music

Does Avril Lavigne’s Tokyo music video really have anything to do with Japan?

Does Avril Lavigne’s Tokyo music video really have anything to do with Japan?

The lack of both L and V sounds in Japan’s language hasn’t kept Canadian musician Avril Lavigne from achieving widespread popularity here. As a matter of fact, given the country’s affinity for female solo acts, and its decades-long ready acceptance of “girls’ rock” music, you could make the argument that Lavigne has an even broader fan base in Japan, or at least one that’s split more evenly across the gender line.

So when Lavigne recently revealed she’d filmed her latest music video in Japan, maybe it wasn’t so surprising, even if a few of her choices for representing Japan were.

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The pillows fans rejoice! You could win a contest to meet the band in Tokyo【Videos】

The pillows fans rejoice! You could win a contest to meet the band in Tokyo【Videos】

2014 marks 25 years as a band for the pillows. They are celebrating with a song entitled “Happy Birthday,” and also by announcing a cover and dance contest. For those with the misfortune of not knowing who the pillows are, they are a Japanese rock band whose style has changed over the last 25 years from pop to jazz experimentation to alternative rock.

Many of the band’s fans outside of Japan became acquainted with them through the six-episode animated series, FLCL, for which the pillows provided the music. The caffeinated, crunchy soundtrack is the perfect complement to the nonsensical but purely fun plot that includes a robot that emerges from a boy’s head wound, the spirit of a powerful pirate king and the sexy maniac who hunts him down riding a Vespa with an electric bass as a weapon.

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Japan Self-Defense Force’s elite Central Band performs Hatsune Miku song Senbonzakura

Japan Self-Defense Force’s elite Central Band performs Hatsune Miku song Senbonzakura

There are a number of active bands in Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), but at the top of them is the Central Band. In existence longer the GSDF itself, they are the go-to band in situations where it’s unacceptable to screw up, such as welcoming foreign dignitaries and ceremonies of the highest order.

Then there’s “Senbonzakura”. This song was produced by WhiteFlame (aka Kurousa-P) and utilizes the artificial vocal talents of vocaloid Hatsune Miku. After its upload to video hosting site Niconico Douga in 2011, it became a modern classic of the vocaloid genre spawning several remixes and covers online and in karaoke rooms.

So what happens when the rigid discipline and tradition of the GSDF Central Band meets the wild pop of Senbonzakura? Let’s take a listen!

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Final Fantasy VII concert to be held in Tokyo this summer (yes, they’ll play One-Winged Angel)

Final Fantasy VII concert to be held in Tokyo this summer (yes, they’ll play One-Winged Angel)

When Final Fantasy VII was first released in 1997, gamers around the world emotionally connected with it in a way that had never been seen before. Years later, the game still occupies a special place in many people’s hearts, with many clamoring for developer Square Enix to release a version with graphics updated to today’s standards.

But even as so may ask for a new edition of the game that looks better, you won’t find anyone asking for one that sounds better, as the role-playing classic’s soundtrack is one of the most universally-loved musical collections to ever come out of the medium. As testament to its lasting appeal, a Final Fantasy VII symphony concert will be held in Tokyo this summer.

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Overseas reaction to Japanese My Little Pony dub is a little odd to Japanese people

Overseas reaction to Japanese My Little Pony dub is a little odd to Japanese people

The animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has quickly become something of a cultural phenomenon in North America, spawning legions of hardcore fans far removed from its intended demographic of young girls.

In Japan too the show has its share of followers, although they’re not quite as passionate. So when a Japanese dubbed version of the show’s song “This Day Aria” was posted on YouTube and reviews from other countries came in calling it “magnificent” and “incredible beyond words”, Japanese netizen reaction could perhaps be summed up as “Oh? We don’t get it, but thanks.”

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Cute and talented Taiwanese singer is actually a boy, Netizens no longer find this shocking

Cute and talented Taiwanese singer is actually a boy, Netizens no longer find this shocking

The most popular images on the ‘Net are probably cats and cute girls, and the latest lovely ‘lady’ to draw the appreciative gaze of netizens is Lao Wan, the lead vocalist of a Taiwanese band called Green! Eyes. But of course, nothing is ever quite as it seems. Prepare to leave your gender preconceptions at the door.

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Lady Gaga goes gaga for Hatsune Miku, makes virtual idol her opening act

Lady Gaga goes gaga for Hatsune Miku, makes virtual idol her opening act

With Lady Gaga’s rehabilitation from hip surgery apparently having progressed enough that the pop star is ready to contend with a grueling performance schedule, she’s about to kick off a world tour celebrating her third album. But with millions of eyes on Gaga, she needs an opening act with a fan base large enough to do justice to the scale and importance of the six-month event, dubbed ArtRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball.

Fittingly for a singer who’s made a name for herself with her provocative stances on image, perception, and reality, before Gaga takes the stage, concert goers will be entertained by a vocalist who doesn’t even exist in three-dimensional space: virtual idol Hatsune Miku.

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Sex doll idol singer’s public debut draws a shocking yet sane number of fans

Sex doll idol singer’s public debut draws a shocking yet sane number of fans

Some say that pop idols in Japan aren’t so much born as they are manufactured. A skilled producer can carefully tailor almost every aspect of his rising star’s appearance and public persona by tightly controlling how she’s presented in the mass media, which generally has a cozy, cooperative nature with recording companies.

If you’re feeling cynical enough, you might even ask what the point is in even working with a human being, if all of the individual’s uniqueness first has to be washed away in order to produce a blank slate for the producer to work with. It’s a question that, apparently, executives at record company Pony Canyon couldn’t come up with an answer to, as suggested by its newest idol, a sex doll, and the event it held for fans to come and meet her face-to-face.

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Amazing Lego artist spends six months bringing Hatsune Miku into the physical world

Amazing Lego artist spends six months bringing Hatsune Miku into the physical world

As so much of video game and animation character design shifts from sketching on a piece of paper to modeling on a computer, I’ve often wondered about the differences in the two skill sets. Not long ago, designing a character was about imagining how to express the three-dimensional human form using lines on a flat surface, but now, the arguably more valuable skill is being able to break that form down into minute building blocks, then render and reassemble them digitally.

The 3-D graphic method is a lot closer to building something out of blocks than drawing a portrait, so it’s actually quite fitting that one Lego enthusiast decided to use Japan’s favorite digital diva, Hatsune Miku, as his muse in making a life-size recreation of the virtual idol.

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Touching commercial pulls off a hat-trick to hit us right in the feels once again

Touching commercial pulls off a hat-trick to hit us right in the feels once again

We should probably start a new series here at RocketNews24 featuring “commercials that are bound to make you dissolve in a puddle of tears unless you’re actually an android in disguise.” In addition to Intel Japan and a Thai insurance company’s advertisements earlier this year, these tear-jerking commercials have made us break down sobbing for a third time with a new entry by music company Tosando about a father’s very special message to his daughter on her wedding day. Whether you’re a classical music buff or not, be ready with a box of tissues nearby before watching it – you’re guaranteed to let out a few sniffles at the very least.

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Six ways science-minded and art-minded Japanese people see the world differently

Six ways science-minded and art-minded Japanese people see the world differently

Just as you can broadly divide academic subjects into arts and sciences, in Japan people are often referred to as being “science-type” or “art-type,” with the first describing someone who holds everything up to the light of logic, and the latter for someone who applies more romantic standards.

Recently, Japanese Twitter users have been sharing their theories on the way this difference in fundamental mentality can affect a person’s attitude and feelings about such a wide range of topics such as not being too busy to see their dating partners, what happens when snow melts, or even their reactions to famous anime movie lines.

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BABYMETAL invasion of the West marches on, everyone welcomes new kawaii overlords【VIDEOS】

BABYMETAL invasion of the West marches on, everyone welcomes new kawaii overlords【VIDEOS】

It’s been less than a year since we interviewed BABYMETAL and prophesied their coming domination of the globe, and in that time they’ve released a new, full-length album, racked up over five million views on one video alone, and made plans to invade England. While the UK probably isn’t the best target for a military attack–we hear they get pretty grumpy and call the RAF on you–the country seems particularly susceptible to cultural aggressions, making the group’s British debut at Sonisphere Festival UK the perfect opening offensive!

But the group’s popularity isn’t limited to the metal community. They’ve gotten attention from major media outlets around the world–it’s only a matter of time before we see the girls jumping around on Oprah’s coach, declaring their love for chocolate.

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Up-and-coming band combines traditional Japanese instruments with pop metal and awesomeness

Up-and-coming band combines traditional Japanese instruments with pop metal and awesomeness

These tattooed badasses are not, in fact, extras from that bafflingly misguided 47 Ronin movie. They’re the members of the newly-signed Wagakki Band, which combines the chunky guitar chords and shredding of pop metal with traditional Japanese instruments for a totally awesome sound.

While the name Wagakki Band (Literally, “Traditional Japanese Instrument Band”) isn’t going to win any awards for creativity, the group’s head banging videos are a spectacle to behold; Sure to please fans of J-Pop, metal and old-timey Japanese imagery at once.

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I need gum, milk, and a verse of “Let It Go”: Special karaoke convenience store to open

I need gum, milk, and a verse of “Let It Go”: Special karaoke convenience store to open

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been buying beer, bread, or ice-cream at my local conbini and thought to myself, “If only I could scream a few lines of verse into a microphone without having to leave the building.” In the past, the closest I could ever get to combining convenience store shopping with singing was choosing karaoke booths located immediately next door to a 7-Eleven, but now all that is about to change.

In a special collaboration between Japan’s third-largest convenience store chain FamilyMart and nationwide operator Karaoke Club DAM, a one-of-a-kind conbini x karoke parlour will open its doors on April 17 in Tokyo.

Yes, thanks to Japan you can now shop and sing all in the same place.

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You ain’t seen North Korean calisthenics ’til you’ve seen it done to Final Fantasy IV boss music

You ain’t seen North Korean calisthenics ’til you’ve seen it done to Final Fantasy IV boss music

Every once in a while we experience pleasant beauty of synchronicity in life, whether it’s listening to Pink Flyod’s Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of OZ or just listening to The Police’s Synchronicity.

Another such case is the uncannily fitting combination of a North Korean calisthenics video for children with the background music to a Final Fantasy IV boss battle. A video of it was posted on YouTube quite a while ago, but it’s worth revisiting again and again.

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Want to play piano or guitar by ear? There’s an app for that too and we tried it out

Want to play piano or guitar by ear? There’s an app for that too and we tried it out

Playing by ear is truly an enviable skill. To be able to just hear something then play it yourself is almost like a super-power to many a musical layman. With enough time and practice I could probably develop such an ability too, but come on. I got too many ice cream and animal dating games to write about already.

So I rely on computers to do it for me. There are a variety of software applications on desktop computers that can take a song and at least attempt to break it down into its components, but they can be rather complicated and difficult to use. Now Casio has come out with an iOS app called Chordana Viewer that can reverse engineer songs right on your Apple device for piano or guitar.

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Japanese violinist whose face and music are equally beautiful causes a stir online

Japanese violinist whose face and music are equally beautiful causes a stir online

Meet Machi Okabe, the gorgeous violinist whose music is just as beautiful as her face (or is it the other way around?). Her exceptional musical talents combined with her breathtaking beauty have been attracting a lot of attention from netizens around the world this week.

Watch the following videos to see for yourself what’s everyone’s been talking about!

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New music video from World Order helps you have a nice day, see the sights in Akihabara

New music video from World Order helps you have a nice day, see the sights in Akihabara

Japan has long been a hotbed of musical experimentation, with everything for J-pop metal to folk music to bizarre rap available to anyone willing to look. Some experiments have worked out better than others, but one of our favorite success stories is the appropriately named Genki Sudo and his music/dance group World Order. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve surely seen the videos of sexy young men dancing like robots through the streets of cities around the world.

This time, Genki and the gang are back in Tokyo–Akihabara, to be precise–and they’re not alone, thanks to a special guest appearance by…AKB48?! Check the madness out below!

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

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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Frozen’s “Let It Go” sounds just as impressive sung in Japanese 【Video】

Frozen’s “Let It Go” sounds just as impressive sung in Japanese 【Video】

I’ve honestly never been much of a Disney fan (anyone else just want to punch Mickey in the face? Just me, eh?), but after having passively listened to Frozen‘s “Let It Go” as my wife played it a good 30 or 40 times over the last few months, I have to admit, it’s a superb song.

The movie finally released here last Friday as Ana and the Snow Queen (didn’t I tell you Japan was always late with movie releases!?) in 2-D and 3-D, with both dubbed Japanese and subtitled versions available. Something of a purist, I insisted on watching the film in its original English if I was to see it at all, but having just caught the Japanese version of “Let It Go”, it almost makes me want to watch the film in its translated version too.

Check out the Japanese version of arguably one of Disney’s best tracks ever after the jump.

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