In connection with my desire to fully keep up with the J-pop industry, I’m planning to do a weekly round-up of any new releases that have caught my ear. Some of these may have been covered on the blog already, but my hope is that this will become a one-stop shop for anyone interested in what’s new in J-pop.
With that in mind, here’s where you come in: I’m one person with one set of musical preferences, so please embed any other new J-pop tracks you’ve enjoyed in the comments so we can get a fuller spectrum each week.
*And just like I do with my reviews, I’ll wait until full versions of songs are available before posting them in this round-up. This will mostly apply to Johnny’s groups, who still limit the majority of their YouTube uploads to shorter, edited versions.
2023 Index: Feb 1 – Feb 18 // Feb 19 – 25
THIS WEEK: February 26 – March 3
Beyooooonds! – Yume Sae Egakenai Yozora ni wa
I LOVE Beyooooonds’ The Japanese DNA from 2019 and keep waiting for them to replicate that sound. The punchy 80’s synths that frame this track nearly do it, but overall the song doesn’t really work for me.
Chemistry x Da-iCE – Sparrows
A fairly dull mid-tempo/ballad, but this pairing deserves attention. There’s a lot of talent packed into this track.
ExWHYZ – Secret Secret (b-side of the week!)
ExWHYZ re-released their 2022 debut album with additional vocals from member midoriko who had been on hiatus. I still think most of the album is a bit undercooked, but there are a couple of tracks composed by production team Jazzin’ Park (one of my favorites). This includes new song Secret Secret, which is easily my favorite ExWHYZ track yet. It’s funky, high-octane girl group pop and I hope they promote it with an mv!
Johnny’s West – Power (Album)
Johnny’s West’s new album came out this week and it’s a mixed bag. But at over twenty tracks, it’s a very big bag so there’s a lot to choose from. The title track is mid-grade Johnny’s West: super enjoyable but nothing revelatory. Among the album tracks, I love the pummeling rock of Strike A Blow, the retro dance of Rewind It Back, and the anthemic Guilty. That last one was composed by Bias List favorite Takuya Watanabe, who also wrote Sexy Zone’s Run (Guilty is very much in the same vein).
NiziU – Paradise
NiziU never really caught on for me, from both a song and execution standpoint. This new one is pretty subdued. It’s nice, but not something I’m drawn to. I like the video, though.
Secret Number – Like It Like It
Boilerplate “K-pop goes J-pop” without much that stands out to me. I’m still waiting for something as good as Got That Boom again!
SG5 – Firetruck
I don’t like this at all, but I thought others might. And since they’re co-managed by LDH, SG5 at least deserve a mention.
Snow Man – W (single of the week!)
I wrote about this here. I liked it a lot!
STU48 – Iki wo Suru Kokoro
These 48/46 girl groups pull off this specific style so well. I really love the melodies on this one and the orchestral swell that pushes them along. The sound captures a feeling of prancing through a meadow in spring (not that I’d know how that feels! …Or would I?).
SUPER★DRAGON – Mirror (Album)
SUPER★DRAGON’s new album is out and it’s decent. I’ve grown to enjoy Revolution more than I did last week, but my favorite b-side is probably Pretty Girl. It’s got that lighthearted, punchy power pop energy I tend to enjoy.
The Super Fruit – Sakura Furefure
While I initially found them a bit too cloying, repeated exposure to The Super Fruit’s last single helped me embrace their upbeat energy in spite of myself. Sakura Furefure is a ton of catchy fun as long as you know what you’re getting yourself in for!
This week’s old favorite:
Ayumi Hamasaki – Fly High (2000)
I feel like Fly High lives in Boys & Girls‘ immense shadow, but I play it just as often (if not more!). That chorus — with its upstretched notes — is total euphoria.
I hated Firetruck too lol. But I liked Super Dragon’s album
currently im waiting for snow man’s album to release so i can actually listen to it from hikarinoakari
anyway i’ve been taking a massive deep dive in predia’s discography (thanks to you), and i’ve completely fallen head over heels for them. the whole 孤高のダリアにくちづけを album is epic from start to finish!
Yay! Their music is absolutely fantastic 🙂
I recently discovered One OK Rock. I’m loving One Way Ticket and Stand Out Fit In. Their discography is huge, so I’m all ears for other recommendations.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ooh, I almost got super into One OK Rock a few years ago (still got decently deep in there!). You can’t really go wrong with any of their albums, but Ambitions (the one with One Way Ticket) was the first one I remember cracking open, so I recommend giving that one a go! I liked the duo of Bon Voyage and Bombs Away the most when I first started. I’m not quite as well-versed with their more subdued stuff like the ones you referenced, but Change has fun chromaticism and isn’t quite as intense as some of their other offerings. I’d also recommend Kaimu+Sonzai Shoumei (Kanjo Effect) and C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h.+Kimishidai Ressha+Answer is near (Zankyo Reference) as just some general favorites. I’ve heard their stuff from this past year isn’t bad, either, if you wanna try that out! Hope this gives a decent starting point 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you 🙂
I hated Firetruck too. I loved the sailormoon reference though. As regards Superfruit, I love them. Their debut song has been on repeat since time immemorial.
You know what I discovered recently? A singer on Youtube from Indonesia who sings covers in Japanese. They’re quite good, and they’re on Spotify, so I added them to my Kpop/Jpop/Asian pop playlist. I still get a kick out of them when they play. Here’s her channel: https://www.youtube.com/@Rainych