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 // Mar 4 – Mar 10 // Mar 11 – Mar 18 // Mar 19 – Mar 25 // Mar 26 – Apr 1 // Apr 2 – Apr 8 // Apr 9 – Apr 15 // Apr 16 – Apr 22
THIS WEEK: April 23 – April 29
AKB48 – Da Re Da
Every song on AKB48’s new single is solid, but I think Da Re Da is my favorite. It has that driving, dramatic energy I tend to love.
BE:FIRST – Smile Again
I finally boarded the BE:FIRST train with February’s Boom Boom Back (a bop!), but they’ve lost me again with this new single. The chorus is nice, but the rest just drags.
C&K – Blue Three
Okay, this is a ton of fun! The groove has such life and energy and it’s definitely not taking itself too seriously.
Chanmina – Sunflower
Chanmina’s fourth album was released this week. I haven’t listened to it yet, but this is a pleasant mid-tempo.
Ikusaburo Yamazaki – Sennen Traveler
This is quirky and fun. I appreciate the sprightly tempo and the offbeat nature of the video.
Man With A Mission x Milet – Koi Kogare
A week after their first duet, Man With A Mission and Milet have released a video for another song. Koi Kogare isn’t as strong as its predecessor, but this team-up is still formidable.
Moonchild – Don’t Blow It!
As expect, Moonchild’s debut track is very K-pop adjacent. It’s a fine example of the sound, but it’s not the style of song I tend to enjoy. Sadly, the chorus is its weakest element.
Mrs. Green Apple – Que Sera Sera
This is one of those uber-popular groups I just haven’t been able to get into. Que Sera Sera reminds me of something Official HIGE DANdism would release. It’s solid.
ODDLORE – Embers (single of the week!)
This is such a refreshing sound for a boy group — rocky and grimy and cohesive in its perspective and style. I need to pay more attention to ODDLORE. This is my single of the week!
One N’ Only – Departure
I really liked One N’ Only’s last single. This one? Not so much. It’s typical boy group bluster with a leaden instrumental and dull hook.
Penguin Research – Crier
I’ve seen this group’s name everywhere recently. They seem to be making waves, and Crier‘s explosive energy makes for a strong salvo.
Ryugujo – RONDO
This new boy group is the creative project of Queen Bee’s Avu-chan. The song is offbeat (those high notes!) and refreshing, but I really wanted to spotlight the survival series that formed this group. It’s available on YouTube with English subs, and it’s a delightful alternative to the corporate Produce 101 and Boys Planets of the world. Avu-chan is delightful as always, and the off-kilter nature of the program has a perspective and personality of its own.
Here’s the playlist of episodes!
TFN – Jinjja! (b-side of the week!)
Ladies and gentlemen, I present TFN’s best song ever! I’m sad that it’s in the form of an obscure Japanese b-side, but I’ll take what I can get. Seriously, the group needs to transfer this energy to their K-pop work. Jinjja is a rollicking, rock-fueled banger.
This week’s old favorite:
Da-iCE – Toki (2014)
I just bought Da-iCE’s greatest hits album because I wanted all their music videos in decent quality, and it’s reminding me how bulletproof their discography is. This is probably my favorite single. That chorus absolutely soars.
I really like that song by Oddlore, definitely a keeper for me!
I think this is the week that many J-Idol groups really won me over in a big way, due to someone here recommending some sites where I can find the digital copies. This was like my last uncharted territory to explore, and now I’m super hooked. Looking at my new and shiny playlist, the ones really standing out to me right now are AAA – Aitai Riyu, Dream After Dream; Daichi Miura – Be Myself, FANTASTICS – Summer Bike, JO1 – Born to Be Wild, King & Prince – Ichiban, Irodori, Tsukiyomi; Kis-My-Ft2 – Gravity, Yes I Scream; Sexy Zone – Forever Gold, Desideria, Run. In the past, I heard edited Youtube versions of some of these, but it’s totally different to hear them in their full-length glory.
I’m very changeable, and who knows how long it will last, but at this point I think I’m more excited by J-pop than K-pop right now.
—- BTW, if anyone’s got more recommendations for me of tunes you think can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the ones I mentioned, I’d be grateful;)
how bout i nudge you towards NEWS (my ult jpop group) (World Quest and Hadashi no Cinderella Boy are a HUGE start, along with their entire Quartetto album). theres also Morning Musume’s Love Machine, Namie Amuro’s A Walk In The Park and Chase The Chance, Chotokkyu’s Ebiday Ebinai, Miyavi’s Holy Nights album, among many more
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Wow, you just mentioned a big handful of my favorite J-pop songs of all time!
I’d nudge you toward KAT-TUN (Rescue, Dead Or Alive, Kusabi, Triangle to start), FlowBack’s Heartbreaker, Genic’s Sun Comes Up, The Rampage’s Swag and Pride and Fullmetal Trigger and WARPs Up’s Rock Tonight.
I’d also recommend scouring the complete discographies of any of the artists you (or I) mentioned because there are sooo many gems. Any Johnny’s artist has a big, wonderful back catalog.
There should be plenty of resources on this site that should be of help, too. My “90’s J-pop Roadmap” is a good place for older tracks, and I’ve done a year-end countdown for many years (though anything prior to 2020 is no longer accurate because I was focused on a very narrow subset of J-pop). Other than that, keep checking out these weekly posts — especially the very bottom where I include an older 9+ rated track from my music library.
I’m excited for you! There’s so much to uncover!!
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I got all those titles from this blog and going through all your J-pop selections (best of each year, top 10s, those rated 9s and 10s), it’s a treasure trove of resources. I still have a lot more to discover! 🙂
And as someone who’s hopelessly biased, I can’t recommend Kisumai enough. Their 2016-2018 singles/albums are such a pillar of J-pop for me. Ditto with KAT-TUN 2011-2015.
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would you mind sharing the link? i’ve gotten tired of going through virus infested websites and locked communities on live journal
I found most of what I was looking for here, although the search engine isn’t very good (especially for song titles), it often takes awhile to scroll through the pages to find what I’m looking for: https://mp3.pm/
just relistened to Toki and its reminded me how i should really dig into da-ice’s discography more. my favorite’s still Dreamin On (as you know, im a One Piece fan + that chorus is something to die for) but i wanna see what else is in store
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I hope this song gets a video on youtube