music

Japanese amateur vocalist Reol channeling Internet fame into solo album debut this summer

Reol (れをる), a female Japanese vocalist who has gained immense popularity over the last few years through her releases on online video sharing sites, is set to make her major debut on July 29 under Victor Entertainment.

The singer’s first solo album will be titled Gokusaishiki (極彩色), which translates to “Richly Colored.” If the album’s title track is any indication, the rest of the album will be a fantastical feast for your ears as well!

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Is AK48’s Chinese sister group even cuter than the original? Our reporter thinks so!

Ever heard of SNH48, AKB48’s second sister group outside of Japan? Based in Shanghai, China, the idol unit has been active since 2012, releasing a total of eight singles to date. These singles are all Chinese-language covers of previous AKB48 singles, including their latest release on May 15–the Chinese version of “Manatsu no Sounds Good!” (盛夏好声音).

Now, I’m not someone easily swayed by the cutesy “charms” of idol singers, but a female writer on our Japanese sister site recently wrote a piece expressing her opinion that SNH48 could possibly be–dare I write it–even cuter than the veritable goddesses of the original AKB48.

Take a moment to watch their latest music video and decide who you think is the cutest!

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Japanese rock musician decides to get old-school, starts a career singing enka

The history of Japanese music is long and storied, and contemporary artists, be they J-pop artists or grindcore bands, fill only a few chapters. Of course, they happen to be some of our favorite chapters, but we’re just saying, there’s a lot to discover!

One genre that has long been a favorite in Japan but hasn’t gotten as much attention overseas as, say, Hatsune Miku, is enka. A modern take on Japanese folk music, enka is probably most popular with older generations — but that hasn’t stopped one extravagantly dressed visual kei/rock drummer from giving it a shot!

Check the bizarre music video for Tsukasa Mogamigawa’s major label debut and get ready to shout “Maaaatsupoi poi poi!”

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Guerrilla musicians wow YouTubers with expert playing in…electronics stores?

If you’ve ever stepped foot inside a music store, you’ve no doubt seen at least one overly-confident person wailing away at a guitar or piano, just to “test it out” with plenty of people around. While they’re usually better than the rest of us, you also can’t help feeling a bit of embarrassment for anyone who’s getting into it a just a little too much.

But a pair of videos making the rounds in Japan has won a group of three keyboardists plenty of attention — and praise — for their covers of famous Yellow Magic Orchestra songs. Partly because they were performed guerrilla-style in electronics stores!

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Japanese dad learns sax in secret, surprises son with moving recital at his wedding【Video】

One of the many duties of parenthood is to watch and listen enthusiastically as one’s offspring perform in plays, concerts and recitals. We’re used to the image of proud parents, amazed and moved by what their children can achieve. But sometimes, that dynamic gets flipped on its head, like in this clever commercial by music school TOSANDO, which brings us the story of one father’s mission to surprise his son on his wedding day with a moving musical performance.

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Pikachu will hook you up with some free tunes with this cool-looking Pokémon music smartphone app

There’s a unique art to making video game background music. It has to be engaging enough to produce an emotional response, but not so much that it becomes a distraction from the gameplay. Each piece has to quickly establish its tone, but can’t be so simplistic that it becomes repetitive on the many occasions where the music loops around for a second play during the hero’s journey across the map or epic boss fight.

For years, the Pokémon franchise has been hitting the nail on the head with its soundtracks, and if that musical accompaniment adds a special something to your quest to catch ‘em all, why can’t it do the same to a late night of studying or your commute to work? So not only will a new app let you play Pokémon music on your smartphone, it’ll even give you a regular batch of free listens.

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Shawn Wasabi’s digital mash-up samples Pikachu, Final Fantasy, Perfume

Shawn Wasabi mashed up a list of his favorite songs and sound effects to create the original track “Marble Soda.” Wasabi uses a Midi Fighter by DJ Techtools to assign 153 different sounds used during the song. Among them are “Fushizen Na Girl” by Perfume, “PONPONPON” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, “Prelude” from Final Fantasy VII, and Pikachu’s iconic “Pika!”

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Live recording for Mario Kart 8 proves F-Zero’s soundtrack is still cool 25 years later【Video】

It’s been about a year since the release of Mario Kart 8, the latest installment of Nintendo’s popular all-star racing series. Well-received as the game has been, though, nearly 12 months on fickle gamers are no doubt starting to be tempted by newer titles from the Kyoto-based developer’s rivals.

That’s why Nintendo is getting ready to drop a new Mario Kart 8 DLC pack into the marketplace. Making a video game expansion doesn’t just involve a team of programmers and visual artists, but musicians too, as shown by this high-energy live performance of an awesome tune from Nintendo classic F-Zero.

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Smiles optional-New talent agency accepting applications for idols suffering emotional distress

It’s pretty widely accepted that in the Japanese pop idol world, legitimate musical talent takes a back seat to the ability to project an image. So while you might not need perfect pitch or flawless rhythm, if you want to be an idol, you will need to radiate a constantly upbeat aura, right?

Well, maybe not. A new idol talent agency has just opened its doors, and the company is specifically looking for performers with a gloomy outlook, and is now accepting applications, with no experience required.

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Get your geek on! Artwork for the Momoiro Clover Z/Dragon Ball CDs revealed

While Momoiro Clover Z’s transformation into Frieza clones earlier this month simply turned out to be an April Fool’s Day joke, their collaboration with Dragon Ball Z is the real deal! In fact, the group is responsible for the theme song for the new movie, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F. Which is pretty cool, and if you’re a fan of Momoiro Clover Z and Dragon Ball Z you’ll probably also love the covers for the movie’s maxi singles being released on April 29.

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Pint-sized string quartet Joyous String does an awesome Smooth Criminal

Tiny, adorable, and blessed with bags of musical talent – meet Joyous String, a four-kid string quartet with musical aptitude way beyond their years. They’ve been playing together since they were just four years old, and have progressed to the point where they can produce a flawless rendition of the Michael Jackson classic “Smooth Criminal” without even breaking a sweat. These are some seriously talented kids!

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I live in Animal Crossing – Get the music from Nintendo’s cutest village sim in your browser

If, like me, you spend the majority of your waking hours sitting in front of a computer screen, you probably have some kind of musical accompaniment to help keep the dark bunnies of insanity at bay. But it can be hard to find music that is both pleasant to listen to and not overly distracting while working, so you may find yourself spending more time choosing an audio track than getting any actual work done.

Thankfully, you can now get the music from Nintendo’s adorable community sim Animal Crossing right in your web browser as a free plugin for Google Chrome. And not only that, the tunes change depending on the time of day–just like in the game!

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Otaku ears-New line of earphones is designed specifically for listening to anime songs with

For anime music fans, the appeal of the songs is more than just their connection to the shows they serve as anthems for. Over the years, anime songs have evolved into a genre in and of themselves, often employing fast, even frantic tempos and an even greater proportion of young female vocalists and electronic sounds than Japanese pop music in general.

So now that there are certain baselines the anime music scene has established for itself, it’s time for the hardware end of the musical experience to catch up, which is the promise made by these new sets of earphones specifically designed for listening to anime songs with.

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J-pop unit Perfume’s innovative projection mapping at US performance creates worldwide buzz

Perfume, the three-member electro-pop group from Hiroshima, Japan, took to the stage for a special performance at the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. The annual event, held this year from March 13-22, always includes a unique lineup of musical artists, independent films, conference panels, and technological exhibitions, all carefully selected to showcase the highest levels of creativity in the current industry.

Even in that environment, Perfume’s musical and dance performance seems to have blown away the crowd with its ground-breaking use of projected visuals. Is their performance really happening in the physical world? Folks from around the world who’ve seen the video online say it’s enough to give them goosebumps!

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Six anime songs people are sick of hearing at karaoke, according to new poll

As much as I like singing karaoke, it’s probably for the best that I don’t get a chance to go very often. By my own estimation, there are really only about a half-dozen songs that I can sing passably well, which means that, by everyone else’s estimation, the number is probably closer to two.

It seems I’m not the only amateur vocalist with a limited set list, though, as evidenced by this list of anime songs people are sick of hearing at karaoke, with an overwhelming top pick that accounted for nearly half of all votes.

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Want to practice karaoke without anyone hearing you sing? This disturbing gadget is for you!

As fun and entertaining as a night of karaoke can be, it presents a major problem for many people. If you’re not used to it, singing in front of others can be embarrassing, even when the audience is made up of your close personal friends. Practicing at home can help you build confidence, but if you’ve got roommates or an apartment with paper-thin walls, that might not be an option, especially if you’re still at a level where you’re singing is less “sweet serenade” and more “public disturbance.”

Thankfully, there’s a solution that doesn’t involve calling a contractor and adding layer upon layer of sound-proofing to your bedroom walls. Instead, all you need is this noise-blocking microphone for solo karaoke practice.

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Think you could stay on key when this distractingly unique karaoke video actor pops up?

“Empty orchestra.” What a hauntingly beautiful pair of words, but most of us know it better as karaoke, the easiest form of entertainment on a night out with friends or co-workers.

Any seasoned karaoke veteran in Japan knows that the video that plays behind the words of the song are often the best part of the night. Sometimes the song you chose is accompanied by the band’s official music video or concert footage, but more often than not, you get the confusing, yet always entertaining, background karaoke video. These gems are always good for a laugh, however, in this case the video went from “entertaining” to “distracting” to “I can’t sing anymore I’m laughing so hard.” What is cracking up potential singers in Japan? Click on through to find out.

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Bottle-blowing meets the sounds of sushi in The Bottle Boys’ new ad for Kirin【Video】

The Bottle Boys are a five-piece band from Copenhagen, who shot to fame last year after performing ‘Billie Jean’ using nothing but (a large number of) beer bottles. And now they’ve been snapped up by Kirin Ichiban, in a slick production that sees them team up with Iron Chefs to record a track blending their musical bottle-playing with the sounds of sushi.

Join us after the jump to see how it sounds!

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Light-up Hikaru Skirt makes its Idol music video debut

The “wearable special effects” skirt project, “Hikaru Skirt,” made its big debut in the idol group Mōsō Collaboration’s newest music video, “Mahou no Juice” (lit. Magic Juice) on Sunday. The project’s website claims the skirt turns the “zettai ryōiki” (i.e. the “absolute territory” between where a girl’s skirt ends and her stockings begin) into “komorebi ryōiki,”or “territory where sunshine filters through the trees.” The members utilize the skirts’ different color options for each of their outfits.

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Kindergarten class plays Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 better than most adults ever could

Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 5 in D minor at a time of great tension in Soviet Russia. The looming threat of World War II was nothing compared to the Great Purge being conducted by Joseph Stalin in which 1,000 people were executed each day. Shostakovich too felt he was in the crosshairs for his previous “subversive” works.

And so it was something of a musical miracle that his Symphony No. 5 was unanimously well received by both the government and survivors of their brutality alike. Still today conductors and their orchestras struggle to properly capture all of the emotions such as irony, sympathy, and pride that Shostakovich may or may not have intentionally layered in this rich piece.

Taking a crack at it here are the kids of Isesaki Asuka Primary School’s kindergarten class.  To see whether they succeed is up to you, but I think we can all agree that they’re not just good for a kindergarten class – they’re just good.

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