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SCANDAL: DEPARTURE

4 hours 3 min ago
SCANDAL: DEPARTURE
Release Date: 
4/23/14
Label: 
Epic
Dig the A-side. Worship the B-side.

For those not in the know, Scandal is an all-girl pop rock group hailing from Osaka. The girls formed the group in 2006 when they were still in high school and they've been quite busy ever since releasing their first single, Doll, back in 2008. In fact, their new single, Departure, is their 18th already! Meanwhile, they've released five original studio albums, two EPs and two compilation albums.

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Categories: Anime, Otaku Culture

moumoon: JEWEL

22 April, 2014 - 10:26
moumoon: JEWEL
Release Date: 
4/14
Label: 
Avex
moumoon release yet another bright and shiny gem to be adored...

Just when you're feeling glum... moumoon reappear with a bright and shiny song to cheer you the fuck up. Seriously, a song couldn't possibly be more cheerful than this. And, you know what? It's awsome. Frackin' awesome. Musically, it packs highly addictive beats that will have you bouncing around in your seat; Kousuke Masaki has really out-done himself here. You know how some Asian pop songs have that effect on people, right? There's just something more stimulating about them than Western pop songs. You'll never hear an American pop song with happy-go-lucky beats like this.

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Categories: Anime, Otaku Culture

KEN HIRAI FEAT. NAMIE AMURO: GROTESQUE

17 April, 2014 - 12:34
KEN HIRAI FEAT. NAMIE AMURO: GROTESQUE
Release Date: 
4/2/14
Label: 
Sony Music
Ken Hirai and Namie Amuro team up for a truly weird but highly addictive new tune...

Well, well, well... This "Grotesque" song is an interesting one. A bit weird, even. It starts off with Ken singing over hip-hop-ish/electro beats, the last line of his verse being "someone said, I hate you," which is how Namie concludes her verse as well. About a minute into the track, it gets a hard, throbbing electro-beat. "It's me, why don't you kill me," Namie sings at one point after a verse there.

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Categories: Anime, Otaku Culture

NS YOON-G: THE WAY 2..

16 April, 2014 - 14:55
NS YOON-G: THE WAY 2..
Release Date: 
4/3/14
Label: 
Loen Entertainment
I checked out the video for "Yasisi" ("야시시") and immediately fell in love with it.

One of my longtime readers suggested that I check out this mini-album and I'm quite glad because I hadn't heard about it. Well, OK, I *am* subscribed to 1theK's channel on Youtube, but I'm subscribed to over 200 Youtube channels, trying to keep tabs on everything for both Love is Pop and Otaku (this site), so, unfortunately, I don't have time to watch every single video that they post. But, following my reader's suggestion, I checked out the video for "Yasisi" ("야시시") and immediately fell in love with it.

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HIGH4 & IU: 봄 사랑 벚꽃 말고 [Not Spring, Love, or Cherry Blossoms]

11 April, 2014 - 08:52
HIGH4 & IU: 봄 사랑 벚꽃 말고 [Not Spring, Love, or Cherry Blossoms]
Release Date: 
4/7/14
Label: 
Loen Music
To be honest, I'm on the fence about this one. It's got some nice, soothing strings and IU sounds beautiful as always, and I think the guys sound lovely, too, but the song is missing something.

Well, this one caught me by surprise. For a few reasons. One, I'd never heard of HIGH4 before. Ever. So, maybe this is their first single and they're using IU to get themselves some airplay or something to that effect? I could be wrong. The other thing is, I didn't hear anything about IU doing a duet with anyone, much less a whole boy band, and I'm just surprised I didn't read anything about this. I get posts from a bunch of K-Pop news sites in my feed on Facebook. And, obviously, since I didn't even know this single existed, I did not know when it was being released.

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SHOKO NAKAGAWA: 9LIVES

10 April, 2014 - 08:57
SHOKO NAKAGAWA: 9LIVES
Release Date: 
4/2/14
Label: 
SRCL
You might expect an album with songs that were used for so many different things to sound rather unfocused, since many of the songs were created for various different projects, not specifically to go together. But you would be wrong in this case.

It's been three and a half years since Shoko's last full-length album, Cosmic Inflation, but she has finally released her fourth album in the form of 9Lives. It features the Shokotan singles "Once Upon a Time – Kibou no Uta," "Sakasama Sekai" and "Zoku Konton," in addition to several anime and game theme songs. It makes me wonder if she didn't call this album 9Lives because, well, there are probably 9 songs on here that were written to be theme songs. Then again, she's holding what I believe to be her pet cat on the cover, so perhaps it's just a feline thing.

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Beat Collection Saya Saionji Resin Statue

9 April, 2014 - 12:10
Beat Collection Saya Saionji Resin Statue Wardrobe malfunction... or intentional mischief?

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Categories: Anime, Otaku Culture

E-GIRLS: DIAMOND ONLY

8 April, 2014 - 12:04
E-GIRLS: DIAMOND ONLY
Release Date: 
2/26/14
Label: 
RZCD
E-girls is a Japanese collective girl group, meaning that they are comprised of members of different, smaller girl groups. The gigantic group, which is signed to avex's Rhythm Zone imprint, features every single member of Dream, Happiness, Flower, Bunny (a non-debuted group) and EGD.

E-girls is a Japanese collective girl group, meaning that they are comprised of members of different, smaller girl groups. The gigantic group, which is signed to avex's Rhythm Zone imprint, features every single member of Dream, Happiness, Flower, Bunny (a non-debuted group) and EGD. Their name stands for Exile Girls Unit. If Wiki is up to date, there are currently 29 members. Suffice to say there are a lot of talented singers in the group. And I do believe they are currently giving AKB48 a serious run for their money on the charts.

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Vividred Operation Akane Isshiki (Pallet Suit) from Medicom

8 April, 2014 - 10:16
Akane Isshiki From the Anime / Manga / Game series Vividred Operation comes Akane Isshiki in her Pallet Suit

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Categories: Anime, Otaku Culture

JULIE LIU: BLACK MAGIC

4 April, 2014 - 10:13
JULIE LIU: BLACK MAGIC
Release Date: 
4/7/14
Label: 
Gold Typhoon (TW)
Julie Liu returns with a fresh, modern sound to her incredible songs...

The only previous release by Julie Liu that I'm aware of is her 2011 album Taiwan. It's an album I quite like, full of gorgeous songs -- including many ballads -- that are just perfect for chilling out. But Julie's new EP is rather different, taking on more of a modern sound.

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Categories: Anime, Otaku Culture

CRAYON POP: UH-EE

3 April, 2014 - 08:46
CRAYON POP: UH-EE
Release Date: 
4/1/14
Label: 
Sony Music Entertainment Korea
It's a K-Pop version of the chicken dance. Not the "Chicken Dance" we loathe here in the States, but, still, it's a chicken dance. Read on for the ridiculous lyrics.

The video for Crayon Pop's "UH-EE" starts off with the girls entering a jazz club. After a bit of jazz music, suddenly the girls appear in the weird outfits they're wearing on the cover for this single and start dancing and singing the song. They just remain in one relatively small area of the club as they dance and they never change outfits, which is too bad because they look a bit ridiculous dressed in those outfits, the significance of which is completely unknown to me. But perhaps they're supposed to look like workers from a fast food chicken restaurant? Why do I say this?

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BOYFRIEND: MY AVATAR

31 March, 2014 - 09:43
BOYFRIEND: MY AVATAR
Release Date: 
3/26/14
Label: 
JBCB
Boyfriend go Japanese with their new single, "My Avatar," which is quite the impressive little tune.

If you like electro-pop/dance pop then this sparkling diamond is for you. I was expecting some pretty run--of-the-J-Pop-mill stuff, nothing outstanding, having heard very little by this boy band before aside from "Pinky Santa" last Christmas. (FYI, Boyfriend is a K-Pop boy band, but, like most such boy bands, they're also releasing Japanese material like this, not content to be popular in just one country.) But I must say that I was highly impressed with this single.

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CLARIS: CLICK

28 March, 2014 - 12:15
CLARIS: CLICK
Release Date: 
1/29/14
Label: 
Sony Music Entertainment Records
The electro-pop elements have returned on their Claris' new single, "CLICK," which is the opening theme for the Nisekoi anime series.

When this duo started making music as Alice Clara in 2009 they were first year junior high students, so one would imagine that they're graduating high school soon. Although I'm not sure how many years Japanese students go to junior high or high school for. But you'd think 5 years would probably be enough. Then again, we have 2 years of junior high here and 4 years of high school, so maybe they won't graduate until spring of 2015?

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PASSPO☆: PERFECT SKY

27 March, 2014 - 12:20
PASSPO☆: PERFECT SKY
Release Date: 
3/26/14
Label: 
UPCH
"Perfect Sky" is one of the mellower tunes Passpo☆ have done to date. It's still J-Rock, yes, but it's not as heavy as most of their recent singles. During the verses it's a swirling, dreamy mid-tempo number with a wonderful melody, kind of in the pop rock vein.

Normally, the girls of Passpo☆ simply play the part of a singing girl group in their videos, which is exactly what they are. But for "Perfect Sky" they're playing the part of a rock band. From what I've seen of the video excerpt on Youtube, it looks like they're really performing the song, but to the best of my knowledge they don't actually play any instruments. So, if you ask me, it's a bit silly to have them pretending to play the instruments in the video. But it could be worse, like when artists only pretend to sing when they perform live (I'm talking to you, Britney Spears).

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KAMEN RIDER GIRLS: exploded

25 March, 2014 - 08:18
KAMEN RIDER GIRLS: exploded
Release Date: 
3/19/14
Label: 
avex
exploded opens with the vicious title track, which makes it obvious that the group isn't mellowing out or falling victim to any sophomore slump here.

As you may recall from my review of their single "SSS 〜Shock Shocker Shockest〜," Kamen Rider Girls is a J-Rock/J-Pop outfit that was created to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Kamen Rider Series. Each member is supposed to represent one of the heroes from the show. To that end, the girls often wear the "transformation belt" of the character they represent.

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ORANGE CARAMEL: SINGLE ALBUM VOL. 3 - CATALLENA

19 March, 2014 - 13:21
ORANGE CARAMEL: SINGLE ALBUM VOL. 3 - CATALLENA
Release Date: 
3/14/14
Label: 
Loen Entertainment
Aside from being irresistible, "Catallena" is an interesting tune for many reasons. First of all, the marching beats during the chorus initially reminded me of Heart's "Barracuda." But it's ultimately a disco song. And not just any old disco song. This time around, the girls have gone Bollywood style, "Catallena" being a self-described Indian disco-style song.

There are an awful lot of sub-units of various K-Pop girl groups floating around these days and most of them seem to float aimlessly, without any real reason for being, their songs mediocre and unnecessary, tarnishing the image of the primary group, if anything. Orange Caramel is an exception. The After School sub-unit continues to release incredible tunes with their third single, "Catallena," which is easily one of the most insanely catchy songs ever to be released by a sub-unit. Honestly, it's so damn infectious that it actually rivals After School's best singles. No kidding.

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TOMOMI ITANO: LITTLE

17 March, 2014 - 10:38
TOMOMI ITANO: LITTLE
Release Date: 
2/5/14
Label: 
KICM
I don't think Tomomi Itano is going to become a washed up child star, or that her self-esteem will be hurting, because her solo singles released when she was still a member of AKB48 were fantastic and now her first single post graduation, "little," is insanely good.

It's been several months since Tomomi Itano graduated from the massive girl group AKB48. Why did she graduate? I honestly have no idea. I'm always hearing about these girls graduating from the group, as well as girls graduating from plenty of other girl groups as well, and it's never really clear to me why they're graduating. Sometimes it seems it's because they're ready for a successful solo career. But, sometimes, I fear that it's simply because the girls are deemed too old to continue being in their groups.

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LEO IEIRI: A BOY

13 March, 2014 - 11:11
LEO IEIRI: A BOY
Release Date: 
2/19/14
Label: 
Victor Entertainment
When I first heard A Boy, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. While I'd thought the singles were good, they were mellower than the songs on LEO and not as immediately catchy. But they did grow on me after a few listens, so I decided to take some time to live with A Boy before reviewing it. And I'm glad I did because it really grew on me.

2013 was a huge year for Leo Ieiri, one of the youngest singer/songwriters to ever take Japan by storm. And she didn't slow down after she was done promoting the album. In no time, she was releasing singles again in the form of "Message," "Taiyo no Megumi" and "Chocolate." All three of these singles appear on her new sophomore album, A Boy, along with 10 additional new songs.

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AFTER SCHOOL: SHH

12 March, 2014 - 11:28
AFTER SCHOOL: SHH
Release Date: 
1/29/14
Label: 
Avex
"Shh" is the girls' sixth Japanese single for which they've reunited with Mondo Grosso's producer extraordinaire Shinichi Osawa.

After School might not be the most famous South Korean girl group, but I think it's safe to say that they're hugely successful at this point. I mean, they're on the gigantic Avex label and they're constantly releasing songs in both Japanese and Korean. They even go to Japan to perform and otherwise promote their Japanese releases. I would not be surprised at all if they do a song in Mandarin (Chinese) soon. (They really should. I could see them being insanely popular there.)

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AFTER SCHOOL: SHH

12 March, 2014 - 11:28
AFTER SCHOOL: SHH
Release Date: 
1/29/14
Label: 
Avex
"Shh" is the girls' sixth Japanese single for which they've reunited with Mondo Grosso's producer extraordinaire Shinichi Osawa.

After School might not be the most famous South Korean girl group, but I think it's safe to say that they're hugely successful at this point. I mean, they're on the gigantic Avex label and they're constantly releasing songs in both Japanese and Korean. They even go to Japan to perform and otherwise promote their Japanese releases. I would not be surprised at all if they do a song in Mandarin (Chinese) soon. (They really should. I could see them being insanely popular there.)

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