Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Promo: Daichi Miura

|Official Site|

From a young boy in a group called Folder to becoming "Japan's Smallest Soulman", Daichi Miura has a strong standing in Japanese R&B to the point he's been compared to the late, great Michael Jackson. Recently, he has had a very successful tour and released a new single, Turn Off the Light. Today (or yesterday in Japan time), he released a new album featuring his last single, "Lullaby", and "The Answer".

Despite being part of the major label Avex, I feel that Daichi is an underappreciated talent. Not only does he possesses an amazing vocal range worthy of praise, but he can move effortlessly on the floor. The man writes his own lyrics and constructs his own choreography for Christ's sake! He also has the capability to crossover to the U.S., which has been mentioned countless times here. Never giving his fans anything less than perfection, Daichi continues growing as an artist and perform while staying humble with his accomplishments and positive commentary.

Here's an awesome compilation of his PVs.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"DAYBREAK" by exist†trace
I wanted to put this in the last post, but I already had my 5. So, here are the flawless rocker girls of visual kei. It's great to see that they're growing and expanding to different aspects of their sound. The video is purely amazing especially the guitar duet. Kinda orgasmic on some levels. I'm really looking forward to listening to the single this week. Keep it rockin', ladies!

"Otoshiana no Soko wa Konna Sekai" by Matenrou Opera
These guys have been a little quiet to me and watching/listening to this PV is refreshing. They seem a little darker and their signature style is maturing very well. I'm really liking their new style and the PV isn't that bad. Congratulations, guys, on making a successful debut in the U.S..

"Doki Doki Morning" by BabyMetal
A good friend showed me this video. Imagine deathgaze music with AKB48 singing. That's BabyMetal sound! It's interesting and almost...enjoyable to listen to. It's definitely interesting to watch, because it's very different from anything I've heard. Thanks, Japan, for bringing two opposing worlds together.

"Tick Tack" by U-KISS
After answering a question about kpop groups remaking their songs in Japanese, I was pleased to see that U-KISS had a brand new song for Japan. Even better it's a good song! This isn't the full music video, but I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing the full version. The choreography is decent, the PV sticks with their Korean video imagery, and the song has a lot of good vocal points to it.

"Get Down" by SUNZOO
I'm surprised no one told me about this project. I thought Clover was a winning rap trio especially with the great Gil Me. Now I have SUNZOO to look forward too! We have Korean rap royalty and a Filipino talent that blend well together to make something amazing. So, hurry up, Tiger JK, and release an album for us! Oh yeah, there's another version of this video too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tae Yang's "I Need a Girl" vs. Jay Park's "Girlfriend"

Jay Park redeemed himself with a new music video by the name of "Girl Friend". After watching it, it really reminded me of Tae Yang's "I Need a Girl" their style is similar in some ways. Doesn't help that Tae Yang recently added a little "flair" to his mohawk. Let's get to the battle!

When I first saw this video, I thought, "Aww...innocent little Tae Yang is growing up to a handsome young man". It's a very easy to listen to R&B song that's a little upbeat and flirtatious, but fun in some ways. There's two three versions of this music video, in case you were unaware of it.

The purpose of this song is quite obvious from the song title. Tae Yang is telling us what he's looking for in a girl. He's ideals, at least lyrically, seem reasonable to me and it definitely makes fangirls (and fanboys) swoon over his beautiful voice. Throughout the video, he's mature, sexy, suave, a little goofy and devious, and confident, especially when he's dancing. G-Dragon's contribution wasn't a waste either. He was a nice little addition to the song and the video as well as 2NE1's Dara.

Sweet, little b-boy photographer Jay Park has spotted the perfect girl and wants to make her his girlfriend. But how does one get her attention when she's clearly least for a moment? You impress her with silky smooth vocals and cater to her hearing annoyances at a club. Why the hell is she there if she doesn't like the noise! This is a really sweet video, at least that's what they say in Korea, I say otherwise >>;, and Jay Park puts on the charm for the fans, even if they might get a little envious of the them sharing a kiss after he surprises her.

Now I'm trying my hardest not to critique either song or video, because I have a lot of commentary to say about both artists and their videos that are suppose to charm the ladies. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this post is to figure out which one of these Korean R&B princes charmed you the most. Is it the shy, mature Tae Yang? Or is it the confident, but suave Jay Park?

Leave your vote in the comment box below or simply pick your choice in the poll on the right hand side! And maybe...I'll leave a comment of who I would choose.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quick Music Review

Piggy Dolls - Hakuna Matata (2011, South Korea) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: 하쿠나 마타타, Trend, 이 노래

Ever since the release of their mini album and their opposing image to the typical kpop female groups, I was really cheering for these girls and I was surprised they came out with an album so quickly. "Piggy Dolls" brings us in with a simple dance vibe that gets the listener excited to hear the rest of the album. It also gives us a nice snippet of what these ladies are working with vocally. "아는여자" was one of their promo songs for the album. It has a simple, light melody that anyone can easily get into. "LUV GAME" keeps the same fun 60s musical sound and shows off the girls' cute, fun side. "어제까진" is a nice little ballad piece that displays strong vocals and an equally powerful musical arrangement. "하쿠나 마타타" was another promo song for the album. It brings us back to that fun, easy going sound and a catchy little chorus. "Shout" is another fun song that's in your face with tons of sass and attitude. "Trend" was their debut song that has an almost different sound than their new stuff, but not too much different. This song reminds me why I fell for this group and keep wanting to support their endeavors of breaking the standards of talent. "그거 아니" is another light-hearted ballad with more of an R&B sound. It was featured on the same mini album as "Trend". Another imported track, "Darling", has a simple electronic melody and a sassy punch to the verses, but an easy going chorus. "아니잖아" is your standard Korean ballad with violins, piano, acoustics, and soft emotional vocals. "이 노래" keeps the slow pace, but it adds autotune and a hint of bass. This song was used as the intro to their video for "Trend". It was nice hearing a full version of it. Overall, I'm not jumping out of my seat for joy over this, but this is a great start for the rookie girl group. I hope they continue pushing forward and proving the media wrong.

Leessang - AsuRa BalBalTa (2011, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: TV를 껐네..., 회상, 죽기 전까지 날아야 하는 새 (To. Bizzy), Am I?

It's been a couple years since the duo released an album, but it's refreshing to hear such high level musical skills in the Korean music industry. The prologue of the album is a piano opener for the first real track. "나란 놈은 답은 너다" is a slow, mellow piece with beautiful piano, drum, and violin combo and an easy rap flow that listeners can easily slip into. "TV를 껐네..." was their promo song for this album and it had a very artistic, unique video as well. It's also another easy song to listen to with acoustics, drums, and a great combination of voices. "Serenade" keeps that simple acoustic club sound with an old school R&B and hip-hop fusion. "회상" brings in the duo's signature easy going hip-hop melody with a hint of flute and a female guest vocal to balance everything out. "나 그대에게 모두 드리리" smoothly transitions to a smooth Erykah Badu vibe and another great combination of the duo's masculine, rough vocals with the soft, gentle female vocals. "죽기 전까지 날아야 하는 새 (To. Bizzy)" goes back to the usual Leessang laid back hip-hop sound with a hint of Latin flavor. I really like this song and the combination of vocal talents featured on it. Skipping over the interlude song "AsuRa BalBalTa" to "격산타우" which features more of a jazz rock sound. It brings the tempo up some and shows the duo experiment with their sound without doing anything super crazy. I commend them for their bravery of treading into rock territory. "강남 사짜" has a simple, yet somewhat dramatic musical arrangement. It also contributes to the duo experimenting with different sounds. "Am I?" is another track that I really enjoyed. It has a looping piano melody mixed with some old school elements that mesh well with the duo's signature flowing style. "독기" has a sorrowful tone with piano and deep bass that matches the mood of the vocals. "Grand Final (Planet Shiver Mix)" closes out the album with a dance hip-hop beat that goes well with the duo's voices. This album was flawless from start to finish and I didn't expect anything less from them.

Yuya Matsushita - SUPER DRIVE (2011, Japan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: SUPER DRIVE, Lonely rain

Somehow I got into this pretty boy R&B singer when looking for music and I ended up becoming a fan. Very similar to Daichi Miura. As you can see, there's many versions of this single, so hopefully these are all the songs included with all the releases. I must admit that the title track threw me off and almost made me ignore the poor boy based simply on the PV, but the song grew on me more and more. According to iTunes, I've listened to this track more than 20 times. It's oddly addicting. "HOT GIRL!!" keeps that electro-pop vibe, but has more of a fun sound than a underlying sexy one like "SUPER DRIVE". I guess the company decided that Yuya needed to do a Michael Jackson cover too. "ROCK WITH YOU" has a more mainstream sound, but doesn't lose the original arrangement too much. Honestly, this doesn't beat Daichi's "Human Nature", but this was a decent cover. Skipping over the instrumental of "SUPER DRIVE", the last track is a ballad piece called "Lonely rain". I'm a very picky ballad person, but this song is beautiful. The music might sound a little generic, but I love it and it's my second favorite ballad from Yuya. After listening to this single and I AM ME, I'm looking forward to his upcoming album.

Koda Kumi - 4 Times (2011, Japan) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: V.I.P, KO-SO-KO-SO

I'm a casual Koda listener, so some of her releases I skipped, but this one caught my attention. I blame the sexy PVs. For once, I'm going to skip over the introduction and the interludes and go straight into the meat of the single. The first song is "Poppin' love cocktail" featuring BACK-ON's TEEDA. It's a typical upbeat Koda pop song with a great, fun summer rock twist. Koda and TEEDA's voices play off each other well. Next is "IN THE AIR" which is a softer electro-pop song that shows off Koda's voice a little better than the first track without it being a complete ballad. "V.I.P" brings out the naughty Koda that everyone knows and this is one reason I was drawn to this single. The song is very catchy and has a similar strong attitude as "POP DIVA" without being boring. If you've seen the PV, then you know this single ends with the sexiest song, "KO-SO-KO-SO". It's equally catchy and naughty as the previous track. Both tracks have been competing on my iTunes. I can't get enough of them. Thanks a lot, Koda! Now I have to go find myself. lol

U-KISS - NEVERLAND (2011, South Korea) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: NEVERLAND, Baby Don't Cry, TOP THAT

Previously, I wasn't overly impressed with U-KISS's debut mini since their line up change. With this new album coming out, I didn't want to give up on the boys and I was anxious to listen. "Intro" is pretty simple featuring some bass beats, electronic elements, and some sample vocals from the boys that's in the next track. "NEVERLAND" is the main promo song for obvious reasons. It has a better harmonization than their previous release. It's really catchy and the chorus is very simple. This song definitely gave me hope that the vocal chemistry exists between the members. "Baby Don't Cry" is by far my favorite track on the album. This song combines electro-pop with a slight R&B melody that has a smooth vocal flow. This is exactly what I've been looking for from them! "SOME DAY" opens up with a dramatic piano melody and more impressive vocals for this semi-ballad. The album slows down even more with "Take Me Away". It has slower piano melody accompanied by violin and emotion filled vocals. "On the Floor" picks up the pace and goes back to the trending electro-pop sound. "친구의 사랑" and "4월 이야기" take a step back to the generic ballad mode. "Obsession" brings piano and electro-pop together again. It picks up the tempo a little from the previous two songs. It's very simple and almost lacks substances in places, mostly in the chorus. "TOP THAT" seems pretty cocky, playful, and silly, but...I like it. It has a weird instrumental, but it's a refreshing upbeat sound from being brought down with all the ballad, slow songs. "Tell Me Y" has an interesting play with piano levels and minimalistic instrumental in certain places. "다시 만나요" is an acoustic piece with PARAN that sounds like it's straight from the studio booth. The album ends with an instrumental version of "SOME DAY". I'm very pleased with this album compared to Bran New Kiss and I hope the guys continue improving more and more in the future.

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Dir en grey's "DUM SPIRO SPERO"

Dir en grey - DUM SPIRO SPERO (2011, Japan) Rating: 4/5

I've been wanting to review this for a long time, but life is constantly getting in the way. The album has been out for a while and I mentioned in a couple v-logs for fans to wait until the release to listen to it and try to support the band by buying it. Perhaps with my somewhat busy schedule, this is a good time to bring out this album with the eve of the band's North American tour.

In contrast to UROBOROS's "SA BIR", "Kyoukotsu no Nari" shares a similar horror movie aura. It uses an aggressive, muffled guitar in the background with loud distortions and a sprinkle of old school horror dramatic piano effects. There's a little vocalization that I wouldn't be surprised that Kyo produced himself, but matches the mood of the album. "THE BLOSSOMING BEELZEBUB" carries the raging, muffled guitaring but adds another layer of great guitar work on top that pulls you in. It's a fairly long track, but it features so many amazing details that make it awesome. Strategically placed piano, haunting vocal harmonization, simplistic drumming that meshes well with the other instruments, and a great range of vocals from growling to singing. There's also some great musical shifts that keep the listener interested for the whole seven and half minutes. "DIFFERENT SENSE" was a promotional song for this album and I already enjoyed the fast pace drumming, the in your face guitar riffs, and Kyo's deep vocals and high screeches. The guitar duet sounded very different than what the band normally produces. It reminded me of the younger, lesser known jrock bands, but I'm not complaining. "AMON" was released with a remix of "ZAN" in a magazine/book to promote more really didn't need it. Anyway, it's another fast pace, growly song that melds well with the previous track. It's fairly simple, but has some intricate detail work as it trails off at the end. "'Yokusou ni DREAMBOX' Aruiwa Seijuku no Rinen to Tsumetai Ame" features emphasized guitars and bass work with soft vocals. It's a nice shift from all the raging vocals from the previous two tracks. Although, it picks up wildly toward the middle and simmers back down after the solos. I hardly remember "Juuyoku", but it kind of touches similar elements from their older stuff. It's a bit all over the place and wild with fast drumming and various vocal effects. "Shitataru Mourou" appears to be a soft piece for a few seconds then the guitars and bass kick in for a moment. It has an almost poetic vocal arrangement as the music seems to trip over itself. The bass definitely stands out a lot more in this track than the previous. "LOTUS" was another promo track for the album and what convinced me that DUM SPIRO SPERO had the potential to be as good as the previous album. It has a great vocal arrangement and the instruments don't overpower Kyo's singing. Yes, singing. They soften themselves around the verse and bridge, then highlight the chorus beautifully. "DIABLOS", the longest track on the album, brings back that haunting aura. It starts off with classic sounds of horror and soft drums, then Kyo joins and some roaming guitar sounds later. The song is very predatorial [is that even a word >>;]. It's soft and slow and attacks and devours you up! Lastly, it slows down and savors the last bits of flavor, warning you that it's still on the prowl for more. "Akatsuki" brings bits of UROBOROS sound and the more developed elements together. It features contrasting guitars and commanding vocals with a small sprinkle of traditional Japanese flavor. "DECAYED CROW" is another track I hardly remember. It's very fast pace and tons of high and low growling. Very aggressive stuff. "Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami" is the last of the promotional songs featured on this album. It was featured on SAW 3D's soundtrack...for some reason. It's typical Diru with screaming, growling, and fast pace instruments trying to keep up with each other. It's an entertaining song and appealing to the ears, especially the smooth transition from verse to chorus. Chorus definitely sticks and the section when Kyo's wailing simple echos. "VANITAS" is like a Dir en grey history lesson. It wraps every part of the band from past to present into one masterpiece. It is the softest piece on the album and it really needed it. I enjoyed UROBOROS for it's great balance of aggression and beauty. This track has a great range of what the band is capable of and that they can be more than just hardcore. "Ruten no Tou" reels back the aggressive instrumentals, but keeps it tame to follow the flowing vocal arrangement. An awesome way to end an awesome album!

If you shelved out nearly $200 for the limited edition, congratulations, you poor soul~ I'm kidding. The limited edition included another CD with extra music material, a DVD compilation of lives and a new "ZAN" PV, and 2 LPs. I'll be moving this review along by going over the content featured on the second disc of the album.

Upon first listen of the starting track, it bothered me to no end that I couldn't remember what song they were remaking. After I dug through my discography, then confirmed it online...I learned it was "Rasestsukoku". I was never a big fan of the song, but I never really disliked it either. The new version makes it a little heavy in the intro, but keeps the crowd pleasing high energy to the overall song despite the changes. In essence, it's the same song, it just grew up to a full blown monster that new fans will be pleased with. Next is "AMON (Symphonic ver.)", which features an almost music box sound that would be placed in a Tim Burton movie opener. Once the intro is complete, the heavy jump in. Unfortunately, the combination between the original arrangement with orchestral and piano elements didn't quite mesh well. It's a bit messy. "Ruten no Tou (Unplugged ver.)" is next on the chopping block. It starts off with a hard, dramatic piano intro and Kyo singing along the rough melody. The piano is a little all over the place in some spots and I think they should've softened Kyo's vocals or at least reduce the echo. "DIABLOS (Demo2010, Short ver.)" shares similar elements from it's original, but perfectly toned down. I actually prefer this version a lot more. "Akatsuki (Demo2010)" has more instrumental presentation than vocal. Even though I'm not a big fan of the song in general, I think I prefer the other version over this one. When I reached "THE BLOSSOMING BEELZEBUB (remix)", I was curious what they were going to do to this masterpiece. Pretty much they hollowed out and electronicized the vocals, ditched the original musical arrangement, and added minimal sound with a little guitar. Wasn't very pleased, but happy it was slightly shorter than the original. "'Yokusou ni DREAMBOX' Aruiwa Seijuku no Rinen to Tsumetai Ame (remix)" truly reminded me of old school Sega Genesis Mortal Kombat. It has an intriguing overall arrangement between the music, sound effect, and vocal choices. It kinda reminds me "Gyakujou tannou keloid milk (plucking Mr.NEWSMAN) -NEW JAPAN MIX-". "Shitataru Mourou (remix)" has distorted, almost muffled vocals and a brightened musical backing. I'm not very fond of this remix, mostly because of the vocal effects practically destroying the song (and my ears). I guess they really like this song because there's an "Akatsuki (remix)". It has a softened, slightly muffled vocal and an electronic sound meshed with Silent Hill vibes in some places. "DECAYED CROW (remix)" closes out the second disc with minimalistic music, subway screeching noises, flutes, tribal drums, and drawn out, distorted growls. Meh...not impressed.

Overall, the wait was totally worth it and I'm pleased with all the work they've put into the album. It brings over everything I enjoyed from UROBOROS and built upon that foundation with bits and pieces from their past works. I'm expecting an equally amazing show with this burst of new material to keep them more interested in performing again. There's no excuses this year, guys! Although, I'm really hoping, after this, less touring and more writing/composing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Crazy Girl" by BENI
I know I complained about the dance craze going everywhere, but this is an exception. I'm so happy to hear something fresh and new out of the beautiful BENI. The style suits her and it proves she can turn any sound to gold with her voice. The song's really catchy and the video is simple, yet entertaining.

"Cleansing Cream" by Brown Eyed Girls
When I first saw this video, I was truly impressed. It has a very deep meaning and a few ways to interpret it. With the lyrics, I found a better meaning to the song and the video. It's very beautiful and I think it's composed by the same people who did Sunny Hill's "Pray", but I could be wrong. Either way, both songs are similar sounding and share the same beautiful, thought provoking tone. Good choice, ladies.

"Rescue Me" by coldrain
The same time I discovered SiM, I saw the PV to this song. I've never seen it before, but according to iTunes I've listened to the song before. So, watching the video, I was reminded how awesome this band is and how underrated they are. Perhaps they're underrated because they have more an "American" sound than your typical jrock group. Nonetheless, the video is very interesting and similarly edited as the SiM PV. The song is very catchy and features some great guitar work and easy to understand vocals.

"Narcissistic Cannibal" by KoЯn feat. Skrillex & Kill The Noise
A friend of mine mentioned that KoЯn had some new material out there...and it fell under the lines of dubstep. I've avoided it and avoided it, but curiosity got the best of me and I checked this video out. I'm hooked. Check my! *guilty* KoЯn didn't lose themselves to dubstep. They just combined forces and made something awesome! Between the two KoЯn/Skrillex creations, this is the better one.

"Bad" by TABLO
Old news, but TABLO joined YG Entertainment. I was a little weary about this decision, but from what I've seen and heard from others, it didn't seem like a bad move. As long as Epik High comes back with something awesome in the near feature, I will accept TABLO's solo work with open arms. His debut solo vid under YG is pretty cool...literally. It has a great concept and the vocal combo with Jin Sil is flawless. I'm not touching "Tomorrow" MV unless asked.

Friday, November 18, 2011


WHAT'S MY NAME? -North & South American Cicuit-
[2011.11.08] Trees in Dallas, TX
featuring: THE COMMOTION & Miyavi


I guess a few people didn't get the memo that there was an opening band for this show. Well, they're a Dallas base rock band with some easily relatable characters. Their music is pretty decent. Nothing super spectacular, but not terrible either. Most of the attention was stolen by the long haired guitarist on our side of the stage (stage left) whipping his hair like a mad man. The bassist and the vocalist did some teamwork on vocals and keeping the song going. The other guitarist also brought some memorable solos and shared some solos with the vocalist. It was interesting seeing how three guitarists unify songs. I always thought that three is too many, but some bands can do it like VII-Sense and others...seem awkward *coughs*CassisPV*coughs* Lastly, I thought the drummer was pretty cute.


After their set was over and four filler songs, I listened to everyone yell and such when the curtains opened and Miyavi and Bobo appeared. I was a little anxious myself, since Miyavi hasn't quite reached my high expectations on his live performances.

Anyway, he opened up with "WHAT'S MY NAME?" and I stopped actually saying his name, I just went along with the lyrics. It gets a little boring or something for me doing it the other way I guess. There was a lot of energy and I was really surprised. Dallas Miyavi fans are pretty decent and not rabid idiots that just have one thing on their mind...or lack there of. Miyavi and Bobo had a lot of energy too. A different energy I've never experience that made me enjoy the show even more. They still played off each other, but maybe Miyavi heard my cries and brought everything that was missing from his previous shows. So, a few notable things about the show. Miyavi had a few wardrobe changes. He started off in a chic little number with a blazer, sunglasses, and hat, then ditched those items and was left with his casual shirt and pants. Then the shirt was gone and everyone got to see his new ink work. I'm not that fond of it, mostly the ones along his neckline. He has some new tattoos on one of his calves as well. After taking a break from the neverending "Futuristic Love" number, which was awesome and gave us some nice dance club vibes, he had a black tour shirt on. Bobo had his signature short shorts which I think looked shorter than last year and a t-shirt that said "9:30" which Miyavi teased him about.

Bobo always wakes up at 9:30 in the morning(x4)

Miyavi had an interesting selection of songs. He mostly stuck with newer things from his last album, threw in some unreleased tracks, and even took some requests from the audience. One of the new songs required some audience participation and the other was One of the staff members brought in a stand with a booklet and one of the songs he needed his Mac for the lyrics. He moved around a lot and had mics strategically placed on all areas of the stage to give the fans the most from the experience. There was one MC that stood out from all the others. No, he didn't announce he was having another kid...although, I wouldn't be surprised if he did. He told us how he was happy to be back in Texas and tried to say some Texan words like "y'all" and "rodeo". I'll give him a B for effort. It was cute. Everyone tried to help, but eventually he was like "fuck it" with a smile. Apparently, he's become a fan of Tex-Mex. His English is about the same give or take. He still has that mumbly thing going on and his pronunciation could be better, but it's understandable and that's all that matters. Another thing that stood out was the set up of the whole performance. I believe last year he had a three person show, but this time Miyavi was the one working the electronic platform...even though there was some minor difficulties. Another cute moment. So, here's the set list. There could be errors, but you know I try.

[no particular order]

What's My Name?
Freedom Fighters
Jibun Kakumei
Selfish Love
Are you ready to ROCK?
Senor Senora Senorita
2-3 new songs
Ossan Ossan Ore Nanbo

Overall, I was very pleased with the show and partially content with the VIP. I was happy I converted a friend to his music too. Definitely surprised by the energy from the crowd and Miyavi as well, which was very refreshing and exactly what I needed. If Miyavi takes a break before releasing a new album, I know it will be great especially from what I heard at the show.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reader's Question: Translating Kpop in Japan

This is a reader request that has been brought to my attention. The question is: How do you feel about Korean artists not creating original material for their Japanese debut? I've mostly ignored this issue and tried to pretend Japanese remakes don't exist, but I guess I have to zoom in on the problem to answer this properly.

I'm sure everyone is aware of the hallyu wave in Japan. More and more kpop groups are entering Japan for more global exposure and profit. One problem with this is the lack of original material geared toward their Japanese fans. I don't understand why they're not making new material! It makes them appear lazy, especially rookie groups that are barely established in South Korea.

Not only is the awkwardly Japanese translated songs bothersome, but the translation on their music videos are very weak. I don't know which is worse: when a group dubs over an old video in Japanese or when they dumb down the video for Japanese audiences. Let me pull out some examples for you guys.

I'll start with a group that I like a lot: B2ST/Beast! For their video for "Shock", they basically used the same video they had in Korea and changed the lyrics to Japanese. SNSD's new song "The Boyz" does the same thing as well where they used the same video and change the singing to Japanese. They also did another annoying thing which is reviving an old song from their beginning like SHINee's "Replay". B2ST is better than that, but I honestly think they need to keep working in South Korea before venturing a spot in Japan.

Speaking of SHINee, let's talk about the tragedy that is "Lucifer". Now this song actually made me like the group a little. At least enough to commend them on their sharp choreography and catchiness of the song enough to buy the album. I watched and listened to the song a lot! But when I saw the remake for it, I just shook my head and dismissed it. The lyrics are very awkward and the video isn't anything special. I think they changed the choreography too and those outfits...gah!

T-ara is another group I like. Strangely, the switch from Korean to Japanese doesn't sound too awkward, but the video switch were not the best choices. The original music video was already cute with a hint of sexy, but translating it for Japanese audience was very dumbed down. It feels like a joke watching them goof around with random toys and lollipops with cat ears when they could've kept the cute and sexy video they had before. Japan can be cute and sexy too and the group wouldn't have to get punished for their racy scenes either!

It saddens me to say that Rainbow did alright. Their switch from Korean to Japanese lyrically and visually were passable. Sure, this is just using old material, but that's what the topic is about. They didn't dumb down their video or change their original choreography. They took advantage of the censors by exposing some stomach which they got in trouble for in their homeland.

I'm mostly disappointed that YG Entertainment has fallen victim to this lazy procedure. 2NE1 has recently entered Japan territory and came with no original tracks. Their appearance has become increasingly ridiculous and their music video remakes are a lot weaker than the original like Japan can't handle it. My disappointment lies with their past work with SE7EN and Big Bang. They both started with original material...a whole album even.

DBSK and Rain also have made original material and have been successful in doing so. They didn't dumb their videos down and kept their image consistent between Japan and South Korea. It is possible to do things right and fresh in Japan with success. On a side note, if you're gonna perform live in Japan...learn your lyrics. You don't look good if you're switching from Japanese to Korean (or even English).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quick Music Review

KAT-TUN - RUN FOR YOU (2011, Japan) Rating: 3/5

Something happened and I've grown to like this group more than before. "RUN FOR YOU" is a super catchy dance track with loads of good moments and the video isn't half bad either. Sadly, this has become one of my favorite KAT-TUN tracks. Damn you! "COSMIC CHILD" has a dramatic opening and almost confuses you into thinking this track will go some different direction than the opener, but it keeps a smooth, electronic sound. It's a great marriage between orchestral elements and electro-pop. "DIAMOND" brings in hint of rock to the group's electro-pop song. It's a decent track, but it feels like everything's going a bit downhill from the title track. "& FOREVER" is a sweeter song and shows off the guys' impressive harmonization to some emotional electric guitar work. "SWEET CHAIN" leans more to a ballad sound compared to the previous track and pulls the vocal work forward more.

Cinemaglam - LOVE AVANT-GARDE (2011, Japan) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: サディスティックラブ, I've no name

"LOVEコレクション" mixes old rock elements and happy song elements you would probably hear from a jdrama opening or something. It's an interesting combination, but it definitely keeps you in to hear more from this debut mini. "サディスティックラブ" has the same feeling as the first track, but I'm more impressed with the melody and guitar work in this one. It maintains that feel good emotion from listening and keeps you hooked in to continue forward. "I've no name" reminds me of a present day Beatles track in some ways. I really like the vocalist's voice and the song definitely sticks easily. "君に愛された理由が分からない" displays a good partnership between acoustics and bass. It's an easy song to listen to and it's almost relaxing in some ways. "愛ヲ持テ進メ" picks up the tempo some and wakes up our bodies to move a little. "愛の罪人" completely shifts the mood to something almost haunting, but beautiful at the same time. It has strong musical elements and the vocals are pretty impressive. Sadly, not much is known about the artist/group, but I'm looking forward to more.

miss A - A Class (2011, South Korea) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: Good-bye Baby, Mr. Johnny, Breathe, Love Alone

I've been looking forward to an album from these girls, yet I feel conflicted by the title of it simple because it's similar to Miss $'s album name. "하나부터 열까지" opens with an almost different, tame sound from the girls. It has a nice piano melody that repeats in the background and it's dancy, but sadly not a strong opening for me. It feels a bit strained. "Good-bye Baby" was the promo song for this album and this is what got me interested to what they had to bring to their first album release. It's really catchy, powerful, and somewhat stays true to the girls' sound. Although, in some ways I'm reminded of the Wonder Girls. "Help Me" combines electro-pop with R&B elements. It does spotlight the girls' vocal talents nicely, but it's not a track I would listen to a lot. "Break It" was featured on the girls' first single and features simple beats and autotune. Never was a fan of this track and still am not. "Mr. Johnny" brings back my interest to this album and I can listen to this repeatedly. It's fun and dancy and doesn't take away from the girls' vocal abilities without the overuse of autotune. Once "그 음악을 틀어줘요 DJ" popped up, I thought my iTunes skipped to a T-ara track or something. I don't think this style fits miss A's style. "Step Up" doesn't quite transition that smoothly from the previous track, but the song's decent. It was featured in the last single release from the girls. "Breathe" was also featured on the same single. Sure, we've heard this song already, but this track still remains great and memorable. "멍하니" is R&B ballad track that almost falls victim to those boring, generic kpop ballads that annoy me, but the orchestral track saves it barely. "다시 사랑" was one of miss A's debut songs. It still remains a good song, but it pales in comparison to the growth of "Good-bye Baby". "Love Alone" jumps in as another promotional track from the album. It has an electro-pop and R&B sound which somehow makes it replayable for me. Although, I wish the music video was better though. "Bad Girl Good Girl" was the song that put the girls in the spotlight and even though it's not as polished and mature as the previous track, you can still tell that these girls have talent from the beginning. Lastly is "Good-bye Baby (Silver Mix)" which slows things even further and strips away the melody. In the end, I'm pleased with what they've put together and I'm looking forward to more growth.

Infinite - OVER THE TOP/Paradise (Repackaged) (2011, South Korea) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 내꺼하자, 3분의1, Paradise

Like miss A, I was anticipating an album from this group as well and I strangely feel conflicted with it too. "OVER THE TOP" opens the album with a positive feeling that this album is going to be great. It has minimal, but dramatic snippets from the next track. "내꺼하자" took me a while to like, but it's a pretty good song. It's not as strong as "BTD (Before the Dawn)", but it still shows the guys' vocal chemistry. "3분의1" has become my favorite track from the album. It has an effortlessly vocal tone to it yet it remains in your mind for longer than 10 seconds. "Tic Toc" opens with a little orchestral sound and minimalistic music arrangement. "Julia" has more of an arrangement and it reminds me of a weak Backstreet Boy ballad when they were a five member group. It has nice vocals, but nothing interesting for me. There's a couple solo songs featured on this album as well. One is "Because" sung by Sungkyu. It's okay and has some good moments, but nothing super interesting. Next is a ballad by Woohyun called "시간아" which automatically doesn't keep me in for long. "Amazing" brings all the members back together for the remainder of the album. It has a nice piano arrangement and the guys sound good, but it's not a powerful track. It's a very safe N'SYNCish pop song. "Crying" intertwines pop and R&B elements together. This song isn't that bad, but nothing I'd repeat very often. Baby H takes over a good portion of the song and I wonder how it would sound without her. "Real Story" keeps the easy pace steady and closes out the album. If you bought the repackaged version, then we have 3 more songs to cover. "Paradise" brings violin and nostalgic 80s synth-pop together. This song also took me a while to like. It's not great, but at least it's on the same level as "내꺼하자". "Cover Girl" kinda throws me off on what direction Infinite is trying to go and, honestly, this track seems a bit of a joke for what they're working with talent-wise. So the fans requested a remix of "내꺼하자". I bet they didn't expect it to turn out like this. I really like the original more, but the guitar work is decent. Overall, the music is way too dramatic. Sadly, I'm disappointed with the final work, but I'm still cheering for them to rise up to their talents.

the GazettE - VORTEX (2011, Japan) Rating: 2/5
Favorite Tracks: UNCERTAIN SENSE

"VORTEX" sucks you in like the song title. It's a bit wild and goes in and out of old Gazette and new sounds with a hint of autotune. It's not particularly strong, but it's not extremely boring either. It gives the listener just enough. "UNCERTAIN SENSE" also has a musical arrangement that matches the title. It goes back and forth to the band's generic rock sound to an effortless vocal flight before tugging you back in for a couple yells and guitar punches. "BREAK ME" almost reveals a different side of the band that almost seems completely borrowed from someone else. It doesn't quite fit their skill set and teeters on the edge of boring. I bet you guys are waiting for me to praise the GazettE. It'll happen one day~

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Promo: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

|Official Site|

From the streets of Harajuku and pulled away from KERA fashion magazines, Nakata Yasutaka discovered Kyary and placed her in a studio. With his genius producing skills and guidance, Kyary's debut song immediately became popular around the world and obtained a high standing on the iTune's chart. In 2011, Kyary released her first mini album, Moshi Moshi Harajuku, which included the hit song "PONPONPON", new tracks, and a cover of capsule's "Jelly". She also released a book, Oh! My God!! Harajuku Girl, shortly after.

Even though she's young and merely a model, she has talent and a unique eye for style. With colorful and kooky aesthetics, Kyary has maintained a slow, steady growth to forever penetrate our minds with annoyingly cute and catchy tunes. Although her first TV performance was not the best, this shows this model's human side and I believe if she continues gaining opportunities to perform in front of cameras and live audiences, she will warm up to the stage and kill us with her charisma. Kyary will be releasing a new single on January 11, 2012 called Tsukema tsukeru, be sure to support her!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Great Teacher Onizuka vs. Gokusen

Years ago, I was introduced by a friend to the wonderful, pretty boy drama of Gokusen. I stuck to it season by season and even bought the anime boxset. As of this year, I began reading the well known GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka series and over Labor Day weekend I indulged myself in the drama. There's still things I want to see and read from both series, but I could not help but compare these abnormal but badass teachers to each other.

In Gokusen, we have Kumiko "Yankumi" Yamaguchi who is heir to her grandfather's yakuza clan. This is her biggest secret, but Kumiko's goal is to pursue her dreams as a teacher. When she is hired at an all boys private school, she is assigned the worst class in the school that constantly causes trouble for each other, her, and Vice Principal Goro Sawatari. In the end, Yankumi turns things around and her students adore her.

In GTO, we have karate expert and ex-biker gang member Eikichi Onizuka. He went to a third rate college and was always considered trash in his high school days. Despite this, the school's director sees something in Onizuka and grants his wish to become a teacher. He hits several bumps along the way that cause trouble for his students and the school's faculty, but eventually his students become very fond of him.

Both characters share several similarities through personality and storyline. Both characters aren't the ideal teacher type, but they both dream of teaching...although their reasons differ. They both are assigned delinquent classes that try to get rid of them, but their teachers stick by them through thick and thin. They both have an enemy and love interest within the school. They both also face near termination because of who they are or what they've done.

Even though both stories are similar in many ways, I still enjoy them a lot. But to pick who is the baddest teacher, I honestly cannot decide. So, I want you guys to vote on the poll on who is the most badass teacher!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

This idea recently came to mind. I don't know how often I will be doing this, but I found some noteworthy music videos that need some spotlight. This list is in no particular order either, so no complaints people!

"Hikari" by Lolita23q
I know it's old news and it was released in the beginning of the month, but it is still epic. I've loved the band since the beginning with "Ishoku Othello". Reason to watch/re-watch? Two words: Synchronized headbanging. The song is amazing too and I'm pleased that the band is growing and Soshi's vocal talents mesh the band's style very well. I guess I can forgive Sou for leaving and Watashime Slug for disbanding now that we reached this point.

"Arcadia" by MUCC feat. DAISHI DANCE
As a MUCC listener (not fan), I really liked this song. It's like a mix of "Fuzz" and "Chemical Parade" which I love both on some unhealthy degree. Of course, there's debates between MUCC fans on the quality of the song and dumb statements of "You're not a true MUCC fan if you dislike it", but my thoughts on the second comment I will hold for later rantage. The video is pretty decent and the song is really addicting. Only dislike are the costume choices, otherwise I'll continue happily dance in my dorm to this tune.

"KiLLiNG ME" by SiM
Where have you been all this time? Omfg! This video appeared on the related side vids of YouTube while watching "Arcadia" PV. The screencap piqued my interest, so I clicked it and was completely caught off guard in the most amazing way. Focusing on the song for a second, it's really aggressive and replay worthy. It falls under the same category of western jrock bands like Pay money To my Pain, coldrain, and 404NOTFOUND, so it was easy to attach myself to it and crave more. On the visual side, I love the editing, effects, and camera work a lot! It's up there with PTP's "Deprogrammer". I can't wait to promote their latest album for you guys now. Thanks, MUCC~

"You Look Good" by Verbal Jint
Am I late discovering this one too? I love Verbal Jint. He is an underrated Korean rap genius! I've always thought that when I first discovered him. He has a skill with combining smooth beats and equally smooth, emotionally filled flow that entwine effortlessly. Even if you disregard the subs in the vid, you get the gist of what's going on. There's one little shocking point too.

"Get It In" by Tasha
The queen of Korean rap is gradually make her return with her king. From what I learned, this video is promotion for some sort of tech group or something. So, it's going to feature a lot CG and autotune, but it doesn't make the song any less quality. It's still amazing and intriguing. Tasha still proves she's still the reigning queen of the k-rap game. Bow down, ladies.