First roundup of the new year!

What’s good and welcome back to another installment of the Infrequent J-Song Roundup segment! This is a thing I do on this blog where I, essentially, pick out some great songs that I’ve been listening to lately and just talk about/praise them in a post. A very simple concept, which makes you think that I probably should do this more often… heh.

a new ‘anime girl listening to music’ GIF: Rinku edition

But that said, as I try to dodge the truth, these song roundup posts usually consist of me picking out a random selection of songs. But occasionally, I’ll base my choices around a specific theme like in the past, such as showcasing a specific artist or a type of artist. And this time around, we’ll be talking about Japanese idols. Now I have talked about seiyuu idols/artists in the past, and while I still do love those types of performers, my exposure towards more general, non-anime related idols has really skyrocketed. I’ve loved discovering new music from various groups, and for the most part, a lot of it has genuinely been great. So, that’s what I wanted to focus on in this roundup.

I would also like to add that I tried my best to gather a wiiiiide variety of songs and idol groups, in terms of genre, vocal stylings and overall image/vibe. So even if you’re not really into the usual cutesy stuff shown in this entertainment medium, hopefully you’ll be able to find something enjoyable in this pile.

Let’s jump right in!

“Blue Moon” — NiziU

While the popularity of Korean pop music has been around for decades, both in South Korea and the rest of the world, it seems like it really got to its peak only a few years ago. Back in 2017, you probably should’ve bought stock in K-pop because it truly has become a worldwide/mainstream phenomenon with groups like BTS, TWICE, Stray Kids and the most recent hit in NewJeans.

And with that type of popularity outside South Korea, famous record label JYP Entertainment decided to further tap into the Japan market in 2019, with its creation of the all-Japanese pop group NiziU. They became an instant hit, with fire releases like “Make you happy” and “Step and a step”, and even made their first NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen appearance only 29 days after their official debut. Now I know the music relationship between South Korea and Japan is nothing new; many K-pop groups have performed their songs in Japanese, and some members of certain units are Japanese-born (like TWICE having three members who are from Japan, not Korea). But back on the topic of NiziU, it’s honestly pretty cool to see a Korean-produced Japanese pop group be so loved and appreciated by its native people, especially THAT quickly.

“Blue Moon” is one of NiziU’s most recent releases, and it’s pretty damn good. Unlike their more peppy and hyper tracks like the aforementioned “Make you happy” and “Step and a step”, the group takes on a slower and more emotional approach, especially with the inclusion of an warm acoustic guitar and a mellow backing beat. One thing I’m really impressed by is how authentic everyone’s voice is, and how they sound exactly like their Korean counterparts. Pretty impressive showing of what JYP can do, no matter the kind of talents they’re working with. (also their THE FIRST TAKE feature was fantastic)

“Kono Sora ga Trigger” — =LOVE

Naatan… 😭

While the recent departure of one of =LOVE’s most beloved members, Saitou Nagisa, was an incredibly bittersweet moment for a lot of fans (including myself), it’s honestly exciting to see the future of this group and where they go from here… and it did not take long for us to see said future, as the Sashihara Rino-produced idol group released their 13th single just a few days ago, titled “Kono Sora ga Trigger”.

Now I will admit that I haven’t listened to a ton of =LOVE’s discography, but I believe they have a pretty decent balance of fun, cutesy stuff (i.e. the Saitou Nagisa-Otani Emiri duet, “Watashi, Mahoutsukai”) and songs that are more on the dramatic side like with “Anoko Complex”. In the case of “Kono Sora ga Trigger”, it’s definitely more on the sentimental side, as its lyrics and music video depict unrequited love and one-sided relationships. The combination of the fast paced beat and the melancholic piano/violin definitely makes for, not only a good traditional-sounding idol song, but one that might pull at your heartstrings. I also heard that this is a continuation of a story that has been going on within some of the group’s other songs, like “Anoko Complex” and “Natsumatsuri Koi Shitau”, so… that’s actually pretty neat!

And with Naatan now moved on from the group, I figured I’d choose another =LOVE member to be an ‘oshi’ of… which wasn’t that hard (lol). Sasaki Maika and Mirinya are up there.


Always love getting fantastic song recommendations from Spotify, and this song from TAKANE NO NADESHIKO was definitely one of them.

Initially, sound wise, I just thought “Antifan” was a great display of the ‘edgier’ impression that many idol groups express in an occasional song or two (or even similar to the likes of Keyakizaka46). The epic opening with the acoustic guitar, piano and violin, and just the rest of the song having that more dramatic feeling was very enjoyable when I first listened to this. And being someone who is more accustomed to the happy-go-lucky side of idols, this really was another great change of pace.

But once I actually read the lyrics, I realized that they truly are taking on that edgy and rebellious type of image, as they sing about not wanting to conform to the usual aspects of the idol industry. At least, according to this translation, TAKANE NO NADESHIKO firmly shows that they’re ‘not singing because an adult asked’, they don’t want to be used like some ‘doll’, and even though they’ve been perceived as ‘bad’ from some online comments/criticisms, they won’t back down and quit. Which… made me like this song and group even more, not gonna lie. There is certainly some truth in what they’re singing about, given the issues within the idol industry, so I think them singing about that stuff is a good change of pace from the usual displays of idolhood. I also find it cool and very fitting that they did a cover of HoneyWorks’ (the group’s main music producer) latest viral hit “Kawaikute Gomen”, as that song is basically a big middle finger to whoever is annoyed by people who want to be/feel cute. Hell yeah.

The best thing about TAKANE NO NADESHIKO is that they are still new (debuted in July 2022), so we’ll see how things change and evolve with that group. I’ve definitely become a fan and I’m hoping they’ll release a full album or something in the near future. Also, regarding oshi-isms, I’ve really started liking/following Matsumoto Momona and Kizuki Nao. Both are adorable.

“Digital Relation” — SAKA-SAMA

As much as I praise Spotify, I’ve actually kinda switched back to Apple Music these past couple weeks (if you wanna know the reason why, just read my last J-Music Exchange/Rate review lol). And conveniently enough, they gave me a whole row of Japanese idol album suggestions, in which the lo-fi dream pop group named SAKA-SAMA appeared on.

Checked out one of their albums, and a lot of the songs were pretty good. My personal favorite, which also seems to be one of the group’s most popular tracks, like, period, is “Digital Relation”. A very straight-forward, low-key and relaxing tune with the sweet guitar licks and vibey percussion; this isn’t a common genre expression for an idol group but I really enjoy their overall concept. One of my favorite things about this song is how its subtle and chill nature lets the vocals shine. Not only the main vocals, but the backing ones and even when they harmonize… they all sound extremely good.


The Tokyo-based group named O’CHAWANZ describes itself as a ‘cultural idol hip-hop unit’.

Now, wait wait wait, before you think this is some gimmick type idol group that the Japanese just randomly came up with, let me talk about them and this song first.

As I’ve listened to the rest of their Mellow Madness album and a few of their other popular tracks… yes, it’s understandable that one can perceive this to be some weird take on an idol group. Their vocal interpretation of ‘hip-hop/rap’ is very… cheesy, in my opinion, and definitely does not sound as sophisticated as other Japanese hip-hop artists like Creepy Nuts, Takayan or Kroi. HOWEVER, I think their songs are still fun to listen to and some of them are real bops, including this one with “TOKYO”.

Please excuse my very basic knowledge of Japanese hip-hop, but “TOKYO” really does express a ‘chill-hop’, Nujabes type beat. The drum loop mixed in with jazzy elements like that classical piano and trumpet is such a fire combination in general, and I think it’s done exceptionally well here. Plus, the rapping in this song is not too bad and the transition from rap to normal singing when going into the chorus was pretty smooth. Plus, I enjoyed hearing the electronic filter that was put onto some parts of the vocals, as it’s very reminiscent of how tofubeats raps/sings.

“Delicious Precious” — i’mew

I first found out about i’mew when I stumbled upon a cover they did of “Gekka Hakanabi”, a song originally performed by the IDOLY PRIDE unit, Tsuki no Tempest. And holy moly, they impressed the heck out of me with that cover. Each of them did an amazing job replicating the vocals from the original Tsukisuto song, and it instantly made me a fan of theirs.

And after checking out some of i’mew’s original stuff, a lot of it has been pretty solid. “Delicious Precious” is a track that has stood out to me the most and probably is my favorite so far; it’s like combining a fun idol-themed song with a sick electro-dance beat. And if I didn’t praise i’mew’s vocals enough already, this song is just another good example of how well they sing. I love how their pitches/vocal registers differ from person to person, and they sound great when they sing together.

i’mew seriously does have potential, both in regards to the idols themselves and the fact that they got some great music producers behind them (Wicky.Recordings, who also produced some of the IDOLY PRIDE/Tsuki no Tempest songs), so I really really really hope they don’t go under. I like what I’ve heard from them so far, so hopefully they can take the next step soon.

“Girl’s Talk” — TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE

It is absolutely no secret that Japan knows how to do soul, funk and disco. Ranging from the popular city-pop hits from the 70s/80s, to now with bands like BRADIO, Awesome City Club and even Ginger Root (who is a Western artist but does a sick job of conveying the Japanese style of those genres)… it’s amazing how well-versed this country, just like America, is at expressing the funky/soul side of pop.

And I believe the same applies when it comes to certain idol groups who’ve expressed that kind of musical style, and one in particular that I’ve come across recently is TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE. This group was formed back in 2009 but it seems like their sound has evolved since then (as explained in an interview they did with JaME World), with them taking on a much more disco/funk sound in their most recent album Nocturnal. While they did start off as innocent high school girls pursuing their dreams as pop idols, they now have a better understanding of their vocals and perform much more mature-sounding tracks like “Girl’s Talk”.

While I am cheating a bit with this choice, since TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE doesn’t necessarily consider themselves as ‘idols’ anymore, I think this group and song are still worthy of putting onto this list. Hearing the disco/funk and pop combo being done by an idol-esque group is so cool (another group that does this EXTREMELY well is Philosophy no Dance). This track really is a vibe, thanks to the funky guitar/bass parts, old school-sounding keyboard and even the rich vocals from all four of them… it’s fire. Absolute fire.

“Natsuzora HANABI” — PASSPO☆

And because one of my last posts was about former idols, as well as me being a Negishi Ai oshi… I just had to see what PASSPO☆ was all about. And I was pleasantly surprised with the kind of music they performed.

Other than the cute ‘airline/flight attendant’ visual theme they got going on, one significant aspect of this group is the heavy rock theme in their music, which… I did not expect before listening to their songs (lol). But like I said, it was surprisingly good and they pull it off very well, such as in their (arguably) most popular song, “Natsuzora HANABI”. In the case with this track, they combine the loud/rough electric guitar playing with a more traditional Japanese aesthetic, while also somehow making it sound enough like any ol’ idol song.

Another thing I like about this song is that their vocals, for the most part, are a superb fit with the specific type of music they perform alongside. Some of the members’ lower tones and vocal registers sound great with the deeper guitar playing, including the person who I’m most familiar with in this group, Negishi Ai. And honestly, Aipon sounds the exact same as how she does now. I know their stint as a unit wasn’t that long ago (earliest would be five years, given they disbanded in ’18) but it seems like Aipon just picked right back up from her PASSPO☆ days when she joined Merm4id and the D4DJ franchise.

Aaand that’s all I got for you today!

Also, in case you wanna hear all of these songs on Spotify, I created a playlist with all of them so please do enjoy:

Hope you enjoyed reading this and listening to some amazing songs; this honestly might be one of my favorite roundups I’ve ever compiled so I hope you feel somewhat the same lol

And please let me know of any more great Japanese idol songs, groups, etc! I’m in a bit of a non-anime/seiyuu idol phase right now so I’m all ears.

Thanks for reading!! 😀


Posted by:alfredopasta

A 22-year-old guy who likes to discuss anime, watch baseball and is currently stuck in idol hell.

2 replies on “Infrequent J-Song Roundup #23 – All About Idols

  1. ngl, I thought NiziU was a Korean group (XD) But yeah no, I always forget how big of a phenomenon and influence K-Pop is within Japan and the Japanese music scene respectively. I’m not even gonna dare go into the whole “which came first, J-Pop or K-Pop” debacle (lol), but it is fascinating to the two worlds intertwined like this. I mean, JP versions of K-Pop songs has been a thing for a while now as you mentioned, but I think this is a good example of how music is beyond just the language a song is being sung in. Likewise, that genres aren’t exclusive to the country where it originates from, or at least I would like to thinks so. Whether or not one would treat this as appopriation is, again not something I’d like to get into (though perhaps this in itself is a reflection of the fanbase/s for the two genres), but hey, if the Koreans love them all the same then 😛

    TAKANE NO NADESHIKO definitely gives me Keyakizaka46 vibes, and Antifan in particular really does remind me of Keyaki’s Fukyouwaon both with how they sound and the message they’re trying to put out. Of course, whenever artists and groups sing about these things you always gotta wonder too how much of these are actual representations of their own thoughts rather than the production behind them playing up the “alt. idol” sort of image. Like, it becomes this sort of weird self-awareness by the people behind the music to make a song that sings about all these darker truths about the industry, almost giving validity to it but I digress. What stood out to me personally is that the song was produced by Honeyworks, which is a name I don’t often see get associated with non-seiyuu idol acts. I thought that was pretty neat, and I do like the idea of known composers/producers dabbling in Idol Music.

    Ooh, SAKA-SAMA! I came across them years ago back when I was into a more Shoegaze/Dream Pop music space and was a group that always came up with regard to idol groups specfically having that kind of sound. I admittedly haven’t kept up with their work since (and I presume their member lineup has drastically changed since then) but it’s nice to know that they’re still coming out with this kind of music. On the subject of specific music styles, while reading through your thoughts on O’CHAWANZ I was reminded of something that I realized as I started listening to more Japanese Hip-Hop/R&B (and by extension Rap) myself. Based on what I’ve listened to so far, I noticed that a lot of artists unironically still perform this “cheesy” old-timey Boom Bap style of Rap to this day (take Chunky Cookie Club here for example One theory I have regarding this is that Hip-Hop/R&B/Rap isn’t as defined by era within Japanese music compared to the West.

    Awesome roundup 😀 Definitely got me interested to check groups that I’ve been neglecting to (Tokyo Girls’ Style and =LOVE are both ubiquitous in my Spotify recs) and groups that I wasn’t aware of until now (PASSPO’s discography sounds very promising to dive into if that’s how they sound mainly).

    From here on I’m just gonna shotgun some recommendations of my own for groups that I don’t *think* (lol) we’ve talked about yet between us:

    @onefive ( is probably the most “produced” group that I listen to, but it’s hard to deny that the production really is that nice. Their 1518 album was low key one of my most listened to releases of last year.

    Though more of a ‘vocal unit’ than a straight up idol group, on the topic of known composers/producers getting involved with idols, mzsrz ( is a group that has DECO*27 as its main producer.

    RAY ( is an interesting project that’s treated as the successor group to the mysterious DotsTokyo from a coupld of years back that has a lot of the same musical sensibilities as SAKA-SAMA in my opinion.

    This group nearly took over my entire December (funnily enough, if Spotify Wrapped also covered the last month of the year they would’ve made it on there despite me only having listened to them within that same month, lol) but yeah no RYUTist ( is mind-numbingly fun, lol

    Lastly, on the subject of language not being a barrier to and for idol music, Japh Dolls ( is a Filipino-Japanese group that perform in the style of Japanese Idol Pop. They have since stopped their activities, but it was an interesting experiment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It honestly still blows my mind how JYP (the Korean label NiziU is under) managed to have that group sound exactly like your usual K-pop idols, so you mistaking NiziU as being Korean is understandable lol. And I do wonder how this type of idea/concept would play out if it was primarily handled by a Japanese company, rather than a Korean one who already has a ton of experience in this field. I think that’s where the ‘appropriation’ issue could possibly come in, plus I honestly don’t think any JP label/company could pull off an ‘all Japanese K-pop-esque group’ as well as what they did with NiziU.

      Ahh yeah, “Fukyouwaon”… that’s the song I was looking for but couldn’t remember (lol). You do bring up a good point about how there is definitely the possibility that these idols don’t actually believe in the stuff they’re singing about (I’m now reminded of the Wata Megumi album I had you review lol). It’s a bit hard to gauge with this group since 1) from what I’ve seen from their personal social medias and such, they seem like your average female idols who like cutesy stuff and that sort. And 2) some of their other songs are very devoid of the edgy style shown in “Antifan” (at least in a style/genre sense). As I said in the post, they’re still new so I’m sure they’re still trying to figure out their overall identity but I honestly would love for them to maintain that rebellious image, whether or not these ten girls believe in what they’re speaking on. Even if it’s in a brighter-but-sarcastic/witty way like in their cover of “Kawaikute Gomen”. And as much as it would be really off-putting if they didn’t, it’s probably a good/preferable thing that we don’t actually know lol

      I 1000% agree with your theory about Japan and hip-hop. It does suck that they seem to repeatedly go towards that almost stereotypical ‘hey, yo’ type of expression whenever something about rap comes up. One example I can think off the top of my head was that episode from LL Superstar where they had to create a song with a rap part… it definitely shows that Japan is a bit stuck in their ways, which, I get it. I do think it’s great that artists like Takayan have a really good grasp of modern rap/hip-hop and is able to express it in a superb fashion, and to more and more people given his popularity, so hopefully it can shed a different light on the genre as a whole. Also that Chunky Cookie Club song was pretty nice, actually

      I appreciate you dropping by! The Nocturnal album from Tokyo Girls’ Style is actually really solid, so I may end up suggesting that to you in for Exchange/Rate review lol.

      One thing I like about that @onefive song is how the ‘electronic filter’ they have on their vocals doesn’t fully take away from their actual voices (at least in my opinion). I remember you saying something similar about the BATTEN GIRLS and WatashiKoi, and how their autotune wasn’t too invasive, and I think the same applies here. It’s nice.

      It’s really interesting to discover more and more idol groups who don’t exactly express the common visual themes of most idol groups, and I think that’s really shown here with mzsrz and RAY. The latter, in particular; I feel like a lot of people who aren’t all that familiar with idols wouldn’t think that RAY is an idol group tbh. Similar to, like, sora tob sakana, they really do sound like an actual band so I feel like it would surprise some when they find out they’re an idol unit (lol). I also found the MV for that song to be fascinating, since it’s such a raw and unfiltered type of video. The way it just depicts normal life for them and the fact that it looks like it was primarily filmed with a smartphone… I find that to be extremely cool and unique, especially from an idol group of all things.

      Yeah, this is the first time I’ve heard of Japh Dolls, and they are so crazy to me. It’s like a nutty mish-mash of Filipino, Japanese and Korean music culture (which is a compliment, don’t get me wrong). I even didn’t notice that some lines were sung in Japanese, I legit thought they were singing in Tagalog the whole way through lmaooo. But yeah, I’m sure Japanese/Korean pop is widely known over there in the Philippines (I’m preeeeetty certain there’s an AKB48 type group based in Manila), and I think this was actually a nice attempt at recreating that specific pop aesthetic. Shame that they aren’t still around tho.

      Liked by 1 person

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