music

New video from Wagakki Band “Hanabi” is an original, awesome song【J-Tunes】

New video from Wagakki Band “Hanabi” is an original, awesome song【J-Tunes】

When we introduced you to the Wagakki Band last year, we were pretty sure they might end up being a big deal. And, as it turned out, we were definitely right about that! After releasing a full album to rave reviews earlier this year, the band has been on the road touring both in Japan and at the Japan Expo in Paris. But despite their busy schedule of rehearsing and performing, they’ve had time to work on a new, original song. While they haven’t released a full video yet (you’ll have to wait a few more weeks), you can check out the short version below!

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Touching Final Fantasy X cover on the violin takes you “To Zanarkand”【Video】

Touching Final Fantasy X cover on the violin takes you “To Zanarkand”【Video】

If you love classical music, and you love Australia, then the name Ayako Ishikawa, is a name you are familiar with. However, if you aren’t familiar with “Devils Ayako”, you’re missing out on an artist that has been given the honorary title of “The Best Performer in Australia“. Already a phenom on the classical music stage, she has recently been making a name for herself on the Internet. Since she began posting her videos to Niconico back in 2013, her popularity has blossomed into a real fan following and she is just hitting her stride now with a string of well-known songs in Japan. Today she takes you “To Zanarkand”…

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Natural sounds: Stunning Kyoto-made speakers are made from 30-year-old Japanese cedar

Natural sounds: Stunning Kyoto-made speakers are made from 30-year-old Japanese cedar

If you’re the kind of person who appreciates traditional craftsmanship and doesn’t mind paying a little more to get it, we have a product for you today that you really have to see.

On sale from tomorrow, these stunning mini speakers are made by master craftsmen in Kyoto and use specially grown Japanese cedar, taking an incredible 30 years to go from planting to finished product.

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Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

Little Texas: The Tokyo country bar for all of Japan’s cowboys【Photos】

You can find just about anything you want in Tokyo. The city is a wonderful melting pot of new and old, domestic and foreign, low and high brow. With everything from a vibrant French quarter to gorgeous temple gardens, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting bored in Japan’s capital. Even so, we have to admit that we were a bit surprised to find a country bar–let alone a country bar with such authentic shows and delicious food! But that’s exactly what Meguro’s oldest country bar, Little Texas, has. With everything from license plates covering the walls to amazing bands on stage, you are guaranteed to have a great time–even if you don’t know the difference between a steer and a bull!

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Japan’s 10 best singing voices as chosen by people in the industry

Japan’s 10 best singing voices as chosen by people in the industry

Japanese music has a wide variety of artists, and like any country’s music scene it too is full of gimmicky sounds or imagery. Such music can be great and a lot of fun too, but there’s something about a naturally talented vocalist that demands our attention and respect.

But who in Japan is the greatest pure singer? Some of you may have already pulled up an image of your favorite Japanese singer while others like me are drawing a blank, still unable to shake the image of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu dancing with candy skeletons.

Luckily, the TV show Suiyobi No Downtown held their own ranking survey asking 200 people in the Japanese music industry from vocal trainers to studio engineers “Who is really good at singing?” Here are the results.

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Taiwan’s newest boy band is painfully uncool, painfully popular【Videos】

Taiwan’s newest boy band is painfully uncool, painfully popular【Videos】

Pop idols and boy bands are ten a penny these days, with multi-million-dollar enterprises built on farming young talent, putting it on stage in matching outfits and telling it to follow a routine. Japan has more than its share of floppy-haired boy bands and short-skirted songstresses, many of them decidedly awful and with as much charisma as an emphysemic squirrel with a penchant for racism, but a new group from Taiwan called Ice Man is raising eyebrows all over Asia this week, not just because they’re “painfully uncool”, but because they have nevertheless garnered quite the following and are already making stacks of cash.

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Feeling down? Kyoto’s Tachibana High marching band is here to brighten your day 【Video】

Feeling down? Kyoto’s Tachibana High marching band is here to brighten your day 【Video】

Since it served as Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years, the city of Kyoto has a strong connection with traditional arts such as Nihon buyo dance and the tea ceremony. We’re sure you could also find a number of students living in Kyoto who, once their classes are over for the day, make beautiful music with the koto, Japan’s most refined indigenous stringed instrument.

Things are a little more bombastic at Kyoto’s Tachibana High School, though. Tachibana is home to one of the country’s most talented marching band programs, and the school’s musicians have made performances at Disney theme parks not only in Japan, but in America too, as seen in this energizing videos.

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Internet declares Yoko Ono’s Glastonbury festival set “the worst live performance ever” 【Video】

Internet declares Yoko Ono’s Glastonbury festival set “the worst live performance ever” 【Video】

It’s been a week since Yoko Ono made her festival debut at Glastonbury. A week, however, is a long time on the internet. While music critics have been fairly kind – if not particularly enthusiastic – about the 81-year-old’s performance, netizens have let rip on the singer-songwriter’s erratic wailing, with one criticising Ono’s voice as sounding “like a goat with a sore throat”.

Join us after the jump for screaming, giant political banners, and an octogenarian dancing like there’s no one watching.

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Japan’s sobbing politician set to make everyone get wild in the club with dubstep remix 【Video】

Japan’s sobbing politician set to make everyone get wild in the club with dubstep remix 【Video】

Until about a week ago, Ryutaro Nonomura was a relatively unknown prefectural assemblyman from Hyogo in Japan’s Kansai region. Name recognition is extremely important for politicians in Japan, where ballots often require voters to write in the name of the candidate they’re voting for, so under normal circumstances the fact that the whole country now knows who Nonomura is would be a major boon for his political career.

Unfortunately, “manically crying while responding to allegations of misuse of government funds” is anything but normal, but that’s exactly what has caused Nonomura’s sudden rise to fame. Aside from making citizens shake their heads at the conduct of public officials, Nonomura’s meltdown has caused people to both laugh and cringe.

And now, it’s ready to make them dance.

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Awesome anime fan art inserts the cast of Madoka Magica into classic rock album covers

Awesome anime fan art inserts the cast of Madoka Magica into classic rock album covers

There are a couple of things anime fans have come to expect from the magical girl genre. Magic and girls are on the list, of course, plus things like flowers, sparkles, and probably a parfait or two.

What they usually don’t anticipate are decapitations, handguns, and implied homicides, but they got all that and more in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the 2011 TV series that defied magical girl conventions with the same gusto it crammed words into its title. Not only did the hard-edged anime win over legions of fans, it also inspired one to insert the Madoka cast into some iconic rock album covers.

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We ask Arashi fans why the boy band is so popular… because we couldn’t figure it out ourselves

We ask Arashi fans why the boy band is so popular… because we couldn’t figure it out ourselves

Arashi is a common Japanese word meaning “storm” but utter it to any Japanese person and images of the top male idol unit in the country will likely cross their minds before those of cloudy skies and overflowing gutters. Not a day goes by without Arashi appearing on some television show, and every album they release is pretty much guaranteed to hit number one.

However, the thing is… we don’t understand why they are so successful. Not to take anything away from Arashi as performers – they’re good looking chaps who have a sound easier to digest than a cup of warm yogurt. We just don’t get why they stand above all of the other boy bands on the scene in Japan who seem to be and do exactly the same thing. So, we sent our reporter P.K. Sunjun to interview Arashi fans and get to the bottom of the group’s appeal.

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Felinephonic: New cat-ear headphones let you share your sound

Felinephonic: New cat-ear headphones let you share your sound

Even if you’re more of a dog person, there’s no denying that neko-mimi have a cuteness all of their own. Knowing this, the creative folks over at Axent Wear, an independent startup now just weeks away from launching a Kickstarter campaign, are hoping to bring cat ears into consumers’ lives in a way that is both cute and functional with a product that’s sure to put a smile on your face and spring in your step.

Introducing: Axent Wear cat-ear headphones.

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An ode to Japan’s musical trucks and the wondrous things they sell

An ode to Japan’s musical trucks and the wondrous things they sell

The next time someone asks, “What’s your favourite thing about Japan?”, I know what I’m going to say.

When I was growing up in England, the only thing you could buy from a cute little musical van that drove around the neighbourhood was ice cream, and for the approximately eleven-and-a-half months of the year when it was too cold to eat an ice cream, you had to make do with a “mix-up bag” (like pick ‘n’ mix, but without the “pick” part – that is to say, without the element of choice) which consisted of ten gummy sweets no one ever liked anyway.

Sure, in city centres and at events in England we have vendors selling fast food. But our burger and falafel trucks don’t drive door-to-door playing old-fashioned jingles like an ice cream van does. In Japan, however, there are a bunch of tiny vans, privately owned, that each specialise in one product and each have their own song. And it’s not just food, either. The things you can buy off the back of those little musical trucks are amazing.

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Norwegian metal singer covers Japanese pop songs galore

Norwegian metal singer covers Japanese pop songs galore

It’s nice to share some Japan-related news coming out of Scandinavia for a change!

Norway, along with its neighbors, is no stranger to the metal music scene. The northern European countries together constitute one of the world’s major strongholds for the various subgenres of metal music. But what do you get when you combine the vocal talents of a Norwegian symphonic metal singer with the catchy tunes of J-Pop?

Just listen to PelleK’s cover versions of the following anime songs to find out for yourself!

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Final Fantasy Tactics concert is coming to Tokyo, completely free, and needs volunteers

Final Fantasy Tactics concert is coming to Tokyo, completely free, and needs volunteers

Even though the numbered sequels in the Final Fantasy video game series stretch all the way up to 14, there are actually far more titles than that in the franchise. One of the most popular spinoffs to Square Enix’s massively successful role-playing game is Final Fantasy Tactics, thanks to its deep customization, complex and unpredictable plot, and stirring soundtrack.

The strategy role-playing game has been entertaining fans for the past 17 years, and as testament to its lasting appeal, this summer a symphony orchestra concert will be held dedicated to the music of Final Fantasy Tactics. And best of all, it’s free.

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

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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A hauntingly beautiful live performance of Ghost in the Shell anime music 【Video】

A hauntingly beautiful live performance of Ghost in the Shell anime music 【Video】

In science fiction, 25 years may as well be an eternity. The genre is littered with visions of the future that were initially compelling, yet suddenly felt overwhelmingly dated and dull just a few years later.

That said, it’s been a quarter-century since the first manga installment of Ghost in the Shell was published, and Japan’s most successful cyberpunk franchise is still going strong. Ghost in the Shell succeed where others failed because the story’s true focus isn’t on shiny, imaginary technology itself, but rather on the question of what it means to be human in a rapidly evolving society, and how an individual’s personal answer to that ties into the concepts of identity, free will, and interconnectedness.

Those are concepts mankind has grappled with for centuries, so it’s only fitting that this live performance of the anime’s most iconic piece of music feels at once both modern and ancient.

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Get ready to rock! 38 awesome covers of video game music in 17 minutes

Get ready to rock! 38 awesome covers of video game music in 17 minutes

It goes without saying that here at RocketNews24, we love video games. While we might not always agree on which system is the best (PC MASTER RACE!), there’s no doubting that we’ll never complain about plunking our butts down in front of a screen and killing some baddies. In fact, some of us are even going to E3 this year for…uh, you, our dear readers! We promise that we are in no way totally, completely, and utterly thrilled to be attending. It’s all for you!

See how much we love you?

And what else do we love besides video games and our super awesome readers? Well, I can’t speak for everyone here, but I love some tasty metal riffs. Which is exactly what makes this medley combining music from 38 different games so awesome. Check out the 17 minutes of awesomeness below to see if your favorite game made the cut! Read More

Become MASTER OF NUGGETS with this heavy metal recipe book

Become MASTER OF NUGGETS with this heavy metal recipe book

Have you been looking for a way to combine your love of thrash metal with your enthusiasm for trying new food? As you may know, we at RocketNews24 are always looking for ways to mix up new musical experiences, so we were tickled to discover Metal-Meshi, a tour through headbanging history told through metal-inspired recipes!

The brainchild of Tokyo-based foodie and blogger Yasunario, Metal-Meshi takes its name from “meshi”, a slightly slangy, rough-sounding Japanese word for hearty food.The book offers up over 60 mammoth-sized dishes that put some of Japan’s other Americana offerings to shame! So what kind of gastronomical excitement has Yasunario come up with?

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Super Mario Bros. theme gets an amazing jazz cover

Super Mario Bros. theme gets an amazing jazz cover

While thoughts of the Roaring 20s typically conjure images of flappers and raucous parties, now it can also remind you of Super Mario BrosLos Angeles jazz musicians, The Handy Dandy Boys, recently recorded a mean, jazzy version of the “Overworld BGM” theme from Super Mario Bros., complete with banjo plucking, a brass section, and a silent film-inspired, mustachioed music videothat will put a pep in your step.

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