mini-album review: NATURE “NATURE WORLD: CODE A”

NATURE who? Uh, get into it!

Korean-pop group NATURE made their debut in 2018, and they have yet to make any dent into the K-pop industry as a one-year-old group. That being said, NATURE looks to have pulled a trick up their sleeve with the addition of new member Sohee, who people might actually recognize to be Produce 101 alum Kim So Hee, who was in project groups C.I.V.A, I.B.I, and Girls Next Door. Here, the light is on Sohee to bring NATURE to better recognition, but are we bound for NATURE WORLD, CODE A, or are we headed off in the opposite direction?

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album review: Koda Kumi “re(CORD)”

How the mighty have fallen… or so I think.

Miss Koda Kumi, J-pop’s somewhat Britney Spears (maybe now-so Christina Aguilera), returns with new material. All of Kuu’s 2019 songs were initially released as digital releases, all with basically the same cover (in various ‘edits’ have you) and with no effort in terms of promoting maybe about half of them. Kuu then pulls a ‘second session’ by stringing all the songs into one long re(CORD) in the form of an album. Having already heard the songs as the year went on, you’re probably wondering how coherent this is; is it a flop, or is it finally Kuu’s most well-thought-out record since JAPONESQUE?

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single review: Utada Hikaru “SAKURA Drops / Letters”

If you don’t know who Utada Hikaru, one of Japan’s top soloists known to millions as the simple and clean Kingdom Hearts musician, is, you have clearly been on some other planet.

Oddly enough, that’s where Hikki, as her fans lovingly call her, is for her mid-2002 release ‘SAKURA Drops / Letters’. In this single, Hikki goes all-in on her journey through experimentalism, transforming her original R&B sound from her First Love and Distance days to an avant-garde artistic style reminiscent of Björk, albeit less wacky. Does this transition, which she had introduced even as far as ‘traveling’, pay off as the sakura leaves flutter and drop, or is this change similar to a poorly-written letter to her fanbase?

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single review: Ziyoou-vachi (QUEEN BEE) “Kaen”

If you’re not familiar with Ziyoou-vachi, otherwise known in international waters as QUEEN BEE, then here’s one way to get introduced to them. The rock quartet, known for their eccentric yet ever-changing musical styles and image (which they themselves call “fashion punk”), had already marked 2019 as their biggest year, entering the mainstream in the forms of anime music (notably as an ED for Tokyo Ghoul:re).

In their most recent effort, they tackle anime once again with a fiery title track, one that introduces every episode of the anime ‘Dororo’ for its Winter 2019 season. With Dororo having been one of the more popular anime of the year, this single has propelled Ziyoou-vachi to newer heights; this begs the question then: is this single actually fire or is it a burn-out?

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single review: MEG “PRECIOUS”

We continue to stroll down memory lane, as you can tell by the recent posts!

Next up is another Nakata Yasutaka protege, by the name of MEG, a fashion-designer-turned-singer, with a unique vocal tinge a la YUKI or Chara. In her short-lived tenure working with the electronic music producer, MEG pumped out tunes that brought her into the limelight and propelled her to a career high. In fact, the single we’re about to look into is her highest-charting single. Now, if you’re already reeled in by her unique style and sound, great! But you might find this single even more precious if you like, say, cat videos…

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single review: Perfume “Spending all my time”

Let’s go back to 2012, seven years ago, where things were a little less chaotic in the world and Perfume was just getting their feet into international waters. They gave Japan the techno-craze they needed in the 21st century; it was time for them to extend this reach outside Japan (as if they hadn’t already), and they needed to gift their international fans something special to commemorate this.

Enter this single, which was their second release of 2012, and this particular single has Perfume exploring territory that is vastly different to them, but undoubtedly familiar for us. The question is, did they spend all their time making something lovingly for the fans, or was it not enough?

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single review: DAOKO “Moshimo Bokura ga GAME no Shuyaku de / Daisuki with TeddyLoid / BANG!”

People know of DAOKO from a variety of places. She’s got fans from her indie days, when she was just developing in the underground hip-hop scene. She’s got fans from a viral video known only as ‘ME! ME! ME!’. She’s got songs in anime (hello, Shingeki no Bahamut and Kekkai Sensen, I see you). She’s collaborated with huge artists and created perhaps 2018’s biggest hit (ah, the Uchiages and the Hanabis). And if you’re surrounded by friends who are into this little thing called Dragalia Lost, then all you ever hear is DAOKO.

Perhaps the most well-known in the field of Dragalia Lost is the little instrumental tracks/music bits that come from DAOKO’s first few major singles. Such is the case for DAOKO’s second major single: a triple A-side filled with a “game” full of “bang”ers to “like” and enjoy. But is three A-sides company or is it crowded, and are the songs worth hearing every time you play Dragalia Lost?

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single review: the peggies “Stand By Me”

Do you like anime? Do you like girl bands? If so, the peggies is right up your alley. As of recently, the pop-rock trio have dabbled into anime territory, with many familiar with songs in works such as BORUTO NEXT GENERATIONS and Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. Their most recent effort, that I know of, is an ending track for a fairly recent and slightly popular anime known as Sarazanmai. With this ending, the peggies look to stand by you, but will the single stand to be good or bad overall?

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mini-album review: IZ*ONE “HEART*IZ”

Remember Produce 48? Here’s a rundown: it’s basically the survival reality program to find the nation’s girl group Produce 101 merged with Japanese mega-group AKB48. Despite it facing some scrutiny under recent times due to ‘voting manipulation’, Produce 48 created monster rookie group IZ*ONE upon its completion, who managed to stir the charts with an elegant but fiery red debut, creating waves in both Korea and Japan as a girl group to watch out for.

In April 2019, IZ*ONE released their very first comeback, and with all the hype that came before for what may follow from their huge debut, all IZ were on the group to follow-up with something just as great. Carrying on in the floral concept, IZ*ONE tackles the heart with the second mini HEART*IZ, but is this where the heart is?

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