It’s taken several years, but as anime and computer generated vocaloid songs continue to grow in popularity abroad, Japanese pop music has solidified a passionate overseas fan base. Go to YouTube and do a search for the opening or closing theme of a major recent anime hit, and you’ve got a decent chance of finding a foreign fan doing a cover, either while strumming a guitar or with the vocal-less karaoke mix from the song’s single playing in the background.
But that’s not good enough for Russian band, Pudra (meaning “powder”). This quartet of teenage girls goes all out with their anime song performances, with full arrangement and polished videos. And while many foreign cover artists rewrite lyrics in their native languages, Pudra sings all of their J-pop renditions in their original Japanese.
One of Pudra’s biggest online hits has been their cover of “Blue Bird,” originally performed by J-pop band Ikimonogakai and featured in the popular ninja action series Naruto. The girls get extra fan cred by sporting headbands matching the one worn by Naruto’s titular hero in their video.
Aside from anime themes, Pudra also covers standard J-pop songs, such as last year’s runaway hit “Fashion Monster” from singer/style icon Kyari Pamyu Pamyu.
While none of the band’s members speak Japanese, they seem to have no problem with pronunciation, as seen in their video below of Hibari Misora’s 1967 song “Makka na Taiyou” (Deep Red Sun). One of our Japanese reporters remarked that if he hadn’t seen the video, he would’ve thought the singers were Japanese.
The band is steadily winning fans, both in Russia and Japan. Aside from messages of thanks and encouragement, many of them leave requests for songs they’re hoping the band will cover in the future on the group’s website. As their performance of the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” proves, any song in English or Japanese, and of course Russian, is fair game.
“They’re good enough that they could do a show here with no problem,” said one Japanese Internet commentator, and we definitely agree. We’d especially like to see them do a double billing with the American-born vocalist of J-pop band nothing ever lasts. But whatever the format, here’s hoping Pudra makes the trip someday, and brings all of their infectious fun and enthusiasm with them.