A focus on the big J-pop developments in this week’s SBS PopAsia J-Pop roundup…
Shishido Kavka Feat. Ken Yokoyama
Committing to a visual overhaul requires dedication. J-pop performer Shishido Kavka does just that on “Haneda Blues,” her newest single. The visual hook of the song, both in the video (below) and in accompanying artist shots, involves her chopping her hair, going from a long look to a much shorter bob. Oh, right, there’s actual music too. She recruits Ken Yokoyama and the CRAZY KEN BAND to lend “Haneda Blues” a throwback vibe, full of howlin’ guitar and a (fittingly) bluesy vibe.
Czecho No Republic and SKY-HI
Collaborations are the flavour of the week. Rising rock outfit Czecho No Republic - once a jangly indie-pop concern but now sounding surprisingly close to Weezer, down to Cuom-esque vocal inflection - hooks up with AAA’s SKY-HI for a song playing the classic trick of getting a little hip-hop mixed up with rock. “Time Traveling” finds the artists tag-teaming between styles, the end result being a high-energy number highlighting the best sides of both acts.
Long-running J-pop star YUKI let her contract with Sony Music Artists run out this week. She’s been signed with the group since the early 1990s, when she was part of the mega-successful outfit JUDY AND MARY. Even after that project ended, she released eight solo albums via them. Yet now she’s walking away, and her fan club similarly came to an end as a result. What she does next - go independent? Take it easy? Become a YouTuber like the one ex-SMAP guy? - remains to be seen, but changes are afoot.
Last week, we highlighted a teaser video for Japanese pop-punk band Hi-STANDARD ahead of their first album in over a decade. Now here’s the first full, fast-charging song, “The Gift.” Despite a large gap between albums, the trio sound just as spunky as ever, playing fast rock full of lyrics aimed at connecting with those jealous of the lives others are leading (though, c’mon guys, you’ve achieved a lifestyle tons would go crazy for). Check it out below:
The past wowed in the present on a handful of digital charts this week. Following the announcement that she would retire in a year, Namie Amuro saw her cut “Hero” rise up on digital sales charts. More unexpected; Yoko Oginome’s 1985 dance-pop number “Dancing Hero (Eat You Up)” dominated YouTube plays. How, you ask? Thanks to a viral video of an Osaka dance troupe grooving to the song while wearing Bubble-era-appropriate clothes. It’s one of the year’s biggest viral hits, and has allowed the older number to enjoy new life in 2017.
Meanwhile, BTS topped the Oricon album chart.
Video of the Week
Technically, a commercial takes this spot, but it’s a really good one. Comedian-turned-pop-star Takashi Fujii previewed his latest album a while back with a clever ad that found him imitating TV spots from the 1990s in Japan. This came out awhile back, but got a little extra boost this week so...why not highlight it now?
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