Infrequent J-Music Roundup #16 – iri, ohashiTrio, Itou Miku (and more!)

Hello and welcome to another J-music roundup!

In case you don’t know what this is, this segment is essentially just me showcasing some cool Japanese music that I’ve listened to recently and my attempt to talk about them. It’s a very casual and chill thing I do on the blog.

During my 1-2 month break, I got to listen to a lot of new music so allow me to show y’all a few great tracks!


“Sarashi-mono / さらしもの (feat. PUNPEE)” – Hoshino Gen

When Hoshino Gen’s latest hit, “Same Thing”, came out back in October of last year, it was… strange, to say the least. Not because he collaborated with a non-Japanese artist or that he sang it all in English. I think the fact that he said explicit things like “fuck you” or “you piss me off”, even if he implies that he “meant it with love”, was what surprised me. It’s not a bad song but when a popular pop singer like him goes and writes a track like this, you can’t help but to think it’s abnormal lol (he even apparently performed it on the annual NHK Kouhaku TV special… I wonder what that was like).

I do, however, find his explanation for that song to be interesting, as Hoshino Gen has stated that this was him essentially taking a break from his usual (and possibly even forced) positive self, according to an article from OtaQuest. I can respect that.

As a matter of fact, it seems like the other songs from that EP definitely expressed more of a negative vibe, as another included track, “Sarashi-mono” featuring well-known MC PUNPEE, is reflective of that. Reading some of the lyrics such as “I’ll give you the pride that doesn’t suit me / So please, take it and throw it away”; it’s an interesting perspective to look at. With the amount of popularity Hoshino Gen has because of his particular image and the kind of music he has made, I can imagine it taking a toll on him eventually. But I feel like this was also an opportunity for him to experiment with different things, as this song is much more “hip-hop”-oriented with the help of PUNPEE, which is something that is relatively new in his discography. I mean, he’s even rapping!


“Love Triangle” – DiverDiva

The Love Live franchise’s newest group, Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, has recently been killing it with their music releases. After two albums of solo songs and a couple group tracks, their long awaited sub-unit singles were finally released earlier this month.

I was gonna go on and give my thoughts about this song but while I was searching the web, I found this absolutely amazing Reddit comment about the background of this track, “Love Triangle”, by one of the sub-units DiverDiva. And before I present it, lemme give you some background info… for the background info of this song.

One of the members of DiverDiva, Miyashita Ai, is known for being a person who makes a lot of bad puns and loves doing it. So, here’s the thing I wanted to show everyone instead cause it’s worth learning about:

Screenshot.png

Brilliant. Oh, and I really like this song. What stood out to me the most was the performance of Ai’s voice actress, Murakami Natsumi. Compared to the other songs she has sung as Ai, I believe Natchan improved a lot and showed that she can sing extremely well.


“HIKOU / 飛行” – iri

In my time as a Japanese music fan, I kept seeing this one song in my YouTube suggestions, “Wonderland” by pop/R&B singer iri. For some odd reason, I never touched it until about a month ago. I then realized why it had so many views; it’s a super nice song! With that, I went on and took a listen to her other music and was not disappointed with how good it was.

“HIKOU” is probably my favorite track off her Shade album, as I just love the slow pace it goes it. Very relaxing, almost sensual, and it kind of reminded me a lot of the music of Nujabes. Contemporary R&B is just super good.


“Polaris / ポラリス” – ohashiTrio

ohashiTrio, one of my all-time favorite J-artists, released a brand new album a week or so ago, and I was absolutely stoked.

There are some pretty damn good tracks on that album, with a lot of them being reminiscent of his older, peaceful-sounding style of music. But I find “Polaris” being a really unique one, compared to the other tracks I’ve heard from Ohashi Trio. Mainly because it has a lot going on with the music itself and it’s pretty bright, for a lack of a better term. However, Ohashi Trio just maintains that calm and soothing voice of his, regardless of how emphatic the music is. I just find that to be really nice.


“Gakki Ga Kaenai Wakeja Nai / 楽器が買えないわけじゃない” – Nagie Lane

Ever since I found out about this nice little acapella group named Nagie Lane, I’ve had the pleasure of following their work. While they are mainly known for their great covers, they have dabbled in creating original music as well, with songs like “Friday Night” and the amusing “Tapioca Song”.

They recently released another original song, “Gakki Ga Kaenai Wakeja Nai”, which they actually have “previewed” multiple times on their channel ever since last May. And it seems like this is the official/full version of it.

And it’s nice! While I haven’t listened to a ton of acapella groups, I believe this group does a really impressive job in every aspect. Their harmonies are super pleasant to listen to, the percussion and bass are on point, and the vocal performances by the three ladies complement each other so well. It’s a fun song to listen to, accompanied by a fun music video.


“Arigatou wa Kocchi no Kotoba / ありがとうはこっちの言葉” – Moriyama Naotarou

The Winter 2019-2020 anime season has been very enjoyable so far, with Somali to Mori no Kamisama being one of my favorites. Watching Somali and her guardian Golem go on a journey and have such a heartwarming relationship has been both soothing and stressful (lol). Plus, hearing Minase Inori’s (the voice of Somali) genki voice compared to her other roles… it’s just pure bliss.

Speaking of Inorin, she also sang the ending song of the anime and while I absolutely adore her performance in that track, I think the opening theme is worth talking about. “Arigatou wa Kocchi no Kotoba” by Moriyama Naotarou is a very fitting song for an anime like this one. Given that Somali is set in a fantasy world, the whimsical atmosphere of this song just pairs well with the setting. Plus, I definitely felt like this was a “Disney-like” song, and I even saw a YouTube comment saying that it reminded them of a song from Beauty and the Beast.

But yeah, you should watch this show. It’s great.


“PEARL” – Itou Miku

You’ve probably heard of this voice actress before if you happened to watch a couple shows like BanG Dream! or Gotoubun no Hanayome/The Quintessential Quintuplets. Especially the latter, as Itou Miku voiced none other than Nakano Miku, arguably the most popular quint/character in that series.

Other than portraying a quiet, Japanese history buff in that show, she also has done a lot with music. As I mentioned earlier, Mikku has a major part in the BanG Dream franchise, as she voices the leader of a band called Hello, Happy World! (I’m not well-versed in Bandori but here’s Mikku covering Sakanaction’s “Shin Takarajima” in the mobile rhythm game). She is also a part of the seiyuu musical unit Pyxis, alongside Hello Happy World! member Toyota Moe.

Anywho, here’s a nice song from Mikku’ solo album PopSkip, “PEARL”. Mikku’s style of song is usually bright and fast-paced, as seen with her stuff in BanG Dream and even her other solo tracks like “Shocking Blue”. But Mikku seemed to tone it down here, as “PEARL” is a very lovely and chillax-sounding song. Her voice is very soft in general and to hear it with this cool instrument composition, it really makes for a pleasant song to listen to.


“Aozora / 青空” – aiko

A few days ago, the wonderful aiko released her 39th single, “Aozora”, and it’s a very pleasing song. Listening to aiko and her distinct voice is always a treat, especially when it’s accompanied by more upbeat music like the one we hear in this particular track. Also, an interesting thing I noticed about the music video is that it seems like some of the scenes shown reference her older MVs; the one I noticed was the overhead view of aiko at the dinner table, which is from the “Straw” music video. I’m just making assumptions here but this song possibly could be a small retrospect on/tribute to her musical career? I honestly could be wrong lol

Theories aside, aiko did celebrate the release of her new single with a surprise: it seems like she and her label decided to pull the trigger and release all of her music on music streaming services worldwide.

…and I, in fact, did find this to be very surprising. I knew about the recent increase of J-music being released globally on Spotify and Apple Music but… aiko? I didn’t think it was possible! 😛 Anyhow, I’m just glad that I get to listen to more of her music, as I’ve certainly been slacking on that.

(on a related note, here’s Iguchi Satoru from the band King Gnu doing a little karaoke with aiko recently on his radio show lol)


Well, that’s all I got for you today! I hope these songs were somewhat interesting and if this list even introduced you to a new, great artist, I’m glad to be of service!

And as always, if you have any music suggestions of your own, feel free to leave it in the comments! I’m always looking for some new stuff to listen to. 🙂

csra1rg9dhq11

Thanks for reading!! 😀

-al

  1. Thanks for introducing me to Nagie Lane. This song is such an iyashikei delight.

    “Polaris” is possibly my favourite of the batch. Runner-up: “Hikou”! (You can see that I might just be in this specific mood today)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. No problem! It’s been nice seeing that group improve throughout the past year or so, and the track I discussed has become one of my favorites from them. I’m also glad you found ohashiTrio to be enjoyable 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  2. RisefromAshes March 2, 2020 at 4:44 am

    I don’t have any specific thoughts, but I really appreciate your round-ups to get me out my usual bubble of music!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thank you thank you, I’m happy I could share some cool music w/ you 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  3. My immediate takeaway from when I first heard SUPER NOVA/Love Triangle from DiverDiva was that both tracks sounded VERY much like something Perfume would sing (xD) which is kinda interesting when you consider that from a composition perspective, LL! (at least to my knowledge) has never really committed to a true Electro/Pop sort of sound in their songs. More often than not, LL! traditionally tends defer to a more agressive EDM style or cutesy Dance Pop when elements of electrosynth are incorporated, so this is a nice look in terms of musical direction for DiverDiva and NijiGaku as a whole, as it really does set them apart from what we’ve heard from the now previous generations of the franchise.

    That “Wonderland” PV of iri floated around my YT suggestions for a solid month straight I feel like. Doesn’t help too that a lot of the cover artists I follow have gone and made covers of it on top of that, lol, but yeah no iri is definitely a standout with that deep vocal register of hers, so the popularity is warranted. I’ve yet to try out an album of hers though, but “HIKOU” is definitely right up my alley.

    I have a gut feeling that cover artists are just going to start popping off this year and listening to Nagie Lane here it looks like it has held true so far :p Nagie Lane are at an intesresting spot though because I can’t really think of any mainstream Japanese acapella group right now off the top of my head so if anything that genre is ripe for the taking for them. I do wish “Gakki Ga Kaenai Wakeja Nai” was a tab bit longer though, Haha!

    I wanna say it’s the combination of everything I heard here that me want to recommend this today (lol); here’s “Falling Down” by SHACHI (https://youtu.be/YeU-TD4UkKw). On the subject of acapella groups, WHITEBOX here has been doing a neat thing in their channel that they call “MASHUP Battles” (https://youtu.be/BddXionkOB0) which are absolultely worth a listen.

    Solid roundup! And as someone always on the lookout for new stuff to listen to as well, I’m glad to have it back 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. I never really thought about how different DiverDiva’s style was but now that you mention it, I definitely agree! It also reminded me a little bit of A-RISE’s electro-pop style and their (limited) list of songs but yeah for their first subunit singles, all of the groups did a pretty great job!

      Nagie Lane has, for sure, improved ever since I discovered them, so they definitely have the potential to be one of the more popular acapella cover groups. And to just segue into your recommendations, thanks for showing me WHITEBOX! Those mashup covers are really cool and I personally don’t think I’ve seen those three styles of music performance merge together like that. I looked at their other mashup battles; the Gurenge/Senbonzakura and Eve/Yorushika ones were awesome 😛

      oooh never heard of SHACHI before but her soft vocals and the hip-hop/rap music style actually mixed together pretty well! I’m sure rap is already something that’s relatively prevalent within Japanese music but hearing her specific take on the genre was interesting.

      And thanks man! Glad I could show you some good stuff 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: