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Current J-Pop Girls Chart

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  • Striker
    started a topic Current J-Pop Girls Chart

    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)

  • Striker
    replied
    You're right, (my dog does that too) after a very uncomfortable afternoon today my health issue is resolved so I'm booking the flights this week & have a renewed optimism that may result in the infliction of Jpop onto the unsuspecting public.

    Leave a comment:


  • Shere Khan
    replied
    Originally posted by Striker View Post
    I got it from the label website for around £12 probably end up at around £20 after proxy shipping but I try not to think about it too much, the difficulties arose from it not inputting my Tokyo shipping address into the order form properly & me having to learn the difference between half & full width characters & how to convert one to the other, a right royal pain in the arse.

    I've not managed to convince anyone that I should be let loose playing this stuff in public although there's a place just opened down the road that claims that they're inspired by Japanese music cafe bars, they've got a good sound system & I read a recent review of the place that said it was nice but empty so I might see if they've got a free Tuesday night or something. Not holding out much hope though as they've just sold out a Sunday afternoon listening to Technique with Peter fucking Hook. :/

    Not been over to Japan yet we're looking at Autumn but I haven't booked it yet as I may have a looming health issue & I don't want to lose the plane ticket money if it all goes to shit. Should know either way in a couple of weeks.
    I just looked at that page; it's really too late to be looking at a page like that. 'This page cannot be translated' was a frequent pop-up. I've gone back to stroking the cat who is doing that thing where he lays down next to you, rolls on his back, holds his front paws up and stares you out, presumably thinking, 'You can't resist, right' ? He's right.

    You are definitely THE MAN when it comes to Japanese stuff. Don't wait for them to say 'we might do' just tell them when you can do them a favour and play your gear.

    Sorry to hear of your possible looming health issue- I had one of those once- but why don't you just back yourself and book the trip? Maybe if anything happens losing the money will be the least of your worries.

    Leave a comment:


  • Striker
    replied
    I got it from the label website for around £12 probably end up at around £20 after proxy shipping but I try not to think about it too much, the difficulties arose from it not inputting my Tokyo shipping address into the order form properly & me having to learn the difference between half & full width characters & how to convert one to the other, a right royal pain in the arse.

    I've not managed to convince anyone that I should be let loose playing this stuff in public although there's a place just opened down the road that claims that they're inspired by Japanese music cafe bars, they've got a good sound system & I read a recent review of the place that said it was nice but empty so I might see if they've got a free Tuesday night or something. Not holding out much hope though as they've just sold out a Sunday afternoon listening to Technique with Peter fucking Hook. :/

    Not been over to Japan yet we're looking at Autumn but I haven't booked it yet as I may have a looming health issue & I don't want to lose the plane ticket money if it all goes to shit. Should know either way in a couple of weeks.

    Leave a comment:


  • Shere Khan
    replied
    Originally posted by Striker View Post

    Avandoned are about to lose a member Kotao is graduating from the group this month, I believe to go abroad to study but Beni won't be stopped and is in the process of auditioning 4 new members, meanwhile she has just put out a covers 45 with toy instrument garage rock band The Childish Tones. The A side is a version of Nick Lowe's "Cruel To Be Kind" and on the flip is a deliriously fantastic version of "There She Goes" by The La's.



    They pressed 300, which disappeared immediately, so they just announced another 200 of which I just spent a good hour tangling with the most convoluted arcane website ordering page to get one.
    That is good. Well done for getting one- if it turns out you have. They appear to have them at HMV Japan but £26 all in is a bit steep at the moment. I look at theses things and think 'Great, there's no way I'll be able to get that'. When are you going to present yourself as the UKs number 1 Japanese Pop DJ- or have you already?

    Did you get to Japan?

    Leave a comment:


  • Striker
    replied
    A few months since the last update, I've been a little out of sorts to be honest.

    The Chai gig was amazing, they exceeded all expectations, it was too short though. Got myself a tour 12" & a sweet teeshirt, I didn't get the tote bag because I find them weirdly uncomfortable to carry things round in, immediately regretted it though.

    Avandoned are about to lose a member Kotao is graduating from the group this month, I believe to go abroad to study but Beni won't be stopped and is in the process of auditioning 4 new members, meanwhile she has just put out a covers 45 with toy instrument garage rock band The Childish Tones. The A side is a version of Nick Lowe's "Cruel To Be Kind" and on the flip is a deliriously fantastic version of "There She Goes" by The La's.



    They pressed 300, which disappeared immediately, so they just announced another 200 of which I just spent a good hour tangling with the most convoluted arcane website ordering page to get one.

    Leave a comment:


  • Striker
    replied
    Yeah I can't wait, I'll keep an eye out for any Parappa-phinalia.

    Leave a comment:


  • bennyboy
    replied
    Ha ha, I wouldn't worry, I imagine you'll be fine. I went years ago with my mate's band who put a few records out there, smuggled myself over as a guitar tech, and it was brilliant. Had a friend living in Kyoto so did there, Osaka and Tokyo. Generally amazing. Great things like the bars all being in multi storey buildings, so you walk down what looks like an office corridor, open a door and there's a hip jazz bar, with geezers actually in berets drinking whiskey and listening to Coltrane. All my references are late 90's/early 2000's, but Shibuya looks like it's still the place to be. Great shops, great bars, great food.

    I'm still annoyed at not buying a Parappa The Rapper toaster, but it's something I'll have to live with.

    Leave a comment:


  • Striker
    replied
    Hey Bennyboy

    Yes, I've never been, I suppose it's always been out of reach for me to go but there's been a steady stream of music, TV & film even before the internet that kept me interested. Imagine if I hate it when I get there, I know a couple of people who've been & didn't like it, I'm actually shitting it a little but I'm sure I'll get over it.

    Leave a comment:


  • bennyboy
    replied
    Ha ha, good news on the PPI. Ive done something similar in the last few months and got back money when I didn't expect nuffink. No trips to Tokyo covered, but a week in France was a bonus.

    And do you mean that you haven't been to Japan? Assumed from your posts that you must have visited at some point to get the jpop bug.

    Leave a comment:


  • Striker
    replied
    Nice one BC

    It's been ages since I updated this & to be honest I got battered so much on my last record purchase (postage/customs charges etc) that I've had my fingers in my ears for a while so it doesn't cost me any more money but I've got some updates.

    I'll start with the sad news that Vanilla Beans are calling time on their pop career after their upcoming single, the world will be a little shittier without them.
    The artwork is a play on the cover of their first single, the almost perfect "Nicola" (it was actually their second single but the first was a different lineup)
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    Imagine taking the same photo of yourself 10 years later & looking better, no neither can I.

    Anyway the Wednesday Campanella & Aya Gloomy vinyl arrived and they are both great, the AG album is more challenging than I was expecting with some pretty abstract electronic stuff going on, I love them both though.


    In other news I'd pretty much given up on the idea of actually going to Japan as I'm always mad skint but I made my partner put in for her PPI on her banks website & she recently got back a considerable amount of money. So as payback for a few European city breaks I've treated her to in the past she's taking me for two weeks in Tokyo, hasn't quite sunk in yet. so if anyone's got any food/hotel/sightseeing tips hit me up.

    Don't forget to do your PPI people, it's a piece of piss to do & don't bother with any of those scammy cold callers you do it through your banks website, they'll send you a shitload of paperwork but just bin it, they have to investigate it anyway, you'll have to do one or two 15-20 minute phone calls with them where you say that the insurance seemed like it was part of the process to get your loan/CC if that's how it was & that's it, this shit's unexpectedly made us debt free in the space of a couple of weeks.

    Leave a comment:


  • babycart
    replied
    Superb stuff Striker. i like all of those, but especially the Anna one.

    Leave a comment:


  • Striker
    replied
    Originally posted by Shere Khan View Post

    Get behind me, Satan!
    Hah, I know right, I feel terrible.

    Anyway, I'm currently awaiting the arrival of that great Avandoned 45, the new Wednesday Campanella LP has arrived at my Tokyo forwarding service & I'm in the middle of trying to buy the Aya Gloomy album which is proving harder than I imagined.

    Anyway, here's what's new...

    Manon is gearing up for the album release, this one's a collaboration with Indie Electropop Londoners Kero Kero Bonito, it appears to be about internet dating or something & it's endearingly awkward.

    Manon & Kero Kero Bonito - "Swipe"



    This is about a year old, it's put out on the Big Love label out of Harajuku that I'm trying to get the Aya Gloomy vinyl from, if I can buy from them I might get this next time as it's on 45 & it's got a really great DIY vibe to it.

    Anna - "Electric Dreams"



    New video from Zombie Chang, another great release & the video's great too, Incredible voice, it reminds me of something that I can't put my finger on, she's really something though.

    Zombie Chang - "Mona Lisa"



    Wednesday Campanella released a video of a collaboration with Moodoid that I wasn't mad into, but a couple of days ago this one came out and it's an incredible piece of pop music, apparently the new album is slower with more singing & less rapping, which I'm fine with if it's as good as this.

    Wednesday Campanella - "The Bamboo Princess"



    Leave a comment:


  • Shere Khan
    replied
    Originally posted by Striker View Post
    I've gone to the dark side & started using Sp***fy a bit
    Get behind me, Satan!

    Leave a comment:


  • Striker
    replied
    I've gone to the dark side & started using Sp***fy a bit, I've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of stuff there is on there to be honest.

    I've started a J-Pop playlist if anyone wants to follow it (or whatever it is you do on there) I'll be updating it with interesting stuff that comes out or older stuff I've tracked down.

    The Work, Which Becomes A New Genre In Itself, Will Be Called...

    Leave a comment:

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