With such a busy slate of K-pop releases, I don’t always have a chance to rave about some of my favorite J-pop. This week, I’ll be giving an overview of some of my favorite acts and songs. Hopefully you’ll find a new obsession to add to your playlist!
Why I Love The Rampage (and you should too)
They’re badass. Seriously, they’re a veritable army of performers – 13 dancers and 3 vocalists to be exact. Their music combines anthemic rock with hard-hitting hip-hop, blazing techno and retro funk. I love the members’ vocal tones, but in particular I think the group’s center Kawamura Kazuma is one of the most talented, charismatic J-pop performers out there. His rich tone is equally captivating whether he’s singing or rapping.
The group’s music is immensely satisfying. The first few years of their discography hold the vast majority of my favorite Rampage songs, but the guys are still going strong today. In fact, they released my favorite J-pop song of October. For K-pop fans, you’ll recognize many of the same tropes familiar to the Korean idol industry, but arguably performed with more panache.
And what’s “Exile Tribe”?
Think NCT — at least how NCT was conceptualized when they first launched. Exile Tribe consists of its flagship group Exile, who have been around since 2001 in various iterations, and a bunch of groups under the Exile umbrella that each have their own sound and specialty. Some members are active in both Exile and a spin-off group and they often combine forces for some really cool music and performance spectacles.
My Top Five Singles
5. Dirty Disco (2017)
Dirty Disco is my favorite of the group’s lighter singles — an ebullient blast of retro funk. (full song)
4. 100 Degrees (2017)
A pitch-perfect interpolation of 90’s west coast hip-hop. They find a killer groove and work the hell out of it. (full song)
3. Hard Hit (2018)
Fueled by a thundering beat, Hard Hit is the literal sound of a group throwing down the gauntlet. (full song)
2. Fullmetal Trigger (2019)
The combination of soaring vocals, sharp rap and headbanging guitar during the chorus is perfection. This one hits like a ton of bricks. It gets better with every play.
1. Swag & Pride (2019)
A hulking rock attack, filled with potent melodies, blistering energy and powerful performances. It’s the song that turned me from a casual fan of all things Exile to a full-on convert.
My Top Five B-Sides
5. Down By Law (2019)
Down By Law is pure, sugary funk pop and I love every second of its upbeat grooves and shiny hooks.
4. Summer Days (2019)
A breezy house dance track with just enough of that Rampage punch to give it some oomph. As you may have guessed, it’s perfect for summer.
3. Elevation (2017)
You’ll notice a theme in my top three. Though they’ve yet to release a single in this genre, I’m obsessed with The Rampage’s take on ravey techno.
2. Dream On (2018)
Just listen to that glistening synth arpeggio that opens the track! I mean, really soak in how transcendent that sound is. What a shot of adrenaline.
1. Jump (2022)
Van Halen’s Jump is already one of my favorite songs. The fact The Rampage repackaged it as a hyper pop rave gains my eternal gratitude and admiration. (full review)