Listen to... Ayumi Hamasaki - Movin' on without you (Hikaru Utada cover)

Ayumi Hamasaki - Movin' on without you (Hikaru Utada cover) | Random J Pop

When word got our that Ayu was contributing to a cover album of Hikaru Utada's songs, everybody called the horses out and brought rope, ready to tie by the ankles, hop on a saddle and drag for miles. I bought myself some cowboy boots ready for the ho-down. But I'm going to have to walk right back to the shop with my receipt and get me a refund, because Ayu did good. She covered a Hikaru Utada song and didn't ruin it.

The one song I thought would be one of the low points of the cover album turns out to be one of the highlights. Where-as as many of her peers opted to try and revamp and transform songs (with some catastrophic results), Ayu played it safe and delivered a nice cover. Had she tried to have gone off on some grand tangent, she almost certainly would have found her back severely grazed from a marathon dragging.

Ayu's cover of "Movin' on without you" is produced and arranged by the RedOne team who helmed "XOXO" - which was one of my stand outs from her album Colours. So it comes as no surprise that they managed to have Ayu sound decent on a club jam, yet again. If Ayu hasn't already whatsapp'd her A&R to keep RedOne's team on the blower for future releases, then she damn well needs to.

If I were Ayu, I would have pulled some Voodoo pussy shit and sucked a dick at Virgin music to allow for the song to be released as a fully fledged single. That Zutto... / Last minute / Walk single of hers won't pop or have people talkin' like this.

Ayu needs to send Hikaru Utada a box of Tokyo banana, a strawberry cheesecake and a Kobe beef hamper for throwing her a lifeline.

Listen to... Perfume - LEVEL3 megamix (Mixed by Random J)

Perfume - LEVEL3 megamix (Mixed by Random J) | Random J Pop

Perfume's LEVEL3 album is a party. But only if you re-arrange the track order. The track order was something I knocked the album for in my review, because it took a good selection of songs and ordered them in such a way that it not only affected the flow of the album, but weakened the impact of certain songs which would have come off much better if they sat elsewhere on the album.

To remedy this I did a megamix, which highlights some of the bangers on the album and sits them back-to-back. Now, this megamix doesn't feature all of the booty poppers from LEVEL3, but it features the album defining ones, along with one which doesn't feature on the album at all.

I originally did this a while back, but have since updated it with different mixes of songs, cutting it down considerably (the original was almost half an hour) and adding another song.

I can be your party maker, if you let me. I hope you like.

Album review: Capsule - CAPS LOCK

Album review: Capsule - CAPS LOCK | Random J Pop

CAPS LOCK marks a departure for Capsule. Instead of insisting that you dance and get a little colourful and crazy to the music, Nakata has placed a stronger influence on setting moods and tones. CAPS LOCK is not a pop album, nor a dance album. It sits in a completely different category to Capsule's previous albums. It's much more ambient. Easy listening. Feeling more like a soundtrack. It's a complete shift from what Capsule had done before, but if there were ever a time when Nakata could get away with it, it's probably now.

Album art & tracklisting: Kaname Kawabata - On the way home

Kaname Kawabata - On the way home | Random J Pop

Kaname Kawabata one half of the J-R&B group Chemistry (who Crystal Kay fans will recognize from "After love ~First boyfriend~" and "Two as one") will be releasing an album of covers, which is pretty much a rite of passage for Japanese recording artists. Just ask Beni. She swears by them. Caught her biggest hit in ages by releasing one, which then lead to her releasing three of them within the space of two years.

I'm as interested in hearing this album as I am interested in how Kaname managed to end up looking like a 14 year old school boy on the album covers.

Three covers on this album in particular have caught my attention. Hikaru Utada's "Flavor of life", Ayaka's "Mikazuki" and Angela Aki's "Home". Dude's playing with fire.

Music video: G-Dragon x Taeyang - Good boy

G-Dragon and Taeyang are doing the music thing together as a duo and their latest song and video is pretty much what you would expect from them. Derivative hip-hop drivel using sounds that producer Teddy has run through both G-Dragon and 2NE1's material numerous times, and a video which features both guys looking like hot messes amongst bright lights and UV, with Taeyang once again going to lengths to negate sex appeal with yet another horrid looking hair style.

G-Dragon's music feels like an excuse for him to shoot music videos, so he can show off his crazy fashion style and nothing more. His music has never been that great to me and his fashion sense and zany visuals for his songs always supersedes it. His music videos give his songs life, but I've never felt his music has been good enough to exist and stand on its own.

The music video was directed by US director Colin Tilley, whose most notable work is Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda". Which goes to show the continual cross over which continues to happen between K-Pop and the US, although we've yet to see this materialize into something big and mainstream outside of PSY's "Gangnam style" which is still featuring in commercials and TV spots in the West. That song won't ever die.

Music video: Beyoncé - 7/11

The Beyoncé album as a whole is pretty ratchet. But Beyoncé went Level 3 hyper combo MAX ratchet with her song "7/11" which makes "Drunk in love" sound like a love ballad written by Diane Warren. 

"7/11" sounds a lot like a Rihanna song. It's no masterpiece by any means, but for what it is, it's a fun song and something that I'd throw some elbows to if I heard it on a night out. And already it's sparking an online craze of covers, with lines from the song being referenced on Twitter and via memes Sometimes we just need a song which goes hard, is a banger and is about utter nonsense, and "7/11" is that song. It's different from anything Beyoncé has done before, which is something I commend her for. She's at a point in her career where she doesn't have to play it safe musically. I just wish she had this attitude across more songs on her albums. 

The thing which has caught everybody's attention however isn't solely the song, but it's video. It pretty much sums up Beyoncé's whole ethos which she spearheaded the moment she decided to go on tour without a new album, debut new songs in Pepsi and H&M commercials but not release them and then release her album out of nowhere without warning or pre-announcements. Beyoncé can do what the fuck she wants. Everything concerning her tour and her album roll out has been an act of liberation and Beyoncé showing that she doesn't need to play by the same rules as other artists when she can make her own. Whilst her peers are scraping to secure budgets for music videos, of which they may only shoot about four per album - Beyoncé went and shot 17, all of which were good, high quality videos. Then she said 'Fuck it' and shot the last one on an iPhone, which is now my favourite music video off of the Beyoncé album alongside "Yoncé".

I quite like this new 'Fuck it' Beyoncé.

The post-lowdown on Perfume's World tour 3rd gig in London

Perfume - World tour 3rd | Random J Pop

Perfume's stage performances are no joke. I've seen many a performance on YouTube and attended World tour 2nd to attest to this. But still, nothing quite prepared me for what Perfume would bring to the table and do to my life with World tour 3rd. Perfume get called out for miming, not being artists and having no input of their music. Whilst its difficult to argue against these points outright (I wouldn't even go there), the one thing which is undeniable is that the showmanship that A-chan, Kashiyuka and Nocchi display each time they perform is A+. These girls have nothing to prove. But they hit the stage for World tour 3rd as though they had to anyway.

A cover album of Hikaru Utada songs is due in December and it features Ayumi Hamasaki

Utada Hikaru no uta | Random J Pop

Hikaru Utada bowed out of music 3 years ago, but that's not stopped her record label trying to find ways to cash in on her. Earlier this year we had the 10th anniversary re-release of her debut album First love and now comes an album of Hikaru Utada covers. I would like to think that Universal music Japan had asked Hikaru Utada personally who she would like to contribute to this album. But Ayumi Hamasaki's name is on the list so this probably wasn't the case.

Music video: Ariana Grande featuring The Weeknd - Love me harder

"Love me harder" is one of my stand outs from Ariana's My everything, so I'm glad it's being released as a single. Especially after "Problem" and "Break free", which despite being hits and doing what they needed to, were pretty throwaway songs and didn't show much of an evolution from Ariana's debut Truly yours.

Whilst "Love me harder" is a good song, there is a complete disconnect between the acts and the subject matter of the song. Neither Ariana nor The Weeknd sell the theme of the song on the song itself or in the video. The concept of the video is great, but the set and the visuals conveyed the sensuality of the song in a way that made Ariana and The Weekdn feel completely redundant, because nothing they did added to the video or the sensuality of the song.

When I think of an example of good, tangible sexual chemistry on song and on screen I think Maroon 5 and Rihanna's "If I never see your face again". Comparing Ariana and The Weekend to acts such as Rihanna and Adam Levine who just ooze and exude sex without trying may be an unfair comparison. But it can make such a difference to the end result, and the end result here are cases of great concepts executed badly by the wrong people. The song would have worked better had it been a solo effort on Ariana's part. Ariana can't sell sex for shit, but it would have been a lot more passable if there wasn't such a obvious divide between her and her guest artist.

Music video: Namie Amuro - Sweet kisses

"Sweet kisses" is a song about Namie wanting a man to eat her pussy. With Namie, being Namie, she sings the entire song in a wholly monotone fashion with barely a hint of thirst in her voice, which makes it even more amazing. Because Namie isn't asking for a man to kiss the pussy, she's telling him that he's going to. [Slow grinds to "Big boys cry"]

Having released 2 albums with the majority of songs recorded in English and having dabbled with it on several of her albums prior, she knows exactly what she's singing about here. She wasn't too clued up on what she was singing about for "Want me, want me" 9 years ago. But make no mistake, Namie is fully aware of what she is singing about now and she wants dem sweet kisses.

"Sweet kisses" is of a style we've not heard from her in a while, sounding like a lower octane version of "Copy that". Once again Namie is singing an entire song in English and she's getting better with each song she records. Some sections had me Googling to find out what the hell she said, but generally Namie is sounding good and is snatching every English homophone from Kumi Koda's "Dancing in the rain" and Ayu's "XOXO".

The music video however is tired. Namie has a distinct fashion style. I get it. We all get it. It's her thing. But she needs to switch up her style. Buy some new shoes. Rock a wig. Get a hat that sits on her entire head. Namie worked this same look in "Do me more", "Make it happen" and "Go round". I could have dealt with this look if it was one look out of four. But it's the only look she sports in the whole video. The producers of this video found time for stop motion, but didn't find time to give Namie a new outfit and could only muster putting her hair in bunches. Time for a slow clap.

FKA Twigs is gone with the wind fabulous on Jimmy Fallon

UK [insert genre bracket here, because I can't think of an appropriate one] artist FKA Twigs made her US debut on Jimmy Fallon with a performance of her break out song "Two weeks". I doubt anybody in the crowd could make out what Twigs was singing due to her vocals being as inaudible as Janet Jackson's. But she was moving her body in ways that would catch anybodies attention and she was doing it all with some piece of fabric, a set of fans and a light show that just made this whole performance pop.

Music video: Namie Amuro - Brighter day

I was not keen on "Brighter day" at first, but it's grown on me since. It's a nice song with a punchy chorus and rich production. You can hear why it would be commissioned for use in a Japanese TV drama and why it would be released as a single. "Love story" was a chart success for Namie, Ballada is still pushing units on the charts and some fans were growing a little tired of Namie's uptempo's and her decision to go electro - so this single is a safe choice which covers all bases. It's not such an amazing song that it will garner her new fans or have her current ones go head over heels, but it's a good enough song choice that it won't piss off fans or have them worry about what direction her next album will go in, which her early singles rarely, if ever indicate anyway.

This music video is basic and looks more like a clothing commercial than anything else. But Namie looks nice and at least her outfits didn't consist of something her stylist pulled out from her Queen of hip pop tour, as per her "Sweet kisses" video. I don't get the whole deal with Namie summoning streaks of piss with her finger, but she's the fliest looking water sports queen I've seen.