It’s not the highest of honors, but I’d like to award awkwardly named boy band Kis-My-Ft2 as the best pop act under the Johnny & Associates umbrella.

Again, this isn’t an accomplishment worthy of a trophy, especially considering the competition includes the phone-it-in balladry of SMAP and the dinner-theater cheesiness of Arashi and Sexy Zone. Still, as evidenced by several tracks on the seven-member group’s third album, “Kis-My-Journey,” the project’s willingness to embrace contemporary global sounds makes it more compelling than the stuff being put out by most other male pop stars topping the Oricon charts, even if it’s a hit-or-miss collection that’s heavy on the misses.

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