music

Unhinged Japanese boyband fan stalks “rival” on Twitter, demands they delete their account

They say that hell is a teenage girl. It sucks having to deal with burgeoning romantic feelings when most of the boys in your grade are more interested in giving each other wedgies and chasing balls around. That’s where boy bands come in! Obsessing over squeaky-clean, baby-faced guys with angelic voices gives young girls an outlet for their romantic ideals, as each boy band provides a pleasing variety of “safe” alternatives on which to have a crush (real boys, after all, are too unpredictable!) So it’s no wonder that sometimes girls can take things a little bit too far. When one Twitter user set her user icon to a pic of her favorite Japanese boyband member, little did she know that her actions would spark a stream of increasingly unhinged messages from a fellow fan.

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Japan’s premier beatboxer sets YouTube ablaze, annoys fans with lack of beatboxing

We’ve talked about Japanese YouTubers before, and there certainly are a lot of awesome ones out there! One of the most famous is the beatboxing Hikakin, who was even featured in YouTube’s 2014 Rewind video. His musical skills have even caught the attention of the world at large, and Hikakin has performed with (and wowed) foreign artists, like Ariana Grande. There are plenty of folks around the world who are fans of the bespectacled YouTube star’s skills, but it looks like some of them are losing patience with his seeming lack of actual beatboxing.

As if he’d heard all of those complaints directly, Hikakin just released a new video with none other than Ne-Yo! Click below to check out the two artists make beautiful music with nothing more than their sexy mouths!

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Who’s still buying physical media in Japan? Top 20 singles lists for the year reveal the answer

With a large music market and some of the world’s highest prices for physical releases, Japan has been very slow in adapting to digital distribution. Rights holders are finally warming up to the idea, though, and it doesn’t look like it’s ruining the industry in Japan. What downloadable music does seem to be doing, though, is splitting the country’s pop music market into two distinct parts, as the lists of Japan’s top 20 single downloads and CD purchases for the year are almost completely different.

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16 years after his death, new song by X Japan guitarist hide released with vocals by…hide?!

The Japanese music scene doesn’t have quite the lengthy list of young deaths that its Western counterpart does, but that doesn’t mean J-pop hasn’t lost some of its biggest stars while still in their prime. In 1998, 33-year-old hide, who rose to fame as guitarist for the band X Japan and had also established a successful solo career, was found dead in his apartment, hung by a towel attached to a doorknob.

Ruled a suicide, his death came as a shock to his legions of fans, and while he left behind a large body of work, it seemed they would never get to hear the song “Ko Gyaru,” which hide had been putting the finishing touches on before his passing. So it’s come as a surprise that a video for the song was recently released on YouTube, with vocals that sound as if they’re being provided by the deceased musician himself.

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BABYMETAL keeps turning metalheads, voted Best Metal Album of the Year

What’s cute, frilly and metal all over? BABYMETAL of course! From relative obscurity only two years ago, to doing various concerts around the world in 2014, the presence of BABYMETAL has been sudden, if not shocking. It’s hard to believe that the combination of idol music and hardcore metal has created something that many people are getting fired up over. In fact, BABYMETAL has such a fan base now that their self-titled first album was voted as the Number 1 Metal Album of 2014. Say what?!?

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State of the otaku union – Survey reveals vocaloids up, adult games down in 2014

Long ago, being an otaku, one of Japan’s hyper-obsessive subculture fans, made you sort of an outcast. People, especially respectable adults, didn’t really want to look at you, either out of embarrassment for your childish hobbies, or perhaps fear that having spent the last three days indoors had given you a case of shut-in cooties that would jump onto them.

That’s starting to change, though. More and more people are becoming comfortable identifying themselves as otaku, and while some still worry their fixations on fantasy are a drain on society, they’re definitely a boost to the economy, as shown by a survey that indicates spending is up in several sectors of the otaku world.

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Musician performs beautiful projection-mapped piano themes of Laputa, Frozen, Final Fantasy

Although director Hayao Miyazaki gets the lion’s share of the credit for the sterling quality of Studio Ghibli’s anime films, you can’t discount the contributions of Joe Hisaishi. The veteran composer’s musical scores are timeless and ethereal, and there’s no better visual compliment to their mix of trepidation and adventurousness than the moving pictures of Japan’s most respected animation house.

The beautiful projection mapping that accompanies this stirring piano cover of the ending theme to Castle in the Sky Laputa is a close second, though.

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Japanese iPad drummer recreates rock beats with lightning-fast fingers【Video】

Spending your time bashing out wild beats on the drums might sound like heaven for rock music fans, but installing a drum kit in your house is a sure way to make the neighbours hate you, especially in Japan where most landlords prohibit the use of musical instruments.

Thankfully, these days there is of course a digital alternative, and some people have become so good at iPad drumming that in its own way it can be as impressive as the real thing.

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Floppy drive orchestra performs old-school game music, gives us nostalgia overload 【Video】

We’re constantly amazed by the creative ways people come up with to reuse defunct technology, and here’s another one to blow your mind. One YouTuber has used his programming and music skills to reproduce popular tunes and game music using… floppy disk drives!

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Timpani drummer’s crazy finale is startling, funny, more metal than you’d expect from a symphony

There’s not a whole lot of crossover between the worlds of sports and classical music. Concert pianists generally don’t play the piano with one hand while dribbling a basketball with the other, and I can’t recall the last time I saw a proper squad of cheerleaders accompanying an orchestra.

Likewise, even though “Get your head in the game!” is one of the most commonly shouted phrases in sports, I don’t think you have concert-goers yelling “Get your head in the symphony!” Not that this drummer needed to be told that, though, as shown by the startling flourish he put on the end of his performance.

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Want to make music, but can’t play an instrument? Casio app turns your hums into full tracks!

Music is pretty much one of the best things in life–some people might even say it is the best thing in life. Playing an instrument is supposed to do all sort of great things for us, but most would agree that getting started with music can be pretty difficult. While DAWs like FL Studio exist to help us produce whatever we hear in our heads without strumming a single chord, digital production is quite a bit more difficult than most people realize. From programming drums to synthesizing new sounds, it can be just as time-consuming as learning to play guitar. “Why can’t I just whip out my smartphone, hum a little ditty, and let it do all the hard work of producing a track?” you might be thinking.

Well, soon you will be able to, thanks to a new app from Casio. You won’t even need to hum all the way through–it’ll generate a whole song from one section!

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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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Legendary DJ Krush performs with traditional Japanese musicians to create music for your dreams

If you’ve ever visited a Shinto shrine, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the ethereal sound of gagaku, or traditional Japanese court music. It’s not exactly something that you’d throw in a club mix after “Turn Down For What,” though at one point it was used to accompany dances at the imperial palace. While Lil Jon may get your body shaking, with gagaku, which literally means “elegant music,” shaking isn’t really the goal.

Still, that didn’t stop DJ Krush, one of Japan’s most famous and respected turntablists, from getting together with a few gagaku musicians to play one of the most beautiful sets you’re ever likely to hear–and at a Tokyo Red Bull Music Academy event, no less!

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Korean idol unit trots on stage in matching skirts and what look like pseudo-Nazi armbands

Creating costumes for idol singer groups can’t be an easy job. If you’re going for cute, designers already hit the limit for the number of frills a single item of clothing can hold sometime around October of 1986. Hot pants are an easy way to achieve short-term crowd-pleasing sexiness, but that might interfere with the girl-next-door image the most successful acts cultivate.

So instead of sweet or sultry, you might settle on snappy. That’s what the four members of Korea’s Pritz have been doing in some of their recent appearances, where they’ve shown up in matching black skirts and crisply pressed black shirts buttoned at the collars. Oh, and to add just a dash of attempted systematical genocide to the ensemble, what look like Nazi armbands.

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Japanese band robot-dances their way around London in latest music video

Japanese band World Order robot-dances their way around London in their latest music video while locals look on amused and confused. Check out the full video plus screenshots after the jump!

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This video of models dancing to a Taiwanese pop song is so horrible it’s genius

Models, a tiger-head backpack, and one confused Kim Jong-un impersonator–it’s not exactly a list of participants to inspire confidence when it comes to “fan-made” dance videos. Notice the lack of anyone with solid dancing skills here. While we’re sure that all of the folks that appear dancing in this video set to the Chinese hit “Memeda” by Lin Meixi and Xia Wenxi have their own unique talents, it is immediately obvious that moving in a rhythmic fashion in unison is not one of them…

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Gorgeous animated video shows Hatsune Miku as designed by Final Fantasy’s Tetsuya Nomura

Given the massive success he’s since enjoyed as a video game character designer and director, it’s almost hard to remember how skeptical everyone initially was about Square Enix’s Tetsuya Nomura. When he stepped up to the plate as character designer for Final Fantasy VII, long-time fans were uneasy about his ability to fill the boots of predecessor and renowned artist Yoshitaka Amano. When Nomura announced Kingdom Hearts, a new series that would blend characters from Final Fantasy games and Disney animation, early reactions ranged from puzzled silence to nervous laughter.

Fast-forward 15 years, and Nomura has established himself as the single most influential person behind those two Square Enix franchises. As a matter of fact, his skills are now in so much demand that he’s produced his take on virtual idol Hatsune Miku, which was recently shown off in gorgeous animated form.

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Did you know Ayumi Hamasaki released a new single? Apparently neither did anyone else…

Even if you have only the barest passing knowledge of Japanese music, there’s a very good chance you know the name Ayumi Hamasaki. Arguably the queen of Japanese solo pop artists, between 1998 and 2012, she managed to move over 50 million units including both singles and full albums. That’s a number so big, I need all my fingers, toes and a calculator to keep track of everything! She’s even crossed international boundaries with numerous fans around Asia and managed to be a star for over a decade in a country where pop stars come and go like…well, pop stars.

But is her glory finally at its end? While we’d be loath to make any proclamations about the future, the sales for her newest single “Terminal” have been nothing short of dismal, apparently shocking many music industry insiders.

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Amazing schoolgirl drummer nails anime theme, and her music career is just getting started

Compared to a lot of other anime, the premise of K-On! is decidedly down-to-earth. It’s about a group of high school girls who form an after-school rock/pop band, and none of them are reincarnated princesses or commute to school in a giant transforming robot built by their brilliant but aloof father. They just hang out and play music together.

Still, there’s one big break with reality that comes at the start of each episode, when instruments are obviously played by studio musicians, and not actually a bunch of teenagers, for the theme song. You really can’t fault the producers for this decision, though. After all, where are you supposed to find an actual high school girl to perform the manic drum beats used in the anime’s second opening?

Ah, we see Kawaguchi-san is raising her hand.

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I Won’t Let You Down: new music video from OK Go wows us with Honda drones and unicycles

OK Go, the alternative rock band who blew us away with their unique treadmill choreography in the music video for their 2006 hit Here It Goes Again, have come out with an even more impressive video, this time featuring dozens of Japanese girls, a drone and a motorised unicycle from Honda.

Filmed in Japan and inspired by the group’s trip to the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, this latest music video was released on October 27 and has already reached close to two million views on YouTube. Check out the video after the break to see just how awesome these boys can be when they team up with a leading director and choreographer from Japan.

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