| Jun 20, 2001

J-rap gets real

Most rap music leaves me cold. One reason is that, as a 42-year-old white Canadian male, I am culturally predisposed to dislike it. Another is that a lot of rap is crap: monotonous, rhythmically and melodically sterile, and full of violent, misogynistic, homophobic posturing. ...

| Jun 13, 2001

Bow wow wow yippee yay

When I first saw Super Butter Dog at an industry showcase a few years back, I thought they were a joke. First, of course, there was the name. Super Butter Dog sounded like one of those quasi-edible agglomerations of animal byproducts and chemicals you ...

| May 30, 2001

The names are insane and I like it like that

What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to Japanese bands, a lot, actually. Japanese rock groups, like Western psychedelic bands of 30-some years ago, have been coming up with some extraordinarily creative and just plain nutzo band names of late. The band Seagull ...

| May 23, 2001

Have you never been soft rock?

All sorts of great music is coming out of Japan these days, as any true J-pop fan knows. And some of the most interesting stuff is the music that can be included under the rubric “soft rock.” In North America, soft rock refers to ...

| May 16, 2001

The sweet sound of a good cause

Historically, the Japanese geinokai (entertainment world) has been slow to catch on to the idea of the charity concert/release. But now Ryuichi Sakamoto, a la Bob Geldof and the Band Aid famine-relief project, has put together an impressive array of Japanese and overseas talents ...

| May 9, 2001

3G phones -- putting your music where your mouth is

Today’s topic, class, is how to promote music in Japan and keep the Japanese music biz afloat. Are you ready? Then I’ll begin. Now, those of you above a certain age will recall with fondness the transistor radio. Remember the sense of freedom it ...

| May 4, 2001

Big threat in a small box

I’m sure I speak for many parents out there who have had to deal with a threat to their children’s mental and physical well-being more terrifying than television, more pernicious than pornography and more insidious than ijime. I speak, of course, of the frightening ...

| May 2, 2001

Power Puffy girls

Is America ready for Puffy? The pop duo’s record label, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), apparently thinks so. Sony Music Imports released Puffy’s most recent album, “Spike,” in the U.S. on May 1, in the hope that Americans will go gaga over Ami and Yumi ...

| Apr 25, 2001

A stunningly beautiful work of Great 3 genius

One sure sign of the maturation of a pop-music culture is when artists start releasing albums that are organic, cohesive works of art, instead of collections of their latest hit singles with some B-grade tracks as filler. “May and December,” the latest from Japanese ...

| Apr 18, 2001

Battle of the pop divas

Please sit down. There, are you comfortable? Perhaps you’d like a drink to calm your nerves, because what I’m about to say may come as somewhat of a shock. Ayumi Hamasaki (top) and Hikaru Utada: Japanese pop divas that you can actually listen to ...