Update: Managed to mess up the date for this again. Wow anyone want to be my copy editor? No pay, but if you ever come to my apartment I’ll make pizza for you. It’s pretty good.
The above robot will one day replace all the singers on this week’s episode of Music Station, so savor them before SkyNet takes over the J-Pop industry. Though to be honest…it might be an improvement for some of these jabronis…
Some of the scamps in uber-young boy band Hey! Say! JUMP and some other kid take time off from their annoying day jobs to pump out another heavily frosted piece of pop fluff as NYC. Given the duo’s pedigree, you should not be shocked to learn the resulting track sounds really annoying. It also sounds nearly the same as this group’s last single, the chart-topping “Yuki 100%,” going through the same “follow the bouncing ball” hop done in the style of grating Euro-pop. It’s somehow both hyperactive and terribly dull, another Johnny’s band making Johnny’s boy-band pop. The only interesting wrinkle going on here comes courtesy of Wikipedia, which fills in for my shoddy Japanese to tell me the song title translates to “Lots Of Play, Lots Of Study.” Barring some strange entendre lurking somewhere within these candy-coated walls, this track probably is trying to capitalize on the current “exam season” in Japan wherein students brace for the “exam hell” that is high school or college entrance tests (more pessimistic view: this track capitalizes on the “exam season” that lasts from the first year of junior high until the end of high school). If so, this song actually offers up an interesting glance at Japanese culture. Shame it sounds so shitty.
Remember ATC’s “Around The World,” the song mostly made up of “la la las?” Speed it up, throw in more “electro” sounds and have some bodacious Japanese babes dance around a basketball court and an abandoned military base (?) and you’ve got this single figured out. Something about the video for “ミスター” tells me KARA aren’t being sold on their music, the sounds mostly existing so said clip could be made. KARA are a massively popular South Korean pop outfit, and this is their first Japanese single which has already proven massively popular. Makes sense – you rarely see Japanese music videos aiming to be so sexy (I doubt KARA’s dancing, affectionately dubbed the “butt dance” on Wikipedia, wouldn’t fly with many mainstream J-Pop girl groups) or featuring military equipment. It continues the 2010 trend of South Korean pop making a bigger imprint in Japan.
The music itself is just way too hyperactive to really stand out for anything, though plenty of intriguing elements manage to be buried in the mix. Just check the bass sounds or the slamming guitar that crashes the party late in the track. Or note how, unlike NYC above, this song at least has a bit of a thrust to it. Still, the whole package comes off as way to crowded and slapped together. KARA aren’t an artist’s band, but rather something where visuals come first and foremost.
I can’t seem to find this. Sorry GLAY fans!
JUJU “Hello, Again～昔からある場所～”
Maybe not the best quality…Vimeo player playing on some dude’s laptop as he records it…but gotta use what you can get.
A meh-inducing ballad, though even this fails to be interestingly bad, instead managing to just be uneventfully bad. I’m sure these sappy songs make someone’s day out there, but it isn’t me.
NEWS “Fighting Man
For a song titled “Fighting Man,” this track sure seems wimpy. Actually, not that surprising since it hails from the Johnny’s corner of J-Pop which rarely bothers to lift any weights. This song tries to reconcile something worthy of the dancefloor with the Johnny’s sound, and comes up pretty short as the latter definitely overpowers any dance elements. Basically, right up NEWS’ alley.
Ken Hirai “Sing Forever”
I don’t know much about Ken Hirai except he’s always the first artist I see when I open my iTunes thanks to a friend who gave me an extrenals-worth of Japanese music back in college. I listened to very little of his songs because they all seemed to be bad covers of Disney songs or an Osmond jam. Years later I confront one of the man’s original works, “Sing Forever,” and I have to declare “mercy.” Liking or not liking this song hinges entirely on how you feel about the Carmen San Diego theme song. If you are into acapella music, you might dig this. If you loathe it…like myself…you’ll want to turn this off within seconds and proceed to throw your computer into the nearest river. So if you are into it, great, just keep it away from me. I gotta go and delete a few items from iTunes.
Winner Of The Week – Horrible week all around, so let’s just give it to KARA because they had a fantastic video, shall we?