9.17.2014

Listen to... Jessie Ware - Kind of sometimes maybe

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Jessie Ware - Kind of sometimes maybe | Random J Pop

Every song which Jessie has shared from her upcoming album Tough love has been a winner. As much as I was enjoying Jessie's generosity, I was hoping Jessie Ware wouldn't release anything further off of this album, so that I'm left with some surprises when it drops. But here she is. Dropping yet another song. As silent and unassuming as Jessie is, I think she's doing this because she knows her shit is hot like fuck.

Her latest offering "Kind of sometimes maybe" following in the theme of everything she has shared from the new album thus far, in that it doesn't sound like anything she's done before. R&B singer, songwriter and serial crowd scissor kicker Miguel has co-written 2 songs for Jessie Ware's new album and this song right here is one of them. This song is straight R&B and has Jessie getting a little coy and sexy, exhibiting a side of her we've not gotten on a song before. I think the closest we've gotten to something like this is "Sweet talk" and possibly "110%".

The likes of "Tough love" and "Want your feeling" have shown Jessie step way out of her comfort zone vocally by singing in a higher range than she did for most of her debut album Devotion. But "Kind of sometimes maybe" has Jessie slink back into her mid-range croon and she never steps outside of it which is actually a shame, because Jessie sounds great when she floats around the higher keys. In the true nature of the song and give it a sense of climax, Jessie reaching for those notes and really pushing it towards the end would have made "Kind of sometimes maybe" even better and brought the sexiness of the groove to a head, because it feels lacking without it. But with that said, this is still another great song from Mrs. Ware.

I'm was sold on this new album the second she released "Tough love". All of this now is just injury time until the album finally drops.


Music video: TaeTiSeo - Holler

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I still don't see the true point of TaeTiSo. But if it means getting Girls' generation hotness without Jessica acting like she has vocal prowess on a track and those back-up 'dancers' trying to contribute with their crusty vocals, then so be it. I will entertain this sub unit.

"Holler" is hot on a first listen. I heard it for the first time this morning and I was working my head, shoulders, knees and touching toes to this shit as I was getting ready to leave the house. The song doesn't have much lasting appeal though. "Holler" does its job for providing something catchy and fun, and it is better than "Twinkle", but it's nothing special and is actually one of the weakest songs on their new mini album.

The video looks like a H&M commercial for some clusterfucked Conscious range by Versace, but the girls look good. Although I'm wondering what it is going to take for Seohyun to give me something because the girl has NO presence, sass, swag. Nothing. Whilst all 3 girls looked nice and got equal billing on the song, "Holler" is really all about Taeyeon. I'm not here for her thigh gap. But she looks like she's glowing in this video, which is no doubt because of the D she's been getting from EXO's Baekhyun.

I know Namie Amuro is watching this and is low key mad that she didn't get this song, because she could see herself dancing all up in that hotel lobby in her Amura boots and some ruffled one sleeve top, and so could I.

9.11.2014

Playback: Mirei Toyama - Hysteric girl

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Mirei Toyama - Hysteric girl | Random J Pop

Mirei Toyama is only 15 years old, but we know well enough by now that age ain't a young age is nothing to immediately turn a nose up at when it comes to music. We have had enough young artists come up around this age with legitimate hits and classics to have a margin for acceptance. Aaliyah, Destiny's child and JoJo to name a few of the more credible artists who started snatching wigs at a young age.

Another name we can not leave out of this is or course Hikaru Utada, who didn't just snatch at the age of 15. She left an entire nation bald, broke and hungry, and dropped one of the best selling albums in Asian history as a result. 

Hikaru Utada is significant here. Not just because she is the absolute shit, but because her scent lingers all over Mirei Toyama's song "Hysteric girl" like she cocked her leg over it.

The first thing that struck me about "Hysteric girl" was how much it reminded me of Hikaru Utada in her First love phase. More specifically, "Automatic". The music, the way Mirei rides sections of the song; it's...AU-TO-MAAAAAATIC. As much as I love Hikaru Utada, Mirei's vocals are much stronger and stable here than Hikaru's were at the age of 15. (Let us not forget that horrid note at 4:39 when she tries to go in on a vocal ad-lib.

♪ Tell my wwhh-hyyy *voice crack. Note goes off key* Ooooooo-yeaaaaaaaa-eeee-yeah! ♪ 

Never forget.

Mirei Toyama has been drifting in limbo for a short while. She did a stint at some BET thing and released a new song and video to YouTube last month, but generally all has been pretty quiet,  with no sign of an album or EP in sight. She just...does stuff once in a blue moon. When you're 15, in Japan and want to break into the music, talent isn't what will get you national exposure and a record deal. at least not any more.  Signing your life away to a 10 year contract of never being able to date, wearing school girl uniforms, Lolita outfits and boots which lace way too far up a leg for a 15 year old is how you go about it in 2014.

Mirei doesn't have much of a presence in music yet, which is a shame because it's nice to have a young girl come into the J-music game at such a young age with such a good voice and a love for R&B. But she's riding solo in a lane that nobody is really paying a great deal of attention to. She's not tantalisingly cute enough, her socks aren't high enough and none of her songs sound like Eurobeat from 20 years ago which could be put into a DDR or Sega Saturn rhythm game. But I will be keeping a tab on her in the meantime before she fades completely into obscurity.

9.10.2014

Listen to... Aklo featuring Crystal Kay - I don't care

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Aklo featuring Crystal Kay - I don't care | Random J Pop

Trilingual (Japanese, Español and English) Tokyo born rapper Aklo released his second full length studio album The arrival last week and it features a collaboration from the woman of the moment that will never come, Crystal Kay. Frankly speaking, her stint on this song is better than everything she's dropped this year in her bid to crack the Western market. She's playing the chorus girl, but she plays it brilliantly to the point where you kinda wish the entire song was hers. Although Aklo more than makes his presence felt on the track.

"I don't care" is produced by BACHLOGIC who has a history with Crystal Kay, having produced and written songs for her in the past and most recently her grossly overlooked album Vivid, which was a fucking good album.

"I don't care" would have made a great single and could have had such a fun video of Aklo and Crystal Kay expending their bravado, playing the hip king and fly queen of the Tokyo nightlife. The song gives off a similar vibe to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire state of mind", with both artists holding their complete own on the track and the song feeling like a cross sectional anthem.

Aklo has been riding high over the past year with an EP, a tour and the run up to the long awaited release of his second full length album The arrival. Aklo fills a void in Japanese rap for the guy who is more than happy to sit alongside his national reaching contemporaries in pop, as opposed to staying underground because the game dictates that's where a homie should stay to show true hustle. The only other act who was filling this for a while was Verbal. But with his output as part of M-Flo being utter shit, his solo album being an underwhelming mess, the Teryiaki boyz as good as dead and him focusing on his AMBUSH fashion line, he's not really saying much on this front, leaving the path open for Aklo. There was Kreva, but he never had swag and his flow was too crusty for pop radio, even though he made his fair share of appearances on pop records over the years. Aklo is young, the dude can rap, has a cool voice and is much more marketable. He's definitely one to watch.

I'mma just sit here and pray on a chrysanthemum in a pond that that Aklo and Crystal Kay become the Jay-Z and Beyoncé of Japan.

9.08.2014

Listen to... Nick Jonas - Jealous

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Nick Jonas - Jealous | Random J Pop

The down low Jonas brother who went ignored for years whilst Kevin spoke for the group and Joe did the rounds as 'dat sexy one with the eyebrows' is emerging as the one who might just be the last Jonas standing with a solo career - between a solo album which is gaining traction, his stint as a TV actor and being the creative and musical director of Demi Lovato's Neon lights tour. Then there's that body of his which will keep him in issues of Men's health and every gay magazine in the Western hemisphere until his gym regime falls off.

Nick has been putting out solo music sporadically for a while and has also been writing and producing for other acts such as the likes of fellow Disney mates Zendaya and Demi Lovato; but now he's going full throttle with a new album on the way and a single which has serious hit potential and could cross him over in a way I don't think anybody saw coming.

"Jealous" is written by Nick himself, alongside Simon Wilcox and Nolan Lambroza who also produced the track. The song sounds like the musical love child of Prince and Marvin Gaye, and is bang on trend with the throwback vibe that everybody seems to be on right now. There is huge potential for this song to dominate Pop radio and take R&B radio by complete surprise.

Nick just snatched Usher's nappy fade with this shit, because this is the type of song that he should have been releasing after "Good kisser" instead of that awful mess "She came to give it to you". Usher has already had to deal with Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke pull the rug from under him on the R&B and Pop charts over the course of 2013, he don't want Nick Jonas doing the same in 2014...but he might tho.



Music video: Thelma Aoyama - Happy

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Thelma Aoyama released her fourth studio album in August and it featured a cover of Pharrell Williams' "Happy". But recently Thelma shot and released a short music video for it, possibly in a bid to try and salvage the dismal chart performance of her album. "Happy" is so over-saturated, recent and still running rampant on YouTube in the form of covers and searches after all of these weeks and months, that I can only deduce that Thelma's label thought it would be a good idea for her to upload a video of her cover to YouTube to capitalize on the "Happy" phenomenon for hits, because nobody has been caring about Thelma Aoyama since 2008's "Soba ni iru ne". Given her latest album Lonely angel charted on the ORICON weekly at 183, nobody in Japan even knows who this girl is.

Thelma's cover of Pharrell's mammoth hit is pretty bog standard. There are only so many ways you can cover this song and each one makes me as sick to death of this song as the last. I used to love this song. Not any more.

I had high hopes for Thelma Aoyama when she released her debut album Diary back in 2009 and she showed potential with her follow up Emotions. But all she has done since then is fall off; losing sight of her sound and image, showing an inability to make anything stick. Her latest album isn't completely terrible, but there's nothing about it which really says anything. This would be fine if the album was from some talentless idol, but Thelma is more to her to be putting out such mediocre albums.

9.04.2014

Playback: Jolin Tsai - Dancing diva

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I got introduced to Mando-pop star Jolin Tsi at Uni by a friend of mine who was and still remains obsessed with her. By this point I was knee deep in my love for J-Pop and in my mind Hikaru Utada was saving herself for me until I graduated, so I had no room for another chick in the East Asian music market to occupy any room in my heart. But then "Dancing diva" came along and Jolin had a place in it for a minute. Well...3 minutes and 43 seconds to be exact.

The beat on "Dancing diva" sounded a bit dated, but it an intentional way. Nobody was trying to make a club banger or even a radio hit with this song. More than anything it seemed to be a vehicle for presenting a step change in Jolin's sound and image. The focus of the music video is the dance routine which was one of Jolin's most intensive up until this point - something which would be a focal point of every live performance she would do of this song. This girl was taking balls and ribbons on stage with her to make a point of this routine. The routine didn't do much for me until Jolin opened her legs on the floor and showed me how real the struggle is for her to work the floor and keep the ball from rolling off out of the shot, then I thought it was the best thing ever.


"Dancing diva" is one of my favourite tracks from Jolin. It sounds like a stage theme from Soul Calibur 1, which I think is why I like it. Anything which gives me Soul Calibur 1 feels gets an instant pass from me. But what struck me about this song in comparison to Jolin's songs which came prior was that it didn't feel like it was trying to be anything. This could have been 'that' type of song where the Arabian and Middle eastern influences got completely urbanized, which was 'the in thing' and the sound of the moment around the time this released. But it turned out not to be and was all the better for it.

Also, Jolin looks smokin' with her dark hair down. God Gawd.

Listen to... Jessie Ware - Want your feeling

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Jessie Ware - Want your feeling | Random J Pop

Another day, another new song from Jessie Ware. Jessie has mentioned in several interviews that her collaborators on this album really helped push her into new directions with her new album and based on all of the songs we've heard from it so far, the songs have proven that this is very much the case. "Want your feeling" was written by Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and produced by James Ford responsible for cutting tracks for The Klaxons and Arctic monkeys. "Want your feeling" feels like a cross between something from ABBA and Nile Rodgers. The song touches on disco liberally, but does so in the stealthiest of ways and at no point does it feel contrived or as though the song was consciously spawned out the likes of Daft Punk's success with "Get lucky" - which then saw disco run rampant on the charts for a hot minute.

The groove is dark. The keys are haunting. The song is another slice of everything from Miss Ware, who has yet to put a foot wrong with the material she's dropped this year. Tough love is shaping up to be a quiet and deadly beast of an album.

Music videos: Kumi Koda - Never give it up, So fever & Kimi omoi

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Kumi Koda - Never give it up, So fever & Kimi omoi | Random J Pop

Avex aren't giving cash advances on music releases and music videos to any of their acts who haven't pushed more than 100,000 units in their first week since 2012, so these under performing has beens have to find other means. Fuck an Avex cheque or a hotel. Kumi Koda is paying that pussy bill with pachinko.

Whilst Ayu seems content with delivering mediocrity on a budget, Kumi is seeking funds from sources other than Max Matsuura and her latest venture is with a pachinko company by the name of Sankyo fever. For those who don't know what pachinko is, it's essentially like a cross between pinball and the gates of hell. Pachinko takes place in a pachinko parlour, which is set out in what is pretty much an arcade where members of the public go to put tiny metal balls into a machine and die. They can be found everywhere in Japan. They are easy to spot. If the garish entrances don't catch your attention, then the cacophony of noise when the automatic doors open as you walk past most certainly will. Along with the case of emphysema you will catch from the cloud of cigarette smoke which hits you in the face should you be unfortunate to go inside or stray too close to the doors as you're passing. I won't judge Kumi for this tie-in. She has a child and a husband to feed, because her 2 year old son is saying more than her husbands music career is.

Listen to... Usher - Believe me

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Usher - Believe me | Random J Pop

In the wake of Usher's messy VMA performance of his single "She came to give it to you" with Nicki Minaj, everybody took to Twitter asking why he didn't perform something new, and then a new song of his premiered online which made folk throw arms up and ask the question 'Why the hell didn't Usher perform this instead!?'.

Produced by Mike WiLL Made It, "Believe me" is structured and sounds a hell of a lot like Kelly Rowland's "Kisses down low". I will not hate for the copy and paste job, because "Believe me" is hot and in true Mike WiLL Made It fashion the beat goes harder than the rocks of the bottom Usher hit when he saw Justin Timberlake's first week sales for The 20/20 experience.

"Believe me" is the first Usher single in a while I've really liked. I had a little something for "Good kisser", but "Believe me" had me rock my head back and forth with the lights off and do a Dougie in the dark. I still can't say I'm looking forward to his new album though. No Usher album has done a thing for me since Confessions and even that album (as widely acclaimed as it is) took a while to grow on me. I blame "Throwback". It took me a considerable amount of time until I was able to skip past that track and listen to everything which came after it.

?J's MTV 2014 VMA highlights

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MTV 2014 VMA's | Random J Pop

So, the MTV Video music awards happened. I pay so little attention to this shit in advance, that I only knew the VMA's were taking place because of tweets I was seeing on my timeline in regards to it. By which point the VMA's were already well under way. The Video Music Awards have become such a mess and a semi non-event over the years that people only watch it to see who is going to bring the controversy with their stage performance, who is going to show up on the red carpet with their pussy lip or titty hanging out of their dress and for shady looks from celebs in the crowd, which then get immortalized in GIF sets on Tumblr. As was the case with Rihanna last year who's looks and reactions were so iconic that she should have her own camera at every awards show.

Below is my list of stand out moments, both good and bad at the MTV 2014 Video Music Awards.

8.29.2014

Listen to... Jessie Ware - Say you love me

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Jessie Ware - Say you love me | Random J Pop

Jessie has released another track into the wild from her second studio album Tough love and as with the self titled track it's yet another step change for her. Way more pop and folk driven than anything she's done before, which is no doubt the influence of the co-writer of the song, Ed Sheeran whose vocals also appear on the track.

I don't think "Say you love me" will become an instant hit, but it feels like the type of song which will become a slow burning hit and burn it's way into the public conscience through the way of appearances in countless popular US TV drama's, TV commercials and chilled sessions / love songs compilations.

Ever since "Imagine it was us" Jessie has curve balled me with every song she's dropped and she has not disappointed me once. With Devotion, I never would have thought Jessie would ever take to recording songs such as "Imagine it was us", "Tough love" and "Say you love me" as they put her in a place she's openly said she deliberately stayed away from on he debut. But I love she's allowed herself to be pushed into something new. It's great to finally hear her explore her vocals and colour the songs in the way she hinted she could on Devotion, but held herself back from.

Jessie Ware's second studio album Tough love is released in the UK October 6th with a US release slated for October 24th. I can not wait to hear this shit. I'm ready for this woman to give me a short back and sides in the dark of night and leave my hair under my pillow like a some kind of tooth fairy who snatches wigs instead of teeth.