The fine folks at the Music Station website did something weird this week – they didn’t write what songs this week’s artists would be performing on the show. I usually rely on that info to listen to the songs in advance…but this week, I’m basically just doing some authentic journalistic work (checking websites) to find the artist’s latest single and assuming that’s what they will be performing. I pray this isn’t the program’s long term approach.
Also, based on my impeccable research, this week’s show has some artists performing songs already done on Music Station. Hence the terrible image joke above. Moving on!
aiko ” 戻れない明日” – Oh my god, that opening piano/organ line. That’s such an obvious rip-off of that one old song. But I can’t remember which song? You know, the one that is about having a friend? Or carrying on? But not “Carry On My Wayward Son?” This is really bugging me. Way more than this straightforward piano-driven ballad. That’s completely forgettable. But what song is aiko cribbing from??? Help world?
Ai Otsuka “Lucky Star” – This song functioned as Fuji TV’s official Winter Olympics coverage theme, and now Ai Otsuka sees fit to release it as a single. “Lucky Star” already captured the coveted “Best of the Week” award round these parts once before, and since the upcoming single version sounds exactly the same it stands as a pretty legit contender to take it this week. A month since I first heard “Lucky Star,” Otsuka’s latest still holds up, it’s use of 8-bit squelches and disco-tronics to spice up a peppy slab of pop one of the smartest mainstream Japanese music moves of the year. The song even comes with a cool video now! Do I sense our first two time winner?
NEWS “Sakura Girl” – The other song already featured on this feature, last time we rolled this out for all you fact-heads. I’ll pretty much restate what I said before…this song sounds like every other Jonny’s joint. I don’t like it. A few more listens through…I’m so thorough folks…and I’ll admit to thinking some isolated elements of “Sakura Girl” could be great in a more adventurous tune…mainly the intro, which sounds a bit better than I remember. Alas, it’s stuck with NEWS and unless they trot this out for a third time, will not be heard about again ’round these parts.
Ayumi Hamasaki “Microphone” – I only knew Ayumi Hamasaki for her ballad work, one so-so and the other (titled, er, “Ballad”) as being surprisingly great. “Microphone” finds the singer shifting away from her latest slow movers in favor of something a little faster and rough around the edges. How exactly does she do that? By opening the song up with some Phantom Of The Opera cheese-organ before dumping a “hard rock” guitar onto the song that sounds vaguely like what Pantera contributed to that one episode of Spongebob Squarepants. The only possible explanation for this stylistic shift…it’s the first single released from her Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus album, which I’m sure will turn out slightly worse than the Rolling Stones’ big top venture…is to re-brand Hamasaki to the crowd who already pre-ordered tickets for Alice In Wonderland because they love Tim Burton, not Disney.
That would be find and good if the song didn’t sabotage every good quality Hamasaki had going for her. Her recent double-ballad single proved one thing – girl can sing very, very well, even if she isn’t always featured in a good song. “Microphone” offers her no opportunity to bust out those pipes, placing all the emphasis on the rejected rock opera sound. I pondered about Perfume’s latest single in terms of “selling out” earlier in the week, but “Microphone” offers up a way more glaring example of commercial interest overriding whatever artistic qualities were brought to the table in the first place. At least give us some nice sounds when trying to make an extra buck.
V6 – So…Jonny’s band V6 (promising start!) has a new album out soon. That much I know. What I don’t know…what song will appear on Music Station. Thanks a lot people at the official Music Station website for leaving me in the dark. The band is offering up samples of every song off of their new album on their website, along with an interesting, buzzing instrumental on the main page (which, I hate to admit, actually makes me want to hear what V6 might be up to). Go there to listen to it, but you have to endure a really tedious intro. Just take me to the site and leave the Flash out of this!
Porno Graffitti “瞳の奥をのぞかせて” – With a name like that, I expected something I bit more…heavy? Menacing? Naughty? Porno Graffitti instead give us a fluffy J-Pop song crossed with Fiddler On The Roof. The prevalent violin manages to buck the usual “rock band using classical instrument” cliche by allowing the strings to slice through the song – it stands out as the most interesting feature of “瞳の奥をのぞかせて.” The rest of Porno Graffitti’s sorts of just glides along, the guitars lazily bobbing along. The violin adds some aggression, even anguish, to the song. Everything else sounds like easy listening radio fodder.
Winner Of The Week – “Lucky Star,” which has now won this award twice. Though this week was such a disaster…on so many levels…it’s sorta like Russia winning all those Gold Medals in the Olympics because the U.S. boycotted them. DON’T DO THIS AGAIN MUSIC STATION PLEASE.