fly to high

Kouhaku 2008 Artist Lineup

Kohaku’s artist lineup for this year has been released.

Newcomers on the red team (female) are Aoyama Thelma, Akimoto Junko (enka singer who I think made it big this year with her single “Ai no Mama De”), Ikimonogakari, GIRL NEXT DOOR, Perfume, and Fujioka Fujimaki and Ohashi Nozomi (the two men and the little girl who sang the theme to Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea).

Newcomers to the white team (male) are Kimaguren, Kiyama Yusaku, Jero, Shuchishin with Pabo, Tohoshinki(DBSK), Mr. Children, and Mizutani Yutaka (enka singer who made a comeback).

Overall, expected additions for the year. I’m not familiar with enka singers, but the female singers who made it big this year all made it onto the show (Perfume! Yes!). I’m surprised and pleased that Ikimonogakari are finally on. For the male artists though, I’m surprised it took this long for Mr. Children to make it on.

Full lineup is

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Nakashima Mika – ORION
October 31, 2008, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Jpop, Nakashima Mika | Tags:

Nakashima Mika’s single “ORION” will be released November 12. The song is an insert song for the drama “Ryusei no Kizuna,” in which Mika also has a minor acting appearance.

What is it with the beginning of November and releases? It seems like half of all my favorite artists is releasing something during that time. Mika is no different, with the exception that I actually didn’t care much about the release of this single before. I haven’t really listened to anything of hers since she did “Hitoiro” for NANA; I mean, you have to agree with me that a lot of the songs she put out after then were really boring compared to her earlier works.

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Which J-pop Lady Can Make It In America?

With Hikki working on her second English album, the question really still stands: if one j-pop diva or female group would make it in the English music industry, who would it be? After all, basing on the American charts, popular songs by female artists are rather limited. Pretty much most are R&B/hip hop hits (Rihanna, Beyonce, Fergie, Danity Kane, Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis), a smattering of pop rock (Colbie Caillat, Natasha Bedingfield, Paramore) and occasionally, a big pop song that makes it (Miley Cyrus).

So if all our favorite j-pop girls give it a try, who has the best chances of breaking into the market?

Utada Hikaru

I love Hikki and I love “Exodus,” but let’s face it – “Exodus” was brilliantly experimental and alternative but nowhere near mainstream. If she does her next English album in her Cubic U style or in her Japanese music style, she’d have a chance, but her idea of American mainstream R&B is a little too alternative. Unless she completely changes her image and sound, she won’t make it in the urban music genre she’s aiming for. But she does have beauty, quirkiness, and her language – she just needs to tailor herself to be more mainstream. Chances: 60%.

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Sakura Songs of 2008
March 16, 2008, 1:13 am
Filed under: Every Little Thing, Ikimonogakari, Jpop, Nakashima Mika, Yanawaraba | Tags:

I can’t think of any other country’s music that’s so fixated on a flower like Japan is with their sakura. Sure, western artists always release songs crooning about roses and daisies, but only in Japan does everyone clamber to release a blatantly sakura-based song in the springtime, or just a spring song – which inadvertently will reference sakura. They don’t even disguise it: at most they’ll use English and say “Cherry” in the song name, but most times they’ll just have “sakura” somewhere in the name or – the most blatant of all – just call the song “Sakura.”

Despite the predictability, I enjoy the yearly rush of sakura-releases. Whether they’re ballads or rock or dance pop, singing about sakura almost mandates an air of wistfulness in the song since it’s the time of graduation and spring romances, and pink petals floating somewhere in the music video. Something about singing about sakura brings out the best of people, and some of my favorites of artists are their sakura songs. My ranking of this year’s are:

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