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Station To Station: Music Station For Debember 9 Featuring AKB48, Kis-My-Ft2 And SMAP


If you follow our Twitter (which you should!) or our recently minted Tumblr (which you should!), you have probably seen the above video. It’s basically propaganda for Korean food…with a song by great K-Pop group Wonder Girls. I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” but I feel a twinge of shame admitting “K-Food Party” is the song I’ve listened to the most in the past week, considering it is an ad for kimchi (which is delicious!). If nothing else, please jump to the 2:33 mark to hear the rapping member of Wonder Girls just make the clip with the following:

1. the way she raises her eyebrows when she sings “I gots to eat good.”

2. “I’m K-swaggin’ it,” doomed to be the words I get engraved on my back in Comic Sans when I decide to get a drunken tattoo.

3. the implication I am some how angry at K-Food. I love it, I love it!

I fear none of the following Japanese pop songs will wow me the same way this apple-filled tune did.

AKB48 “上からマリコ”


Member Shinoda Mariko won the rights to be the main attraction of this, AKB48’s 24th single, by winning the group’s annual rock-paper-scissors tournament a few months ago. This storyline…look her name is in the title, and she plays the role of giantess on the cover art…conveniently distracts from the fact that the actual music sounds virtually the same as the music that appeared on most of the 23 previous singles, complete with gratuitous guitar solo. By now, it has been well established the actual music of AKB48 plays but one role in their success, the draw of individual members and their storylines (see, Mariko’s run to get to this point) doing just as much.

All that said…I kinda like the actual video for this song. I wish I had the HTML skills to make the font for that sentence really small but…I kinda enjoyed the story (basically, the group’s rock-paper-scissors tournament played out in a high school) and even the portion featuring the song was fun in a ridiculous way. I’ve reached the point where the insanity of AKB48 makes these clips kinda fun – like, how the shots during the actual tournament go from these sorta dramatic matches (featuring members of the group dressed as…nuns?) to them dancing around like idiots. Next time you see me, smack me in the jaw.

Kis-My-Ft2 “We Never Give Up”


Ahhhhhh, the ol’ Johnny’s tease strikes again. After a corny DRAMATIC GUITAR opening, Kis-My-Ft2’s latest properly starts up and…sounds pretty good??? Yep – the group’s all-together-now singing actually works over a really bare backdrop, the chanting of the chorus being kind of silly but in a surprisingly listenable way. Then come the dollar-bin techno flourishes and for a bit, Kis-My-Ft2 stay on the path. Then the stomping and shouting go away and it turns into typical Johnny’s pulp, this time stabbed with the sort of sounds you hear in all those European music videos featuring a CGI animals singing kids songs. Like this piece of work. The chorus still works better than the verses, but the recycle bin electronics hurt it. The best song I have ever heard these guys do, but not exactly worthy of much beyond this paragraph.

SMAP “僕の半分”


Another Johnny’s song that doesn’t sound like typical Johnny’s crap, but whereas Kis-My-Ft2 teased with something potentially interesting, SMAP just deliver this rudderless acoustic joint. Other than watching members of SMAP dancing awkwardly in the above clip, there is really nothing of interest…either to love or hate…present here. Just an archaic pop group doing what they do.

Emi Takei “恋スルキモチ”


Only a short clip above, but the ballad-like nature leads me to believe this isn’t a bad thing. Only thing worth noting – Emi Takei sounds vaguely like the lead singer of the really great band Asobi Seksu, a factoid that makes me want to listen to Asobi Seksu! Instead of the above video, go listen to their song “Perfectly Crystal,” one of my favorite tracks of the year. Dreamy but never languid!

Flumpool “Present”


Yawn, did you know you can take the letters in Flumpool and rearrange them to spell “Lump Fool?” It’s true! That’s how I feel.

Because that song left so much to be desired, let’s hand out an award for the year, this one for the best performance on Music Station. It’s a landslide win for Sakanaction, who made their first appearance on the show count courtesy of this performance. I love how electronic it is. Needless to say, not the bit of praise I’m going to throw this band’s way this month.

BoA “Milestone”


The original Korean crossover into Japan, BoA now exists in this weird limbo as the new Korean wave sweeps over Japan. Her sound, for the most part, has always seemed more in line with what J-Pop is all about – a lot of ballads with a few curveballs thrown in for added measure. The latest crop of K-Poppers, at least initially, played by their own rules and introduced the sounds they used to wow their native country to Japan. Now, BoA “returns” with a single that doesn’t find her trying to imitate any of Korea’s new generation…no mid-verse rapping, no Diplo-inspired beats…but rather sticking to what she knows. “Milestone” is a ballad, but a surprisingly good one because of her decision to stick to minimalist sounds, at least early on. It’s just her and some simple piano, a lonely sound that works well with her hushed singing. The chorus adds some cliche strings, turning “Milestone” into a bland workout for a bit, but she quickly revisits the starkness. It’s flawed, but overall “Milestone” is a good bit of simplicity from BoA.

Winner Of The Week – BoA