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Current J-Pop Girls Chart

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  • Current J-Pop Girls Chart

    I've always loved Japanese pop culture, childhood obsessions with Battle Of The Planets segued easily into the first flush of anime being popularised in the UK with Akira in my late teens. This coupled with the obsession with music that we all suffer from has led me to keep an eye on Japanese pop music.

    Years of working in a record shop led me to completely dismiss the idea of genre as a judging tool for music, my early days of being sure that I didn't like Jazz or Country were slowly chipped away with my increased exposure to stuff that I didn't consider to be in my wheel house. Now I only believe there's two types of music, Stuff that I like & stuff that I don't like.

    People get judgmental about pop music, once you start to "grow out" of it, it can be easy to dismiss more frivolous sounds and begin to rewrite your history to seem cool amongst your peers. I could easily gloss over some of my biggest childhood pop crushes with my more astute musical choices of the time, sit there enjoying the smug aroma of my own farts telling tale of how I bought 2 Tone 45s with my pocket money when I was 7 years old (which I totally did).

    But f**k it, that's not me.

    The first record I ever bought was Meatloaf & Cher doing "Dead Ringer For Love" I still think it's great, "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat was my jam when I was 9, I rated Mel & Kim but wasn't feeling Kylie & Jason, I knew "Popped In, Souled Out" by heart, "Actually" by the Pet Shop Boys was rarely out of my walkman. Pop music was my thing & I suppose it has been ever since.

    Nowadays like many people here, failed pop music, B sides & obscurities are largely what drives me to seek out great music I don't know but I still believe pop can be awesome & transcendent but current western pop music is a tough place to find gold right now.

    Our boy & girl bands seem to have had any personality drained out to appeal to lowest common denominator, the boys ballad heavy, almost exclusively romantically marketed at girls, the girl bands are hyper-sexualised and also seemingly marketed at pre pubescent girls. I suppose the route people are expected to take now is to go straight from the factory farmed current pop crop (once you've "grown up" of course) into the increasingly sectarian & narrowly defined genre ghettoes.

    J-Pop is different, and I can't begin to untie the knot of confusion & cultural difference that surrounds it, It can be as confusing as it is charming, at it's most alien it can be uncomfortably worrying (see the western press's collective clutching of pearls when Minami Minegishi of AKB48 shaved her head recently). Also it doesn't cater for the casual browser, It can be hard to wade through to find stuff you like & also hard to buy with familiar barriers like lack of international shipping & having to set up a Japanese account to even buy digitally (this is getting less painful though). But with all it's problems it's still a miliion times more interesting & just plain better music than Black Eyed Peas/Jessie J whatever.

    What I'm saying is basically I'm in my 30s and with the experience of nearly 10 years selling second hand records for a living & varying depths of research into some pretty dusty & scholarly areas of music, there's not much that brings me more musical joy than some of the current Japanese pop music.

    So here we go.

    Toquiwa - Tokyo Merry Go Round

    I started off with these to ease you in a bit, signed to David Gedge's label this lot were discovered busking (as The Pinky Piglets) & swiftly signed up. The album's great and they are so good live go and see them if you get the chance.



    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Invader Invader

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was a Tokyo fashion blogger who decided she should also be a pop star, possibly the most accessible to people over here due to a heavy western pop influences, but she doesn't just ape & recycle these she makes an awesome cake out of them then wears it on her head. I love her so much. This is her latest single.



    Momoiro Clover Z - Roudou Sanka

    This lot are terrifying & awesome, like a nuclear explosion, I added a track by them on the Best Of bonus CD. Part of the Idol sub genre which for a dude of my age is best kept at an acceptable distance, which is usually quite easy with the confusing military structures & graduations of AKB48 & Morning Musume and the general "creepy dude" vibe you can get spending time digging around in this genre. It's mostly not worth it for the lacklustre music you are rewarded with.

    Momoclo are different, they're f**king amazing.

    They have weird connections with heavy metal, Japanese pro wrestling & have caused controversy by acknowledging & making fun of the nerdier older male "Otaku" portion of their fan base, something that usually remains unsaid in the Idol world.

    This one is about how great it is to work really hard at your job & oddly it's composed & arranged by Ian Parton of The Go! Team, take that Girls Aloud.

    I often judge bands by how interesting or how much fun it looks to actually be in. Dress me up as a drunken salaryman & sign me up.



    The Suzan - Home

    I've mentioned these guys before, this album's still on regular rotation, they seem to be avoiding the UK in their tour schedule Amazing video.



    Vanilla Beans - Nicola

    These two are great, remind me of St.Etienne a bit. Perfect pop with out there tendencies coupled with a great image, what's not to love.



    Momoiro Clover Z - Z Densetsu: Owarinaki Kakumei

    These guys again, this is like a statement of intent for the band singing about how they're here to cheer you up with introductions for the individual members & involves the vocal talents of anime music legend Ichiro Mizuki and Pride Fighting Championship (?) narrator Fumihiko Tachiki

    If I had to compare it to anything it'd be a teenage Japanese girl version of "Hey Hey We're The Monkees".

    The video's pretty great too if you're a fan of Sentai TV shows like Kamen Rider/Ultraman.



    Mishmash & Julie Watai - Soul Of Love (short version)

    Julie Watai comes from the world of Furby hacking… I'm not kidding. Anyway this is great and the knitted space age video is a work of genius, not sure what Mishmash's deal is but I like this, definitely one to watch.



    Mon not a band! - Pahipahi

    Not sure if this is the right band name or title, i don't really know what's going on but i love the slightly off key vocals, and the fact that it's completely insane, apparently the girl tells the other girl who's trying to hide her mole that "Didn't you know? Facial moles are like a black hole for romance." It gets really odd & confusing about 4 minutes in, I'm not entirely sure knowing the language would help. I love this.



    Vanilla Beans - Chocolate Mint Flavor Time

    The lovely Vanilla Beans again, this time they seem to be singing about ice cream and revealing their baffling preoccupation with Scandinavia, and fair play to them. Their microphones are ice cream cones… ICE CREAM CONE MICROPHONES… People might think they're cooler than Vanilla Beans, but they're probably not.



    Momoiro Clover - Chai Maxx

    OK last one from these I promise, This was from before they added the 'Z' and when the still had Blue in the band (they all have a different identifying colour, because of course they do). I don't know what a Chai Maxx is, for some reason this is a boxing themed video, seems to be a 'don't give up/keep fighting' theme in line with their usual positive vibes assault. I wasn't convinced by the first 49 seconds (Momoclo are not averse to putting out a bit of filler) but then, holy shit… these people know how to write a pop hook.

    I have the almost uncontrollable urge to learn this dance routine, it looks so much fun.



    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Candy Candy

    And finally I'll leave you with Pamyurin, I love everything about this. The toast run, Mr Onion. Watch this then try & sit through a humourless self-reverant Lady Gaga video. Pop deserves better, Long live Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

    Link to Vid

    So that's it for my J-pop girl chart (I don't know why it's only girls, the boy pop seems to be a lot crappier & less interesting for some reason, if you know good stuff that I'm missing, fill me in), I don't know whether my facts on the above are 100% I just dig around and rely on google translate most of the time. All I know for sure is that i genuinely love this stuff and I hope that this might help you if you're interested but don't have the time or inclination to zip up & wade in.

    (Mods if the videos kill your bandwidth or something give me a shout & I'll turn them all into links)

  • #2
    Absolutely brilliant. Thanks for this and cosign some of the sentiments expressed in the first paragraph!

    I'm going to have to rack my brains but there was an absolutely (or should I say equally) mad song and video about a year or so ago. A girl (again!) who was in a pink room and there were sweets and stuff weaving in and out. The title was Po Po Po Po or something. I'll find it somehow...bloody thing had about 50 million hits or something.
    <<Soul Strut 100>>Collectable CDs 1 Forumusic: April 2014 Collectable CDs 2<<'95 WOF>>

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    • #3
      Thanks so much for this... words fail me but I really enjoyed it.

      You're spot on, pop does deserve better in the west. I've two kids 10 & 8 and although I'm happy they are into music, I wish they had something as cool and crazy as this stuff to get into.

      One direction (say's it all really), Jessie "one trick pony" J, or Will-I-am-shite (what my kids are into) just can't compare or even hold a candle to this stuff.

      I know this is the wrong board to bring this up on and I shouldn't rant... but...

      Will-I-am surprized me the other day. I've only been knowingly exposed to him through "the voice", which is far from what I'd call good television but does at least hold itself above the gutter by not sneering or laughing at those that don't get selected. Anyway I've been told he was some sort of megastar producer, I won't disclose the gorey details but I heard his new big hit with Britney Spears the other day... Mein gott it brings out the fascist in me... really? I mean really that's the best pop has to offer these days? The words to the tune are not sufficiently advanced enough to be described as "lyrics", and the music or more appropriately beats is/are so basic that even I could probably work them out on a Casio organ and play along.

      On a more positive note... I'll display my ignorance by asking what ever happened to Shampoo, as far as catchy teen pop with attitude goes I thought they were great. I'm vaguely aware they were well received in Japan.

      Right I really must do some work... Thanks again.
      In ((( VISUAL ))) Stereo

      Eclectic Mud


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ian Townsend View Post
        an absolutely (or should I say equally) mad song and video about a year or so ago. A girl (again!) who was in a pink room and there were sweets and stuff weaving in and out. The title was Po Po Po Po or something. I'll find it somehow...bloody thing had about 50 million hits or something.
        That'd be Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's debut single "Ponponpon"



        Glad you liked the chart

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        • #5
          Originally posted by someblokecalledfuz View Post
          what ever happened to Shampoo, as far as catchy teen pop with attitude goes I thought they were great. I'm vaguely aware they were well received in Japan.
          Hahah I loved Shampoo, still got some picture disc 45s in the boxes, I remember hearing that they were 'big in Japan' too at some point. They seem to have retired.

          also I can't believe I forgot to mention Fuzzbox in the first bit, still got nearly all their 12s.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Striker View Post
            That'd be Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's debut single "Ponponpon"

            Glad you liked the chart
            And that Sir is the as they say around these parts.
            Soooo much good stuff in this thread and like you say; Western counterparts have the pop boys being all romantic to get girls pocket money whilst pop girls have adopted lingerie and more adult, sophisticated sexuality to squeeze a few quid out of the boys. And yes, it does all seem very flat by comparison.

            I love the way this lot have chucked everything into the mix to create box-fresh box of frogs madness. Sgt Pepper meets live Punk attitude in spaces designed by Leigh Bowery in association with multi-coloured hoarders.. or something. Feeling those Vanilla Beans mostly but probably, as you say, because they're the closest to sounding calmer and Western-sounding.

            I'd forgotten PonPonPon overtly references Leigh Bowery circa 1987 too.

            Two requests:
            1. Please keep adding stuff as you find it and
            2. Please make this genre your CD Swap for 2013.

            Thank you.
            <<Soul Strut 100>>Collectable CDs 1 Forumusic: April 2014 Collectable CDs 2<<'95 WOF>>

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            • #7
              new SPOKE release: >>> SEE HERE <<< RKM LIBRARY BEATS

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              • #8
                J-cloth surely?

                <<Soul Strut 100>>Collectable CDs 1 Forumusic: April 2014 Collectable CDs 2<<'95 WOF>>

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                • #9
                  Bless you Col
                  In ((( VISUAL ))) Stereo

                  Eclectic Mud


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                  • #10
                    LOL Wolfe

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                    • #11
                      Mishmash & Julie Watai have a new single coming out, I really like it. They have a really interesting early 80s pre-mass produced electronic pop thing going on here if that makes any sense

                      Turns out they have some connection with Cornelius...



                      I got the new Momoiro Clover Z album the other day, not had chance to listen to it properly though, I'll report back.

                      Vanilla Beans have a new single out, haven't checked it out yet but it revels in the title "Muscats Slope Love" ???

                      And that Pahi Pahi track by Band Ja Naimon! in the first post (translates as We Are Not A Band, google stitched me up) gets better with every listen, I can't find any way to buy it legit, It's on Warner Japan for gods sake why do they make it so hard for people to give them money?

                      So I DL'd the audio off youtube, I imagine the proper version isn't filled with the strange dialogue, I'm not sure I wouldn't miss it though.

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                      • #12
                        I love this chart, thank you. This is totally why I come to this board. Experiments in musical archaeology (even new archaeology, if you get my drift). I had a phase of really liking bands like The Boredoms (around the time of Sea Drum) and Melt Banana but I haven't listened to Japanese music in years - any idea what the contemporaries of those bands would be?
                        "As technology has advanced, vinyl records are outdated as they are music from the 19th Century so only hipsters and elderly people buy vinyl records".

                        Mixes for your delectation: http://www.mixcloud.com/danmatic/

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                        • #13
                          Glad some of you are enjoying this.

                          Not wanting to go off the rails from girl-pop too much as this thread will probably get messy enough, but I really like Melt Banana. I haven't had the energy to find anything like Seadrum, that is a seriously bonkers record.

                          bit more lo-fi & riff heavy than MB/Boredoms but I love this lot



                          They're called Chuugakusei-Kanoke (which is roughly Junior High School Student Coffins) If you can find them the 2008 album "The Infection That Forces Confession" which this is from is great & the 2010 album that roughly translates as "Gum Which Stuck to the Brunt" is also brilliant.

                          Their stuff is hard to track down and their movements just as hard to keep up with, but mostly more than worth the effort.

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                          • #14
                            ha...that was crazy fun, so I've been sending the link far and wide.

                            a pleasure to read as well. cheers.

                            the consensus hereabouts is that Vanilla Beans rock.
                            Last edited by AlanP; 23-05-2013, 06:30 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Can I say simply this.

                              Best chart ever!
                              To infinity - and beyond!

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