Oh sweet, sweet justice. I came to Japan in the summer of 2009, and only a few months later Kentucky Fried Chicken rolled out the Double Down, a fast-food sandwich also accurately described as the moment Western culture peaked. KFC replaced the bread in a sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken, a genius/mortifying idea packed with sodium. And I missed it! For two years I have had to listen to my brother talk about how delicious/gross these things are, and I have just been (uhhh) eating healthy. That all changes next week, when the Double Down…renamed the “Chicken Fillet Double” for Japan…debuts! Have mercy on my innards, for they are about to be ruined. Speaking of things that can ruin your week…
…man, do I not like those lunch pack things featured in the above commercial, which also include a snippet of Ayaka’s new song “Hello.” OK, I kinda like the strawberry ones. I am spending so much time yapping about food because the 15 seconds you hear above are all I can find of this song, and the teeny bit I have heard sounds completely uneventful and boring to write about. Not to mention, ya know, only 15 seconds which isn’t enough to judge. So yeah…don’t buy those lunch packs.
SKE48 “Kataomoi Finally”
WATCH FULL VIDEO HERE, TRAILER BELOW
Despite the stranglehold AKB48 holds on the Japanese music landscape, the non-Akihabara groups in the AKB family rarely appear on Music Station despite boasting pretty strong sales. It is surprising because they sound exactly like AKB48, new single “Kataomoi Finally” reminiscent of oh-so-may songs featuring a group boasting the number “48” at the end of their name. It’s exactly what you would expect SKE48 to make – draw a musical opinion from there.
What is fascinating about this song is actually the accompanying music video, a five-minute clip which you can get the gist of in the trailer above. What’s intriguing is the video revolves around a potentially off-putting subject for the J-Pop mainstream – homosexuality, and not the “tee hee aren’t we cute rubbing noses against one another” of AKB48’s “Heavy Rotation.” Bizarrely enough, SKE48 could have been in a position to star in a video dealing with an interesting societal problem (the way teenage sexuality is viewed, and how homosexuality is an issue still pretty hush-hush in Japan). Maybe when Yasushi Akimoto says he understands the lives of teenage girls he might be right?
Then you remember the group in question and you realize it is most likely a cheap marketing ploy to excite the otaku side of SKE’s fan base, the “Kataomoi Finally” clip less social commentary and more of an excuse to fulfill some nerd’s dream of seeing girls dressed as schoolgirls kissing. Coupled with the fact the main lesbian character appears to be the “villain” of the video (real progressive!), this is just more provocative marketing from a dude who really gets his audience.
Kim Hyun Joong “Kiss Kiss”
You remember that viral video that showed some folks’ wedding entrance, and it was full of wack-a-doodle dancing all soundtracked by Chris Brown’s “Forever” because this was before Chris Brown decided to beat the shit out of beloved pop star Rhianna? Yeah, this one? “Kiss Kiss” would work wonderfully in the Korean/Japanese version of that video, Kim Hyun Joong sounding an awful (in every sense of the word) lot like Chris Brown.
Look, I am all for K-Pop artists taking inspiration from Western audiences…miles better than the eternal loop J-Pop sometimes feels caught in…but choose wisely! Chris Brown’s sentimental junk isn’t worth copying.
JUJU can work when she steps away from the cement-shoe format that is the J-Pop ballad – even when she tries covering old jazz numbers, she comes off as interesting and at least capable of something very few others in the mainstream scene today can do. Unfortunately, she rarely seems able to get away from the ballad, forced to wear it around her neck for all of time. “Sign” is more of the same, a plodding trudge through every sound you have come to expect in one of these songs. Poor JUJU.
Terrible audio quality, sure, but this is TOKIO we are talking about. The chorus is kinda peppy in that Johnny’s sanctioned sort of way, but everything else is pretty much boring autopilot.
Winner Of The Week – Ayaka for doing the least damage. Or maybe the Double Down, that thing rules too.