Thursday, January 5, 2017

Most Shocking/Disappointing/WTF Asian Music Moments of 2016

BLOOD STAIN CHILD Members Change...Again
I became aware of BSC's existance when they shared the stage with D at A-Kon 22. This was around the time their second vocalist Sophia joined the group. It was quite unfortunate to hear that she was leaving the group, but she remained active in the music scene and created SEASON OF GHOSTS, which I'll be putting up a concert report up eventually. ^^; They did make an appearance last year with their new vocalist Kiki at Oni-Con...another concert report that's pending. Unfortunately, a few months later, founding member and bassist RYO (also RYU's brother) and vocalist Kiki announced that they will be departing the band for one reason or another. As soon as this was posted on JAME, a new vocalist by the name of SAIKA and bassist Yakky joined the band and they released a new single, NEXUS. Despite the turn over of members, I'll still keep checking out their music and tracking their progression (or regression).

4Minute Disbands
Obviously, this news is not here for its shocking qualities, but more for its disappointing feeling for really the fans. For me, I honestly don't feel nothing towards this news. I do enjoy 4Minute's discography and "Hate" was a pretty banging track. I even enjoyed a couple of HyunA's solo songs from her last mini-album, but I normally enjoy about that same amount even though I don't care for her that much. Whether fans want to admit it or not, I'm sure they weren't that surprise to hear the news that everyone but HyunA renewed their contracts with Cube Entertainment. I mean the amount of publicity and promotion was very unbalanced for quite some time, which is really unfortunate. Whatever the members end up doing, I'll check it out if it presents itself in front of me.

Anzi leaves Matenrou Opera
It also sucks to hear a member leaving a band that's being around/together for more than five years. Despite me not keeping up with Matenrou Opera as much as when they debut, I tried my best to check out their newest PVs and listen to their singles when I had the time. From what I saw, things were looking pretty good and I was pleased with the growth and bond they had. Although, I admit that their sound/concepts felt a little stagnet after a while. Perhaps that was the reasoning behind Anzi's departure. I don't know; that quote just sounds like a fancy way of saying "musical differences". Nonetheless, I wish Anzi and the remaining members the best in 2017.

R-Shitei Banned from Nippon Budokan
Being part of a visual kei (and even just a musical act in Japan), most people's goal is to perform at the grand Nippon Budokan. Unfortunately, for this group, this dream may never happen unless the rules change. Honestly, this article/news appeared in the beginning of the year and I totally forgot about it. Fortunately, I had a link to the article saved to refresh my memory. The reasoning behind the ban was due to the band's inappropriate lyrical content, despite other bands performing similar controversial material on their stage. The article uses the example of Golden Bomber, which I know little about musically, but for me I thought of Dir en grey who have performed there countless times. So, I find it strange that this little band, who apparently is growing big enough for an 88 city tour and booking the stadium, is being denied this dream. Maybe R-Shitei fans can change things and give the band their dream.

DAIGO and Moon Hee Jun Get Married
...but not to each other. On January 11, Keiko Kitagawa announced that she was officially married to BREAKERZ's vocalist DAIGO. I don't actively follow DAIGO outside of BREAKERZ releases and even then I just enjoy the music; I don't go further than that. So, obviously, this was surprising, but good news to hear. Sometimes I wonder (and maybe a little bit of worry) about these older jrockers abstaining from love. On the other hand, they're very good at keeping their private lives private. DAIGO isn't your typical jrock star as he has crossed over to the mainstream, similar to Gackt, but that's old news for Japanese pop culture followers. H.O.T's Moon Hee Jun is someone I've come to accept in my introduction to kpop, in my earlier days. He was the exception of enjoyment for Korean rock and I still am quite fond of him, although I don't follow his activities constantly. Seeing the news on one of my favorite kpop sites, AsianJunkie, caught me off guard like the rest of the readers...except H.O.T fans. While the writer of the article was surprised and happy that the fans didn't rip apart Crayon Pop's Soyul for having a relationship with him, I was surprised no one made a big deal about the age gap (25 & 38), but maybe that's normal in Korea...or I'm just old fashion in some ways. Nonetheless, I wish these happy couples a wonderful and long marriage!

Jin Akanishi, Meisa Kuroki, Daichi Miura and Wife Expecting Children
The expansion of a family is always great news! Since 2012's list, Jin Akanishi and Meisa Kuroki have had rare mention on jpop news sites I follow. When I saw that they were expecting their second child, I was very happy for them. I haven't heard any scandals or rumors about the couple, which is even better. Although I would love to hear more music from the couple, I wish them the best with their marriage and the birth of their second child. Last year was a surprising announcement of Daichi Miura's marriage and now we have even more exciting news that he will be a father! Congratulations to the proud parents!

Dead Children, Sel'm, & HaKU Disband
I know there are other lesser known bands that disbanded this year and I will be mentioning some other slightly more major ones later in this list, but these three in particular are bands that I personally enjoy. So, once again, forgive me if I didn't mention your faves. Dead Children is a band that I wished I listened to more often, but I don't think I have a lot of their music...or maybe they just didn't release a lot of it. Nonetheless, they're a pretty cool little band and I would like to return to them on my iTunes in honor of their accomplishments. Sel'm, on the other hand, was a band I listened to for quite a few years and I remember enjoying and sharing them with my friends. As my library grew and grew, their music did get lost in the shuffle, but I would love to return to their hard, energetic sound and relive my high school days. And then there's HaKU, a non-visual kei band, that displayed a lot of talent for the jrock scene. I got into them at the same time as BLUE ENCOUNT and Jaweye about 3-4 years ago. I was quite surprised to hear that they were disbanding as I feel that non-visual kei bands have a longer shelf life, but I will be treasuring what music I have collected of theirs.

Hyunseung Withdraws From BEAST & BEAST Departs From Cube Entertainment
Since the beginning, I've been a fan of B2ST. I enjoy their sleek choreography and beautiful vocal harmonies. As timed went on, their releases kinda slowed a bit and some of the members dabbled in solo works and of course the most promoted Troublemaker duo with 4Minute's Hyuna. The little news I did hear about them that didn't pertain to their music were just little bits here and there that weren't all that noteworthy...until I saw the handful of posts of Hyunseung's uncaring attitude with his B2ST activities and negative response from fans. For the most part, I kinda shrugged it off as it didn't seem too out of character in my mind, but the unfortunate (or maybe fortunate) occurred when he decided to depart from the group. Unlike the rest of his group mates, he did keep his contract under Cube Entertainment as a solo artist. So, hopefully fans of TroubleMaker will receive more from the duo. On the other hand, B2ST have created Around US Entertainment and remain on good terms with Cube. Hopefully, things weren't too terrible between the rest of the group and Hyunseaung, but I really hope that the group starts to become more consistent with music releases again and perhaps get back on track with being the awesome group I loved when they hit their peak with "Fiction".

GANGLION Indefinite Hiatus
After seeing them live at Oni-Con in 2014, and yes, I'm still going to do a concert report for it, I was excited for this band's future. Much like a lot of female visual kei bands I followed, they seemed to have the making of being the next exist trace or perhaps a band that could make things better than them currently, in my opinion. It was very unfortunate news to see that this young band would most likely be concluding their journey as GANGLION. Of course, I would like to think they will come together once again and rock our worlds with high energy and passion. Nonetheless, whatever they decide to do, I will continue to support them the best I can.

SHOXX Publisher Files Bankruptcy
The magazine that helped make visual kei a household name 26 years ago declared bankruptcy and planned to seize publishing with its brethren Fool's Mate. The publishing company planned to release its final issue with SuG on the cover in September, was released with the renewal of their Twitter account that they'll be back in action in February 2017. How's that for a revival!

chariots and Lycaon Reborn
Ever since I saw Phantasmagoria live for the first time in 2005, I easily fell in love with their music, style, and stage presence. When they disbanded, I was very disappointed, but of course Kisaki wouldn't let go of Riku or the sound of Phantasmagoria. So, we ended up with chariots and Lin -the end of corruption world-...oh, and a bunch of post-Phantasmagoria compilations and DVDs. With the dissolution of UNDER CODE, Kisaki (and probably, Riku) struggled to keep these two bands afloat. So, the inevitable happened with disbandment and members leaving. Chariots has gone from the remnants of UNDER CODE bands to Riku's solo to silence...and then, here we are with the rebirth! I haven't listened to their limited live single, but I'm just excited to hear more of Riku's beautiful and unique voice. Last year, I mentioned that Lycaon, among others, were disbanding and I was very sadden as they were, in my eyes, improving in their sound and presence. Fortunately, the members stayed together to form intial'L. I'm looking forward to checking them out, comparing their old sound to their new style, and just overall enjoying them as a group again.

MY BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND Becomes TenTen's Solo Project
Similar to chariots to some extent, I've been following TenTen since his KuRt days and tried to keep up with his various bands and projects, but it becomes quite difficult when his musical track record falls into the annoying pattern of Kisaki's band history. *sighs* Nonetheless, I was sad to hear that all the members left the band and left TenTen behind. So, it seems that he has decided to turn this into a solo project and rename it to "Re:My BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND". Of course, he can't do it alone; he has to have some sort of support and he does. Whether these new members are simply on a trial basis to become permanent or not, I look forward to seeing how things will transition from band to solo and hearing TenTen's unusual vocals once more as well as his new band LACK-CO..

MeteoroiD Disbands
I was fortunate enough to see this band at Tokyo in Tulsa and I was very pumped to hear more of their music in the coming year. It was very shocking for me to hear that they would be disbanding. As a new fan, it kinda hits hard when the memories of seeing them live, meeting them, and creating awesome memories just to have that moment cut short with disbandment. I really hope the members find what they're looking for musically and reappear in the visual kei scene, because they're all very talented people.

Jia Departs From miss A
Contract expiration dates can be a nerveracking time for serious kpop fans and I find it interesting that such things are so public to the media and fans, but I guess that leaves the surprise of non-renewals to a minimum to some extent. Miss A is a group that I've loved since the beginning, but their video for "Only You" was quite underwhelming. It was inevitable that JYP's lack of attention would affect another talented group, but remained supportive of Jia's decision. Fortunately, Jia didn't waste anytime debuting as a solo artist and I'm looking forward to seeing my bias continue to do what she loves.

Lynch.'s Akinori's Arrest
In November, it was reported that lynch.'s bassist Akinori was arrested for "antisocial activity", which I (and many others in the visual kei community) honestly read as marajuana possession...or something related to the drug. While I'm not completely sure if I read somewhere confirming that that was the case, but Akinori was very cooperative with authorities and removed himself from the band. Hazuki, the vocalist, did comment on the situation and the band decided to cancel future activities and go on hiatus. Most importantly, they assured fans that they will return to their usual band activities.

BABYMETAL Train Still Going Strong
Like it or not, this trio of young ladies are still rocking our world. They started the year off strong with the release of their second full length album, their first North American tour, and making their debut appearance on The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend any of the shows, but I heard for the most that it was a big success. Hopefully, that'll lead to more U.S. tour dates (y'know, somewhere closer to me =X). It was recently announced that they will be opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica on their respective tours/shows. Hopefully, the metal world will come to accept them in the same manner of respect as Rob Zombie. I look forward to more groundbreaking accomplishments from this group in 2017 and perhaps a break for them as well. I mean...they're still kids.

Dio - distraught overlord's Revival
From time to time disbanded bands will reunite for special occasions on a temporary basis. Even though I cannot attend any of these revival lives, it still excites me to see all the members come together on one stage and bring the passion and energy to their fans through their music. After their disbandment, I tried my best to keep track of all the members. I believe Kei retired from music, so there was no way to find out what he was up to. Mikaru put together BLACK LINE with Denka and did some solo activities under G.L.A.M.S, which included photography pieces I believe. Ivy joined Moran and is now currently in LACK-CO.. And Erina, I can only think of him being in VII-Sense until they decided to disband, but I feel like I'm forgetting something. Anyway, B7Klan was celebrating their 10th anniversary and the band, along with Dirtrunks, came together for a European tour. They also planned a limited revival in Japan and released a single. With a musical release, I hoped that this would be a full revival, but sadly I think this may be temporary. Nonetheless, I look forward to checking out LACK-CO. and more of Mikaru's solo work.

Lolita23q Come Out of Hiatus
Well, this is a name I haven't used since 2012 when the band announced their indefinite hiatus. I thought 2012 would be the end for them and I would just have to enjoy them separately, which was fine. I still have to listen to LOUD GRAPE, even though they disbanded in 2016. When I first saw the news, I thought it was simply a limited revival situation like many bands before, especially since Ryosuke's solo project WING WORKS gained great momentum and the original vocalist Sou was back on board. Upon reading and rereading this post, it looks like this is an actual comeback for the band to their original form. I'm really looking forward to what they have in store for us, but I also hope that Ryosuke and Ryuto don't burn themselves out between bands either.

BORN Disbands
BORN was band that I happened to stumble across at the right moment, because it was not too long before they announced their appearance at Oni-Con in Houston. The band has undergone so many changes over the years with each other from constant name changes, moving to a major label, and losing a member. Nonetheless, they continued to push on and create more music for their fans. I was devastated and even a bit unsurprised by the announcement. What was really depressing was hearing Ryouga being unmotivated and as much as I love that man it makes me want to cry and hug him. At the same time, Ray announced that BORN will be his final band. Fortunately, news appeared that Ryouga and some other familiar faces in the scene joined together to create RAZOR, which I'm looking forward to checking out. Hopefully, we will see K and Tomo appear in a new band some time soon.

D=OUT Leaves PS Company
It's another year of someone escaping PS Company and it seems like their roaster is getting smaller and smaller. Yes, it seems as though Kouki and the gang are taking the solo and band activities elsewhere and I'm stoked to see their style evolving even further. I've seen so much good after previous bands have left and even a few experimentations that were hit or miss. Nonetheless, I feel like the band can breath with their creativity and not become Kagrra, 2.0.

2NE1 Disbands
This was the year of CL and everyone knew it and was ready for it. As a former CL bias fan, I was both skeptical and a bit optimistic for her debut in the U.S. Although, I wasn't quite fond of majority of her material. While it was catchy, fun, and full of energy on stage, the quality was lacking. Time and time again YG teased BlackJacks with the promise of a comeback and even brought them together for 2015's MAMAs. But with all the focus on CL's endeavors, I'm guessing Minzy knew she could do so much better with her talent. It was a sad day for BlackJacks to hear that their fiery dancer was departing. I was saddened, but not completely surprised. YG continued to state that 2NE1 were coming back as a trio, but with much silence from the group and a lot of push for CL's first American tour, it wasn't surprising to see that 2NE1 was no more. It's really unfortunate how their fate was such a slow pull of a band-aid, but I really hope that Minzy and Dara (and I guess Bom) continue their journey in music.

Girugamesh and SCREW Disband
After twelve years of great music, memories, and just full on love, Girugamesh announced after their European tour that they would be disbanding. This news was very surprising for many, especially for myself. Their latest release felt like a return to their roots of their first and second albums and I was quite pumped to this growth and perhaps more experimentation with their sound. But here we are. Fortunately, one member, the band's drummer Яyo, is staying in the music scene through YouTube, which is pretty interesting and mesmerizing to watch. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the other members to resurface on the music scene and maybe a reunion appearance in the U.S. For many visual kei fans, hearing SCREW's disbandment around the same time made them skeptical whether the genre was dying or not. More disheartening than surprising, seeing the news of their disbandment seemed very unfortunate to me as I felt like the band never got to reach their full potential, especially under PS Company. Maybe if they had the chance to go to elsewhere, their music career would last a little longer and they would be able to grow more. But maybe there was more to it than the little I know as a fan/outsider. Nonetheless, just because these two bands who have been around for 10 years or more, it doesn't mean that visual kei is dead. #ResurrectVK

RAVE's Mikuru Passes Away
The really crappy part of these lists is including the decease. While I'm still a relatively new fan of RAVE, it was sad to see that one of their members departed from earth. Apparently, the guitarist had went on break to recover from an undisclosed illness. For now, it seems like the band has pushed forward despite the unfortunate situation and have released new material. RAVE have also announced a new album for 2017 while keeping the spirit of Mikuru's talent and passion laced through their music. I wish the remaining members luck for the new year and blessings on Mikuru's loved ones.

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