Wednesday, December 12, 2007

J Pop 2007 in Review ~Part Two~

12th December 2007, Wednesday

J Rock/ Visual Kei
L'Arc~en~ciel's "3 months 3 singles" campaign sort of get avid fans buzzing with excitement and the new album "Kiss" capped a great 15th Anniversary for the band.
Meanwhile main rival in this genre, Glay certainly go for rock ballads which the listeners like but did get back to abit more rustic with "Ashes 1969"
Dir en grey, one of the top visual band which survived the visual kei pop back in late 1990s, only has "Dozing Green" to show for 2007 and were focused with their tour in the States and Europe.
In their absence, the visual kei scene in Japan was headlined by Nightmare which enjoyed a lot of mainstream success with their contribution to the "Death Note" anime series last year.
Other bands which had surprisingly good mainstream showings are The GazettE, Alice Nine & Merry.
Other bands with less visual aspects too were rocking thr charts in 2007 including MUCC, acid black cherry (solo project by yasu of Janne da Arc) and The Back Horn.
And there we have T.M.Revolution's own band, abingdon boy's school which have some radio-friendly rock tunes which gained popularity when tie in with anime and console games

Pop-Rock Band/ Group
Kobukuro was one of the most watched for act in late 2005 and 2006 and that trend continues in 2007 as they maintained their success with "Winding Road" with label mate and equally popular, Ayaka as well as "Tsubomi" which was used as the theme song for the tear-jerking dorama, "Tokyo Tower"... Their "All Best SIngles" album compilation was one of the best selling of 2007 despite being released a year back.
Equally popular pop duos like Porno Graffitti, Sukima Switch & Yuzu had made contributions to the scene but none came as close as the influence of Kobukuro I supposed.
J-urban group, mihimaru GT should be so lucky if they wanna maintain the fabulous results of "kibun Jo Jo" last year while Shina Ringo and her band, Tokyo Jihen had a pretty productive year.
the past few years see the emergence of some prominent pop bands but the popularity of some had waned with the exception for fellow Sony Music label mates, Aqua Timez & UVERworld who's songs were constantly tied in with anime and dorama which is always the right remedy of success in the J pop scene.
Other SME label bands such as Flow also had a fabulous showing with their last single, "Answer", Chatmonchy who surely is the breakthrough of the year and Ikimono-gakari who have a few nice tunes fto follow up their successful debut last year.
Perhaps only Remioromen with that massive hit, "Konayuki" last year can break the SME stronghold in this genre...

R&B/ Hip Hop
While the likes of D-51, Chemistry & The Gospellers sort of fading into black (though the latter 2 have forgettable new works in 2007 which made into the weekly Top Ten), it was Exile which continues to hog the headlines in this genre despite the departure of former vocalist, Shun and the recruitment of Atsushi & Takahiro. Their 5 singles in 2007 all made into Top 10 and surely now is a gem of their label, Avex.
Orange Range continued to fare badly as compared to their "Musiq" era but "Ikenai Taiyou" from the dorama "Hana-Kimi" revived their ailing chart sales; meanwhile Ketsumeshi's singles coninued to have its appeal to the Japanese listeners despite their inactiveness on Japanese Tv variety programmes.
Seamo who has the hit "Mata Aimashou" sang the theme of the new Crayon Shin-chan movie and suddenly have more fans of the lower age group.
But this year version of "Mata Aimashou" has to be Soulja's "Kokoni Iruyo" & there are hopes for this young R&B singer..
Another young hip hop group, Funky Monkey Babys came into recognition with their single, "Lovin' Life" while RSP (Real Street Project) did a popular female version of Dozan Miki's 2001 hit song, "Lifetime Respect" which became an anthem with the youth.
A much seasoned Hip Hop act, Rip Slyme have another great year of fun with naughtey hits like "Nettaiya" while the likes of Shonan no Kaze, Kreva, ET-King, Homemade Kazoku, Soul'd Out & Crystal Kay also made 2007 a year full of notable R&B acts as well

Monkey Majik had a wonderful year collaborating with the likes of Seamo, m-flo & Yoshida Kyodai.& soon with Chemistry I think.
Seamo also collaborated with BoA in his album while Yuzu teamed up with Matsutoya Yumi & Teraoka Yohito by the name of Golden Circle with a No. 1 hit.
The most notable collabo of course is Kobukuro & Ayaka while Koda Kumi got help from Avex label mates Tohoshinki in "Last Angel".
Exile also collaborated with Sowelu and Doberman Inc. for "Tokei no Kakera ~24 karats".
ELT who has a quiet year collaborated with Makihara Noriyuki in a remade version of a hit song of the latter.
Micro of Def Tech sang a nice duet with Ito Yuna of a Hawaiian style hip hop track, "Mahaloha" while actors Kou Shibasaki & Fukuyama Masaharu who star in the hit dorama "Galileo" form a unit known as KOH+ with the single "Kisu shite"

Surprise Hits
"Sen no Kaze ni Natte" surely is a surprise hit and an immensely successful one, I wonder if Akikawa Masafumi will turn pop eventually?
The other surprise hit has to be "Oshiri Kajiri Mushi" by the husband and wife duo of Uruma Delvi, perhaps the "Dango San Kyodai" of 2007...didn't really like though..
GReeeeN a band of relatively unknown origin popped up the chart with their 3rd single, "Ai Uta"and provided music and lyrics for NEWS' "weeek" single, their identity still very much in wrapped.
Leah Dizon, an immensely popular model with multiple ethnicities won the hearts of many willing male fans which led to her successful music career even though she can't sings for nuts...
Despite her negative publicity about her being a pompous smug, gravure idol turned actress Sawajiri Erika under the alter ego ERIKA got a hot selling single "Free" using her sexy persona much like Leah Dizon to win people over, though she has a better singing voice...

My Top 5 Songs of 2007

1. Ikanai Taiyou by Orange Range - The opening of "Hana-Kimi" was such an impact with the group shot of the Osaka Gakuen crew and this cool summer track from OR, like it so much I made it into my mobile ringtone now

2. Flavor of Life ~Ballad version~ by Utada Hikaru - Always love Utada's works and this song cement her position as one the top songstress, really like her "Beautiful World/ Kiss & Cry" as well

3. Feel the Fate by KAT-TUN - I don't know why KAT-TUN's songs like "Real Face" had this "ear worm" effect on me, kept humming the song since hearing it during my recent Japan trip.

4. Tsubomi by Kobukuro - The opening jingle of this song can get me emotional due to the dorama.

5. Rolling Star by YUI - Great anthem as an opening for Bleach the anime series, showing how versatile YUI can be...can do both mellow or hard rock

In general, 2007 seems to be rather dull in the music scene but Akikawa Masafumi proves that it is still possible to sell 1 million copies of a single in this digital downloading age...
In 2008 perhaps we'll see a bit more of SMAP and Southern All Stars and hopefully less Johnny's though I doubt so...
The ones to watch out for would be YUI, Funky Monkey Babys, Soulja, and of course the debut of the super band, Skin...

Japanese word of the day: 百万 ~hya-ku-ma-n~(Million) Years back, it's not too hard to sell a million copies of a popular single but these days, it's an almost unattainable dream



Post a Comment

<< Home