A focus on the big J-pop developments in this week’s SBS PopAsia J-Pop roundup…
Kazumi Takayama Of Nogizaka46
In need of some financial advice? Why not turn to an idol from one of Japan’s many biggie-sized up-beat pop groups? Kazumi Takayama of Nogizaka46 recently put out a book focused on her recent financial activity, which doubles as a guide on how to manage your money. It was written in conjunction with famous gold investor Taizen Okuyama, and focuses on the past year-and-a-half of Takayama’s life, including how she dealt with the surprise election of Donald Trump in the U.S. in relation to investing.
J-pop’s currently submerged in songs imitating the beached-out vibes found in Western pop music at the moment. Although maybe not as ever-present as in the United States, the set of sounds typically tagged as “tropical house” have become quite ever-present this year in Japanese music. Now, E-girls-adjacent unit Happiness drops “GOLD,” a mid-tempo shuffler featuring synthesized flutes and a big fat EDM drop. It’s influences are pretty clear, but the group’s cascading vocal harmonies, come the hook, make any Diplo connections fade to the back. Watch the video below:
MAN WITH A MISSION
The wolf-headed rock group MAN WITH A MISSION have a new song out in October, and it’s a tie-up with Fuji Television’s new anime series Inuyashiki. Due out on October 12, the number “My Hero” serves as the opening theme for the science-fiction-oriented animated series.
EXILE THE SECOND
While on the subject of America, J-pop group EXILE THE SECOND celebrates a now-fading icon of the country’s past on “Route 66.” Errr, OK, it’s more like they stand on cars and zoom in on people popping wheelies in the desert, while the hook transposes the classic “get your kicks on Route 66” rock line onto a trap breakdown. Watch the preview below:
The challenge of writing about J-pop to an international market is trying to highlight music that someone outside of Japan can actually hear. This means it’s tough to dwell on Hoshino Gen’s current number-one single “Family Song.” It’s the theme song to a popular drama, and comes after last year’s country-conquering “Koi.” But you can’t watch it abroad, unless maybe you can! Gen is probably the biggest pop star going at the moment, and his nostalgic mid-tempo number only further drives that home. Funny enough, the album side this week was won by Korean outfit iKON, who come from an industry that has succeeded in some part to making everything accessible online.
Video of the Week
Once again, singer/songwriter Oomori Seiko lands on the round-up, this time thanks to what amounts to a lyric video. But naturally, in her hands, even something as straight-ahead as words on a screen can be interesting. “Idol Song” is her stab at...well, an idol song, at least as performed by Oomori Seiko. It has the visuals to match the candy-colored sounds - and just askew lyrics. Watch below:
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