A focus on the big J-pop developments in this week’s SBS PopAsia J-Pop roundup…
Kohaku Uta Gassen
The performers for this year’s Kohaku Uta Gassen, the annual New Year’s Eve music spectacle broadcast on national broadcaster NHK, have been announced. Among the names set to appear on December 31 include Perfume, Arashi, AKB48, X JAPAN and more. Those are the acts you could call veterans; new acts on the line-up include Little Glee Monster, Shishamo and WANIMA. Most notably of all, though is TWICE, the first K-pop act to perform on the show since 2011. Fitting for a group having a massive year in Japan (and, like, almost everywhere).
Let’s zoom in on one of the Kohaku rookies. WANIMA are a pop-punk trio who have become one of the nation’s breakout acts of the last few years. If you are looking for a gateway into their music, new single “Human” works well, showing off both their dramatic side (that intro really reels you in) and their more familiar head-down-charging style:
The AKB48 family stretches all over the country, and one of the newer sister groups to pop up recently is NGT48, a biggie-sized group based out of the relatively rural Niigata prefecture. Their second single arrives in stores in early December, and they’ve begun a promotional blitz by putting out a bunch of music videos for their peppy numbers. Check out one of the more popular clips, backed by a relatively generic idol number, below.
Another Kohaku group for 2017, E-Girls have a new single coming out on December 6, a few weeks ahead of their big appearance on New Year’s Eve. “Kita Kazei To Taiyou” is the main track, and it is an upbeat electro-pop number backed by a galloping chorus:
There are still about 10 months left in Namie Amuro’s retirement tour, but she’s already put another massive notch in her J-pop belt. Her new best-of compilation finally sold over a million copies (!) in its first week, the highest number of copies of anything sold in one week this year in Japan. Just a legend doing what a legend does, even in the twilight of her career.
Video of the Week
One of the main critiques of most “alternative idols” post BiS has been how the actual music and visuals these groups gravitate towards often aren’t far removed from regular, cheery idol sounds. GANG PARADE rise above this trapping on their latest single. Musically, it’s a blasted-out song skipping between hard-rock and EDM, featuring distorted vocals that really muck up the idol image. The clip, similarly, is simple but effective; GANG PARADE running through the streets of Tokyo, mixed with shots of the group dancing in front of zany backdrops and CGI skeletons.
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