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J-pop music

Nov 30, 2014 by Mia Uchida 0

I know the name really isn’t much, but BUMP OF CHICKEN is back.  Debuting in 1994 and making their break in 2001 with their third single “天体観測" (Tentai Kansoku= Sky watching), BUMP (short) has been a consistent favorite of mine.  They’ve sorta been laying low for a while there though, after releasing their 2010 album “Cosmonaut”.  I mean, the guys have to be in their thirties now.  I figured they were tapped, especially since they even put out their DISCOGRAPHIES in July 2013.  

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Lets give some perspective.  I’m 23 years old now, and BUMP always put out THE middle school dance song, or bunkasai (field day festival) song for me in my Japanese school throughout chuugaku and koukou (middle and high school).  BUMP was one of the original pop rock bands lined up with Asian Kung-Fu Generation and the likes.  I want you to think a slightly more indie version of Blink 182.  We’re talking old school Radwimps, and the boy version of Shishamo

Now in the iTunes charts for #1 and #2, is “パレード" (Parade) and "ファイター" (Fighter).  "Fighter" will be the theme song for the manga series "3月のライオン"(Lions of March) anime opening song.  I’ll go into "3月のライオン"(Lions of March)  in another blogpost.  

Here’s a reel: 

As far as “Parade" goes, it’s sort of a Takako Minekawa-inspired cardio workout song.  The promotion video puts Final Fantasy to shame, with its terrifying graphics and the end of the world, undead army exploding thing, because of a huge ball of steel.  But of course, BUMP OF CHICKEN continues to rock on through all the terror nearby. 

Now available only in iTunes Japan, we’ve got BUMP OF CHICKEN’s “Fighter” and “Parade”.   iTunes Japan gift cards is available through JapanCodeSupply

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Nov 28, 2014 by Mia Uchida 0

Chelsy (チェルシー)is a 3 piece all-girls band made up of Mio (guitar and vocals), Shizuka (bass) and Ami (drums).  They were first signed by Honey Bee Studio, a tiny record label that really only has 2 other bands to their name (Chu’s Day and Bla’la’kiss).  For just 3 relatively small girls (not to be judgmental), they sound surprisingly very full.  The average pop rock band has 5 band members, and the Japanese music industry is constantly looking for eye candy, rather than real talent (take L’arc~en~Ciel, for instance.  A throwback, but aside from Tetsu, not much going on there).  

In the case of Chelsy, their music actually speaks for themselves.  The drums are tight, the harmonies are appropriate (not overbearing), and Chelsy can really get a good live set going on.  Take a look at their demo from 2012: 

Below is Chelsy’s most recent music video from Sony Music: 

Do you notice something…slightly non-human?  Like, prominent fake horns?  That’s right- their new single "I will" was picked for the soundtrack of the anime アオハライド (Aoharaido: find the original manga on iTunes here).  Despite Aoharaido having no supernatural element to its plot, Chelsy has struck a chord with the otakus of Japan.  Now you’ll only see the 3 girls repping those horns.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Any publicity is good publicity, and it’s a huge step up to get Sony backing you up as a band.  It’s such a shame though, when you know that shock value and marketing schemes trump artistry.  Chelsy’s promoters really took it to the next level, when they saw them only as a product.  

I mean, which do you prefer? 

This: image

Or this: 

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The great news is that Chelsy’s band members have more bite in them than you see above.  Take Ami for instance.  With her youtube channel (that is seemingly completely separate from the Chelsy youtube channel, you can see her rocking some bad ass drum covers, of artists like UVERworld:

And lets be honest.  The dirty old man in me says that the more female drummers who figure out creative ways to drum wearing skirts, the better.  

It’s really hard to say whether or not Ami is actually making an effort to steer away from Chelsy and the horns.  You’d kind of think twice about commenting on how Ami has a greater cause than Chelsy, when you see this vlogpost: 

Cute girl and doraemon?  I approve! 

Anyways, give Chelsy a try!  You can find them on iTunes Japan, and iTunes Japan gift cards is available through JapanCodeSupply

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Nov 20, 2014 by Mia Uchida 0

Meet MACO: 
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Now read some current events. If you’re reading any of the music industry-related headlines in North America, you couldn’t have possibly missed this one: 

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…which is in response to all of this: 

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Taylor Swift has always been a controversial figure in the music industry.  For one thing, her parents are enormous sponsors to her career, what with her grandfather from her mother’s side being an oilman, and her father being a wealth management advisor and senior vice president at Merrill Lynch.  Furthermore, it’s never really clear whether or not Swift writes her own music.  I mean, it’s no big secret that her songs seem to beinspired by real-life events ("Dear John" being an ode to ex John Mayer and "Forever and Always" about another ex Joe Jonas).  But all those catchy tunes?  Can one 24-year old girl really claim all the rights? 

Anyways, her recent tiff with Spotify is striking a chord with listeners and musicians all around the world: according to Swift and her label Big Machine, the popular streaming app doesn’t pay her what is rightfully hers.

Yet Swift didn’t really mind it when MACO, the Japanese 23-year old singer songwriter took the liberty of translating the lyrics of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and made a whole youtube thing out of it: 

She’s been doing translation covers of other big name American artists too, like Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Ariana Grande’s “The Way”: 

MACO, a Hakodate (Hokkaido) native, has been writing songs since the age of 17.  It wasn’t until 2013 that she was recognized by her current label ONEPEACE, who also manages Matt Cab and tofubeats.  Her videos have something like 6 billion views onyoutube.  

MACO’s released 2 albums (this will soon be 3, because her upcoming album 23 Pluswill be released on November 26th) and 1 single.  Both 22 and 23 feature Matt Cab.  

In the later half of 2014, MACO had the most downloaded singles:

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We should be expecting a lot from her in the near future.  You can find her in the links above on iTunes Japan, and iTunes Japan gift cards is available through JapanCodeSupply.  If you don’t want a full album, but a few songs stuck with you, then purchase your recochoku credits with JapanCodeSupply!  Remember: Taylor Swift wants you to support artists, because art is rare.  

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