Music Station has been away for a really long time now, but finally returns this week with a pretty loaded show. I feel like the dude jacked up by the antelope in the above video…except I probably don’t have long-term kidney problems now. Onward!
KARA “Winter Magic”
I loathe the winter with every non-chilled over fiber in my body, the three-plus months of near-freezing weather reports leaving me a deeply depressed shell of a human dreaming of humidity and swamp butt. Anything to get away from the cold. Thus, I sorta loathe “winter” songs that celebrate the season. Unless they focus on a San Diego winter, I can’t get behind any of the cheer for a season where staying indoors and cranking the heat is the norm. So, sorry KARA, strike one against “Winter Magic” and the “golly gee, we can ride bikes in the snow!” stupidity of the video. Attention ladies, you can’t pull off shorts like that in honest-to-goodness cold unless you enjoy the hospital.
Seasonal grievances out of the way…JUST LET ME ENJOY THE FALL PLEASE…this single is mostly a disappointment because it finds KARA giving into market forces and making a very J-Pop single when they are capable of so much more. I’ve already moaned about it once, but quickly – save for that burbling bass, this is only a few degrees above an AKB48 ballad. From a capitalistic standpoint, I don’t blame them – no better way to win over those folks protesting Korean music than to try to blend in. Yet as music I want to enjoy, this falls flat like oh so many gingerbread men. Worse yet, KARA have a legitimate knockout of a song with “Step” hanging out in South Korea right now. One positive is that Japanese people want “Step” to – it checked in at number five on the Oricon album chart this week, despite not being officially released here. Hope remains, not snuffed out by the miserable winter just yet.
Kanjani8, A Very Special Medley
Kaela Kimura “Chocolate”
Talked about the above video a while ago, speculating whether the sweet version enclosed in that video player would be the same as on the album. Well, I’ve got a hold of Kimura’s new album 8Eight8 and now know…it certainly isn’t. Whereas the video seemingly records Kimura singing above a faint version of the instrumentation, the album version (closing the album, noice) equalizes things, the light guitar and gentle synths matching up with her vocals.
Thing is, it sounds plenty good on the album, especially as the finale. Appropriately, “Chocolate” stands as one of Kimura’s sweeter slow songs, a delicate breeze of a song featuring some of her best pure singing and lovely little synth. Not show stopping, but a pleasant number that is surprisingly endearing. Might be even better live…though Music Station rarely is like that!
YUI “Green a.live”
Sorta makes sense that “alive” isn’t spelled right, seeing as this song is anything but.
Obviously it is a stupid complaint considering SMAP chug on at least seven years past their expiration date…but L’Arc～en～Ciel seem like the sort of group that shouldn’t be still going strong in 2011. I give them credit for making it to their 20th anniversary this year, when so many other mainstream J-Rock acts barely last five years, but at the same time this sort of hyper-dramatic rock seems like a relic. Again, to be nice, this sounds better than all but one other song on this list tonight…but this still just seems like it should be in an encyclopedia and not on TV. I’ve read L’Arc～en～Ciel have moved away from the Visual Kei look, but “XXX” still finds them looking rather silly (THAT HAIR) and sounding like newbie actors overselling every line. Seems like this should remain in the decade it was really big. Though, the 90’s revival is just around the corner…….
Winner Of The Week – “Chocolate”
Super Bonus K-Pop Song That Might Be A Hit In Japan
OK, first a few things off my chance…the girls in T-ara pretend to be Native Americans in the video for “Yayaya,” which is slated to be their next single in Japan. Though I don’t believe it, I’ve been told I’m upwards of a quarter Native American, and as a result part of me is pretty grossed out about the tee-pees, headdresses and implied sacrifices (not even gonna touch the woo-woo noises). Like the worst Thanksgiving pageant you could imagine.
Yet the part of me not stuck up on possibly unrelated racial issues just sits kinda impressed by the song itself. It doesn’t touch the best K-to-J crossovers (“Gee,” “I’m The Best,” “Mister”), but still towers over most original J-Pop songs coming out today, its clever use of Auto-tune (as a trailing-off device for the vocals) adding to the noisy mess of a pop song. T-ara have a surprising amount of momentum behind them…their “Bo Peep Bo Peep” debuted at the top of the Oricon Charts, a first for a foreign woman’s act, prompting all sorts of outrage from delusional J-Pop fans. “Yayaya,” for all its racial insensitivity, conceals a loud-but-catchy tune that should get decent love in this country. Just ditch the feathers for the video, ladies.