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 // Feb 26 – Mar 3
THIS WEEK: March 4 – March 10
Chanmina – You Just Walked In My Life
Chanmina gives us her take on midtempo dreampop. This is pretty subdued, but nice.
DXTEEN – Brand New Day
Like most of Lapone Entertainment’s output, this is basically J-pop executed in K-pop style. DXTEEN is a new group brought together by the agency and Brand New Day is bright and cute. It sounds a little like early-TXT, which is no bad thing at all. They definitely have potential and I can see this becoming a long-lasting earworm. I love their vocal tones.
Generations – X (Album)
X is Generation’s first album since 2021. It includes some great singles (shoutout to Unchained World, which somehow passed me by when it was released) and the excellent PARTY7 (GENEjaNIGHT) from last year. I’m including my favorite of the new tracks below.
Masayoshi Oishi – Uni-verse (b-side of the week!)
I’m not sure you could call this a “b-side” since it’s the theme for the anime Gridman Universe. But, it doesn’t have an mv yet.
This song is for those of us who subscribe to a “bigger is better” approach to pop music. Uni-verse ratchets its theatricality up to twenty. We’re talking gospel choirs upon gospel choirs, sky-high melodies and drama drama drama. I love every second – especially from the third minute on.
Moonchild – Chili Chocolate
Not really for me, but I figure a lot of K-pop fans will like this since it sounds like most current-gen girl groups. Moonchild will have their official debut under LDH and HYBE later in the year.
Naniwa Danshi – Special Kiss / Seishun Rhapsody (single of the week!)
I wrote about Seishun Rhapsody here. I liked it a lot and it’s my single of the week!
Special Kiss is nice too, and I love the b-sides Viva Viva Carnival!! and Dance In The Rain (which sounds like a rewrite of Hey! Say! JUMP’s Give Me Love).
NMB48 – NMB13 (Album) (b-side of the week!)
It’s been a great week for b-sides, which means I’m making two “top picks”!
This “album” is basically five new songs plus already-released material from the past few years. I’m not quite ready to dig through 32 (!) tracks, but I’m very impressed by Saikou ni Gehin na Atashi – a solo from member Kojima Karin. It’s big and brash and has a great propulsive energy. It reminds me of a cross between Superfly’s Dynamite and Ado’s New Genesis – two of my favorite J-pop tracks of last year.
One N’ Only – We’ll Rise Again
I have a few issues with the mixing on this one, but otherwise I love it. It’s got that big, anthemic energy I crave in pop songs. I’m addicted to those synth riffs that open the track and repeat often throughout. This is probably my favorite One N’ Only single yet.
Yaosobi – Adventure
I know Yaosobi are super popular, but I haven’t really explored their discography beyond the surface. But, I like the jaunty energy of this new song.
7ORDER – Dual (Album)
Who I Am remains the definitive track from this album, but although the rest of it is kind of a mixed bag the new tracks are some of the strongest. I’m posting my favorite here (it’s more of a dance banger than a rock song), but I also like Stunnin’, F and Edge.
This week’s old favorite:
Purple Days – Brand New Days (2010)
Despite only releasing two albums, Purple Days is one of my favorite J-pop acts. I’m a sucker for this anthemic techno pop style. Their small discography is all killer, no filler and Brand New Days leads the charge.
Thanks for this. I’ve been following this new series of yours since you started it. As a fan of Generations, I really liked this album. Unchained World didn’t really get the recognition it deserved in my opinion, but it is what it is. And yes, Brand New You and Party7 are awesome. P.s Did you know that Party7 is a song about the members themselves? 😂
This past week I’ve been listening to a lot of Hikaru Otada. I heard good things about her album last year, but only got round to listening to it recently. Her music’s really clicking with me lately, this tune from 2018 in particular (apparently it was a single, but the MV isn’t on Youtube):
The live version is worth it because it has English captions; normally I don’t need to know the lyrics, but in this case, it really deepens my appreciation of the song:
And my favorite off last year’s album:
As a connoisseur of nugu boy groups, I love DXTEEN. So refreshing.