Tag Archives: Japanese Music

“Makenai Kokoro” – AAA

Thank you, Ven, for your patience! Same for everyone else.

I’ll tell you right now, between school and work, I’m wiped. I could go into full detail and whine a lot to play up the drama but I won’t. It’s unfortunate but it seems as though I’ll be limiting my activity for a while. No, I’m not talking about a hiatus, and I’m especially not talking about closing down the blog. For now, though, it looks like the bulk of my activity is going to take place on the weekends. I guess we take what we get, right?


If this cover oddly reminds you of Perfume’s Triangle album, please comment so I won’t feel all alone in the world.

Usually AAA songs make me want to dance. What I liked about Makenai Kokoro is that it keeps the dance sound to minimum and instead showcases the vocals. It showed me that this isn’t purely a dance group, but that these people are actually talented singers and rappers. There was something about the way this song was performed that I liked. I think it was the way that the female singers held their notes in places. The rap was energetic and my only wish is that there had been a little more of it.

For everything I loved about Makenai Kokoro, I loved ten times more in Day by Day. It’s bouncy guitar pop, more centered around the male vocals. That was a cool aspect to this single; that the females were more prominent in the first track and the males were more prominent here. It’s like the flip-side of a very shiny yen coin.

WOW WAR TONIGHT ~Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement~ is a reggae-type song that I couldn’t get into. It’s a neat “end-of-summer” feeling set to music, but I couldn’t find myself yearning for a second listen.

In Conclusion: Success! AAA did a great job with this single. I liked it much better as a whole than the last one. A nice listen!

~Alisa~

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“GOLD” – Jasmine

I definitely appreciate that the album's title calls attention to her now-famous cover color schemes.

Here’s a shout-out to my buddy Steph! Hello! 🙂

Tracklist:

01 – PRIDE
02 – SAD TO SAY clip paroles
03 – L.I.P.S.
04 – JEALOUS
05 – BAD GIRL
06 – DEAR MY FRIEND
07 – STAGE
08 – THIS IS NOT A GAME
09 – CLUBBIN
10 – KOI
11 – WHAT YOU WANT?
12 – NO MORE
13 – DREAMIN
14 – WHY

Notably absent are her Gospel tunes.

Jasmine is an up-and-coming Japanese pop artist who many are comparing to Utada Hikaru. She has celebrated moderately great success for a newcomer to the pop scene. GOLD is her debut album. Shall we see if it lives up to the title?

Pride is a confident opening track. It’s not very long and I wish it had been. I love the rhythm of this piece, and for some reason it gave me the same feeling that Get Up & Move!! did on Koda Kumi’s Black Cherry album.

Don’t even talk to me about Sad To Say. I’m sorry guys, but if this was my first Jasmine song I would have never listened to her again. I’m lucky I started with Jealous. This song is plaintive and whiny with completely unnecessary usage of the eff bomb. I am glad she had time to grow though. Listening to this mediocre song just serves to prove how much she has gotten better since.

Jealous of course is fierce as all heck.

I had hoped that Bad Girl would sound a little more, well, bad than what it was. This song was bad in the wrong sense of the word. I felt like the song went nowhere and that Jasmine sounded bored. You can’t be a bad girl and be bored with it. You can be a bored girl. I vote we change this song title to that.

I loved that ~stage~ Interlude came directly before This is Not a Game because Jasmine says “this is my stage” quite a bit in it. It definitely is her stage and she makes the song hers perfectly. I love the harmony in this song. It’s so catchy!

Koi is an adorable song reminiscent of late 80s/early 90s pop music. It has a really great beat but Jasmine’s voice falls flat.

I didn’t like the title What You Want? because it just looked weird. This follows Koi’s old-style pop sound. It’s not as good as Koi but it’s a solid pop tune.

In Conclusion: Mehhhh. I think I am falling out of love with j-pop because this album failed to impress me. The best tracks on it had already been released as singles. I’m not hating on the album because it was pretty good. I think I’m just starting to become a full-time Visual Kei fan. Don’t blame it on me. Blame XodiacK. Take it easy, guys.

~Alisa~

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Weekly Babble, Volume Two

(published a day early because I have to work tomorrow!)

Songs I’ve Had on Repeat This Week
“赤毛のケリー” by Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
“Gothic Circus” by SADS
“Kiss Me” by YUI
“Please Stay With Me” by YUI
“Throw Him Away!” by SAWA

Musical Rants

1.) Still no sign of the Luzmelt single that released this week. I’m developing a tic from wanting it so much.

2.) It is gacktpause’s fault that my iPod is inching closer and closer towards maximum capacity every single day. 😄

3.) A Visual Kei Talk Show has proven to be the greatest idea known to man. Also, vuvuzelas. That is all.

4.) Less than a month now until we get that new T.M. Revolution release!

5.) When I saw that Kuu’s “Gossip Candy” didn’t top the OriCon, I was secretly pleased. It isn’t a secret now, so please don’t harm me with those pitchforks that have somehow materialized in your hands.

6.) It feels like the amount of excitement as far as releases go has cooled down this week. It’s about to heat up again soon!

Take it easy, all. Don’t forget to vote in the poll; it ends Saturday!

~Alisa~

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Shed Some Tears: The Most Touching Japanese Songs

Every once in a while, a song comes along that besides being a really good song, makes us feel something. Sometimes, we can be so touched by a song that it makes us cry, laugh, reminisce. Here are my picks for the top five most touching Japanese songs:

# 5 “Forgiveness” – Ayumi Hamasaki

(used the Memorial Address cover because the single cover is creepy as all heck)

Where did this Ayu go? This Ayu was creative and had awesome vocals. Its like the Ayu we have now is a completely different person! This song is perfectly calming because of the soft singing. It swells at the chorus into something bigger, more powerful than itself. I miss the old Ayu.

#4 “Tabidachi no Uta” – Mr. Children

Maybe I chose this song because I love Koizora and watched it three times in a row once. Its a bittersweet song and much like the movie it was in, is about moving forward.

#3 “Hoshi no Suna” – GACKT

A widely overlooked song, this b-side from G’s Tsuki no Uta single really makes you feel like he is singing the entire thing with tears in his eyes. The simple piano and GACKT’s soft voice couple well together and work wonders at giving the listener goosebumps.

#2 “Snow White” – D

When this song came out, it received a lot of criticism from die-hard visualists for being, well, a ballad. Others praised its beauty and emotion. I love this song because its simple and tragic. Plus, you get to hear Asagi’s voice shine in an area outside of snarling. His vibratto is excellent and this borderline opera song definitely made me cry. Truly touching.

#1 “Kingyo Hanabi” – Ai Otsuka

I really could have said “virtually every Ai Otsuka ballad” here, but this song is special. Its my favorite song ever. Ai’s lyrics are clever, almost childish, poignant. The melody is smooth and the instrumentation along with the sound effects create this almost ethereal mood. This song still gets me when I listen to it, and I’ll be happy to play this song at my wedding in a couple years.

There you have it! These five songs always make me well up, and sometimes even burst into tears. Which songs make you feel that way?

~Alisa~

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“Lolitawork Libretto” – Kanon Wakeshima

NOTE: This is the European title for this release. The Japanese title is Shoujo Jikake no Libretto. (if these titles are incorrect, please let me know!)

Cover for the European (French) release

Japanese cover. The legs look awkward and she appears cross-eyed here.

Its been over a year since Kanon Wakeshima’s last physical release. Shinshoku Dolce, her last album, was released on February 18, 2009. Before you marvel at my “photographic memory,” I’ll inform you that the only way I remembered this was because February 18th is my fiance’s birthday. UVERworld’s Awakeve came out that day too, but I’d rather not immerse myself in such mediocrity right now. (LAST > Awakeve, yo.)

After thirsting for more Kanon for the last year and a half, my prayers have been answered and I have been quenched! I was beginning to grow afraid that Mana-sama had eaten Kanon, you know, like he ate Klaha. (its the only explanation!)

I’ll go ahead and warn you that this isn’t nearly as great as Shinshoku Dolce, but Kanon proved to me that she can hold her own and remain fresh and exciting after this long. Her vocals have not improved a bit, which is a slight bummer, but its okay. (so long as you steer clear of Princess Charleston)

Track List:
01 – Shakespeare no Wasuremono -Prologue-
02 – Kajitsu no Keikoku
03 – Heroine Syndrome
04 – Twinkle star!
05 – Toumei no Kagi
06 – Marmalade Sky
07 – Kuroneko to Pianist no Tango
08 – Princess Charleston
09 – Tree of Sorrow
10 – Celmisia
11 – Otome no March
12 – Shakespeare no Wasuremono -Epilogue-
13 – Lolitawork Libretto -Storytelling by solita-

Shakespeare no Wasuremono (both the prologue and epilogue versions) are heartwarming and powerful pieces that invite you in and gracefully escort you out of the album. Kanon’s cello playing is top-notch, and you can almost hear her saying “welcome” and “thank you for visiting. Come back soon.” in each respective song. Impressive! Both are a little longer than what you would expect, but I found that to be a nice touch.

I’d say most of us have heard bits and pieces of Toumei no Kagi somewhere. It was released sometime late last year and was featured in some video game. Finally, someone uploaded the track to YouTube but at 64 kbps quality, (at best) the song wasn’t even worth listening to. This song is fast, the cello sounds proud (if you could use that as an adjective) and the organ is a nice touch.

I have yet to understand what Kanon and Mana intended to do with Princess Charleston. Its like a song you’d hear in a Wild West Saloon. Either that, or some terrible throwaway ending. The vocals are, to be honest, terrible. Kanon’s rapid singing is cute, but not endearing. The song gets better, sort of, near the chorus. Still, the squealing vocals and horse-galloping beat confused me. Maybe this will grow on me.

Kanon’s back in her element with Tree of Sorrow. Sadly, this song sounds like several of her others. The chorus is pretty catchy, so its worth trying.

Otome no March starts out like it is going to be good, but winds up the total opposite. Much more squealing, oh joy. Kanon, you are better than this.

Finally, we come to the titular track Lolitawork Libretto ~Storytelling by Solita. The song is very well done, Kanon and Solita sound beautiful and calm together, and the tune is positively hypnotic. The PV is a little trippy, but at the same time one of the most fascinating PVs I’ve seen yet. Kanon is delightfully malicious while Solita… well, we can’t all look like Miss America. A standout track!

In Conclusion: Lolitawork Libretto is a solid album. The main problem I had was that it seems like Kanon is trying to shred the “creepy evil girl” image that I loved her for from the start in favor of something sugarcoated and adorable. Please don’t go that route, Kanon! I want to lie awake in fear that you will kill me in my sleep with a cello!

~Alisa~

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“Boko wo Sagashini” – Sana

I don't like that she was photographed in the Every Konami Photoshoot Ever room. I think they even filmed BeForU's Ki-se-ki PV in this room. At least she looks cute.

I am going to feel fifteen all over again in writing this review. Please bear with my overwhelming nostalgia.

I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of Sana (full name Sanae Shintani). She is an artist who has worked on Konami’s line of Bemani music/rhythm games a la Dance Dance Revolution, pop’n music, and the like. We can’t all be like me, a person with a playlist of three hundred or so Bemani songs on their iPod. Sana is one of the more popular artists from Konami’s Bemani games and aside from BeForU, my favorite.

Review ahoy!

I won’t be mentioning every song, so I’ll include a track list for you:
(recommended tracks in bold)

01 Infinity of Our Love Jp version
02 雨音メランコリー
03 Liebe ~望郷~
04 神秘の森
05 ボクをさがしに
06 紅蓮の焔
07 シーサイド・スプリング
08 冬眠しよう
09 未来天国
10 Indigo Bird ! ! ! !
11 雪に願いを…
12 White Eve
13 Loveholic -Love Syndrome MIX-

14 Miracle Halloween(disconation J-EURO mix)

I found myself impressed to an extent with Liebe ~望郷~. It reminds me of something Kalafina would put out, only less operatic. Sana’s voice falls a little flat at times, but the song has an interesting and medieval melody. I haven’t heard her perform any songs like this one, so it was a nice change of pace.

神秘の森 is so incredibly soft that sometimes I couldn’t even hear Sana! Its quite relaxing but a little too quiet.

紅蓮の焔 ~原題:紅蓮心中~ (good grief, I hope that’s the entire title) was the worst track on the album. The music is about six thousand times (rough estimate 😛 ) louder than the vocals. The tune is dissonant, to say the least, and Sana seems out of breath and desperate to keep up with the music’s tempo. What a mess!

Oh my goodness, I love Indigo Bird! Relaxing, oceanic, tribal, its like what would happen if the Beach Course from Pokemon Snap was given lyrics. This song is wonderful and so full of life an happiness. Best track of the album, for sure.

I didn’t understand the placement of White Eve on this album, as it already appeared on Sana Mode II. Still, being one of my favorite Sana tunes, I wasn’t too unhappy to see it again. This song is, as the name would probably tell you, a nice piece of winterpop. Its got a chilling melody and a beat that just sounds like a blizzard.

Make sure to give the remix of Loveholic a try. Its well-done, not as good as the original, but does a good job of highlighting the tune without being techno overkill.

In Conclusion: Sana has redeemed herself, somewhat, after that awful mess of an album Honeymoon. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’ve already listened to the jaw dropping Sanative, Sana-mode, and Sana-mode II. Overall, an average album with a couple amazing tracks. At least listen to Indigo Bird if nothing else.

~Alisa~

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Oricon Overrun By Johnny’s Entertainment

First of all, thanks to aramatheydidnt for posting this article.

Its June, people! The year is halfway over, so its only fitting that Oricon release their mid-year sales information. If you look at the single charts, you’ll see that it is group central. ARASHI, yet again, has claimed the #1 spot with Troublemaker. Not only that, but the #2 spot as well with Monster. The Johnny’s lovin’ doesn’t stop there as KAT-TUN takes the #4 spot. The other two singles are both by AKB48. It is interesting to me how each of the top 5 singles were created by groups. (pretty large groups too) I wonder why these are so huge among fans of j-music right now.

The album charts are slightly more varied, with artist like Ikimono Gakari and Kaela Kimura featured. Namie Amuro holds the #1 spot with PAST > FUTURE. I can attribute this to Namie’s massive resurgence in popularity following 60s 70s 80s, as well as a well-timed release for the album. Plus the fact that it was really good, in my opinion.

More Johnny’s lovin’ in the music DVD category, which is one I usually overlook.

If I could predict, I would say that Troublemaker isn’t going to budge from the #1 single slot this year. The only question is, how much longer will this Johnny’s fanaticism last? What will be the next huge musical trend?

~Alisa~

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