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Station To Station: Music Station For March 2 Featuring Ikimono-gakari, TVXQ And Mayu Watanabe (Of AKB48)


That’s some guy dressed up as Jesus running in the Tokyo Marathon. You gotta feel for the dude dressed up as Pac-Man and Minnie Mouse who jog by early in the clip – they were probably thinking “man, I am gonna get so much attention, running in this silly outfit!” Then out comes the son of God running with a cross strapped to his back and suddenly that fifteen-dollar costume felt lame as heck.

Ikimono-gakari “会いにいくよ”

I can’t find a video or stream online…but I did listen to this song, and you aren’t missing much. It has a little more swing than the typical Ikimono-gakari slow burner, but otherwise it’s all twinkles and overly dramatic singing. This also feels like the third or fourth week in a row Ikimono-gakari has appeared in this feature, all because they have a new album out that sounds like everything else the group has released before. They sorta illustrate the malaise I feel about J-Pop…Ikimono-gakari aren’t close to being hateable, but sound so complacent it gets boring fast. Lots of other groups in Japan do this too – heck, at least AKB48’s sound is kinda confrontational.

TVXQ “Still”


Certain J-Pop fans hoist TVXQ as the Korean group “that did it the right way,” unlike those cads in KARA or Girls’ Generation who had the audacity to release older Korean songs first or, gasp, aren’t perfect at speaking Japanese. No, TVXQ “earned it” according to the comments section of sites like Seoulbeats and Tokyo Hive.

I think what these comment spewers mean is “decided to sound exactly like all the male J-Pop groups in Japan already.” Whereas Girls’ Generation, 2NE1 and even freakin’ Super Junior add clever little twists to their brand of pop that sound like holy revelation here in Japan, TVXQ pretty much just embraced the sleep-inducing style that guarantees high spots in the Oricon Charts. “Still” could have been a ballad written for any gaggle of young men hoping to star in a gum commercial, and the song does nothing to distinguish TVXQ from the pack. Which is exactly what they want. If this is doing it the right way, fuck the right way.

TOKIO “羽田空港の奇跡”


So how about that TOKIO song with a title I don’t feel like translating at the moment? It is bad, and sounds like the dumbest butt rock.

Know what isn’t butt rock? Madegg, the super-productive producer from Kyoto! He releases so much new music I mere mortal like myself can’t write about each new SoundCloud upload. His newest offering is the bell-filled “How Far Can This Boat Go Out To Sea In Miles” which imitates the very best parts of Gold Panda and adds Madegg’s personal touches. Great song, listen below.

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Masaharu Fukuyama “Ikiteru Ikiteku”


Based on the little intro before the song, I think this song will appear in the forthcoming Doraemon movie, in which Asia’s favorite robotic feline travels to some time in the past like he does in every Doraemon movie (and it’s unironically great, I like Doraemon). Given this context, it’s tough to hate Masaharu Fukuyama’s bouncy, silly song “Ikiteru Ikiteku.” Even the title sounds like the punchline to some joke, and that’s before it gets surrounded by horn burps and the cheese-covered guitar. This sounds like the sort of animated-parade music you would expect to appear in a movie aimed at kids. It does its job well.

Even then – compared to the above, non-Madegg songs, this is still miles better because it at least sounds fun! Sure, Wiggles-approved fun, but better than break-n-bake ballads or Johnny’s rock. Sometimes, kids know what’s up.

Mayu Watanabe “Synchro Tokimeki”


Do a YouTube search for “Mayu Watanabe” and the very first video that pops up is a photo tribute to the AKB48 member soundtracked by Massive Attack’s “Teardrop.” The Internet, everybody.


So her actual song is basically just an AKB48 song with one critical difference – it is only her singing instead of an army of voices storming my ears. Surprisingly, this actually makes a huge difference in quality – this single still isn’t anything to really celebrate in anyway and still features all the musical touches that make me try to avoid Akihabara, but at least I’m not being barraged by voices. This is less annoying than musk AKB songs, and for that I salute you Ms. Watanabe.

Winner Of The Week – The Doraemon song.