So I mentioned that I’d bought a few songs recently when I wrote about my experiences with Japanese iTunes. Sorry it took me over 2 weeks to follow that post up with the music. But I haven’t been able to listen to the songs much, so for me they are still new, so that counts a little.
1) Gift – ET-King
I hadn’t heard of this song or this group before. But I knew I wanted to buy the song when I knew it was hip-hop. I do like Japanese hip-hop, one of the reasons being that I like the vocal delivery and timings, it seems to work really well with the Japanese syllables. Of course that doesn’t mean that Japanese lyrics won’t have some of the same Anglo-American topics like sex, women, crime and money. But I don’t think I’ve come across any (although I wouldn’t know unless they drop in English words or I translate it!). I haven’t been able to find the English lyrics for this song. But I think it’s a song about appreciation, gratitude and celebrating life.
2) 深夜高速 – フラワーカンパニーズ (Fast Midnight – Flower Company)
This is a group that I haven’t heard of before, so I’m relying on what information I can find online about them. They’re originally from Nagoya, which I really like because my friends spent their university year abroad in Nagoya and although I haven’t been myself they had such great experiences there. They’ve released music under both major and indie labels. I do find it very interesting how big bands can choose to remain on a indie label for such a long time. I’d like to learn about about Japanese labels and how they work differently to UK labels (seems like every label is owned by one of the major companies like Sony BMG or EMI). They released a lot of material in the late 80’s/early 90’s, but it looks like they’ve releasing new material and performing at festivals such as ap bank fes. Of course I didn’t know any of this before buying the song, I went on instinct based on what I heard in the short preview. I like how the verses were more stripped back before the instruments gain intensity in the choruses. I also thought the vocal delivery was interesting, not the melodic type and not the screamo/rock type but somewhere more in the middle. When I watched the video I had images of Oasis and Kasabian with his rock swagger attitude.
3) maruche – KICK THE CAN CREW
Unfortunately I couldn’t find the PV or a suitable video. If you search for the song you will probably find an AMV (Anime Music Video). What first struck me about this song was the Latin sample. I feel like I should recognise it, or it just might be typical of the Latin sound. Again it’s another hip-hop track that I wanted to add to my collection. When I play/record my mixes I’m always on trying to represent as many genres as possible, in order to show just how diverse Japanese music is. Whilst I did start off with some R’n’B/hip hop artists, they were more female singers like Koda Kumi or Namie Amuro. So the more hip hop acts I can get the better I feel about my mixes. What I realised when looking online for the video was that one of the members of KICK THE CAN CREW was KREVA, who is now an established rapper. He’s on the song STRONG – MIYAVI vs KREVA which I absolutely adore! It’s probably one of my top three Japanese songs of all time, so I implore you to have a listen to STRONG.
4) My Sunshine (2012 remaster) – ROCK’A’TRENCH
As soon as I heard this I thought I recognised it as a anime theme. There are some songs that just sound typical of rom-com / shojo programmes. When I looked for the PV online I worked out where the song was from. It was the OP for a drama called Mei-chan no Shitsuji (Mei’s Bulter) which definitely falls under the shojo category and I will admit I watched (everyone needs escapism!). I have watched a lot of anime and dramas but for this one to be memorable shows the song stands on it’s own merits. It has that positive affirming style that will sound good this summer. The rest of their catalogue judging from their other PVs is more in the ska style, so they’re worth checking out.
5) B-Dash (Hanagoe Version) – tongarikids
I nearly debated using a different video, because I thought the PV looked ridiculous. To cut down the amount of ridiculous time, start the video at 1:16 when the music starts. That being said, it quite a ridiculous song, but sometimes that’s what everyone needs. And this was a very very big song at the time. The initial reason I bought was that I recognised the sample being used. I won’t say what it is as a small test! 😉
I thought it would be a great song even with a short edit, because of it’s techno sound and the sample. I would say based on the people that I know, that even if they’re not a fan of Japanese music, they are fans of gaming, so this would definitely make them pay attention.
6) グロテスク – 平井 堅 グロテスク feat. 安室奈美恵 (Grotesque – Ken Hirai feat Namie Amuro)
I saw Namie Amuro on the artwork and was instantly intrigued. Ever since I was introduced to Japanese music Namie Amuro was one of my favourite female singers. Her R’n’B/Hip Hop was similar to the kind of Anglo-American singers I listen to and her songs were great to sing along to (well attempt to, again I say I do not know Japanese!). Also I really liked her voice and style (it’s very rare that she’s not wearing knee high boots). I had a listen to the sample (as I do before every purchase) and really liked the high energy and sound. I also searched for the video and once Ken Hirai appeared I realised who he was. Although I don’t have a lot of the music, I know he’s been in the industry for a number of years and he has a very distinctive style (the white outfit with the hat wasn’t that surprising). The song is channeling the current house/dub step trend, this will definitely be included in future Neo Kei mixes.
7) AKB48 恋するフォーチュンクッキー (Koi Suru Fortune Cookie / Fortune Cookie In Love)
Ah yes, that one.
I didn’t learn about this song through the artist but instead through the fan videos. Not knowing the song, I was rather confused about why the AKB48 official channel was sharing all these videos. And then I realised they were all for the same song. These fans seem to love the song and love the opportunity to recreate the para para (dance routine). Plus in the official PV lots of people are performing AKB48 are teaching the moves (I think the orchestra and the kendo students are the funniest!). So again it’s very easy and tempting to fans to replicate the video. I won’t share all the fan videos, but there is an Australian version, a Venice version, an Enka version, one by Japanese fashion label Samantha Thavasa but I think you must see the Kanagawa Prefecture version
And you HAVE to see the AKB48 staff version (who I actually think are the best dancers!)
Have you mastered the whole routine? Or have you found a better parody video? I’d love for you to post them in the comments section below.
I wouldn’t have gotten into Japanese music without the recommendations from my friends, and I will always welcome new suggestions. So if you think there’s some music you want to share or some recommendations based on these songs then please post them in the comments too.