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  1. Suki to Iu no wa Rock Daze!  [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) Suki to Iu no wa Rock Daze! [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) Nogizaka46
    The power of love
    August 31, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    The endearingly upbeat tune of Nogizaka46's 30th single Suki to Iu no wa Rock Daze! begins with a decidely downbeat line: "The person I hate the most in the world is me." Self-loathing thoughts of stagnancy and having no ambitions or expectations for the future pour out unassumingly against a mellow melody laced with energetic pop rock beats. These negative emotions are flipped by the discovery of a love that makes one sparkle. While the power of love may seem like a typically cheesy topic for a pop song, Suki to Iu no wa Rock Daze! throbs with a heartfelt touch of sensitivity as it reflects on the trials of growing up and a love that encourages self-love. The song's sentiments are... [read more]
  2. MIXED NUTS EP (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) MIXED NUTS EP (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) Official HIGE DANdism
    Life is like a bag of mixed nuts
    June 30, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Official HIGE DANdism's song Mixed Nuts should sound familiar to anyone who's been watching Spy x Family, but you don't have to know the anime to enjoy this flavorful EP. Opening with a reverbing explosion of notes, Mixed Nuts (Track 1) highlights the funky, jazzy side of HIGEDAN's signature piano rock sound. The energetic pop melody is underlined by an awesome bassline that pulsates with life and a joyous swirl of brass and percussion. Mixed Nuts has wittily philosophical lyrics about living "in this world like nuts packed in a bag." Like a bag of mixed nuts, this EP has more texture and variety to offer in its side tracks. Anarchy (Track 2) is a wonderful surprise, expanding the band's... [read more]
  3. LOST IN TOKYO (ALBUM+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) LOST IN TOKYO (ALBUM+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) SOIL & "PIMP" SESSIONS
    Tokyo state of mind
    June 28, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    You can always count on Soil & "Pimp" Sessions for classy and funky jazz that brims with exuberant energy. Their latest album Lost in Tokyo also brims with city vibes. Themed around Tokyo, the album explores and evokes the city through 12 tracks that include two songs featuring guest vocalists. Lost in Tokyo opens with an atmospheric intro track blending the sounds of water, chirping birds, the muffled clamor of a subway and crisp footsteps. It leads into Meiji-Jingumae 'Harajuku' (Track 2), whose title referring to a metro station interchange already gets you in a Tokyo state of mind. The playful skitter of piano keys against laid-back beats, smooth brass notes and an unrushed melody feels... [read more]
  4. M87  (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version) M87 (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition)(Japan Version) Yonezu Kenshi
    Yonezu Kenshi, the storyteller
    May 31, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Yonezu Kenshi delivers another certified jam with his latest single M87, the theme song of the new Shin Ultraman movie. The singer-songwriter wastes no time getting started, opening straight away with stirring vocals and emotive imagery: "Because I saw the stars shining in the distant sky / I trembled as I chased the light." Hooking listeners from the first line, M87 reminds of Lemon in the best possible way with its clean and catchy alternative melody, rousing feelings and immediate earworm impact. At the same time, the song has an exciting storytelling quality in its free-flowing rhythm and use of different types of instrumental transitions. M87 technically follows a conventional... [read more]
  5. Brother Beat [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Edition) (Japan Version) Brother Beat [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Edition) (Japan Version) Snow Man
    Fun, funny and funky
    March 31, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Last year was a standout year for Snow Man. Snow Mania S1 was the second highest-selling album of 2021 on Oricon's year-end chart, and all three of their singles ranked in the year-end top five, with million-seller Grandeur coming in first. The three singles, ranging from powerful (Grandeur) to refreshing (Hello Hello) to emotional (Secret Touch), also showed the Johnny's group's ability to comfortably take on different styles. Snow Man continues strong this year with Brother Beat, which is delightfully different than their previous singles. Snow Man's sixth single Brother Beat is a bright, mischievous and upbeat jam that looks and sounds more like something out of the Johnny's WEST canon.... [read more]
  6. Flow [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY)  (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Flow [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Perfume
    Dream with the Flow
    March 15, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    In the past few years, Perfume has only put out one new music release per year, usually in the second half of the year. This year, the trio is back bright and early in March with the dreamy synthpop sounds of the new single Flow. Produced as always by Nakata Yasutaka, Flow begins immediately, almost abruptly, with sweet vocals over a light melody. The sweet, gentle sound sets a dreamy mood as the beats build up to a bubbly chorus. A low and steady reverberation effect underlies the transition following the first chorus, adding unexpected texture to the song. Nakata continues to variegate the song progression by curling different beats, effects and echoes into the chorus sections and bridge,... [read more]
  7. Magic Touch / Beating Hearts [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD)  (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Magic Touch / Beating Hearts [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) King & Prince
    The two sides of King & Prince
    May 31, 2021 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Since their debut in 2018, King & Prince has personified the characteristic Johnny's look and sound for a newer generation. Their image is youthful, fresh-faced and princely, and their singles are mostly very bright and very pop in that warm, familiar and dated Johnny's way. Last year's Mazy Night, however, showed that King & Prince would very much suit an edgier look and more updated sound. And that edgier look and sound comes this year in the single Magic Touch. Magic Touch is co-composed by Adrian McKinnon, who is known for his work on SM artist songs like EXO's Obsession and NCT 127's Superhuman. This song is a total bop from the moment its beats slide in, and Hirano Sho sets the tone... [read more]
  8. DOWN TOWN / Ganbarenaiyo [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) DOWN TOWN / Ganbarenaiyo [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Juice=Juice
    Fun update of a city pop classic
    April 29, 2021 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Juice=Juice has often sounded like a girl group from a different era, because their music digs very squarely into the standard idol J-pop sound, even in comparison to other Hello! Project groups. Last year, they went deliberately old school with the single Pop Music, which playfully referenced kayo pop music of yesteryear. Now they bring a cover of Sugar Babe's 1975 city pop classic DOWN TOWN for their first single of the year. City pop has seen a revival of late. Whether it's old songs going viral or younger artists reinterpreting the genre, the nostalgic sound has found a new audience, and not just in Japan. As the OG of all city pop, Sugar Babe's DOWN TOWN has been covered many times... [read more]
  9. Dramatic ni Kanpai  (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Dramatic ni Kanpai (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Yamamoto Sayaka
    From Idol to Singer-Songwriter
    February 27, 2021 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    I had high hopes for Yamamoto Sayaka when she started her post-NMB career, because she's been one of the few 48 graduates to have both the established popularity and the legitimate musical and vocal talents to make it as a solo artist. She hasn't disappointed. In the past two years, Sayaka has built a credible and consistent body of work that solidifies her transition from idol to singer-songwriter. Like with her past singles, all three tracks on her latest Dramatic ni Kanpai single are self-written and self-composed. While characteristic of Sayaka's style of medium-tempo ballads and rock, Dramatic ni Kanpai ("Dramatically Toast") also stands out from her past singles with its carefree vibe... [read more]
  10. BETTER [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD)  (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) BETTER [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Twice (Korea)
    Twice makes it Better
    November 30, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Twice has been on fire with their two recent comebacks. I adore the throwback bop I Can't Stop Me from their recent Korean album Eyes Wide Open, but I might like their new Japanese single Better even more. Like I Can't Stop Me, Better has an old-school disco vibe, but this goes in a sultrier direction with pulsing club beats, silky melody and lyrics expressing longing and desire. As catchy and upbeat as Twice's usual hits but also more mature, the song is co-written and co-composed by Lauren Kaori, who has worked on the group's Polish, Pink Lemonade and Stay By My Side, not to mention many E-girls songs. Better's moody verses and impactful yet melodic chorus showcase one of Twice's best... [read more]
  11. It's my life/ PINEAPPLE [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) It's my life/ PINEAPPLE [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) V6
    V6's 25th anniversary single
    September 24, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    This year is V6's 25th anniversary, and as their latest single proves, they've still got it. For better or worse, the Johnny's world has evolved a lot in the past few years, but V6 seems to be the quiet constant as they keep on doing their own thing. The group's 25th anniversary double A-side single brings two very different new songs that I love equally. It's my life is just what I need to hear on a Friday. The upbeat, uptempo song has a bright, easy-going vibe with its pop-rockish melody and life-affirming lyrics. Written by Miyata "Lefty" Ryo, the song's down-to-earth and reassuring words for the everyday workaholic deserve special mention. For all those stressed-out souls working late... [read more]
  12. Tousaku  (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Tousaku (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Yorushika
    The Man Who Steals Music
    July 31, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Awarded Best New Artist at the 34th Gold Disc Awards, Yorushika was one of last year's greatest music discoveries. The duo formed by producer n-buna and vocalist suis released two excellent albums in 2019, That's Why I Gave Up on Music and Elma, that told an interconnected story. This year, they're back with a new musical story in Tousaku. Most musicians would probably stay far away from the word Plagiarism, but Yorushika made it the title and theme of their third full album. Plagiarism's main character is a "man who steals music." Using music to tell a story of the emotional tempest and destructive impulses of its main character, the album also explores and challenges what creating and... [read more]
  13. Hadaka no Kokoro (Japan Version) Hadaka no Kokoro (Japan Version) Aimyon
    Aimyon's heart-baring ballad
    June 29, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Aimyon got her break in 2018 with the singles Marigold and Konya Kono Mama, which both went platinum digitally. Her singles after that, like Haru no Hi and Her Blue Sky, mainly followed a similar style of catchy and refreshing guitar-driven pop rock. The singer-songwriter's latest Hadaka no Kokoro ("Naked Heart"), however, is a bit different as it's her first ballad single. Aimyon actually wrote "Naked Heart" back in 2017, and she especially chose this older work to be her tenth single and her theme song for the TV drama My Housekeeper, Mr. Nagisa. The song's clean and soothing melody is introduced with simple piano chords, and then enriched with a gentle blend of string, percussion and... [read more]
  14. Aozora (Japan Version) Aozora (Japan Version) aiko
    Bright yet blue
    February 28, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Just based on the title and visuals of aiko's single Aozora, one would probably expect it to be a bright and sunny song fitting of its lovely "Blue Sky." The song's melody, as well, is light in rhythm and tone with a soothingly refreshing arrangement that creates a chipper feeling. However, the singer-songwriter's lyrics tell a different story about looking back with mixed feelings on a love that has ended – that blue sky is distorted and invisible before teary, unfocused eyes. Rather than being bright and blue, Aozora is bright yet blue. The single's new B-side, Koibito Doshi ni (Track 3), is also a light-sounding confection of love and worries, but it reaches a more rose-tinted... [read more]
  15. Kanashiki Pro Bowler (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Kanashiki Pro Bowler (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Kuwata Keisuke | Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys
    Take me out to the bowling alley
    February 13, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    In 2019, Kuwata Keisuke took his love for bowling to a new level by putting his name and face on a national bowling tournament, the Kuwata Cup. Bowling aside, the legendary artist also formed the special new unit Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys to release Kuwata Cup 2019's official song Let's Go Bowling, which is basically an entire song dedicated to the virtues of bowling. A year later, the Kuwata Cup is back, and so are Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys! While Let's Go Bowling is a fun jingle, it's impossible to take a song too seriously when it opens with the lines "I like bowling, I like bowling." Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys' wonderful second single, however, is far more than a novelty... [read more]
  16. Bessekai (SINGLE+DVD) (Japan Version) Bessekai (SINGLE+DVD) (Japan Version) E-girls
    E-girls' first single of their final year
    January 31, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    E-girls broke fan hearts last December with the announcement that the group would be disbanding in 2020 (why, LDH, why?). As if to drive in just what J-pop will be missing out on, E-girls' first single of their final year is a total jam. Bessekai ("Another World") embodies the sound that E-girls does best: edgy, contemporary yet fun electro dance numbers with a finger on the urban pulse. The song's intricate and invigorating electronic beats stand out energetically, and there is an understated fierceness to its buildup and catchy chorus that really rouses the spirits of the listener. Bessekai is composed by Henrik Nordenback, Christian Fast and Ellen Berg, the same team behind 2017's Love... [read more]
  17. Weathering With You complete version  (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Weathering With You complete version (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) RADWIMPS
    Weathering with Radwimps
    November 29, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    From Your Name to Weathering with You, Radwimps' music has been an integral and memorable element of Shinkai Makoto's animated blockbusters. The band's alternative rock numbers add a pop of energy to the youth fantasy stories while the ballads accentuate the heartrending emotions of love and loss. Weathering with You's original soundtrack was released back in July along with the film's theatrical release. However, the soundtrack carried the shorter movie edit versions of the vocal songs. Arriving five months later, Weathering with You complete version brings the full versions of the five songs. This complete version is obviously appealing for those who enjoyed the music while watching... [read more]
  18. Itsumono Fuukei  (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Itsumono Fuukei (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Saito Kazuyoshi
    Saito Kazuyoshi x Chibi Maruko-chan
    November 21, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Saito Kazuyoshi and Chibi Maruko-chan is the collaboration I didn't know I needed! The singer-songwriter brings smiles to faces with Itsumo no Fuukei, the 12th ending theme of the iconic anime series. This delightfully upbeat and folksy rock ditty lifts spirits with plucky beats and a jovial rhythm. Notably, the lyrics about a town's everyday scenery are by late Chibi Maruko-chan creator Momoko Sakura, who especially had Saito in mind when she wrote the song. Saito's light melody and whimsical, energizing arrangement really suit the lyrics and the timeless everyday charm of the anime series. The single's side tracks build on the wistful, nostalgic feel with two slower and melancholic guitar... [read more]
  19. ECHO [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD)  (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) ECHO [Type A] (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Little Glee Monster
    Little Glee Monster on fire
    September 30, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    As the host country of the Rugby World Cup 2019, Japan pulled off a major upset victory over powerhouse Ireland this past weekend. Now I'm no rugby fan, but I am a big fan of NHK's theme song for the World Cup – Little Glee Monster's ECHO. A sporting event support song should rouse up the fighting spirit of the listener, and ECHO does exactly that from the very first note. Written and composed by Imai Ryosuke, the song begins straight away with cheering and clapping that gets you fired up. The first verse rings loud and clear with poignant lyrics remembering the shared experience of sweat and tears: "The moment when our eyes meet, there's no need to exchange words / our heart's beating... [read more]
  20. Summer Trap!! (Japan Version) Summer Trap!! (Japan Version) WANIMA
    Summer spirit
    July 23, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Summer just doesn't feel right without some energizing driving rock songs to blast at full volume, and Wanima has come through with exactly that in their summer EP. The band broke out last year with their loud and exuberant blend of pop punk, ska, reggae and rock. Now they add an exclamation point to summer with Summer Trap!! The album's lead track Natsu no Dokoka e (Track 1) lifts spirits right away with a flurry of drum beats and guitar riffs. The punk pop ditty never takes a rest over its screamy and infectiously uptempo four-minute anthem to summer. It's no wonder the song was used for a Mitsuya Cider commercial because it nails the positive, refreshing and slightly wistful vibe of... [read more]
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