Justin Bieber visited Japan this week and the consensus seems to be he’s a pretty cool guy for not backing out of his concerts in the country over a lil’ radiation threat. I’m going to…agree with the majority! Dude deserves credit for doing something a lot of other folks didn’t do – actually help Japan by visiting and playing shows. Bieber already made better music than Deadmau5…seriously!…but now he’s also a way braver guy as well. Plus, Lil’ B wrote a whole song about him so you know he’s cool.
KAT-TUN have gone from that group of poster-ready men who made intolerable J-Pop to a group of poster-ready men who sometimes stumble across an interesting idea they quickly toss aside in favor of the usual mindless gruel. Save for the Thunderbird-rare single where everything works out into a halfway-decent bit of pop (“Going!”), KAT-TUN mostly just spit a little game at new musical ideas before returning home to their boring home life. New single “White” finds a good idea and plays with it for about two seconds – that guitar opening up the song sounds strange enough (at least for Johnny’s schmucks like KAT-TUN) that if they ran with it they could make something truly interesting. Guess what they don’t do! Soon enough they transition into their standard “sound” which might come as a default option in karaoke machines now and “White” turns into another lame KAT-TUN single complete with “edgy” guitar “shredding” and, uh, rapping.
This really just seems like an opportunity for a new KAT-TUN video where they can stare at the camera and also walk around a school or something. Fire up the machine that makes licensed lunchboxes.
Shiina Ringo “女の子は誰でも”
Can’t find a full-length version of this new Ringo Shiina number, but I think I found a clip of it buried in this cosmetics ad. Not sure what’s going on but I think this product makes you look more like…a virgin? That’s cool. Anyway, the song doesn’t sound all that spectacular, the snippet indicating this single is some jazzy/swingin’ retro number that seems a tad gimmicky. Or, yeah, tailored for an advertisement.
Superfly “Rollin’ Days”
“Rollin’ Days” really isn’t all that offensive, especially compared to the turdblossom that was KAT-TUN’s new single and the general whatever-ness of Shiina Ringo’s above number. Superfly’s newest shoots for some sort of upbeat lite-rock territory, with a guitar line I’m pretty sure I’ve heard in a Sea World commercial and some faux-cowbell action to give this a danceable side. It’s a song meant to make one feel like good times are just around the corner…I think I’ve also heard similar sounds in a T.G.I. Friday’s advertisement which is to say this sort of rips off The Rolling Stones or at least Bachman-Turner Overdrive…or maybe that they are already happening. Inoffensive but also a bit like throwing pebbles at a bear. The one aspect of “Rollin’ Days” that really makes it anything other than ho-hum daytime drive music is the chorus, a surprisingly peppy bit that lends some small traces of much-needed energy to this Superfly song. Nothing to devote an entire Tumblr post to, but worthy of at least a paragraph.
Nishino Kana “Esperanza”
Talked about this one before. Remains a pretty good stab at J-Pop&B from one of the more interesting artists making a dent in the charts nowadays.
Remember last year when Perfume released all those singles that pretty much sounded like typical Perfume joints, but made sure to tack on slightly more adventurous tracks to supplement them? How they toyed around with boom-bap eyes-ahead pop and then gave minimalistic come-ons a try on “575?” Looks like, for 2011, they wanted to flip the script around. “Laser Beam” might not be a big departure for the trio, but it’s a damn solid single. Now about the other song…
“微かなカオリ” finds Perfume trying something new once again, which in theory deserves credit. Who wants to hear an artist do the same thing over and over again? Until you actually hear “微かなカオリ” and realize “please please please just keep doing the Perfume thing instead of this.” This right here is Perfume trying to be AKB48 minus 45 of the members – again, give them some praise for actually managing to pull off a good mirror of Akhibara’s finest. Opening with a music mod melody reminiscent of all those fan-made YouTube videos that pop up when you search for any J-Pop song, things only get sleepier as Perfume step in. It might be too easy of a write-off, but this just sounds boring, the sort of track made for a high school graduation mixtape.
Most annoying of all is the tease of old-Perfume tricks bubbling underneath this slog. There are, in fact, electronic burbles and a beat present on “微かなカオリ” but just because you put A1 on a piece of Spam doesn’t transform it into a steak. A lot of people knock Perfume for lacking “personality,” and I’d usually argue the other way. This song though, this is a lack of “personality.”
Winner Of The Week – “Esperanza” won this once, so let’s be nice and hand it over to Superfly.