Here we are folks, we are at the sequel stage of 2021’s very best of Japanese pop in 2021. Surprisingly, my last post, “the best of jpop 2021 so far”, received an incredibly slow but warm welcome, to the point where I got inspired to share more songs that have been on my radar from 2021.
Let me tell you, it has been a journey! I ended up listening to way more Japanese pop music in 2021 than I ever did over the last five years, so this is saying a lot for the current state of the Japanese music scene.
So… without further ado, here are the best J-pop songs of 2021 up until the end of November!
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As I mentioned previously in some recent posts, I am getting back to finishing up a lot of backlogged reviews. Just recently, I finished reviewing three singles from Perfume’s catalog from 2008 to 2009, them being “love the world”, “Dream Fighter”, and “One Room Disco”. These three singles lead up to the studio album release of “⊿”, otherwise known as “Triangle”.
“⊿” is the second studio album release from electropop sensations Perfume, a trio of girls produced by famous electronica composer Nakata Yasutaka of CAPSULE. Having secured their status as a prominent force in Japanese pop with the release of their first-ever original studio album “GAME” in 2008, all eyes were on the girls for the follow-up sophomore album and interest developed on what sound it would tackle, especially with its three preceding singles having very unique sounds when compared.
With “⊿”, Nakata was going through a rebranding of his sound on his own right, and if you listen carefully to this album, you might just hear those influences bleeding into his works with Perfume. One has to wonder if this experimenting into what almost seems like an exploration into the 80s will shape this triangle to its right angles… the only way to find out is to take off into the night…
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Since Perfume has made a stellar comeback with their “Polygon Wave EP” release just only days prior, I’ve gotten into a huge Perfume kick. It’s here that I realized I haven’t actually finished a lot of my Perfume reviews! And as a treat for my return to blogging after a few months, I decided to return to taking a look at their releases.
First up is the final single for their Triangle album, “One Room Disco“. Having already reviewed two of the three singles for their second album, I believe it’s high time we take a look into this release, which takes listeners into the journey of living independently, usually in places known as ‘one-rooms’ in Japan. It’s an interesting concept that takes a left-field from the more futuristic efforts the girls had released prior. However, will the foray into more pop and more present territory fare well for this disco, or is there not enough room for this ‘one-room’ to disco?
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Perfume has returned!
2021 has been a relatively quiet year for electropop trio Perfume in terms of releases, having released a digital single in the summer as part of a tie-in with the Japanese version of the popular TV show The Masked Singer. That said, Perfume continues to treat fans with new content every year, even if it means re-releasing that same single in an EP containing different variations of the song and adding two new tracks into the mix. That EP is the “Polygon Wave EP“, which is Perfume’s first physical release of 2021, and it has the girls exploring futuristic yet nostalgic territory.
With the continued assistance of producer Nakata Yasutaka, the girls look to ride the polygon waves of 2021 as we near the end of the year, but are the waves high enough to sweep other J-pop competition or are Perfume at a stand-still in their long careers with this release?
Continue reading “mini-album review: Perfume “Polygon Wave EP””
It’s time for something new!
I know it has been a minute since I’ve been around, and I come back in spurts every now and then. I have a crazy schedule – I’m back in school, I’m working a lot, and frankly, I’m also playing a lot of video games on my brand spanking new PC, but aside from all that, I still want to continue writing and sharing my views on Asian music with others, in the hopes that I can spread some good word about songs I like (and even ones I dislike). Who knows… you might fall in love, naturally, with some of the songs I recommend!
I’ve opted to start a new series that I more-or-less have started a while back – an artist spotlight. Usually, it would involve me reviewing a lot of their works in a short span of time, like Koda Kumi or Brave Girls prior, but this time, I thought I’d fill you in on the artist themselves – have you get to know them and recommend some of their works.
The very first in the series is none other than Japan’s top girl-group Perfume. I’ll expand more on this later in the spotlight, but a recent poll suggested they are currently at the top for girl group rankings in 2021… that’s not hard to believe, but man, they’ve been in the game for more than 20 years, and they continue to be a huge influence over Japan. I love it. So let’s take a look at Perfume in more detail, and perhaps, if you haven’t already, you’ll find a song in their discography that you may find yourself gravitating towards!
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I have to admit, this was a harder list for me to create, but can you believe that we’re already at the half-way point for the year in J-pop?!
It’s been quite a few years already, and I’ve noticed big-time how the J-pop scene has changed so vastly during those years. Some of my favorite artists are no longer big names, and newer artists seem to show up every year… I can no longer keep track! That said, I’m still finding more and more through word of mouth and recommendations.
I can only hope these next fifteen tracks are worthy of your listening pleasure, as I consider them the best from what I have heard throughout this first part of the year. Will we share the same opinions? Let’s take a look!
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Let’s travel back to 2006… I was literally graduating junior high school. Can you believe it’s been 15 years since then?! I’m old. Old enough to know when Koda Kumi hit the peak of her career, a time of fashion choices that were deemed cool and sexy (that I can safely say are now questionable, lol), and a time when J-pop music felt so fresh, so fun, so free (no, it really did!).
Having just finished promoting the hell out of her 12 singles of Christmas between the tail end of 2005 and beginning of 2006 and managing to set some records for that project’s best album, all eyes were on Princess Kumi from the Kingdom of the Clouds (heeeeello Candy feat. Mr.Blistah). It wouldn’t be very long for Kuu to whip up a new release following all the hype, and this time, she decided to go big… 4 A-sides. You heard correctly! Not like it hadn’t been done before, but Kuu was gifting us, feeding the hungry and the gays. The release was in the form of a quadruple A-side single, all fitting the theme of summer, which would eventually become a staple way for her to release anything summer (and thank the goddesses for that, because a Kumi summer is HAWT).
That said, this was the first of many, but was “4 hot wave” worth the hype? Was it indeed as hot as “hot waves” can get? Or was this just a lukewarm wave? I mean, you gotta love Engrish, but I don’t know for sure until we get to the review, so read on!
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K, U, M, I in position… it’s showtime, girls!
For a big chunk of indeterminate time, I’ll be reviewing some old Koda Kumi stuff, as if I haven’t already reviewed a huge chunk of her stuff! Joking aside, I have revisited Final Fantasy X-2 recently, mostly because I’ve been on a huge gaming kick, and I recall a time when I would only play that particular game for its opening sequence… because Final Fantasy and J-pop? Who could have ever thought?!
Released by the one and only ero-kakkoii Best Jeans-winner herself, Queen Koda Kumi, “real Emotion / 1000の言葉” is the single that finally put her into the spotlight, and both songs are featured in the game, with the second A-side making its appearance as a cutscene that, yes, helps you get 100% in the game (…it’s a required cutscene, don’t fret). With that said, is the single all it’s chalked up to be, or was wee 10-year-old me just too gay to realize each song’s true quality? Read on!
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It’s been 14 years!
Crazy to believe that the Evangelion rebuilds are finally coming to an end, but alas, here we are. With this end comes an end to the collaboration efforts between Utada Hikaru and the series, as well. You may be familiar with Hikki’s works with Kingdom Hearts but if you don’t know about her efforts with Eva… where have you been?! Jokes aside, Utada Hikaru’s work with Eva is one filled with lyrics of love, beauty, and her sound is that of an etherealness that is reminiscent of her works in the mid-00s.
Her final release with the project comes in the form of a mini-album, with one new track, a rehash of an old Eva song, and remasters of all her tie-ins. “One Last Kiss” is the title of the new song and is meant to signify one last effort – but will it be worth it in the end? Is this one last kiss one for the books? Let’s check it out!
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