Keisuke Kuwata – “君にサヨナラを”: So, Southern All Stars are apparently famous in Japan. They pretty much boast a top-notch J-Pop resume. Not to mention they’ve been a fixture in Japan’s music scene since the late 70s. One member of the steadfast Southern All Stars, Keisuke Kuwata, recently released a single and will be on the 12/11 edition of Music Station (which I will miss. It’s the holidays people, I’ve got to make the rounds!)
That single, “君にサヨナラを,” brings to mind old-timey lounge singers, mostly because this song sounds ripped from 1950’s Las Vegas. Kuwata summons all sorts of cheesy instruments (check the trumpet breakdown) to serve as his orchestra pit as he vocally sways with the partially bossa-nova background. Despite sounding like something that could soundtrack a retirement home dinner, “君にサヨナラを” succeeds thanks to Kuwata’s vocals – without wailing one word of English, he conveys a sense of universal wistfulness that makes the slow-dance backdrop a tinge more melancholic. The Christmas tree prominently featured in the video reveals this might be a holiday single, but it’s the type of track made for the lonely who have no choice but to soldier on through all the holiday cheer.
Plus, dude reminds me of the guy from Up.
(Watch the video here)
スノープリンス合唱団 – “スノープリンス”: I guess this week’s episode is loaded up with Christmas J-Pop…makes me feel a little better for skipping over it. Whereas Kuwata’s song hid a nice layer of longing beneath the schmaltz, this track is nothing but melted down candy cane and gingerbread houses. To be fair the singer appears to be a kid, and this whole track looks like a tie-in with a movie he’s in. So I’ll avoid saying much about this song, as he probably had no say in whether he had to do this or not. I do urge you to watch the video – there is a really cute dog in it.
Ayumi Hamasaki – “You Were…”: Fun fact for the day: the “Empress of Pop” Hamasaki wrote a song called “Poker Face” more than a decade before a certain Kermit-The-Frog dress wearing pop artist did. But on to the present! “You Were…” is a piano-driven Mariah-aping ballad that features a completely extravagant guitar solo and some purdy singing from Hamasaki. I’m going to play the “J-Pop Ballad Card” and just leave it at that.
(Listen to the song here)
Noriyuki Makihara – “世界に一つだけの花”: Geez, I visit this guy’s website for a few seconds and I think Music Station might be getting a more adventerous with what they play. Alas, those sweet electronic noises are nothing but background noise, as this is what he’ll perform tonight. It’s not even new!
Oh, and this guy is back, with a song that sounds a lot like his last hit.
Winner of the Week – Keisuke Kuwata by a whole lot, go listen to it!lad