Category Archives: J-Rock

OriUp’d Vol. 4

After taking a couple weeks off – I’m back. Last week’s top 5:

  1. Passpo – Shoujo Hikou (42,706)
  2. MBLAQ – Your Luv (40,281)
  3. THE ALFEE – Let It Go (23,0108)
  4. Jang Keun Suk – Let me cry (22,707)
  5. Shoujo Jidai – MR. TAXI / Run Devil Run (20,623)

Narrow sales margins between first and second, but really well done to Passpo, who have broken a couple of records with their debut #1.

This week has been the first in a while where we’re looking at the possibility of a top 10 full of new entries. Battling at the top are, also, three very different acts.

Male idol group Kanjani8 come back with the second of the trio of singles they’ll be releasing this summer, “My Home“. A gentle rocky number, with a nice guitar solo in the middle. The PV is pretty generic, switching between the boys doing DIY poorly in a house and them playing instruments and singing the song. JE fans will probably bump this to number 1.

BUMP OF CHICKEN are back with “Smile“, a simple acoustic number. It’s quite a nice track, and quite different to what we here in this half of the Oricon. I do love the screaming of “aaaaah” and any song with a key change at the end has to be epic. PV pretty bland – shots of cartoon like sketches.

French Kiss make sure the 48 franchise also has an entry this week with “Kakko Warui I love you“, an up-beat pop number being used as the theme to anime “SKET Dance“… not my favourite single this week, but none the less, selling well. PV is just dance shot + close up. I’m feeling pretty indifferent towards this.

Other entries include double a-sides from aiko and Tokyo Jihen, more anisong from UVERWORLD (CORE PRIDE for Ao no Exorcist) and May’n (Scarlet Ballet for Hidan no Aria).

May’n’s latest entry sounds slightly like they’re trying to turn her into Nana Mizuki. Stay true to your style May’n, you’re epic in your own way (although her PV does rock).

My favourite entry this week has to be Yuu Kikkawa‘s “Kikkake wa you” which has been stuck between 10-12 position, but I’ll save that for another post, but even if you’re not a Hello! Project fan at the moment, it’s really worth a listen as the B-sides are also really good.

So this week, amongst the boring PVs, I’ll leave you with a gem – Tokyo Jihen‘s “Onna no ko wa Daredemo“. I’m not a big fan of their style of music, but they’re PV is definitely the most interesting of the week!

OriUp’d Vol. 3

Last week’s top 5:

  1.  B’z – Sayonara Kizu Darake no Hibi yo (130,195)
  2. Nana Mizuki – SCARLET KNIGHT (55,366)
  3. Nana Mizuki – Pop Master (51,883)
  4. KARA – Jet Coaster Love (24,399)
  5. Aki Toyosaki – Haru Kaze SHUN PU (12,453)

After dominating the DVD chart last week, Kanjani8 have released their first of three monthly consecutive singles with T.W.L. and Yellow Pansy Street which are both being used in the latest Crayon Shin Chan movie.  Avid fans will also note that this will be the most singles the band has ever released in a year.  I’ve never really taken to Kanjani8 (I’m more of an Arashi fan), but the double A-side isn’t too bad.  There’s a lot of brass in both singles, with T.W.L. reminding me a bit of Nagisa no Sinbad, while Yellow Pansy Street sounds somewhat of a Beatles Sergent Pepper-esc tribute (from the music video, it looks like JE ordered too much felt…).  I’ve always found Kanjani8 a bit tongue in cheek, so I suppose if you approach this single with that in mind, and the fact that it’s for a kid’s movie, into account, it’s not too bad.  Unless something insane happens, this single will get the top spot this week.

Moving on FT Island are keeping the interest going with Korea with their single “SATISFACTION“, currently being used as the ending to theare the ones I’m really loving, so FT Island are also fitting this bill.  The verses are a bit boring, but the chorus builds up dramatically and is the real pulling point of the song.  It’s a bit bland, but the kind of track I’d probably love if I was really into these guys.

SCANDAL have also got a new entry in the mix this week with “HARUKA”, not one of my favourite tracks by them, as I prefer their more energetic numbers, but the PV is definitely worth taking a look at just to see the girls perform a dance routine while still playing guitar / bass (we’ll let the drummer off for not joining in). 

Other new entries this week include nano.RIPE with “Hana no Iro“, a rock band with a lead vocalist who sets your teeth on edge (e.g. her pitch is higher than YUKI on Helium), Kou Shibasaki with wish and various artists who have decided that they’d rather release a single this week on Saturday, including enka from Miyako Otsuki and the anisong opening to “Katte ni Kaizo Shitemo Iize” from Ichi Mizuki to Tokusatsu.

So it’s looking like a 1, 2, 3 respectively for my former mentioned singled.  I’ll leave you with SCANDAL’s “Haruka” – I really hope they do that dance live…

OriUp’d Vol2

Last week’s Oricon top 5:

  1. KARA – Jet Coaster Love (122,820)
  2. Tsuyoshi Domoto – Eni o yuite ( 90,685)
  3. SDN48 – Ai, Juseyo (64,020)
  4. UVERworld – MONDO PIECE (45,668)
  5. Morning Musume – Maji desu ka SKA! (33,686)

A rather predictable week from day 2, to be honest, but it’s surprising to see sales back to normal levels after such devastation problems in Japan.  KARA have also had most epic sales of their singles, and as a Brit, it’s traditional to love under dogs, so anyone who outsells an AKB group always gets a thumbs up.

This week is a no brainer number 1, as the B’z release single number 48,  “Sayonara Kizu Darake no Hibi yo” – and I have to admit, it’s fantastic.  I only got into B’z a couple of years ago (through their Ichibu to Zenbu / DIVE double A-side) and it’s actually quite cool how such a veteran rock act can make music which still sounds contemporary enough to chart.  Rock on B’z – I’m not even going to dispute this one is yours.

Above the squabble for fourth, Nana Mizuki has released two separate singles this week which are both selling pretty similarly – “SCARLET KNIGHT” and “POP MASTER“.  SCARLET KNIGHT (anisong for Dog Days)is a more traditional Nana/voice actress single with emotional vocals and a climatic chorus, and is also pushing out its competitor – maybe it’s also got something to do with the single having PV (which the other doesn’t) and features Nana dressed as a nun POP MASTER is a little bit more funky and upbeat than it’s rival.  I can’t really decide which single I like better, it’s a bit like trying to decide whether I like cheese or jam on bread as they’re both pretty different songs by the same artist, but still predictably within her range.

Amid the mass of AKB, KARA, JE and, yes, still, Maximum the Hormone (oh how I love the Japanese music chart), relatively few new acts are jostling for top 10 places this week, including The Birthday with Naze ka kyou wa, Hideaki Tokunaga andAki Toyosaki, who we probably know better as Yui from K-ON, with a sticky sweeet ballad “Haru Kaze SHUN PU” (no, I have no idea what a SHUN PU is either?) who has a long way to go before she can sell like the almighty Nana Mizuki.

So predictable week is predictable?  My favourite new single has to go to B’z, but the PV is boring, so have Nana Mizuki as a nun and “Haru Kaze SHUN PU” because it sounds funny…

OriUp’d Vol. 1

Last weeks top 5:

  1. maximum the hormone – Greatest The Hits 2011 – 2011 (28,981)
  2. Not yet – Shuumatsu Not Yet (17,528)
  3. the BAWDIES – Love you, need you feat. AI (9,139)
  4. SKE48 – Banzai Venus (7,428)
  5. AKB48 – Sakura no ki ni narou (5,987)

Last week, Maximum the Hormone held on to the #1 spot for the second week in a row, a hard feat for any artist, especially considering the slump in sales since the Tohoku Earthquake. Congratulations to them.  Other than the Bawdies, the rest of the top 5 was made up of previously released AKB48 and sub-unit singles, and also, all sales are still low.  Luckily for us, this week sees the first wave of singles pushed back due to the Earthquake released.

What’s making me interested this week is who will be #1, which looks set to be KARA with Jet Coaster Love.  I have to admit, I’m becoming more inamoured every day with the Hallyu wave, and KARA have gone from the butt thrusting of Mister to something we’re probably a bit more used to seeing in the Japanese market.

Not only that, but they’ve managed to joust SDN48 from the top spot… or rather, this member of the xxx48 team has fallen from their pedistall.  Considering AKB48s popularity, it seems odd that a subunit would tumble so far down after first day sales, rather than maintaining a constant position.  Their ranking so far has been 1, 6, 8, 7 – which I’ve never seen before from someone who’s made #1 on the first day.  Maybe fans were a bit more embarrised about buying the raunchy single in store, or maybe it is just something to do with the earthquakes…  I have to admit, Ai, Juseyo is one of the most raunchy singles I’ve ever seen in Japan, making the Heavy Rotation bath shots look completely innocent, and the girls dancing around in their knickers covering their top half – they make Kumi Koda look like a nun!

Surprisingly, Tsuyoshi Domoto, UVERworld and, yes, Morning Musume have been able to keep up pretty constant positions, and should, respectively, all manage to to get in the top 5.  Ah, that’s what I like to see, good old predictability!

Other than that, Hiroshi Kamiya and YUKI also have new releases this week with Nijiiro Chou Chou and himitsu respectively.  They’ve been holding slightly more erratic positions so far, but maybe we’ll be seeing them in the top 10.

So what’s my favourite single this week… well you don’t even have to ask… but I’ll leave Jet Coaster Love and Ai, Juseyo below as it’s interesting to see how KARA have got it so right and SDN48 may be a little off the mark:

Hopefully I’ll have time to give my rubbish Oricon analysis for next week, and we’ll see if anything I’ve posted here holds any credibility.

And remember kids, the Oricon doesn’t mean everything!

GACKT – Yellow Fried Chikenz Tour @ O2 Academy Islington

We’ve been very lucky this year in the UK – UTADA, HANGRY & ANGRY and then even GACKT annouced he was going to do a European tour.  I’ve been a fan of GACKT for years now, and have always wanted to see him live, so dispite the ridiculously high priced tickets, grabbed a pair and over-excited myself with the prospect of seeing an artist who I’d adored for years.

However, I’ve never been more dissapointing concert before.  I left the venue feeling so angry that someone would make the effort to travel as far as GACKT did and put on a show like that.

Maybe I should explain something about the tour, it seems to be sheer promotion for GACKTs latest compilation “Are you “Fried Chickenz”??“.  The set list is the same as the tracks on the album, in identical running order – which includes 4 singles, a song from the Gundam franchise and the rest mainly album tracks from his “Crescent” album.  The tour seems to have been organised by his old label “Nippon Crown” which also own the rights to “Are you “Fried Chickenz”??” (so maybe this would explain the limited set-list and not wanting to over-promote GACKT… seems a little insane).

Okay, maybe I should have been more aware of this.  I just thought GACKT was coming to town and he’d play some tracks, but some of the audience were also pretty bemused by this.  At one stage during “Kagero” he held the microphone to the crowd in expectation that they’d sing back, and was met with a mumble of a reply.  If this wasn’t bad enough, most of the rest of the concert was dedicated to a silent GACKT standing topless on stage for long periods of time with his arms stretched out or leading chants in “YFC” or “FUCK” which became his favourite word of the evening.  He spoke very good English though, and told us all we were his brothers and sisters, no matter what colour we were.

Merchandise was equally as dissapointing in that none of it said “GACKT” but rather the tour name “Yellow Fried Chickenz” – okay I can live with that, although I wont be wearing my t-shirt out much as it seems to have GACKTs favourite words printed on the back.  I could imagine the merchandise issue also stemmed back to Nippon Crown’s control over the tour.

But now I’ve got all the moaning out of the way, on to the positives.  It was amazing to see GACKT live.  When he appeared on stage (almost an hour and a half after doors opened), a lot of people in the crowd got quite emotional – some girls near-by myself became overwhelmed and instantly started crying (I felt the same way when I met Yossie – I can’t blame them!).  GACKT also has a frickin amazing stage presence – especially when he suddenly produced a sword during “Zan” and started waving it around like a maniac.  His vocals were absolutly flawless.  He also seemed honestly overwhelmed by the concert which always earns you some kudos with the crowd.  And yes girls, he did take his clothes off and throw them into the audience.

I was pleased he played one of my favourite, slightly older songs – “Lu:Na“, although the performance did seem to lack some energy.  The highlight of the night had to be “Jesus” – despite being toward the end of the set, GACKT managed to rock it up with amazing vocals and energy.  It worked the crowd into a frenzy and everyone was singing along, which was quite refreshing compared to the rest of the evening where most songs provided a subdued vocal response at best.

So, it was an experience – I’d have to question whether I’d see him again, but I cannot doubt that he’s an amazing performer.  GACKTs promised us all (as everyone does) that he’ll be back in the UK.  Hopefully if he comes again he’ll play a few more classics.

Here’s what I did pick up at the gig: a t-shirt and a fan.  Please note that I didn’t realise what the t-shirt said on the back until after I put it on and saw another girl wearing it from behind:

Me: …..      …….      ……   What does it say on the back of my t-shirt?….
Boyfriend:…..HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – you can’t wear this outside.