China might have leap-frogged Japan economically this week, but the Land Of The Rising Sun remains number one when it comes to pumping out sickeningly cute videos. Move over AKB48, Tomato-Chan trumps you big time. Speaking of…
AKB48 “Heavy Rotation”
I’ve already explored the creepier aspects of “Heavy Rotation,” so how about we drop the sexual discussion and talk about some mindless pop? AKB48’s latest pretty much defines the term, a loop of adolescent girls shouting over candy-apple sweet music to the point of inducing a headache. They even jammed some goofy-ass guitar screeches in there for some unknown reason. It’s not a terrible song…it’s at least catchy…but also the type of song where the dance routines get drawn up alongside the actual tune. “Heavy Rotation” sounds like how I imagine most people stereotype J-Pop.
Traditional Japanese instruments sometimes scare me. Putting them into a song can work, but often times they either a.) come off as a cheesy and obvious way of being “Asian” or b.) an attempt to make the song in question stand out because nothing else is going for it. So color me surprised that HY’s latest single boasts a shamisen/sanshin (hedging my bets here) and taiko drums (at least in the live version above), and doesn’t suck. It’s actually pretty great! This song is all about sparseness, these potentially novelty instruments used sparingly and wisely. They never become the focus – which is great because that frees up Izumi Nakasone’s powerful voice to grab the spotlight. It’s a gorgeous but flawed instrument…catch the way it cracks just like Joanna Newsom’ voice does when she goes for the higher notes. Free from cluttered instrumentation, she takes control of the song and makes it a minimal beauty. The only knock I have against HY is their decision to bring in an English choir, who drop a hippie-dippy “peace on Earth” verse that seems out of place. Other than that, mesmerizing.
Kanjani Eight “LIFE ～目の前の向こうへ～”
I could skip this song, citing the piss-poor audio quality of the above clip. Yet even listening to a version of this track most likely recorded off a car radio onto a tape recorder, I hear everything I need to. Just forget the words “Kanjani Eight” whatever that is and replace them with “Johnny’s Pop Maker Machine.” This long-titled slab of weenie pop could only really shine during commercial breaks on QVC or soundtracking the end of a particularly limp cartoon. AKB48 may not be great, but they at least make memorable stuff. The hook for this boy band is they hail from the Kansai region, meaning they should sound “louder” and “funny.” Fire whoever taught them how to be those things. Kanjani Eight could be any other Johnny’s outfit except any other Johnny’s outfit wouldn’t be saddled with this dud. Geez, the terrible sound above is the best thing going for this…
Kii Kitano “花束”
While some songs can spur one to nearly froth at the mouth (above), some songs just…are. Kii Kitano’s latest sort of just exists, trying really hard to sparkle brightly but ultimately ending up a completely pleasant pop song. It’s not even boring – just, nondescript.
This reminds me of Dido with karaoke effects. Just gonna’ leave it at that.
Errrrr, can’t find this one anywhere. Help a dude out?
Winner Of The Week – HY, and it’s not even close. Heck, I think I like the HY song more than I like Tomato-Chan, and I flippin’ like Tomato-Chan.