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Station To Station: Music Station For July 15, 2011 Featuring Arashi, GACKT And 板野友美

Remember this feature? Music Station went on summer holiday for the last couple of weeks, but it’s back just in time for the middle of July.

Arashi “まだ見ぬ世界へ”


Lady Gaga visited eternal-boyband SMAP’s show SMAP X SMAP recently, and Ms. Gaga thought it would be a cool idea to upload the footage of said show to her official YouTube page. Little did she know who she was dealing with it! Johnny’s filed a complaint, and poof, can’t find the clip anywhere at the moment. They just really really seem to hate having their artists show up online for some reason. Along with the obvious drawback of attracting the ire of a fanbase really gaga (lol) about an artist, it just seems like such a strange marketing move here in 2011, when an online presence almost feels like a much. Then again, Johnny’s towers above the Japanese pop-scape, so they might be able to avoid such pitfalls as “progress” and “the internet.”

So enjoy the above video of Arashi’s newest song while you can. Besides being fated to be another example of their poor online thoughts, this track hits on the OTHER huge problem with the Johnny’s sound – mainly, that regardless of what they try to do differently, always ends up sounding the same. What initially seems like Arashi embracing the Euro-house pop American and (to some degree) South Korean stars have been gobbling up as of late slides into typical borderline dinner theater, just with different sounds in the back. They tease again later, with baby’s-first Black Eyed Peas, an awkward electro-mumble that reminds us that, for all the dumb stuff has done, he at least never sounded this grating. Johnny’s really have no reason to change considering the strange chokehold they got on people in Japan, but would it kill them to try something a little different one day? Or at least let us see Gaga?

Ikimono-gakari “笑ってたいんだ”


Does the government demand all Ikimono-gakari songs clock in at over five minutes? I don’t think I’ve ever heard one that lasts less than the time it takes to cook up some popcorn. Usually, this extended run time just hurts the band, because even their best ideas collapse into a heap about three minutes in. This new single would be such a mess of exhausted flesh. Ikimono-gakari bounce around on some sunny, bell-loaded melodies and even work some good drum bits in. At maybe a little over three minutes, this would be a pleasant bit of summer pop, even with the superfluous guitar solo left in. At six minutes and 11 seconds, it just feels like I accidentally left the video player on and am kicking myself for burning out on this. Cut this one off as soon as you’ve had enough feel-good rays…anymore and you’ll cook it out.

板野友美 “ふいに”


So, as pretty evident from her voice, this lady is a member of AKB48. Alarm bells, yeah? Well, wait for this…

Saying this sounds like the best AKB48-related song released yet rings of the faintest praise, a compliment up their with “least annoying strand of herpes.” Yet here we are…a song from a member of the worst pop outfit in maybe the entire world (yeah I said it) that actually sounds…gulp…OK? Unlike “Flower” from that lady who won the popularity contest, this isn’t all sentimental glitter, but rather a pretty clever Nishino Kana bite. Like that Arashi song above, this opens with a Euro-house flurry, but it actually lingers around, at least at parts. The verses initially let her voice float over bare piano and you are thinking “OK, now things are gonna suck” but nope, the four-on-the-floor beat sneaks back in and little electric flourishes steer this away from lame ballad territory. I personally think what elevates this into something special will also be what drives a lot of people nuts – the vocal effect that makes her sound like a multi-layered borg. I picture a lot of people wretching like it’s Auto-tune…but compared to a typical AKB48 song where a chorus of damned schoolgirls sing together at once, a little digital manipulation isn’t so bad.

I’m going to stick my head in the bath now and see if this isn’t all a sick dream.

加藤ミリヤ×清水翔太 “Believe”


Man, ya’ll J-Pop artists like synths this week.

This song just comes off as straight boring. Ignoring the silly “battle of the sexes” video, the actual track is just usual semi-upbeat R&B that never really goes anywhere interesting. I can’t even think of a meme to put after this.

GACKT “Episode.0”


GACKT wants you to feel the drama, and he has the pipes to make you think the world is ending. Shame that isn’t a pleasant sound! This is just ridiculous rock music, the sonic equivalent of wearing a cape. This probably speaks to someone out there, but to me this just sounds like bad karaoke in the making.

Winner Of The Week – Do…do I dare type the words I thought would never come? That one lady from AKB48.