I Don’t Think It’s A Phase Anymore: On J-Pop

My entry into Japanese music came in the form of awesome post-rock/instrumental rock, with band names like Toe, Te’, Mono, and Miaou. Some pop-rock came along with it, like Base Ball Bear. All this started about two years ago, and I’m still discovering new and old music from that part of the world.

There’s something shameless that has been running a good few months, until now, though: I’m getting addicted to J-pop, which I’ve known to be a sure sign of an otaku. I’m far from being one though, as I’ve no intention to cosplay, don’t think I’d buy the latest-and-greatest anime toy figures, or glue my face to Animax on cable TV. Like any of my varied interests, I tend to shun away from scenes, and just like things based on the creation’s merit.

So, let’s start here:


Perfume – One Room Disco

That’s Perfume, and that sort of music has all the other stuff in my music library take a back seat. My practical online bible re all things J-music, ZB’s A-Z of J-Music, introduced their brand of techno-pop around 2 years ago, and I did agree with the favorable reviews of their album then, GAME. The group’s latest, Triangle, released mid-year this year, was slightly less appealing than its predecessor. It changed things on my end though, since I introduced this sort of music to a few close friends: I was more than surprised that they enjoyed this stuff, and got fanatical. I followed suit. I now know their names, what each member’s likes and dislikes are, their 9-years struggle as aspiring ‘idols‘, downloaded their English-subbed TV shows, you get the picture.

I was doomed, apparently, but I still could face myself in front of the mirror and say: this is good stuff, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Really.


Perfume – Baby Cruising Love

The Perfume brand of techno-pop is shared by producer Nakata Yasutaka’s other projects, like Capsule and Coltemonikha. Capsule started with a Shibuya-kei sound (similar to internationally renowned Pizzicato Five), and eventually went for electronic, club sound. Coltemonikha is in the same vein, but is more pop driven. Perfume is ultimately tailor-fitted with the same sound, plus a sing-along idol factor (if you know Japanese) that was found ultimately endearing to the current Japanese listenership, and shot the group up to fame.


Perfume – Game (Live)

Oh and that distinct Perfume choreography: PRICELESS. You can’t blame me if I hold up my phone to you and show you their music videos and live performances do you?

Lets cut it here for the moment, and move on. By way of Perfume, I am now also very much into Kaela Kimura, one of Japan’s pop-rock princesses. Besides being unbearably adorable (having started as a Seventeen Japan model), the songs stand out as solid pieces of music.


Kaela Kimura – L.drunk


Kaela Kimura – Beat


Kaela Kimura – You

Note how the otherwise standard-sounding verse leads to an amazing chorus on both Beat and You.

The Scratch record is a fan-favorite, but her self-title debut also has anthemic pop ditties that deserve mention as well. She came out with HOCUS POCUS this year, and I’m hopeful that at a very young 24, she’ll still be making music for years ahead.

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I am trying to go back to the old and familiar, and listen to the latest releases, from cool acts like Kings of Convenience, Zero 7, etc.

I am still trying.

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7 thoughts on “I Don’t Think It’s A Phase Anymore: On J-Pop

  1. s.o.n.n.y says:

    i’m not really into j-pop as much as you guys are, but i think the best thing about japanese music is that you can count on it to be great on live sets, its as if your listening to the record itself.

  2. rain says:

    Well, maybe not in the case of lip-synching Perfume, but they sure do dance “good” 🙂

    But yeah, I get your point. Makes you think if they can ever do improv-based jazz, but I think they certainly can. Mga Hapon pa 😐

  3. Major Tom says:

    Great music rain. I’m digging it now…

  4. rain says:

    @Major Tom

    Oh thanks man. Glad you appreciate the music.

  5. […] to work, there was the hope-laded pop-rock anthems of Kaela Kimura (I’ve discussed both on a previous post). On New Year’s Eve, the last chance that anyone could really cheer me up, I discovered […]

  6. […] Kimura, the Japanese pop music giants whose songs will probably never leave my mp3 player (see this old entry re my fascination for them). If, by Buddha’s blessings, they’d ever land our shores […]

  7. […] There were few post-2000 acts that made a significant dent in my music consciousness. I did keep tabs on what music was current, and what made the critics sing in praises. By 2006, I actively participated in the local music scenes by doing photo-documentation of the better bands out there. By 2007, my discovery of post-rock music was taking a good hold of what I listened to daily, and some of the bands were Japanese. My previous impression of Japanese music wasn’t of high regard, but I got curious, so curious I went out of my rock music comfort zone, which I somehow reluctantly confessed over this post: I Don’t Think It’s A Phase Anymore: On J-Pop. […]

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