For Utada, third time's, uh, same-ish

| May 22, 2002

For Utada, third time's, uh, same-ish

Set for a June 19 release, Hikaru Utada’s third album, “Deep River,” doesn’t contain any major surprises, staying true to the pop/R&B synthesis that has proven so successful for the singer since she burst onto the scene with her debut single, “Automatic/Time Will Tell,” ...

Misora's ship has come in

| May 15, 2002

Misora's ship has come in

Die-hard fans of the late Hibari Misora — the greatest enka diva ever — may want to book passage on the “Queen Hibari Misora cruise,” a unique, if somewhat morbid, maritime event being held June 12 and 13 to mark the 14th anniversary of ...

Go West, PuffyAmiYumi!

| May 8, 2002

Go West, PuffyAmiYumi!

If you’ve ever seen pop duo Puffy perform live, you know that a key part of their shows is their low-key, slightly ironic between-songs banter. So naturally Yumi Yoshimura is worried that her inability to speak English will make it hard to enjoy that ...

A heaping spoonful of satire helps the politics go down

| May 1, 2002

A heaping spoonful of satire helps the politics go down

Mixing music and politics is always tricky. While it sometimes results in great art (e.g. Bob Dylan’s pacifist tirade “Masters of War”), often the music is ruined by too much didacticism (John Lennon’s “Some Time in New York City” is a prime example). But ...

| Apr 24, 2002

Two men and a poor baby

I have a thang, as Isaac Hayes would say, for Yuki Koyanagi. Maybe it’s her sultry pout. Maybe it’s her bleached-blonde hair. Or it could be her gloriously trashy fashion sense. Koyanagi burst onto the J-pop scene in September 1999 with the single “Anata ...

Happy End all over again

| Apr 17, 2002

Happy End all over again

British rock band Oasis will be playing live in Tokyo on May 23. But exactly where is a mystery. Oasis are one of five acts (the others are Jay-Z, Dragon Ash, RIP Slyme and Rize) scheduled to perform at that day’s MTV Super Dry ...

In a sentimental mood

| Apr 10, 2002

In a sentimental mood

For Westerners of a certain age, the ’60s were an era of social and cultural ferment, when the Vietnam War, the Pill, rock music, drugs and the sexual revolution shook the foundations of society. In Japan, however, a “can-do” spirit prevailed as the postwar ...

Still chasing their dream

| Apr 3, 2002

Still chasing their dream

And then there were two . . . Dreams Come True keyboard player Takahiro Nishikawa’s announcement on March 24 that he had left the pop trio wasn’t all that surprising. For a long time Nishikawa had been very much the odd man out in ...

Groove is in the House

| Mar 27, 2002

Groove is in the House

Ambitious is the word that comes to mind when looking at the publicity material for the inaugural New York-Tokyo Music Festival. Scheduled to take place in the Big Apple May 23-26, the event will feature live performances by a variety of Japanese artists, including ...

Come back, come back wherever you were . . .

| Mar 20, 2002

Come back, come back wherever you were . . .

As part of its continuing effort to promote J-pop overseas, Sony last week released an album in the United States titled “Japan for Sale 2,” which is a great all-around introduction to Japanese music. Now, before I go any further, I should declare that ...