New & Noteworthy J-pop of the Week (May 14, 2023)

New and Noteworthy J-popIn 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.


5 thoughts on “New & Noteworthy J-pop of the Week (May 14, 2023)

  1. 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 🙂


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