J-Pop

Stand back, kids! 64-year-old enka singer Aki Yashiro completely nails cover of Evangelion theme

The musical style enka usually gets referred to as Japan’s equivalent of country western music. The two do have a lot in common thematically, as the biggest hits of both genres are often centered on blue-collar hardships, melancholy nostalgia, and heavy drinking (one famous enka hit is “Sake Wo,” or, “Bring Me Booze”).

But while there are young country listeners, it’s a lot harder to find fresh-faced enka fans, since the lyrics of many enka ballads are so world-weary it’s hard to appreciate them without a few decades of failed romances and stalled career paths under your belt. So to reach out to a new demographic, one enka legend is recording her version of the theme song of hit anime Evangelion.

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Rain? No Problem! Not even impending typhoon can keep away fans of J-POP singer Nicholas Edwards

This past Monday was a holiday in Japan, Sports Day to be specific, which meant many of us had a three-day weekend. Unfortunately, it was also the second weekend in a row that Japan was hit by a huge typhoon, causing torrential rain, flooding and disrupted air and land transportation throughout large parts of the country. And while the Tokyo area was by no means the worst affected part of Japan, we still had huge amounts of rain and our share of canceled flights as the typhoon made its way across Japan.

So, Monday, October 13 really wasn’t ideal timing for a certain J-POP singer to be giving a live mini concert outdoors. Well, the singer scheduled to perform that day just happened to be Nicholas Edwards, the American singer who moved to Japan from Oregon, whom we introduced on our site last year. Apparently, his fans were in no way deterred by the approaching typhoon — they weren’t about to miss a chance to see him perform up-close. And we wanted to share with you just how loyal Japanese fans can be!

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Sleeping next to your celebrity crush hug pillow not enough? Now you can peel his clothes off

We recently looked at the physical and psychological benefits of sleeping with hug pillows, or dakimakura as they’re known in Japan. But while that discussion was limited to plain, undecorated dakimakura, it’s no secret that a large number of jumbo-size pillows in Japan are adorned with drawings or photos of the owner’s anime or celebrity crush.

Sometimes these dakimakura end up being used for relatively chaste purposes, like a romantic train ride. We don’t think it’s going too far, though, to speculate they’re also put to more lascivious means as stand-ins for obsessive fans’ lust towards their unattainable objects of desire. As a result, one new dakimakura allows you to tear the clothes off a rock star.

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J-pop group “Chubbiness” releases first music video, possibly look even less chubby than before

Back in January this year, we brought you news of an emerging J-pop group going by the name of Chubbiness. The idea behind the outfit was that, as well as being accomplished singers, the members were all “puniko“, or slightly chubby girls. Compared to most J-pop groups, which are very often populated with girls who are all pointy elbows and shoulder blades, Chubbiness just about lived up to their name, but few Westerners especially would ever think to call them “chubby”.

Eight months later, Chubbiness have launched their first official song, complete with an accompanying music video which shows them tucking in to a table full of sugary treats while singing about how there’s nothing wrong with being a bit on the big side.

The only thing is, after watching the video a handful of times, we can’t help thinking that if anything the Chubbiness girls actually look even slimmer now than when they were first introduced to us…

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AKB48 recruits new part-time idols – for US$10 an hour

The popular idol group AKB48 announced at the AKB48 Group Summer Festival on Sunday that they are recruiting new “part-time” members — for 1,000 yen (about US$10) an hour. Typically, potential AKB48 candidates must first undergo audition and become trainees before being promoted to regular members. However the “Part-Time AKB” campaign will bypass this long process, similar to Glico’s campaign to recruit a member over 30 years old earlier this year.

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Talented and beautiful singer covers Western pop hits in Japanese

Japanese audiences love to hear their favourite foreign tunes in their own language, as evidenced by the huge popularity of the Japanese version of Let It Go. But it’s not only Disney songs that are getting Japan-ized. One up-and-c0ming singer has been gaining popularity on YouTube thanks to her self-penned interpretations of English pop hits from the likes of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and more.

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Math, art, and music: Sputniko! reimagines J-pop【J-Tunes】

J-pop usually brings to mind images of teenage girls dancing in unison while singing songs about…something resembling love. It’s about as saccharine as you can get without actually pouring a sachet of sugar directly into your ear. But there’s an exception to every rule, and we today we have for you some of the most fascinating pop music–and videos–you’ll likely ever see.

Even if you’re not a J-pop fan, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Sputniko!, the artist name of Hiromi Ozaki, and her delightful take on popular music. One of the recipients of Vogue Japan’s 2013 Women of the Year award, this mathematician-turned-artist is not at all what you would call an idol–in fact she’s almost an anti-idol! Her music, voice, and videos, though, are just as enjoyable as anything you’ll find on the radio and far, far more thoughtful. Oh, and did we mention that she’s a professor at MIT?

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Compose your own cheese-tastic J-pop love songs with this handy lyric generator

One of the very first Japanese words I learned was afuredasu, or “overflow.” This wasn’t because it showed up in a textbook or a teacher taught it to me, but because afuredasu seems to show up in roughly a third of every Japanese pop song ever produced.

It’s not the only phrase that’s a regular in J-pop lyrics though, as shown by this flow-chart that can turn anyone into a Japanese lyricist.

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Ad has triple helping of Japanese commercial, anime, and music stereotypes, is still awesome

Commercials in Japan often portray Japanese products as being far and away the best in the world, and are so overly earnest in doing so they frequently make no sense. Anime is packed with cute characters who, again, make no sense. And a lot of J-pop songs are hyperactive melodies with lyrics that, you guessed it, make no sense.

So how is it combining all three makes for just about the perfect ad for Japanese meat?

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American-born J-POP singer Nicholas Edwards’ first concert delights fans!

You may recall that we ran an article about two months ago featuring American-born J-POP singer Nicholas Edwards, who studied Japanese and moved from Oregon to Japan in pursuit of his dream to become a singer here. Now, three years after his move, his singing career certainly seems to be moving in the right direction.

This year, he released his debut single from a major Japanese music label in July, followed by a double mini album in  October, and as mentioned in our previous article, he also performed at his very first concert this past Sunday at The Garden Hall in Ebisu. And yes, we were able to get tickets and see and hear Edwards live! So, to follow up on our article from October, here’s our report on Edward’s debut concert, “Silent Night 2013“.

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Rising J-POP star is talented, good-looking and certainly not your typical Japanese musician!

I just happened to be watching TV the other day when a young man’s singing performance suddenly and utterly grabbed my attention. Having been a member of the Glee Club during junior high and high school (an experience which, by the way, was no where near as crazy as the TV series), I have to say that hearing talented people sing is a huge source of pleasure for me, and a pleasure it was indeed to listen to this man perform a well-known Japanese pop song, his voice ringing clear and true.

I soon found out that the man I saw performing on TV had just released his debut single from a major Japanese music label a few months ago. His star seems to have been rising quickly, which wasn’t surprising considering his amazing voice and striking looks. Plus, there was also something else that made him stand out in the Japanese music scene. Ladies and gentlemen, meet 21-year-old Nicholas Edwards, the blond J-POP singer from Oregon, U.S.A.

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Pre-fame videos of pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu reveal she once looked like an ordinary teenager

So let’s say you’re a high school girl growing up in Tokyo, the undisputed mecca of fashion and pop music in Japan. You want to break into the industry, but what can you do to make yourself stand out from all the other teens with the same ambitions, especially if you’ve got a fairly pedestrian name like Kiriko Takemura?

Simple: you slip on an outfit that’s as colorful as it is outlandish, adopt the stage name Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and bask in the adoration of fans both in Japan and abroad.

Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. Kyary’s success is the result of several years spent developing her persona and image, as we can see in a pair of pre-fame videos showing her as a high-schooler still at the midpoint of her path to stardom.

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Senior pop group Rice Girls release new song ‘Rice-Colored Unrequited Love’ 【Video】

Where their younger counterparts may have fallen by the wayside, a senior pop group from Niigata, Japan, is going strong. Their new song, ‘Rice-Colored Unrequited Love’, expresses their fierce love for the famed Koshihikari rice of Niigata Prefecture. In particular, the rice from Uonuma in Niigata is so delicious and sought-after, it usually fetches the highest prices in Japan, so it’s not surprising that the locals are passionate about it. But the Rice Girls take it a step further. In fact, they sing that ‘rice is better than love‘!

Well, love is patient. Love is a battlefield. Love is blindness. (According to Google Predictive Search.) Rice? Rice is nice!

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Meet Les Romanesques: The most famous Japanese people in France

This is Tobi and Miya. Together they make up the music duo, Les Romanesques, whose intriguing stage performances have made them a huge hit in France. Their appearance on France’s Got Talent became the most watched YouTube video in all of France, and the 4th most watched video worldwide. Since then, they’ve appeared in French TV commercials for Mazda, and even helped promote the Paris International Film Festival with Jane Fonda and the Mayor of Paris. Their entertaining performances and music videos have just the right mix of talent and zany Japanese appeal that’s got audiences around the world asking for more.

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‘Die die die die die die!’ Fans rage after variety show host ‘kicks’ AKB48 starlet

The passion and loyalty of J-Pop group AKB48′s fans is well documented online, with incidents of disgruntled individuals threatening sarin gas attacks over trifling matters such as the group’s involvement in particular advertising campaigns, and grown men tearing up whenever one of the more popular members is caught breaking the group’s code of conduct by having a secret boyfriend.

Most of the time these eruptions amount to nothing, and we have all learned to ignore them for the most part, but an incident that occurred this past weekend has prompted an explosion of AKB fan rage online, with many openly declaring their desire to kill a well-known presenter for ‘kicking’ leading member Mayu Watanabe in the head during a live broadcast.

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“Heavy Metal Idols” Perform for Audience of One Lucky Yahoo Auction Winner, Not a Dry Eye in the House

This photo might make you think that times are tough for the “heavy metal idols” in Alice Juban, oft referred to as the “sisters of rock.” Actually, it was an unprecedented promotion for the innovative idol group.

This September, major auction site Yahoo Auction opened a new category, Knowledge and Skills. Tucked away in there was a very special item up for bid: the girls of Alice Juban.

That didn’t sound right.  I didn’t mean the girls were selling themselves. They were selling the rights to an exclusive live performance for the winning bid in Shibaura, Tokyo on 10 October.

It turned out to be a really surreal event, and I don’t mean because of the usual hockey masks, chainsaws, and stage diving. It was a surprisingly touching performance that moved everyone in the room to tears.

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Are You in the Sexy Zone? If So the Police Would Like a Word with You

Johnny Kitagawa, 80 year-old former teen idol and boy band mogul is celebrating his 50th year in the industry.  And what a better way to do it than with Johnny and Associates’ newest smash hit makers, Sexy Zone!

Shori Sato (16), Kento Nakajima (18), Fuma Kikuchi (17), So Matsushima (15), and fresh young Marius Yo (12) formed Sexy Zone after graduating from Johnny’s Juniors, an extensive school for talented and strapping young men who will do whatever it takes to become stars.

By the way, all previous allegations by former Johnny’s Juniors with regards to inappropriate advances and abuse published in books and newspaper have never been proven in a criminal court of law.  I have no idea why I wrote that, but it seemed like it was necessary.

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Taiwan’s Weather Girls Form Girl Group in Japan, First Single “Weather Forecast of Love” Coming This October!

Taiwan’s adorable dancing meteorologist girl group Weather Girls have been a lot of things: Japanese school girls, ninjas, super sentai heroes…wait, notice anything similar?

Since it launched in summer 2010, the series has taken off in Japan more than any other country, likely because most of the monthly video themes are taken from Japanese culture. Many of the themes even have the girls speaking endearingly broken Japanese, which just scores them more kawaii points.

Now, as if to capitalize on that popularity, the Weather Girls have sent seven of their best to Japan to form a brand new idol group called…Weather Girls!

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