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.

Music video: Jolin Tsai - Play

Jolin had already made other pop chicks' lyric videos look like Powerpoint presentations with her shit  for "Play" looking like a music video, albeit a basic one. But her actual video for "Play" is a corker. Katy Perry got herself some kind words about how 'cool' her video for "This is how we do" was. FUCK THAT SHIT. Even fuck some of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's shit, because Jolin's video for "Play" is a trip. The entire video is a piss take of pop culture. Even the song itself is a piss-take, which itself is actually a good song.

Miss Tsai. Go forth and redeem your wigs.

Music video: Dawn Richard - Blow

With Danity Kane's comeback being flushed down the toilet, Dawn is back on her solo act grind with a new song and visual titled "Blow" - which bears no resemblance to Beyoncé's cunnilingus jam.

There are a great deal of similarities between "Blow" and what Dawn has served up over the past 2 years, due to this coming from the second phase of her Hearts releases, all of which have shared common themes, visuals and sounds. But looking at "Blow" in isolation, there is way too much going on. The song feels messy to the point where any sense of melody in the vocals gets lost and you're left with nothing in the song to latch onto. The video also had so much going on with the editing and the various visual concepts that it just felt a kitchen sink approach, with nobody at any point refining it for a sharper, more concise visual.

Dawn has been doing this same old, same old for a while now and I think she's in need of a step change, both visually and musically. "Blow" sounds like "Bombs". The video looks like a cross between "Bombs", "Automatic" and "Faith", all of which were much better videos. Dawn  needs to switch her shit up. Much of what she has been doing for the past couple of years hasn't made significant enough waves for her, so she needs to start trying something new. Whilst I respect Dawn's independent hustle, I feel like she needs an additional set of ears and eyes from the outside to help guide her and polish her edges.

Album review: Armor on

Music video: Mary J. Blige - Right now

Mary J. Blige's forthcoming album The London sessions has caused a stir she's not made since Crispy chicken gate, and has had people interested in her music in a way we'd not witnessed since 2005's The breakthrough. After going through the motions with Growing pains, Stronger with each tear and My life II... The journey continues (Act 1) Mary is finally breaking the cycle and doing something new. Upping and leaving the States to record an album in London with some of the cities hottest talent right now, such as Emeli Sandé, Sam Smith and producers Naughty boy and Disclosure.

If MJB fans were in any doubt over Mary abandoning her roots, you needn't worry. "Right now" should be all the assurance you need to know that Mary is still doing Mary. Disclosure have done a great job of giving Mary a new sound, whilst keeping her true to her old one. Visually, this is MJB doing how she always does. The only difference is she's doing it in London.

I've never been excited for a Mary J. Blige release, but The London sessions has piqued my interest. If this form of reinvention works for Mary, then hopefully it was spark a chain reaction in her stepping out of her comfort zone with future albums. Maybe Mary's actions will spark something in her peers such as Mariah Carey to try something new.

The London sessions is set for a UK release on November 24, with the US due to follow on December 2, but the album has already made its way online. Somebody gettin' fired.

Yasutaka Nakata drops a new Capsule song during his DJ set

Capsule have a new album on the way, but nobody knows anything about it. Not that there's much to know when it comes to Capsule albums. Yasutaka Nakata finally quenched some thirsts by playing what is believed to be a new song from the upcoming album. Take from this what you will. Most notably the chords. And also deafness from the white noise.

It's nice that Nakata allowed Toshiko to sing on this song, given how he pretty much hit the delete key on her for CAPS LOCK and openly declared that he took vocals out of the songs so that he wouldn't have to perform them live. Such a showman. Such love for Toshiko.

Music video: BoA - Fly

I've found BoA's Japanese releases to be really underwhelming, a sentiment which others must share because they have been REALLY bad as of late. As if her Who's back? album wasn't a shitty enough offering, she drops "Fly". Salt in a wound which BoA had left her Japanese fans with since "Woo weekend".

"Fly" is boring. It's also regressive given that BoA has done much better and more memorable ballads / down-tempo songs than this for previous albums. The Londoner in me finds it cool that she shot a video here, but the video itself is boring, just like the song. BoA looks good, but she always looks good to the point where it's a given.

I was semi-into the prospect of her Japanese comeback after she released the Korean version of "Only you" because it felt like a refresh of BoA musically and visually, and it perfectly summed up exactly how she needed to be shown and heard at the time. But nothing she has followed up with via her Japanese releases has managed to touch it, nor "The shadow".

BoA has so much more to offer than this, that it's become an annoyance more than a disappointment when she releases bog standard songs and videos. What took me so long to get into BoA in the first place was that I found the majority of her material to be lacklustre and even now I still find this to be the case. The only difference now is that occasionally she might break the bore-streak with one really good killer song, but these feel far and between and the inconsistency across her discography as a whole still leaves a sour taste with me.

Album reviews: The face | BoA | Identity | Hurricane Venus

Dallas Green and P!nk (aka You+Me) masterfully cover Sade's "No ordinary love"

Dallas Green and P!nk (aka You+Me) masterfully cover Sade's "No ordinary love" | Random J Pop

After wrapping up her tour, giving birth to her second child and focusing on her family, P!nk made a quiet return to music, but not as we expected. Instead of a solo follow up to 2012's The truth about love, P!nk partnered with Canadian folk musician Dallas Green (aka City and Colour) to form the duo You+Me and release a stripped down folk album.

The duo have been doing little promo spots here and there and performing intimate gigs, which are a far shy away from the mass media affairs which usually ensues when P!nk releases an album, but the step change highlights some things about P!nk that often get lost in the midst of whenever P!nk releases something:
  1. That P!nk has one of the best voices in pop right now
  2. P!nk always does what the hell she likes
This union also puts Dallas Green into a level of spotlight which he may not be used to as a result of teaming up with P!nk. It's all for the best, because Dallas has a great voice; something you'll catch in the performance below of Sade's classic "No ordinary love". Grab a blanket and a cardigan, because this shit will give you straight chills.