I know all of you don’t come on this blog to read my opinions (well, with the notable exceptions of SHINee super fans that manage to go out of their way to be offended by my opinions but that’s another story altogether) but I’m a fan of all types of music; anything from K-pop to classical to European techno. After feeling oversaturated on all the new K-pop that is being released, I’ve found a haven in listening to a lot of J-pop. So without further ado, here is the list of my top 9 J-pop songs of the recent and not-so-recent past (with links to the mp3’s for you who want em)
(I purposely avoided listing incredibly popular singers like BoA, Koda Kumi, DBSK, Arashi, KAT-TUN and others to make room for those who may be less popular but just as deserving.)
9. SOULHEAD – Whachagonado? (MP3)
SOULHEAD is a group consisting of real sisters Yoshika and Tsugumi. Their style is hip-hop/contemporary, their music is generally meh but their voices are undeniable.
8. Tommy Heavenly6 – GIMMIE ALL OF YOUR LOVE (MP3)
Tommy Heavenly6 is one of two separate personas of The Brilliant Green’s Tomoko Kawase. Unlike Tommy February6, who is sweetness & deviousness personified, Heavenly6’s sound is more Avril Lavigne pop punk rock.
Fun fact: Tomoko Kawase has her own Blythe doll (like Barbie, only Japanese and better dressed)
7. M-Flo Feat. Emyli – Dopamine (MP3)
The amount of love I have for M-Flo rivals the heat of a thousand suns. They’ve worked with every noun in Japanese music and their awesomeness is only transcended by their oddness. From never seeing Verbal’s eyes ever to DJ Taku’s weird yet endearing mannerisms (DJ-ing a girl’s ass in the “Summer time Love” music video), M-Flo has cemented their place in J-pop history.
Fun Fact: Verbal is Korean-Japanese (Born in Japan, but is a Korean by blood) In many of his songs, he throws in random Korean.
6. Dragon Ash – Shizukana Hibino Kaidanwo (Climb the Stairs of Quiet Days) (MP3)
Dragon Ash are hip-hop/punk pioneers in Japan. This song was made popular as the ending song in the movie “Battle Royale” If you’ve seen the movie, you’d know that this song expresses the melancholy ending of the movie.
5. High and Mighty Color – Enrai~ Tooku ni Aru Akari (Distant Thunder~ A Light in the Distance) (MP3)
I know only three things about HMC. 1. They are a punk rock band lead by a girl. 2. They are awesome and 3. You must give them all of your money RIGHT NOW so they can continue doing what they do.
4. CHEMISTRY Feat. Crystal Kay – Two as One (MP3)
Consisting of two sexy 31 year olds, Yoshikuni Dōchin and Kaname Kawabata’s music continues to bring happiness and joy into sadness years and years after the song’s release. This song in particular, with Korean-Japanese-American Crystal Kay, is both lighthearted yet hints to the incredibly talented vocals of both members of Chemistry.
3. Heartsdales Feat. Soul’d Out – CANDY POP (MP3)
Rum and Jewels are Japanese-American sisters who uses their New York background for maximum benefit in their hip-hop/pop sound. This is the song that influenced me to create this list. Many of their songs are produced by Verbal of M-flo and their sound evokes old school nostalgia and happy high school memories. (For those currently in high school, happy elementary school memories?) Soul’d Out, who is featured in this song, consists of Main MC -Diggo MO, Beatbox and MC – Bro.Hi and DJ Shinnosuke (aka. awkwardest DJ to ever live and future husband number 2 after Verbal from M-Flo.)
2. BoA Feat. Crystal Kay, Verbal of M-Flo – UNIVERSE (MP3)
OK, I said I wouldn’t be putting BoA on this list but I justify the inclusion of this song on the list because it consists the best J-pop has to offer. For me, a great J-pop song consists of 4 things. 1. A beat and or lyrics by M-flo, 2. Broken English delivered with swagger, 3. Crystal Kay in a featuring (not main) role and 4. a “WTF did I just listen to” response after the first listen through. This song has all four.
1. Amuro Namie – Baby Don’t Cry (MP3)
Okay, I lied again. J-pop stars don’t get any bigger than Amuro Namie. However, this song is almost perfect in it’s tranquility. Most of Amuro Namie’s music is hindered by her average vocals but covered by a fast tempo and auto tune. “Baby Don’t Cry” is an Amuro Namie anomaly in that it is not a ballad or a dance track. I’m having a hard time categorizing what exactly it is about this song that I love, but every syllable uttered brings a sense of calm.