic and I will be seeing them this Saturday night. I’m sort of dreading it, because I have this fear they will play the above song, their newest single in advance of the trio’s new album…which is the first of three they have planned in the coming months. I’m sure parts of the show will be good, as Green Day’s career can be cut up into three convenient segments of varying quality. There was the first part, where they made some of the greatest pop-punk songs ever, tracks that still hold up today. Save for “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life),” they dabbled in the sort of speedy pop music that every Southern-California-based kid loved in elementary and junior high school. Then came the political period, the one that gave us American Idiot, which was ultimately a mixed-bag of catchy songs and goofy posturing.

And now we are at stage three – where the band try to go back to their roots but not really. “Oh Love” lacks anything resembling the energy or catchiness of peak Green Day – this is plodding, go-nowhere music. Maybe they wrote a few pop-punk gems and saved them for some portion of their new trio of albums, but it ain’t this. Dreading listening to this one Saturday night.

Miwa “Hikari E”

Ahhh young Miwa has finally made it. She’s contributed a song for a Japanese-drama soundtrack…one called Rich Man, Poor Woman…which means she’s mailed in a clunky, boring ballad that….

…huh, wait? This is really good!

“Hikari E” does what oh-so-many soundtrack songs don’t do – be fast. It starts with all the orchestral flourishes one expects from a TV-ready ballad, but then these wonky synths enter the picture and Miwa starts singing at a jogging pace. Then the moment – the four-on-the-floor beat drops in and the song never looks back. Miwa just blasts through this, and it is a good pace for her. Wisely, she keeps the strings around, but never lets them really overpower the tempo. A really pleasant surprise.

Winner Of The Week – Miwa