J-Pop is often on the eccentric side, but even in that context, Bullet Train (超特急) are unique. Rather than stick with the traditional boy group configuration, the group consists of two vocalists and five dancers, who are usually positioned at the center or front of performances. The group’s music is also not always for the faint of heart, mixing more classic pop moments with heavy doses of bizarre diversions. Nevertheless, they’re one of my absolute favorite j-pop acts, delivering an adventurous, unpredictable sound.
As with many j-pop acts, their music videos are heavily region-restricted. If you can’t view the embedded videos in your country, I’ve provided an alternate link below each one.
Kiss Me Baby (2013) – Though its central English refrain is decidedly weird, Kiss Me Baby pulses forward with a punchy pop hook and aggressive, dubstep-influenced instrumental.
10. Policemen (2013)
With its snare drum line and dramatic synth strings, Policemen skirts the line between totally cheesy and surprisingly grandiose.
9. ikki!!!!!i! (2014)
Fusing classic Japanese influences with Bullet Train’s usual bonkers sound, ikki!!!!!i! is as breathtakingly breakneck as its six exclamation marks (and extra “i” for good measure) lead you to believe.
8. Seventh Heaven (2016)
The most bipolar piece of music I reviewed in 2016, Seventh Heaven segues between stately pop balladry and noisy, off-the-wall insanity. That it all works is a testament to the song’s most inspired moments. (full review)
7. Bloody Night (2013)
Bloody Night takes horror-show antics and melds them to a soaring euro-disco beat. Despite its kitschy idiosyncrasies, it’s one of the group’s most straightforward, solid pop singles.
6. Shake Body (2012)
As one of the group’s first releases, the glitchy simplicity of of Shake Body feels slightly unpolished, but its addictive series of hooks have proven to hold long-lasting appeal.
5. Starlight (2013)
An uncharacteristically straightforward pop song, Starlight’s classic, disco-kissed j-pop melody is one of their most timeless.
4. Beautiful Chaser (2015)
Moving into heavy metal territory courtesy of Megadeth’s Marty Friedman, Beautiful Chaser is an inspired collaboration that results in one of the group’s strongest singles. New listeners, start here. This is about as accessible as Bullet Train gets.
3. Star Gear (2014)
Star Gear enlists just the right amount of punky guitar magic to infuse its enormous techno dance beat and sky-high chorus. The group has never sounded more massive.
2. Yell (2016)
Though just a step away from being their very best track, Yell is home to Bullet Train’s most enduring, emotional melody. It’s a flawless piece of pop music, cresting in a pitch-perfect chorus that builds to a series of satisfying crescendos. (full review)
1. EBiDAY EBiNAI (2014)
The moment you hear EBiDAY EBiNAI’s soaring chorus, resistance is futile. Don’t be fooled by its first few moments, as the track quickly morphs from dramatic ballad to sledgehammer, dubstep dance anthem. The song’s middle eight is pure euphoria, blasting towards its conclusion with the kind of bombast that transforms cheesiness into go-for-broke conviction.