Music Topics

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"Frozen" Various artists

by Patrick ST. Michel

At first blush, the Japanese success of the animated film “Frozen” seems easy to explain. In a country where people pack Tokyo Disneyland on weekdays, of course a new princess-centric cartoon from Disney would succeed, but “Frozen” has been a phenomenon all its own. It’s on pace to be the ...

Qrion reaches for softer EDM

| May 20, 2014

Qrion reaches for softer EDM

by Patrick ST. Michel

Qrion “Sink” (SenSe) There’s no shortage of electronic artists in Japan making maximalist music that centers on neck-snapping bass freakouts. Sapporo’s Qrion, though, creates songs that speak a private, softer language. The 19-year-old producer turns vocal samples into unfamiliar streaks of sound, and where ...

the Hiatus 'Keeper of the Flame'

| May 8, 2014

the Hiatus "Keeper of the Flame"

by Daisuke Kikuchi

With fourth album “Keeper of the Flame,” the Hiatus chose to emphasize digital production, moving away from the more organic style of natural instrumentation found on its previous release, the “Horse Riding” EP. The change comes alongside a reshuffle in the band’s membership and ...

E-Girls 'Colorful Pop'

Apr 15, 2014

E-Girls "Colorful Pop"

by Patrick ST. Michel

E-Girls are a 28-member-strong idol pop collective constructed by Avex. The “E” stands for “Exile,” as in this is the female version of greased-up R&B doofs Exile. The songwriters and producers making the songs on their second album, “Colorful Pop,” boast backgrounds making mediocre ...

Yoshino Yoshikawa 'Yumetatsu Glider'

| Apr 15, 2014

Yoshino Yoshikawa "Yumetatsu Glider"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Tokyo producer Yoshino Yoshikawa has often described his work as “ultrapop,” and for a while that term made perfect sense. Yoshikawa created busy, buzzing songs in the mold of Yasutaka Nakata. With names such as “Kawaii Candy,” they were a colorful rush of synthesizers ...

Hiroto Kudo 'Omoid'

Mar 18, 2014

Hiroto Kudo "Omoid"

by Russell Thomas

The musical subgenre glitch reflects our modern relationship to digital sounds, something Hiroto Kudo has picked up on for his new EP, “Omoid.” Glitch is often associated with early video-game music, implying a paradoxical nostalgia for a bygone age — the embryonic beginnings of ...

Babymetal 'Babymetal'

Mar 18, 2014

Babymetal "Babymetal"

by Patrick ST. Michel

It’s not surprising that Babymetal has gone viral. The trio, bringing the seemingly disparate worlds of idol pop and heavy metal together, is a visually striking project perfect for the “weird Japan” fans on the Internet. What’s surprising, however, is seeing Babymetal’s eponymous debut ...

AKB48 'Tsugi no Ashiato'

Feb 18, 2014

AKB48 "Tsugi no Ashiato"

by Patrick ST. Michel

No Japanese music group has been more interesting these past two years than AKB48, but “interesting” doesn’t always mean “good.” Several of the 89-members-and-growing outfit’s most notable moments have been ugly (the Minami Minegishi head-shaving scandal tops that list), but the idol group has ...

Miii 'Everything Happens To You'

Feb 18, 2014

Miii "Everything Happens To You"

by Patrick ST. Michel

After bubbling under the surface for the last couple of years, EDM looks like it will finally get the push it needs this year to become trendy in Japan. Standing for “electronic dance music” — vague advertiser-talk referring to a loud, often bass-heavy, type ...

Girls' Generation 'Love & Peace'

Jan 14, 2014

Girls' Generation "Love & Peace"

by Patrick ST. Michel

K-pop’s golden days in Japan are over. The time when Korean groups could top the Oricon charts and (more importantly) monopolize media coverage is now a memory, in part due to an oversaturation of new acts. K-pop remains a strong niche market, though, even ...

Metoronori 'Veil'

Jan 14, 2014

Metoronori "Veil"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Time will tell whether “Veil” sounds good come warmer months, but right now it’s the perfect album for winter. Tokyo artist Metoronori’s third full-length album appeared online in the middle of last week, when the wind blew especially cold. With the heat cranked up ...

Nov 19, 2013

Arashi "Love"

by Patrick ST. Michel

At the time of writing this review, Arashi’s “Love” has been bought more than any other Japanese album this year. Barring a sudden full-length LP from AKB48 or a cash-in compilation from Mr. Children, the group’s 12th CD should end 2013 in the same ...