Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

Eight Terrific Japanese Pop Songs from 2011 (Part Two)

Posted in J-Pop,Music by bourdaghs on the December 26th, 2011

The list continues:

4). The Beatniks, “A Song for 4 Beats)
Takahashi Yukihiro (late of Sadistic Mika Band and Yellow Magic Orchestra) has been making some remarkably lush-sounding music lately, especially with his new unit, pupa. Here, he reunites with Suzuki Keiichi (late of Hachimitsu Pie and Moonriders) under the moniker The Beatniks. The specific beatniks name-checked in the lyrics: Jack, William, Neal, Allen, and Harry.

3). Tokyo Incidents (東京事変) “Atarashii bunmei kaika” (新しい文明開化)
Shiina Ringo and company continue to crank out excellent tunes that range across the spectrum from jazz standards to noise punk. Here they mine the J-Rock vein with wonderful results. The guttural growl that Shiina lets loose at about 0:17 pretty much made my whole summer musically.

2). Kuwata Keisuke (桑田佳祐), “Sore yuke baby!!” (それ行けベイビー!!)
Kuwata debuted this number during his post-illness comeback appearance on last year’s Kohaku Uta Gassen, NHK’s New Year’s Eve spectacular–that’s where this footage comes from. The chords he uses in the main verse sections are utterly unlike anything he’s written before, while the chorus brings him back into more familiar territory. Brilliant songwriting.

桑田佳祐 復帰 by plutoatom

1) Saito Kazuyoshi (斉藤和義), “Zutto uso datta” (ずっとウソだった)
Certainly the bravest song by a major Japanese pop star this year. In April, Saito created a sensation when he went live on Ustream with an updated version of his top-ten 2010 hit, “Zutto Suki Datta” (It Was Always Love). The new title was “It Was Always Lies,” and the revised lyrics mounted a fearless attack on industry and government for selling the Japanese public on the myth of safe nuclear power. The original video went viral (you can watch it here), but perhaps the most emotionally satisfying version was this one, performed live in Fukushima at a September outdoor music festival.

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