I’m never ever home for Music Station, making my original intent of liveblogging the show seem like a total joke at this point. That means it’s time for a rebranding! From now until I stop being remotely social, I’ll be ignoring the actual Music Station program in favor of listening to the tracks being performed that week. This will still allow for a look at the most popular music in Japan, while freeing me from having to make excuses every week. Let’s get things rolling on this refreshing new feature, shall we?
Kaela Kimura “Real Life Real Heart” – Kaela Kimura’s been on Music Station a ton recently, promoting her just-released greatest hits album. I gushed about her last appearance on the show a scant two weeks ago, so I went into “Real Life Real Heart” (originally released in 2005) with high expectations. Which was probably really unfair, seeing as “You Bet!” came out a lot further down the line in her career. “Real Life Real Heart” doesn’t take any risks, unlike “You Bet!,” instead opting to ride out some Weezer-lite backing music. What does stand out here as opposed to her latest is Kimura’s voice. It is given more of a chance to stand out on “Real Life Real Heart,” and she sounds damn good. She elevates it from “meh” to “solid” on the strength of her vocal cords alone. Kimura’s come a long way since, but it’s nice to know she had it in her from the start.
清水翔太×加藤ミリヤ “LOVE FOREVER” – Give credit where credit is due: I don’t know a single word the duo behind “LOVE FOREVER” sings, but dear lord do they manage to make it clear this songs about cuddly, exists-only-in-movies-and-pop romance. This songs incredibly clingy, every sonic element jammed together. And life the most elaborate Valentine’s gift, “LOVE FOREVER” goes way too far. Dance beat, capital E emotional singing, Euro synths AND violins? Geez, just give me a gift card. There is a decent R&B song trapped somewhere in this Hallmark creep, but it won’t be clawing it’s way out of this sickly sweet song.
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra “流星とバラード” – Kay, gonna be completely honest…ska is one of those genres I know next to nothing about. This song’s unabashedly ska (peep the band name), so I could be really wrong here, but this track’s kinda cool in a “I could chill out to this” sort of way. It moves at the speed of ska I’m (vaguely) familiar with, but the horns and vocals tone it down so the whole affair sounds way more relaxed. I don’t see how you could skank to this, which is a good thing in my book. Even the glaringly goofy parts (keyboard solo, ever present saxophone cheese) can’t overshadow the laid back feel of this song. I have no idea how to evaluate ska…but I like this for what it is!
TOKIO “Advance” – Calling a mulligan here…I can’t find a decent quality version of this song. There is this version, but I am not writing about a Jonny’s band that sounds like Psychedelic Horseshit. If you can point me towards a better recording, please help me. Until then…no comment.
flumpool “残像” – A honkin’ big slice of ballad right here. I’ve made my stance on these things clear…they all sound the same to my Japanese-less ears. Special note on the video though – here we get to watch flumpool’s lead singer slump around in an empty room staring at a wall covered in pictures of (presumably) an ex. He just stares at them and looks all questioning and longingly at them as he buries his face into his hands. He also walks on the beach with his bandmates, I guess to get him out of the house. This guy really digs “LOVE FOREVER.” And he also texted his ex ten times a day.
Yuzo “桜会(さくらえ)” – Yuzo’s latest starts off trying to pioneer a new genre; Pilgrim Pop. It sounds like something appropriate for a picnic at Plymouth Rock. The band quickly abandons this approach in favor of a more streamlined folk-pop jive. “桜会(さくらえ)” sounds pleasant enough (gotta give props to a nice chorus) but nothing memorable outside of the tri-corner hat feel lurking in the shadows.
Winner Of The Week – I can’t give this to Kaela Kimura for a five-year-old song, so this week’s prize-free honor goes to Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. Never thought a ska song would score this honor…what next, the Saints in the Super Bowl?