Neo Kei

For fans of Japanese Popular Music. From para para to visual kei and every genre inbetween!


My thoughts on Japanese iTunes

It had been a while since I bought any music, so I went onto the Japanese iTunes to find some new songs to add to my collection.

On UK iTunes I like to take advantage of the ‘Single of the Week’, where they give away a free song from an up-and-coming artist or artist with new material (previous artists include Alex Clare, Foxes, Naughty Boy and Tom Odell). So I had a little look around to see if I could find something similar. Then I spotted a section that had 00’s songs for 150 yen (87 pence approx), compared with 250 yen (£1.46 approx).

Yes the songs on Japanese iTunes are more expensive than the UK. But the UK has extremely few Japanese songs. For instance AKB48 (one of the biggest idol groups) only had 1 song, and that was only because they were on the ‘Wreck-It-Ralph’ soundtrack. There some new tracks I could find, which really helped me when I started DJing. But I couldn’t guarantee I would find the songs I wanted, and whether they were still current (no point buying a MIYAVI track 3 months after it was released in Japan). And even if I discovered an artist that I really liked (like Capsule or Aural Vampire), I wouldn’t be able to find any of their back catalogue. So the Japanese iTunes account is brilliant to have access to any artist I want.

Also I don’t have to worry about have to import music. Before iTunes I was purchasing my music through YesAsia. I do think it’s a brilliant site for the amount and variety of stock they have. But you pay the cost of importing. Literally. The prices are so much higher for albums and singles. For instance just looking on the site now, the most recent single of a artist I could find was SID’s  ENAMEL (Normal Edition)(Japan Version) is on sale at $14.25 (£8.44 approx). And that doesn’t include the DVD extras or photobooks they like to include. I couldn’t afford the latest music, so I would look at the reduced items of artists that I thought would be popular, even if the songs had been out of the charts for a while. I’d also buy music in bulk, because firstly it would take about 2-3 weeks at least to arrive, and also the purchases had to be over $39 to qualify for free shipping (which I’ve recently learnt can really bite, but more on that later).

I am still a traditionalist and I like to own the physical CD (but oddly I’ve never been interested in vinyl). So if I want to buy an album of an artist I really like, I will still want to buy it in the future. But as much as I love owning as much music as possible, it’s not practical to buy a physical single at over 5 times the cost of a download song. Plus, whilst I might get 3/4 songs with the physical, half of them might be instrumentals or TV edits (because songs are so often TV OPs) and really what people will want to hear is the actual single, not the extra song that came with it. iTunes allows me to buy the 1 song that I know I will include in my mixes (or at least heavily listen to and build my own musical knowledge), so I’d say that  purchase would have a 100% success rate, compared with may 25-30% with a physical single.

I ended up buying 7 songs. I wanted to talk about them all, and what was meant to be a very short introduction into Japanese iTunes turned into another one of my short opinion pieces! So I’ll share this first and write a separate post that just focuses on the music.

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Neo Kei – 18 Jul 2012

Hi Minna,

How’s it going? More varied slices of news this week, including varied activities from artists and big news from Koda Kumi.

Artist News

  • In the lead up to the release of their Pachinko Game, members from the AKB, SKE, and HKT teams will form the new unit Team Surprise.
  • AKB48 member Kashiwagi Yuki has been appointed as the Satsuma ambassador, promoting her hometown Kagoshima.
  • Chemical Pictures will resume activities with a new mini-album.
  • Since CHEMISTRY has gone on hiatus, Kawabata Kaname will be going solo.
  • GRAPEVINE will celebrate their 15th anniversary with their 1st best of album, and their opening track list suggestions to fan voting.
  • On 18/07/2012 Koda Kumi has given birth to her first child, a baby boy.
  • HiGE member Suto Hisashi has launched his solo project, using the live name Suto Hisashi GATALI ACOUSTIC SET.
  • Tohoshinki have become the best selling international artist in Japan.

Live News

  • After the success of their live broadcast and their limited DVD release, exist†trace will be re-broadcasting their Just Like a Virgin live on 20/07/2012.
  • On 15/07/2012 GLAY members TERU and TAKURO hosted an impromptu live for disaster victims in Minamisanriku, Miyagi.
  • Goto Mariko will host her one-man live ‘299792458 TOUR  in Osaka and Tokyo in November.
  • Miyavi will be streaming his Day 1 “Premium Live” on 21/07/2012 through his YouTube channel.
  • On 17/07/2012 Momoiro Clover Z performed at an all-boys school to motivate the students.

Release News

  • 25/07/2012 B’z B’z (first English album)
  • 01/08/2012, 24/09/2012 THE MICRO HEAD 4N’SA BEGINNING FROM THE END (first album’s Japanese release, European release through Bishi-Bishi).
  • 08/08/2012 NMB48 – Virginity (single)
  • 08/08/2012 SMAP – GIFT of SMAP (album)
  • 08/08/2012 Ayumi HamasakiA Summer Best (compliation album)
  • 15/08/2012 AKB481830m. (album)
  • 22/08/2012 TOKIO – 17 (first new album in 6 years)
  • 29/08/2012, 11/09/2012 Tackey & Tsubasato-be-titled (single), to-be-titled (album)
  • 29/08/2012 YUKI – Watashi no negai goto (single)
  • 29/08/2012 Kiyokiba Shunsuke – Fighting Man (single)
  • 29/08/2012 GOTCHAROCKAHydrag (first single)
  • 05/09/2012 FLOWBraBlue (single)
  • 05/09/2012 Blitz – Wish World Rainbow (first single)
  • 05/09/2012 Plastic Tree – Shion (single)
  • 12/09/2012 ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATIONLandmark (album)
  • 12/09/2012 SUGIZO – STAIRWAY to The FLOWER OF LIFE (live DVD)
  • 12/09/2012 BUMP OF CHICKENfirefly (single)
  • 19/09/2012 MERRY – MERRY VERY BEST – Shiroi Hitsuji / Kuroi Hitsuji – (best of album)
  • 19/09/2012 Porno Graffitti – KAGEBOUSHI (single)
  • 19/09/2012 BUCK-TICKyumemiru uchuu (first album release through their label Lingua Sounda)
  • 26/09/2012 Girugamesh(to-be-titled) (single)
  • 26/09/2012 BLACK LINELEGNA (single)

Be Genki (^o^)y


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Neo Kei – 2 May 2012

Artist News

  • I shared this on my Facebook page, but An Cafe have reformed and will be touring Europe at the end of the year. They start in Russia on 03/11/2012 and coming to London on 07/11/2012. An Cafe was one of my early introductions to Japanese music, so I hope I can find a live buddy to go with!
  • Dolly will go on hiatus at the end of this year to work on their solo careers.
  • Dragon Ash bassist Ikuzo “IKÜZÖNE” Baba passed away on 21/04/2012.
  • LAZYgunsBRISKY will disband after their final live at Shimokitazawa GARDEN in Tokyo on 12/05/2012.

Music News

  • There will be a third volume of CRUSH! V-Rock cover albums covering tracks from 90’s visual kei artists. CRUSH!3-90’s V-Rock best hit cover LOVE songs- is available from 27/06/2012. Amongst many brilliant tracks/artists, I love the thought of Inugami Circus-dan covering X JAPAN‘s Rusty Nail, and the session band including members from Guild, -OZ- and D. They’d be great tracks to play in a Neo Kei DJ set.
  • BOOM BOOM SATELLITES will be releasing BROKEN MIRROR, the theme song for Mobile Suits Gundam UC episode 5,  on 06/06/2012.
  • BUCK-TICK have another tribute album due for release, this time fo their 25th anniversary. PARADE II -RESPECTIVE TRACKS OF BUCK -TICK is available from 04/07/2012 and will feature artists such as Acid Black Cherry, MUCC and MERRY.
  • New wave group The Flickers will release their second mini-album WAVEMENT on 09/05/2012. Japanese New Wave? I like the sound of that!
  • Golden Bomber will release their best of album The Golden Best internationally on 18/06/2012.
  • LUNA SEA’s guitarist INORAN has his new album Dive youth, Sonik dive out on 27/06/2012.
  • LM.C‘s newest album STRONG POP will be released in Europe on 04/05/2012.
  • MIYAVI will release his new single on 11/07/2012. It’s tentative title is SAMURAI SESSION WORLD SERIES vol.2 – MIYAVI vs YUKSEK “DAY ONE” .
  • Having toured the UK last year, jazz group mouse on the keys will release an unnamed mini-album on 18/07/2012.
  • Amuro Namie has a new untitled album due on 27/06/2012.
  • Johnny’s Entertainment band NEWS let their fans vote on the tracklisting for their best-of album, which closed on 30/04/2012. Further details about album title or release yet.
  • Another anniversary now, as part of Plastic Tree‘s fifteenth anniversary they will release the single Kuchizuke will be out on 20/06/2012.
  • Even with the news about Raphael’s revival, ex-members Yuki and Kazuhiro will release their new single Acacia under their duo name rice on 06/06/2012.
  • The latest single from SCANDAL has been produced by ORANGE RANGE’s NAOTO.  Taiyou Scandalous” is available from 11/07/2012.
  • On 02/05/2012, SiM released their newest mini-album LiFE and DEATH. The special edition CD features artwork from manga artist Kaneko Atsushi.
  • The first album from ViViD will be released on 27/06/2012. No news on the title yet, but it will feature all the singles since their major debut.

 Live News

  • Jazz singer Jazz singer JUJU performed on MTV Unplugged in New York’s Time Square, the first Japanese woman to have the honour (Ken Hirai was the first singer).


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Neo Kei – 8 Apr 2012

Artist News

  • Potentially an April Fool on 01/04/2012 but happily not, AN CAFE will resume actitives this summer with a new release and a 2-day performance at Yoyogi National Stadium in September. This band was one of my first introductions to Japanese music, so I’m very happy they’re back together.
  • Front man of BLOOD Hayato will be leaving the band for new opportunities.
  • On 08/04/2012, the duo CHEMISTRY disbanded to focus on solo activities.
  • Record label Dear Dolce will close on 05/06/2012, affecting the future of many bands.
  • Golden Bomber members have been incorporated into the Square Enix online game TorisetsuIXA. By completing quests players can view videos from the band as rewards.
  • Ikimonogakari will be arranging the theme song for NHK’s broadcasting of the London Olympics.
  • NightingeiL will disband after their final performance at Harajuku ASTRO HALL on 03/06/2012.
  • On 07/04/2012 and 08/04/2012 Perfume had a promotional music box at Shibuya 109 playing their new single Spring of Life. The 4 metre box had 40 earphone plugs to listen to the song, with 3 of those having special messages from the band members.
  • After previously being hospitalised, Plastic Tree’s drummer Sato Kenken has been discharged and will perform with the band at Nippon Budokan on 14/04/2012.
  • After the rumor shared here on Neo Kei on 04/03/2012, it has been confirmed that Raphael will be reuniting. They will host 2 lives on 31/10/2012 and 01/11/2012 to commemorate the death of their guitarist Kazuki.
  • X-JAPAN have been nominated in the “Best International Artist” catergory at GOLDEN GODS AWARD 2012, Americas biggest award for hard rock. This is the first time that a Japanese act has been nominated in this catergory.
  • There are a number of releases due from YUKI on 02/05/2012. First there’s double-A single Play Ball / Sakamichi no melody, the live DVD YUKI tour “MEGAPHONIC” 2011 featuring her Yokohama Arena performance from November, and the PV collection YUKI Video 3.

Music News

  • Even though announced on 01/04/2012, A (エース) will have their album Tales For The Abyss available on 06/06/2012.
  • AA= will be releasing his third album, creatively titled #3 will be released and available for download on 10/04/2012 through GANSHIN.
  • The only other multiple A act I know, AAA will release their yet-to-be-titled single on 09/05/2012.
  • Applicat Spectra made their major debut with their album Spectacle Orchestra on 04/04/2012.
  • Counteraction -V-Rock covered Visual Anime songs Compilation- is visual kei artists covering anime themes. Artists either covered or recorded include GACKT, X JAPAN, Golden Bomber, SID, DaizyStripper and Nightmare. Great stuff.
  • Visual kei band D will release a new single titled Dying message on May 30th.
  • The new single from Dolly will be Niji Iro no Canaria , out on 25/04/2012.
  • EAT YOU ALIVE will release their new single Lily on 25/04/2012.
  • Singer-songwriter Fukuhara Miho will be collaborating with Miura Daichi (I love his track ‘The Answer’) on the single Dream On on 16/05/2012.
  • GLAY will release their single Bible, with B-side Ano hi no shounen and chairty song Thank you for your love on 23/05/2012.
  • Kaya  has a single due on 20/06/2012 called SALOME, based on the Oscar Wilde play of the same name.
  • Kyary PamyuPamyu will have her first album PamyuPamyu Revolution, out on 23/05/2012. She will also make her acting debut as herself on the TV drama Kazoku no Uta.
  • Leda (ex-DELUHI guitarist) has announced plans for his debut solo album due in the autumn, although no title yet.
  •   mihimaru GT will release their latest best-of album THE BEST of mihimaru GT 2 on 30/05/2012.
  • As part of Mr.Children‘s 20th anniversary, they will release 2 best-of albums on 10/05/2012, entitled Mr. Children2001‐2005 [micro] and Mr. Children2005‐2010 [macro]. Before then, they’ll release a triple A-side single of Inori -Namida no Kinou- / End of the day / pieces on 18/04/2012.
  • Sadie have their new mini-album Red Line is available now (released on 04/04/2012).
  • Tokami will release best-of album on 06/06/2012, featuring songs re-recorded and re-mastered versions of songs released pre Starwave Records and tracks only available from their lives.

Concert News

  • As part of their 25th anniversary, BUCK-TICK will be holding their own open-air festival BUCK-TICK FEST 2012 ON PARADE in September.
  • Whilst DIR EN GREY are on hiatus due to injury, they’ll be releasing 2 documentaries in June/July, called TOUR2011 AGE QUOD AGIS Vol.1 (Europe&Japan) and TOUR2011 AGE QUOD AGIS Vol.2 (US&Japan).
  • Already making their Christmas plans, Princess Princess will be hosting lives at the end of the year, including 2 days at Tokyo Dome on 23/12/2012 and 24/12/2012.
  • MISIA performed on 25/03/2012 as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington. http://www.tokyohive.com/2012/04/moriyama-naotaro-sings-sakura-at-ueno-park-surrounded-by-cherry-blossoms/
  • Yesterday (06/04/2012) MIYAVI was the opening act for Lenny Kravitz during his BLACK AND WHITE JAPAN TOUR 2012.
  • On 28/03/2012 SCANDAL hosted SCANDAL JAPAN TITLE MATCH LIVE 2012 -SCANDAL vs BUDOKAN-, their first performance at Nippon Budokan.