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Showing posts with label J-Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label J-Music. Show all posts

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Morning Musume: Tool of Nationalism?

Morning Musume

So I was catching up on my 1930's Japanese history the other day and something struck me: 'Morning Daughters' sounds suspiciously like one of the wartime Patriotic Women's groups that sent their sons and young husbands off to the front for the glory of the Yamato race.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Orange Range

Orange Range

On paper, Orange Range sound like a shit sundae. To demonstrate why this is so, let's gather up the following list of unappetizing musical ingredients

1) Plodding bass-driven alt-metal riffage
2) Rapping
3) Sentimentality
4) A tendency to steal from influences in a way that screams less mashup than 'come on, get some taste.'

and then stir them into a glutinous mixture of Pro Tools-produced sludge. A real unit-shifter, no? Although J-music isn't exactly known for its restraint and ironic detachment, a Japanese Linkin Park is no one's idea of a good time. WTF are you talking about, Justin? you ask. Why not just end the review now?

It gets worse.

Friday, September 15, 2006


[On behalf of my little sister, I would like to thank Mossie (the guy has lotsa good anime and film reviews :D), DMJewelle (she makes the anime cosplaying community seem more entertaining than it really is with her incisively-written entries!), Plastic (one of the very first SPEED fans I got to know over the Internet years ago), Cousin Jun Qi (you're my cousin, which means you're cool!), Eeleen The Angel (the beautiful layout of her site is, well, beautiful!), Alynna (one of the rare bloggers I speak regularly to on the MSN :D), Dawnie-poo (er, she's Dawn Yang, do I need to say more?), Athena (a long-time net friend I got to know during my fanfic-writing days), Wingz (for intense Malaysian humour, go to his site), Jayelle (a really nice girl with a soul beautiful like the majestic snowy mountains), Jee (he has lots of things to ponder about), Craig (heh, lots of stuff about underaged Jpop artistes), Bryan (The Undead Dragon!) and Arashi-chan for their warm birthday wishes on the night of her birthday. You guys made my sister's 17th birthday a very memorable one.]

Japanese pop girl group SPEED

Well, after Justin had written so much about Japanese artistes in the past few weeks, I think it's definitely my turn to do so. This time, I shall educate you all, my dear Swiftyholics, about the nearly-forgotten greatness of SPEED, arguably the most influential and successful Japanese girl pop group of their generation (1996-2000).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Malice Mizer

Malice Mizer

I have to give Malice Mizer* credit: they pulled off something that, while derivative in certain respects, still manages to be a singularity in J-music. Even given the existence of visual-kei like Dir en grey, Pierrot, and the rest, Malice Mizer still feel significant, untouchable. At their best, there's not much like them musically, and their sense of style is unmatched. Given that most J-artists can be at least given Western touchstones if not outright counterparts (ex. Kim Wilde for Nanase Aikawa, Madonna for Ayu, any R&B ever for Amuro), Malice Mizer actually come off better than anything in their genre in the West; better at embodying, ironically enough, traditionally Western Romantic elements.

Now, this might seem like a contentious statement. A bunch of dragged-up doom kids in monk's robes, dresses, and powdered wigs? An androgynous vocalist and mute guitarist? French song titles? 'Classical' instrumentation? Videos shot in churches, filled with crosses, naked women, and comedy blood and gore? On paper, it sounds a few amps short of a Spinal Tap joke. This is, after all, the kind of band who namecheck the Illuminati and dress their bassist in lederhosen.

But a closer look - especially at the music - reveals greater complexity. Sure, they're gothic. But in what manner? Are they like Joy Division? The Cure? Cradle of Filth? Bauhaus? Cabaret Voltaire? X-Japan? (God help us) AFI? The answer is both none and all of the above, because Malice Mizer managed that rare thing: they pulled off a successful synthesis while simultaneously not quite resembling anything that had gone before, in either East or West.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Conversation on Ai Otsuka, her songs and her music videos

Ai Otsuka in a kimono

Justin: I suspect Ai Otsuka suffers from manic depression, if only because I don't have any other way to explain the striking dichotomy of her songs: they are either hyper-upbeat, almost gleefully demented power-pop, or vulnerable, ingenuous ballads whose productions are detailed with patches of lovely instrumental color.

Singles like 'Sakuranbo' initially made me hate her: her 'upbeat' voice is a hyperspeed nasal squeal that quickly grates upon repeated listening. And I'm the sort of person who gets a kick out of Kana (click link to check out previous entry about her) and Ai Kago's voices, so you know this is some serious shit. (I also lived next to a Japanese girl who would play 'Sakuranbo' constantly, so my patience was tested beyond endurance). Other songs like "SMILY" and "Pon Pon" continued the trend. To get an idea of whether you'd actually enjoy listening to this, please inhale helium and scream the following four lines as fast as you can, with a simplistic (okay, moronic) 'da-da-da de duh de da-da-da' melody.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Nanase Aikawa

Old school action. Nanase Aikawa was big in the mid-90's; she had kind of a 'tough' reputation (okay, this is relative 'tough' for what we're talking about here) and considered herself a serious rock singer. Marty Friedman from Megadeth also joined her crew and wrote a bunch of wanky guitar solos for her. (Remember him from the 'Rust in Peace' album? With that Hangar 18 song? No? Uhh...well...)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Moon Kana ムーン香奈

"KANA is a fairy that lives in the forest, sings about humans, and makes stuffed animals and clothes. The forest is in space, on Saturn. Her hair color changes depending on the season and her mood. "

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Koda Kumi's 4-part music video miniseries: YOU, FEEL, LIES, SOMEDAY

While speaking about using music videos to inspire myself when planning the visual looks of a film, I posted Koda Kumi's 倖田來未 beautifully shot 'You' music video because I was amazed by it. But most of all, I was really intrigued by the fact that it unfolded like a short film (I'm pretty into plot-driven music videos, actually), and when I realized that there are continuations to the 'You' music video. I went off to look for them, and I finally did, and arranged them into sequence so that you peeps can the music videos, and get the whole damned thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ayumi Hamasaki Poetry

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So I've been getting into this poetry shit more and more lately. Started when I decided to write a poem for my girlfriend on our anniversary and, upon looking at the result, decided it was formally a little better than it had to be, not just the unstructured sentimental crap I was expecting I'd put out. I'd been intimidated into not even trying for too long by the disastrous rubbish I put out in my teens, not to mention the intimidation produced by by genuine poets who had a better grasp of meter, villanelle forms, etc. That, and Dan Schneider's fierce but accurate criticisms of anyone and everyone.
But I realized that if I didn't worry about whether what came out was going to be crap or not, things got a lot easier. This approach is what eventually led to the Xiaxue poem. I saw Xiaxue towering in my mind as a colossal figure, so in order to assess the impact of this, I decided I needed to go for the most overblown classical metaphors and phrasings possible. Even the abca rhyme scheme allowed for the delayed release of the buildup of long lines. It was self-consciously ridiculous excess, and while the resultant poem wasn't what I'd call great, I will say that motivating its production was probably the most important thing Xiaxue will accomplish in her life.