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 Kitakaze to Taiyou (and you should too)
E-Girls have a robust discography, but Kitakaze to Taiyou is my favorite track. It’s just a rush of joy from start to finish, bounding forward with euphoric builds that always pay off. The group opts for more naturalistic styling in the stunning music video and that fits the song’s grounded energy. Even so, Kitakaze to Taiyou doesn’t skimp on the bells and whistles. It explodes with the power of a full marching band right from the start, never indulging in subtlety. Even its stripped-back verses are full of propulsive electro percussion and sweeps of strings.
Importantly, E-girls never get lost in the hurricane of instrumental flourishes. Their performance is confident and alive. And the melodies? Wow. Each builds upon the others, creating a structure that never flags. We only take a respite during the brief bridge, which serves to set-up the song’s galvanizing finale.
If your day needs a bit of joyful inspiration, I can’t imagine you’ll do much better than this.
I enjoyed this! Where should I go next?
Well, you’ve got a lot to explore! E-girls may be no more, but they left behind a big discography filled with highlights. I recommend starting with their E.G. 11, E.G. Time and E.G. Crazy albums, but you really can’t go wrong. For singles, check out Strawberry Sadistic, Rydeen (Dance All Night), Move It, Dance Dance Dance, Pink Champagne — among many others.
Kitakaze is also one of my top Jpop songs, I really like the orchestral flourishes. They straddled the line between cute and fierce and perfectly and just encapsulated dance-pop so well, kpop girl groups could learn a lot from them on how to do cute songs, how to do girl crush, AND how to do multiple concepts while making it seem authentic! The easily could make a list of top 10 singles. My top e-girls tracks would be something like:
1. Dance With Me Now! – THIS is the final boss of their dance singles, even more so than Dance All Night. It perfectly checks pretty much EVERY trope in the 2010s club music boom, and it’s just ridiculous fun. The big room outro and dance that accompanies it is the high point of their discography, make sure to watch the MV!
2. Dance All Night – perfect choice of sample and arrangement that doesn’t get boring even over the 5:30 runtime
3. to Taiyou – you pretty much stated why this song is so good in your review
4. Diamond Only – their crowning moment of their cute-styled songs, bubbly electro pop married to a mature vocal take
5. Love Queen – this just SOUNDS like the Vegas trip that’s depicted in its music video. The brass and vocals make me feel like this is a lost SISTAR track
6. Follow Me – that hook is just sticky and the song is so fun and positive
7. Highschool Love – I know they were more known for their dance skills in the later eras, but the way they did maximalist pop is unrivaled, another indelible hook paired with a strong beat
8. Gomennasai no Kissing You – Follow Me turned up to 11, love the sledgehammer dance beat
9. Anniversary – Fun 2011-throwback pop that easily stands up with the Katy Perrys and Cher Lloyds of the era
10. Pink Champagne – slinky, disco-kissed dance pop that has a postchorus that surpasses the real chorus
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I love E-girls, been following them from years ago and subsequently all the sub groups, with Flower and Dream (when it was around) being my faves, though I did love Happiness fun stuff too. I love Another World/ 別世界 by E-girls the most but that is so hard, with songs like Dance with me now, EG-ENERGY, Pink Champagne, Dance Dance Dance and sooo many more. It’s very hard to choose.
北風と太陽 is definitely a huge classic, along with songs like Follow Me, Dance With Me Now, and We Can Fly (by Happiness, one of the groups that form E-girls)
I miss them so much. They totally rocked. I’m more into their dance tracks though. My favorites are EG Energy, Bessekai, Dance with me, strawberry sadistic, Keep on, EG Venus and Koi no Boogie woogie love train
About 15 years ago, I became disenchanted with western music. Thanks to the internet, I was able to start searching the globe for alternatives. I had always been open to music from foreign shores, but it was spotty (e.g., Japanese Gogaku court music, African percussion, Hindi-UK fusion pop, etc.). But this time I was looking for a genre to fully adopt. There’s a LOT out there and it is extremely varied. I liked Russian pop, but it tends to be a little.. ..adult. I’m far from being a prude, but while groups like A.R.M.I.YA, Nikita, Hollywood FM produced some great songs, good luck finding videos for a lot of their work on YouTube or being able to watch those videos with a mixed crowd.
Ref #1 (A.R.M.I.YA and Vera Varlamova “Allo, allo”):
Warning: The video is highly sexualized, but not R-rated.
Prior to discovering K-Pop, I took a plunge into J-Pop. Talk about a really wild and diverse landscape. Say what you will about Japanese culture, but man, they are not afraid to go all mondo bizarro with art, music, and movies. Try to imagine the silliest, weirdest, most off-the-wall thing you can imagine and Japan will serve it to you magnified to the power of 10. That said, if you dig in the right spots, you can unearth some really fantastic musical gems. My all time favorite J-Pop group is “Tokyo Girls’ Style”.
Ref #2 (Tokyo Girls’ Style “Tsuioku”):
However, the very first J-Pop group I encountered was E-Girls and their debut release “Celebration!”. It took me a while to find a full version of the video that wasn’t at 320p or less, but I’m tenacious. I learned that E-Girls was actually an amalgamate of three groups, Dream, Flower, and Happiness. Dream was releasing fusions of Pussycat Dolls meets dance pop. Happiness was putting out generic pop. And Flower, my favorite of the 3, was releasing more ethereal, melodic songs. While I continued following E-Girls for a while, I ended up devoting most of my attention to Flower. From there, I got into other acts such as Koda Kumi, Tokyo Girls’ Style, Shishido Kavka, Weather Girls, Yumemiru Adolescence, Chiaki Ito, etc..
Ref #3 (E-Girls “Celebration!”):
Ref #4 (Flower “Tears of a Tropical Fish”):
Ref #5 (DJ MAKIDAI feat. Happiness “Really Into You”):
Oops.. ..I tripped the “Don’t be a neener, Xeno!” alarm again….
oh this is also incredible. Nick, you are showing me such amazing music. I would personally put this at 10/10
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thank you for the information