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 // Apr 23 – Apr 29 // Apr 30 – May 6
THIS WEEK: May 7 – May 13
AB6IX – Fly Away
This is inoffensive enough, but pretty dull when compared to their best work. It’s best when the chorus picks up the pace.
ANGERME – Ainokedamono
Any song that kicks off with jungle noises has my attention, and Ainokedamono’s unflagging energy continues to enthrall as the track unveils.
BUDDiiS – Magic
This group’s music has veered all over the place, but Magic embraces a glossy funk pop sound that works well for them. It’s as sweet and sticky as bubblegum.
ClariS – Samishii Nettaigyo
This just missed last week’s round-up, but I want to feature it here because I’m digging ClariS’s authentic cover of Wink’s 80’s synthpop single (and the video’s a hoot).
Dori Sakurada – Mirai
File this under: stylish, mid-tempo J-pop that’s nice to groove to.
Generations – Now Or Never
This was one of my highlights of Generations’ newest album and it’s nice to see it get a music video. The song is a lot of fun.
iScream – All Mine
City pop influences aren’t going away anytime soon, but iScream fuse that style with a more upbeat, percussive sound. This is nice.
Kanjani8 – Mikansei
Kanjani8 are probably the only Johnny’s group I don’t consider myself an expert on. I like some songs but have never really delved into their full discography. Mikansei is unlikely to inspire that, but it’s got good energy.
MAZZEL – Vivid
There’s a glut of new J-pop boy bands and very few of them stand out. MAZZEL try their luck with a swing-influenced track, but the song itself is just okay.
Moonchild – Photogenic
I like this better than the first track they debuted with, but it’s still too K-pop adjacent for me. And, “hot like a sauna” is such a bad cliché.
Nicole – Selfish
Is it bad that I only want Kara members to release more music with Sweetune? That’s not fair to them, but I just can’t get excited about their recent work with other producers. This is fun and stylish, but generic.
One N’ Only – 10,000 Miles
This group is very hit or miss for me. 10,000 Miles falls somewhere in the middle, but I appreciate its melodic sound and soft rock appeal. I have a feeling it’ll get better with more listens.
Penguin Research – Force Light (b-side of the week!)
After enjoying a few of their recent singles, I checked out Penguin Research’s new album. I was struck immediately by this opening track, which is a wonderfully bombastic rocker. I love its anthemic sound. It reminds me of American band Foxy Shazam — a band I used to be obsessed with.
Pentagon – Shh
I wrote about this here. I thought it was pretty dull.
ReLIT – “Challenger” Theme (single of the week!)
I wrote about this here. I love it, and it’s my single of the week!
@onefive – Chance
I know @onefive from the drama Oshi ga Budokan Ittekuretara Shinu, which I enjoyed. This is another solid pop track from them. It’s very upbeat and energetic.
This week’s old favorite:
Queen Bee – Starry Night (2021)
Since watching Avu-chan’s Year 0, Class 0 (which I raved about here), my obsession with Queen Bee has reignited. I’m particularly smitten with this transcendent track. The voice change leading into the beat drop at the 01:09 mark gives me goosebumps.
Woah, that Penguin Research song is right up my alley! I’ll never be able to shake that style of music as the one I come back to the most. Will have to check out the band you said it reminded you of, too 🙂
Start with “Oh Lord,” one of the best songs of the 2010’s!
i just want nick to do a revisit on his top jpop songs of 2016 😢
Lotta great stuff this week! Aitokedamono wins for me, but a lot of stuff I really like!
Just bumped on ANGERME’s Ai no Kedamono, wow what a ride!