Posts Tagged ‘jpop’

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Thelma Aoyama- Summer Love!! feat. RED RICE from 湘南乃風

2010年 7月 12日

Cute beach cover!

Thelma Aoyama has certainly done a lot of song collaborations with male rappers/hip hop artists. The difference between those songs and this one is that the male vocals don’t suck in ones like Fall in Love. Summer Love!! is actually a very cute and catchy song. Unfortunately, RED RICE, from Shonan no Kaze is absolutely DREADFUL. I cannot fathom that a worst rapper exists in this world… his voice is like nails against a chalkboard for me. It’s also sad that he plays such a huge role in this song. If you can get past RED RICE’s disgusting vocals then this song really isn’t so bad.

OH BABY koi shitetai has been out for some time already. This sound sounds exactly like a BENI song… from the synth to the cute melody it’s got BENI written all over it. That being said, I still like this song, and it stands out from the A-side IMO. That being said, this still a great song whose chill atmosphere balances out the energy of the a-side.

Overall: RED RICE should just go die. Please. Otherwise this single was kind of a mixed bag for me.

Overall: 6/10

Track list:

1. サマーラブ!! feat. RED RICE from 湘南乃風
2. OH BABY 恋してたい
3. サマーラブ!! feat. RED RICE from 湘南乃風 (Instrumental)
4. OH BABY 恋してたい (Instrumental)

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MiChi x the telephones

2010年 7月 6日

Carol never wore her safety goggles… now she doesn’t need them. Be safe in the chem lab!

The MadNesS continues with WoNdeR WomaN, a collaboration between MiChi and the telephones. This song is actually pretty good I think because of the great energy throughout the whole thing. This song takes a more rock approach as opposed to merely electronic music. MiChi is definitely focused on maintaining intensity instead of watching her vocals (which is okay in this case). The only part that bothered me a little was the chorus; MiChi’s vocals were fine, but those from the telephones were a little unsteady.

Next is Strong MAN, another up-beat rock song. I feel like this song is much more of MiChi’s style than the a-side. It’s a little more toned down, which leads to a little bit more control in both vocals and instrumentals. What’s nice is that even though the rock is present, you still get a little bit of synth here and then.

WoNdeR WomaN T.O.M. remix is definitely more of an electronic song. There’s tons of distortion in the vocals (which actually minimizes the intonation problems of the original song). I think it’s a pretty good remix, but I don’t think it’s better than the original.

Overall: I was please with this single because of the way it makes you want to move!

Rating: 8/10

Track list:

  1. WoNdeR WomaN
  2. Strong MAN
  3. WoNdeR WomaN (T.O.M remix)
  4. WoNdeR WomaN (Instrumental)
  5. Strong MAN (Instrumental)
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miwa- Little Girl

2010年 7月 1日

Love love love this cover. Also, the scans for this single are so beautiful!

I was a little nervous with Little Girl. Frankly I thought it was going to be a ballad. That is not the case, as Little Girl is a light-hearted, up beat pop-rock song. miwa’s vocals are a little shaky during the beginning, but she gains control during the chorus. This song is tons of fun and super cute: a complete contrast to her last single, Don’t Cry Anymore.

Anata ga Inai to Sekai wa Konna ni Tsumaranai has some pretty weird instrumentals in the beginning, so I worried about the organization of the song. Fortunately, the general melody picks and stays pretty consistent. Like the a-side, this song is up-beat and perfect for summer. I like how this song uses lots of electric guitar, making her sound less YUI-like.

Finally, we have a gorgeous acoustic ballad. Sobani Itai Kara is soft and sweet, like miwa’s vocals. I love how miwa has a bit of a raspy tone quality to her voice in the song, as opposed to a lot of the high-energy “whining” she uses in her faster songs. This song is just miwa and acoustic guitar, so it’s perfect for listening before bed.

Overall: A great single, even better than her debut!

Rating: 10/10

Track list:

01. リトルガール
02. あなたがいないと世界はこんなにつまらない
03. そばにいたいから
04. リトルガール ~instrumental~

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Kana Nishino- to LOVE

2010年 6月 30日

Would be perfect except for I hate those shoes x_X Also… I think we get the same expression from her in every cover. Nevertheless, it still looks pretty.

Prologue ~What a nice~ is a gentle pop song complete with harp, piano, and Kana’s smooth vocals. It sounds kind of like a lullaby. The only thing that bothers me is the combination of English and Japanese… I would have preferred consistency with just one language.

Go here for my review of Best Friend.

The next song, Summer Girl feat. MINMI is the perfect song for a fun summer night. This song is high energy and screams “dance.” MINMI and Kana are a great pair together… I love the way MINMI’s deep vocals contrast with Kana’s higher-pitched ones. The chorus is adorable especially, “I want some dancing and some romancing.” The instrumentals of this song are great too… we get a nice combination of piano and brass that make this song fun to listen to.

I think it’s safe to say that Kana Nishino is neither fully an R&B artist nor a pop artist. She’s a great combination of the two, and Hey Boy proves this. This song was interesting because of the electric guitars: they are pop-rock but retro at the same time. It took a while for me to like this song, but it really is catchy and reminds me of a fusion between the 50s and modern times xD.

Go all the way back here to see my review of Motto…

I think this song, love & smile, is a good transition from Motto… While the previous track is a bit melancholy, love & smile brings us into happier times, but subtly. This song has more of an R&B vibe, but the plucked strings throughout the song give it a bit of pop flair too. The only thing thing that bothers me is the way she sings “I’m searching for what you have,” where she sounds like “I’m searching for wert you have.” Her English isn’t terrible, but her mistakes are noticeable.

The first new ballad of the album is Kono Mama De. This song is basically your typical R&B ballad, which we’ve heard all over the map in 2010. The verses of this song are really beautiful, especially with the layering they do with Kana’s voice. I’m not a huge fan of the chorus because it sounds a little typical. There’s a really beautiful acoustic guitar solo in the middle (unfortunately Kana sings over it with some lifeless vocals).

Go here to see my review of MAYBE.

For some reason I was looking forward to WRONG more than any other song when I saw the track list. It’s a great transition from the previous track because it uses lots of synth. I love this song because of the tremendous amount of power and attitude it possesses. What’s great about this song is the combination of ethereal stuff mixed in with guitars. Also, Kana’s vocals are nice and strong here.

Okay now for the obligatory WTF track. I cannot be the only one who thought Come On Yes Yes Oh Yeah!! sounds like it belongs in a porno. The beginning is totally hardcore hip-hop (well as hardcore as Kana can get). Fortunately we get into more Kon’ya wa PARTY UP territory pretty soon. In fact, the two songs have tons of similarities to one another. They have the same tempo, atmosphere, and even similar lyrics. Now, I don’t know what I think about Kana rapping, but at least this song is… original.

Who the hell thought Dear… should be placed right after this song? Anyway, see my review of MAYBE to see my review of Dear…

You can find Aitakute Aitakute here.

You are the one is a ballad that gets ready to close up the album. Unlike Kono Mama De, this song is much more powerful and original. There’s this cool synth during the chorus, during which Kana sings with some solid vocals. Many of the songs on this album are hybrids of different genres, and this song is no exception. This time it’s synth and R&B. Very nice song.

Last of all is Epliogue ~to LOVE~, which is kind of a another version of the prologue. I like the epilogue more because it seems more solid in the instrumentals and not so “fairy-ish.”

Overall: We’re definitely moving our way up with Kana Nishino. It’s miles above her previous album, LOVE one. That being said, I still think Kana has a long way to go before she reaches her full potential.

Best tracks:

  • Summer Girl feat. MINMI
  • WRONG
  • You are the one
  • MAYBE
  • motto…

Rating: 8/10

Track list:

01 *Prologue* ~What a nice~
02 Best Friend
03 Summer Girl feat. MINMI
04 Hey Boy
05 もっと…
06 love & smile
07 このままで
08 MAYBE
09 WRONG
10 Come On Yes Yes Oh Yeah!!
11 Dear…
12 会いたくて 会いたくて
13 You are the one
14 *Epilogue* ~to LOVE~

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C.N. Blue- The Way

2010年 6月 26日

Laid back and chill. Nice. But I don’t like the “1st single” part because this is actually their fourth release in Japan o_O

I was so excited to review this single. I’m usually pretty skeptical of new bands, but I was totally impressed with C.N. Blue. First, The Way ~One Way~ is an edgy rock song that combines great guitar riffs and rapping. This song is in English, so non-Japanese speakers can understand what they’re singing.

I can’t decide if I like The Way part 2~Ready N Go~ or ~Eclipse~ more because they’re both so good. The guitar work in this song reminds me of an AKFG song but, the MC and cheering crowds in the beginning make it stand out. For some reason I love the lyrics of this song:

Hey babe It’s rainy day
I can see the road in the rain
I have long sword
Makes me stronger

I’m not weak man
I will go to the world
I don’t need any more word
I seem to have set a trend

Last is a ballad, The Way part 3 ~eclipse~ begins with a soft, acoustic melody, but gradually picks up energy. This is the only song on the single that employs any kind of Japanese (which sounds pretty good still). It isn’t until the first chorus that we get some serious action. My favorite part of this song was the sweet guitar solo (comparable to those in the few ballads of Nightmare) in the middle of the song. Plus the lyrics are really sweet.

Overall: I can’t wait to review the rest of their songs!

Rating: 10/10

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Poll Results: Battle of the Boy Bands

2010年 6月 21日

In accordance with last poll’s survey on female groups, I’ve added the male counterpart. Honestly I was kind of surprised at the results. Let’s start with the Kpop boys.

Well I’m not too versed on male kpop groups… sure I know who’s who and all that, but not too familiar with the music. Big Bang and Epik High battled it out for a while, but the winner is clear… epic win for Epik High!

Epik High- 13 votes, 43%
Big Bang- 6 votes, 20%
SS501- 5 votes, 17%
2PM/2AM/One Day- 4 votes, 13%
Super Junior- 2 votes, 7%
MBLAQ+B2ST/BEAST- 0 votes =[

Since I’m basically only familiar with 2PM and a little bit of SS501 I guess I’d have to vote for them. I’m not too into Big Bang’s style though. Heh I kind of wanted someone to vote for MBLAQ because they’re Rain’s brainchild, but whatever. Good job Epik High!

So it takes a Korean band to win for the Japanese? (heh I would have voted for them too.) These results were astonishing…

Tohoshinki- 22 f*ing votes, 76%
KAT-TUN- 3 votes, 10%
Arashi- ”
NEWS- 1 vote, 3%
Hey! Say! JUMP + w-inds.- 0 votes =[

I really didn’t expect them to win by that big of a margin. Although they are on hiatus right now, I look forward to each of the member’s future endeavors.

So, was there a band or group that should have been on the ballot for “Best of the Best”?
Also, since I’m not too familiar with Kpop boy bands, what are each bands best songs?

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Kpop vs. Jpop: The Epic, Part I

2010年 6月 5日

As you all have probably realized Tsuki no Ai has begun featuring Kpop artists on the blog. There are a number of reasons for this addition. First, I am trying to learn Korean (along with Mandarin and Japanese) as part of my major for East Asian Studies. I’d like to attain complete fluency in all three languages so I can have the freedom of living in most places in East Asia (heh Vietnamese will have to come later). Listening to Japanese music has been instrumental in my progression of the language because it helped me become accustomed to its sound and nuances. I’m trying to recreate that same affect with Korean music. Secondly, I want to warm up to more Asian cultures, aside from my Japanese “comfort zone.” Even though I’ll be reviewing Korean from now on (in addition to Japanese and perhaps the occasional Chinese), my heart still belongs with Japanese music. Why is that? Well that’s an issue I want to explore in my first ever EDITORIAL (zomg yaaaaay O(≧∇≦)O). Let’s get started.

The Lyrics

The first major distinction between Kpop and Jpop lies in the lyrical content of a song. While there are exceptions in each case, let’s take a look at two “typical” songs (English translations). I tried to choose upbeat songs from two artists (after all it wouldn’t be fair to choose an upbeat song for one and ballad for the other).

Ayumi Hamaski- excerpt from “Rule”

I don’t want to be imposed on
By the same old stupid Rules
Let’s start first, you and me
By breaking the Rules

Since the moment my strength turned into tenderness
And my tenderness turned into strength
I have nothing to fear any more
I’m feeling so

4minute- MUZIK

Let’s move within the rhythm that’s drawing us in
Let’s move within the non-stop raining music
I like the music, like, like, like the music
Listen to my song, not that boring beat

More sexier and tastier, I like it, I like it
Add more booty and do it more stylish, I like it, I like it
Now let’s fire it up with me, party tonight

Noticeably difference right? Now of course there are exceptions… you will find slutty lyrics from Koda Kumi and touching lyrics from Younha. However, what I’m trying to focus on is the general trend of lyrics. Jpop tends to focus on life- love, pain, parties, depression, childhood, parents, a journey, being sexy, happiness, anxiety, nervousness, etc. etc. Kpop’s sphere, while it can embody all of those I just listed, usually encompasses sexiness, parties, and love. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me a good slutty song, but I do like a little variety in my music. Now you most certainly can find deep Korean lyrics (especially in the ballads), but here I’m just trying to distinguish between upbeat songs.  I’m not trying to stereotype either Kpop or Jpop, I’m just noting some observations I’ve made by listening to all sorts of Asian music for 5+ years.

The Music

Now let’s focus on the instrumentation of each group. The vast majority of Kpop is sexy synth, aggressive hip hop, bubblegum pop, or moving ballads. Rarely are real, tangible instruments regularly used (with the exception of Younha, the TRAX and a few others). Japanese music on the other hand is much more diverse. We have acoustic goddesses like YUI, synth queens like Koda Kumi, pop mavens like Namie Amuro, techno bitches like Ami Suzuki, rock demons like OLIVIA… the list goes on endlessly. Japan suffered from a relatively stale music environment for quite a few years until X Japan (then just X) surfaced in the 80s. Now I’m not even concerning myself with Jrock here… purely Jpop. If I were to included Jrock into this mix the list of musical styles would expand enormously. The reason I won’t include Jrock right now is because there really isn’t a “Krock” scene to speak of. Yes there have been a few successful rock bands in Korea, but the charts speak for themselves. Korea wants pop, not rock. Now perhaps I’m not being totally fair here. The Japanese music market has had decades of history. Japan has had ample time to produce well-rounded artists of all different genres. Korean music hasn’t  been around as long (in terms of mass marketing), so it’s natural that the market is more limited. It’s not to say that Korea can’t produce talented artists, because it certainly can, it’s just that most of these artists belong within one or two genres.

Also of importance is song length. It is very rare to find a Korean song over 4 minutes long- even if it’s a ballad. In Japan it’s not unusual to see a ballad go for 5 or 6 minutes… X JAPAN’s epic, “Life of Art” rocks out for 30 minutes (ok yeah that’s rock, but you get the point). Personally I don’t think that you can make a well developed ballad in under 4 minutes… even upbeat songs need time for exposition, development, and recapitulation. Yeah Kpop songs are infectious, catchy, and dance-friendly, they’re just not long enough for my tastes. Often I find myself listening to a song and loving it but then feeling like “wait… it’s over already?” Now there are long songs that drag on, but for the most part the longer Japanese songs are well constructed.

The Vocalists
Here’s the trickiest category of them all- the singers that make it all happen. Koreans *tend* to have deeper, richer voices than their Japanese counterparts. This is especially true when it comes to male vocalists. I’m going to go right out and say it- Korean male singers a bit better. Sorry Japan =/. But here’s the thing… they know how to do vibrato, they’ve got pretty good intonation, they can phrase well. While Japanese men can certainly do all of those things, the tendency (particularly with JE boys) is to have a more nasal-y and higher-pitched sound. Japan has a much more difficult time promoting male artists that aren’t from Johnny’s Entertainment. I adore KAT-TUN and Arashi, but when you’ve got JE backing you up there’s no way in hell you aren’t going to chart well on the Oricon. Now we do get a breath of fresh air with Yuya Matsushita, who has done a superb job in the solo male department. Now you might say that JUNE and K have great voices… but remember, they’re KOREAN.

Now let’s talk about the girls. For the most part I’ll give this award to Japan (not including the travesty of H!P vocalists). There’s a lot of diversity in terms of vocal style for Japanese women… you’ve got everything from Rie fu’s soft spoken voice to Koda Kumi’s raspy vocals. Now Korean ladies can sure belt it out… my favorites being LENA PARK (phenomenal voice), Ivy (though I wish she’d do more ballads), and SeeYa’s Lee Boram and Kim Yeonji. Now I do think that Korea has a larger stock of female rappers, but I don’t think you can compete with Japanese veterans like SOULHEAD.

So this concludes the Kpop vs. Jpop Epic Part I! This was my first shot at an editorial so if you have comments or suggestions please, please, please let me know. Coming up next: international appeal, style, promotion, groups, triple threats, and more.