This week Music Station will be doing another special episode, one featuring mostly artists who don’t have any new songs out at the moment. The website for the show doesn’t list what songs they’ll be performing but my impeccable research team (me, on Google, spending ten seconds at most) has informed me nothing terribly exciting will be happening. So to spare you the terror of writing about AI’s “Stronger” once again (good song!), we are mixing things up here this week. Instead of looking at the Music Station performers we will turn to the Oricon charts, turning our ears to a few singles that haven’t managed to pop up on this weekly show yet. Let’s see if life outside of the Music Station studios is any better.
Not Yet “Shuumatsu Not Yet”
I shouldn’t be shocked to find the song currently topping Oricon happens to come from an AKB48 spin-off. Not Yet is a testament to one of the more subtle masterstrokes of the AKB48 idea – since the main group features 48 girls, and at least half of them get simplistic personalities, individual members can team up with others in the group to form “sub-groups” to release even more music that can be released to a population willing to lap up anything related to this group. Not Yet seems to be AKB’s The Jeffersons, moving a lot of units and landing the number-one spot on Oricon this week. People must really like this type of music.
Despite the limitless sub-group possibilities, the actual music of Not Yet doesn’t stray far from the annoying homebase. This is the same swirl of lollipop-colored synths, basic dance beats and sung-together vocals the folks behind AKB48’s “energetic” singles squat out every few months. There is a part where they don’t sing, a part where the music nearly drops out and a part with horns – but for the most part this song cements the AKB brand as the Johnny’s of Japanese girl groups. This even sounds like that brain-numbing “egg” song NYC put out.
Maybe I’m just a big-ol-sexist, but I tend to hate every male-centric group that comes out of South Korea and tries to wrack up dough in Japan. This stands in sharp contrasts to most of the girl-fronted groups coming out of that nation, like Girl’s Generation and 2NE1, who put out catchy pop I wish more J-Pop artists would dare to imitate. BEAST seem to be the latest set of dudes to try the Japanese-crossover thing and “SHOCK” implies they’ll be trying to do it without any sense of humanness attached. This song is all robo-gurgles and Auto-tune. Worst of all, this isn’t even a good mish-mash of technology like Perfume or 2NE1, but rather a goofy aggressive pop/hip-hop geek. Again, I might just be sexist against boy bands.
SKE48 “Banzai Venus”
One of the other absolutely genius aspects of the AKB48 experience that I wouldn’t have expected from the get-go? The ability for the concept of “girl group with a butt-load of members performing in a theater” to spread. As the dude who thought up this money press prepares to open up a branch in Italy, SKE48’s “Banzai Venus” has also been making mad bank having been the previous week’s top song and a respectable third-place finish this time around. This Nagoya-based group has proven the formula works, which is why you can see similar groups in Osaka and eventually Thailand.
Once again, I jump to the second paragraph of an entry with only negative stuff to say – this is basically just an AKB48 song. At least Not Yet had some bright synths in the mix…this sounds like a total rush job. The boringest of boring J-Pop.
Winner Of The Week – No winners, only regret for choosing this theme.