single review: Utada Hikaru “Time”

Second up in the “BAD Mode” review set is “Time“, released more than a year after “Face My Fears”. This single was released as a digital single in 2020, mere months following the onset of the pandemic, and it has Hikki exploring uncharted territory by offering a theme song for a drama aired on NTV in Japan (the drama being “Bishoku Tantei Akechi Goro”).

With all the time in between releases, was this single crafted with care and precision, using all that time wisely, or did Hikki waste time for everyone, from those involved to the listener? Let’s look at the sole song onward.

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single review: Utada Hikaru “Face My Fears”

I’m back for a new review set, and this time, I will be taking a look at several Utada Hikaru releases. For this review set, I will tackle the recent releases leading up to their new album “BAD Mode”, which is set to be released on January 19.

The first single of the bunch, having actually been released three years prior (gee, that is a while!), is “Face My Fears“, which is the much-anticipated tie-in release to the video game Kingdom Hearts 3. Having offered several theme songs to the game series with “Hikari/Simple and Clean” (“Hikari”, which I reviewed here) and “Passion/Sanctuary”, “Face My Fears” shows Hikki taking on two songs for the game.

With this single, were they successful in facing those fears, or did they have to think twice contrary to what their song says… read on!

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the best of jpop 2021

We made it! The finish line!

This is MY list of the best songs from Japan in 2021, and let me tell you, it’s been quite the year! I think I’ve become more accustomed to Korean pop music than I have Japanese pop music in recent years, but I still manage to get a lot of music from Japan on my radar. It was actually quite a surprise to have a full list of songs I could actually pick from, because I did a lot of exploring this year and finding a lot of new artists to listen to.

So, will those artists make an appearance on the year-end list for 2021? Will some more veteran artists appear? Will Koda Kumi actually have a song on the list this year? The only way to find out is to read on…

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the best of jpop 2021 thus far

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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album review: Perfume “Triangle”

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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single review: Perfume “One Room Disco”

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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mini-album review: Perfume “Polygon Wave EP”

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?

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artist spotlight: Perfume

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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the best of jpop 2021 so far

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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