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:
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. 🙂
Thanks for reading!! 😀