It’s nice to know that, no matter where you go in the world, the local music scene is peopled with weird/annoying/colorful characters.  Just a different kind of weird/annoying/colorful character than what you’re used to in your neck of the woods.  Whenever I’m in Tokyo, I’m endlessly amused and, occasionally, mystified by the hot group/singer du jour.  Now I’m no expert on J-pop (Japanese pop)  and am admittedly not at all familiar with the Japanese music scene, but I know enough to know what I like.  And, more importantly, what I find kinDA strange…

EXILE

What I find strange about Exile is the fact that the “group’s leader” isn’t the lead vocalist.  Or lead guitarist.  Or xylophonist.  He doesn’t even play an instrument. He’s the 14-man group’s lead dancer.

“Not dancer,”Akemi corrected me this afternoon.  “Performer.”

“Oh, what else does he do?”I asked her.  “Play guitar?  The drums?  Do magic tricks?”

“He dances.”

“Right.”

KYARY PAMYU PAMYU

In a world of Lady Gaga imitators, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a breath of refreshingly bizarre air.  The former fashion blogger, Harajuku model, and entrepreneur (launching a successful line of fake eyelashes),  hit it big when the video for her first single, PonPonPon,  went viral.  She followed up with her next big single, Candy Candy – the video for which I saw for the first time, appropriately enough, at a candy store in Vegas.  If you wanted to sing along to the chorus, the lyrics go: “Candy, Candy, Candy, Candy, Candy, Sweetie, Sweetie, Girls Love.  Chewing, Chewing, Chewing, Chewing, Chewing, Cutie, Cutie, Chew-Chew-Chew-Chewing Love!”

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is her first name by the way.

AKB48

Not to be confused with AK47, this all-girl group is made up of…well…a hell of a lot of members.

“Forty-eight?”I assumed.

“Oh, a lot more than forty-eight,”Akemi assured me.

As it turns out, more like 67 (They apparently hold the world record), split into three “teams” backstopped by a minor league system of young trainees (kenkyusei).

According to Akemi (who knows about such things), the girls are selected for various big events (ie. the recording of a new single) by a popular vote.  The purchase of every new single allows every fan the opportunity to vote for their favorite.  And vote they do, to the tune of over one million after their 2011 single, Everyday Katyusha.  “But that’s not fair to the unpopular girls!”I’m sure you’re saying to yourself.  Well, fear not.  To ensure the unpopular girls get their fair shot as well, the participants on a second single is determined by a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament involving all 67 members.

Really.

HATSUNE MIKU

It’s finally come to this and, honestly, are you that surprised?  A 3D hologram plays to packed stadiums.  The brainchild of Cyrpton Future Media, Hatsune is a digital avatar and singing synthesizer voice application that has apparently taken the software (and music) industry by storm.  The whole Milli Vanilli scandal seems to unjust in retrospect.

THE BAWDIES

Is “bawdies” the Japanese word for “beatles”?  Just wondering.

25 thoughts on “November 15, 2012: The weird and wonderful world of J-Pop!

  1. Then…there is the Gangnam Style by Psy that went viral. It’s from Korea.
    Once you hear it…can’t get the tune out of your head.

  2. O____O”’ XD XD wow. I listen to EXILE once in awhile and didn’t realize the leader isn’t the lead singer or lead guitarist XD lol the more you know!
    Lol AKB48….way too many… at least when it comes to female singers, I’ll stick with soloist like Aoyama Thelma and Crystal Kay lol >.<

  3. I like the first group, but the rest is…uh, too saccharin for my taste. Curious as to why the girls in Japan look like dolls in their dress on stage. Is that the fashion?

    How go things on the writing front?

    Patricia

  4. Oh, speaking of Japanese music.anime music pretty much dominates in some cases. Naming a few examples that I liked personally. Like thosands of people watched these live, as Macross is huge.

    May’n and Megumi Nakajima(Ranka Lee in Macross Frontier)
    Triangler(Song)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaceSnvRonY

    May’n, Obelisk(Macross Frontier Movie 2 song)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7QueYese10&feature=relmfu

    May’n Universal Bunny(Macross Frontier Movie 1 song).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6W6PA9aTBo&feature=watch-vrec

    May’n is a really good singer.

  5. @sylvia on Gangnam Style:

    My kids love that song (and video)! After hearing it about 100 times, I’m not so enamored of it myself.

    To reduce the playtime, I deleted it off the home network music server, but it keeps magically reappearing. Now I’m thinking of declaring it a ‘virus’ to my anti-virus software and see if that’ll take care of it! 😉

  6. Ah forgot this one. I was tempting to post the live performance one, but the Macross Frontier movie animation song is incredibly well done.

    Megumi Nakajima sang this incredibly cute song.

  7. The Pon Pon Pon song is the biggest earworm I have ever heard. But I love it. My fav J-Pop song is Dearest by Ayumi Hamasaki… and Fukai Mori – Do As Infinity… Yeah, I used to watch Inuyasha on YTV. hehehe

  8. Hi, it’s not J-Pop, but i like Monoral, Japanese alternative rock band, remember “Kiri”, from Ergo Proxy Opening Theme. Also like Shikao Suga, from xxxHolic openings. Or Shuntaro Okino, performer of the opening “Cloud Age Symphony” in Last Exile.

  9. Awww…The Bawdies are fun! And at least they come across as young men, and not little boys. The girls, on the other hand…

    I can’t help but think 95% of J-pop has been created just for pedophiles. 😛

    @ Tam Dixon – I think at least 50%, or not more, of the Petraeus scandal has been an over-exaggeration/over-reaction by the media. The core of it – the affair and the threatening messages – have been overshadowed by reports of shirtless FBI agents and 30k pages of e-mails from the General in the field, all of which now seems to be much ado about nothing. If it ever becomes a movie, I hope they address the media hype. That said, Colbert had a hilarious bit on this scandal last night, probably the best coverage of the whole thing yet! 😆

    @ antisocialbutterflie – Interesting about catnip. I thought it only worked on – ya know – cats. 😉 But, oddly enough, the other day when I was watering my flowerbox of catnip, I wondered if it had any affect on people. I know it has two affects (or is it effects – I hate these two words!) on cats –
    it acts as a stimulant if they smell it, and a sedative if they eat it. And it only lasts for about 15 minutes either way, so they can’t OD on the stuff.

    @ noellam – Hubby’s ‘remedy’ doesn’t work on me. Okay, sure, maybe for about 10 minutes or so, but then I get loads of energy and start cleaning the house! 😛

    @ JeffW – The weird thing about Craig’s Bond is that he is (physically) SO NOT my type, and yet he still manages to tilt my sexy-o-meter. Definitely my favorite Bond, ever, and it all has to do with his badassiness and overall on-screen charisma. Now, if we could only make him look like Prince Nuada or something, I’d be set! 😀

    @ melinda ward – I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve fallen asleep while in prayer. 😛 My only consolation is that the apostles weren’t struck down dead by lightning doing the same thing while in the Garden with Jesus just before his arrest.

    @ Deni – I can’t sleep to Atlantis because I will inevitably wake up in a cold sweat – either due to fury over the treatment of the Wraith, or…ya know…because of hormones. (Make of that what you will. 😉 )

    das

  10. I’m okay with Hatsune Miku. It had to come to this and at least it was so, so much more tastefully done than it could have been.

    Is there a way to explain why “Ass by Nicolin” is in the lower, right-hand part of AKB48’s video? I’m so not googling that.

    I’m suspicious of Exile’s label for picking a dancer for their leader. It could be a way to keep the remaining singers on their leashes. A pop dancer needs a group, no danger of going solo like other types of performers.

    I’d be a J-pop fan if it weren’t for a couple recurring elements I avoid and I haven’t had the gumption to look for what I want. I also have a very non-Japanese reaction to “favorites” and I’m up to my ears in frustration with a K-pop singer having his potential drowned by group dynamics. I’m glad to see how AKB48 has just run with an acknowledgement of the “favorites” issue, but I haven’t seen where J-pop is close to a response that would appeal to me.

  11. Um, Joe, is it weird that I totally enjoyed all of these videos? The Hatsune Miku I’d seen before since they used that same kind of technology for the Glados’s song “Still Alive” from the video game Portal(which I HIGHLY recommend playing, it’ll mess with your head!) and I read some stories on how they did it and it lead me to those concert vids. The AKB48 was just too much cute at one time for me to process. I can’t imagine there’s even more of them in that group that weren’t on stage! The Bawdies was fun to watch and take in what they’re trying to accomplish. I think they pull it off brilliantly.

    There’s something to JPop, as you put it, that is so fun for me to watch. I think it’s because I get it. I get what they’re trying to do. Everything seems to come from an air of whimsical fun, technological integration and experimentation, and pushing the “weird” envelope(but in a good way). I love watching what other cultures consider entertainment because it lets you be immersed, however briefly, in that culture with them for that moment. Whether or not you understand what’s actually being said or even what’s going on is your problem, but that discovery and learning time is truly enjoyable for me. I love it. The Japanese entertainment culture, including tv shows(name their game shows), is so strange and fun, yet completely original, it’s a joy to watch. Thanks for sharing!

    Are the dogs joining your schedule or have they been able to stay on their normal sleep routine? My dogs, in the past, have tried to be awake when I am at night, but after a bit, they just give up. They end up looking at me like they’re trying to say, “C’mon, it’s bedtime! Let’s goooooo!” in a whiny dog voice.

    -Mike A.

  12. @Deni….LOL…yes, I like it too. Thanks for sharing that. Had not seen that one. Now to share it further – to infinity and beyond. oops wrong show.

  13. Here’s a question for Akemi: Why is the lead singer gal in Candy Candy running with a piece of toast in her mouth?

  14. Hope you didn’t mind me posting a ton of JPop vids on your update post Joe, Ironically May’N aka May Nakabayashi isn’t an anime voice actress in Japan, just a highly successful Jpop artist. I love a lot of the music in Macross Frontier, I could post other artists but didn’t want to clutter your update post with videos.

    Universal Bunny is a very catchy song by May’N, it has like a 6 minute spot in the 1st Macross Frontier movie too, Sheryl Nome performs the song despite it not being done by the actual voice actress, the performance animation is pretty incredible.

    Many singers perform at the Budokan too in Japan, there’s quite a few Macross Frontier videos on youtube with random songs from there, as well as other stuff too.

    Anyway pity there isn’t many Jpop fans on your blog Joe lol.

    @Das
    @I can’t help but think 95% of J-pop has been created just for pedophiles

    Not true, many Jpop fans in Japan are teenagers/adults. Same for outside of Japan too, though Jpop has a lot of fans that are either Otaku, or just appreciators of fine music 🙂

    Most of the more successful Jpop artists are female, which is mostly why you rarely see male singers in anime. May’N for example is 23 years old, 21 when she did those Macross Songs I posted on here.

  15. @Joe and Cookie Monster:

    I’m over-nighting in London and found that ITV 4 is playing “My Super Ex-girlfriend”…I don’t really remember this one, but maybe Cookie would want to add it to his list?

    I may have another opinion after I watch it though… 😉

  16. Das: I could NOT care less about the whole sex scandal thing but there are a lot of undercurrents going on in this story. I saw this little clip today about the mess: The Wall Street Journal suggested in a front-page article Thursday that a major reason why Petraeus’ resignation was accepted with such alacrity was the CIA director’s determination to shield the spy agency from blame over Benghazi. The CIA’s release of its Benghazi timeline reportedly angered National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who then used the revelation of Petraeus’ affair as a cudgel to drive him out of government. I don’t think we will ever know the whole story. It’s like a real life chess game.

    antisocialbutterflie & Das: When I lived back in the “Woods”, we had a doctor that used to prescribe Catnip tea for colicky babies. We called him the “Hippie” doctor because he used to work out at “The Farm”, an organized commune that was located near us. http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/

  17. Deni: Love the video!!!

    antisocialbutterflie & Das: Oh and I didn’t hear about any babies dying, so the catnip probably was harmless 😉 .

  18. Huh. The “Candy” song is kind of perversely fascinating. And catchy!

    It’s been a busy day or two – my step-mom wound up in the hospital again, this time with a subdural haematoma. They did an operation today to relieve the pressure today and the prognosis looks pretty good. Pretty stressful time, though.

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