Namie Amuro performs a song for Ayumi Hamasaki

Namie Amuro performs a song for Ayumi Hamasaki | Random J Pop

With an album of Hikaru Utada covers having released in December and Ayumi Hamasaki releasing an album of classical mash-ups this month, Namie Amuro wanted in on revamping and reviving old material, not content with having sold trillions of copies of her best album Ballada which featured a couple of newly recorded versions of her old classic. So on the final leg of her Live style 2014 tour, she debuted a revised and re-vamped version of her 2003 single "Put 'em up".

Music video: Charli XCX featuring Rita Ora - Doing it

Charli XCX has been EV-ER-EE-WHERE for the past year, in large part due to a song she did with Iggy Azelea that you may have heard of. But I've never really gotten into her. The only song of hers I liked was "Superlove". Nothing else that she had released since that dropped in 2013 had caught my attention. But along came "Doing it". 

Produced by man of the moment Ariel Rechtshaid, the song employs a wholly 80s vibe of which has become a signature of his. The original version of the song did not feature Rita Ora. But with Rita being everywhere right now, off the back of a song with Iggy Azalea, featuring as a judge on The Voice UK, starring in Adidas' Superstar campaign alongside Pharrell Williams and David Beckham, and having a stint in the 50 shades of grey movie - Charli's people figured why not slap her on a remix for the European release of the album. Rita adds nothing to the song, but when does she ever?

I don't know how Rita Ora is landing all of these high profile gigs and endorsements at a time when she's not released any music of her own. But either her management are the hottest sharks on the block or Rita's head game is atomic.

Listen to... Ciara - I bet

Ciara - I bet | Random J Pop

Ciara's one constant since her debut album Goodies has always been that she shines on slow jams and mid-tempos'. "Other chicks" was a highlight from her debut, "Promise" was a wonderfully unexpected lead single from her follow up The evolution, and the love everybody had for "Body party" showed that more people are here for Ciara putting it down on something smooth than shouting over some tired Afrika Bambaataa ripped off, crunk sounding piece of shit. Ciara embraces this for her latest single "I bet" and she comes off all the better for it.

"I bet" is all about cheating deadbeats. Ciara will never confirm nor deny the song is about her aspiring rapper boyfriend Future (real name Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn), but the song speaks volumes. To put you up to speed on Ciara's ghetto romance, she and the Future started dating. She had a body party. Future was invited. She got pregnant. She gave birth to a child and named it Future. Then Future cheated on Ciara with some stylist ho. Future and Ciara broke up. But then Ciara took him back for the baby. It's always for the damn baby. Ciara can deny and play hush all she wants, but this song is definitely about him and no amount of having Future make like Fatman Scoop over the track like shit is cool between them will deflect from that.

All I've been listening to as of late has been mid 90s / early 00s R&B, when everybody was putting guitars and harpsichords on a track - so "I bet" feeds right into my current palette. I love the production, I love the vibe, I love the hook, but I just cannot get into the verses. Between Ciara's flow, Future's shouting and some of the cringe-worthy lyrics, they just do not hold. It's a testament to the strength of the chorus and the music, because even in the face of these shortcomings, I still really like this song.

A remix to this featuring Usher would be greatly welcomed. The more I listen to this song, the more I can hear it in my head.

Ayu goes all P!nk 'n' shit for her latest tour, A Cirque de Minuit

Ayumi Hamasaki - A Cirque de Minuit | Random J Pop

When Ayu rolls out, she rolls out with the kitchen sink and half the house still attached to it. This woman does not know the art of pacing. Fresh off of the back of her cover of Hikaru Utada's "Movin' on without you" came a triple A-side single, another classical release that nobody wanted and also a tour.

Ayu's new tour is titled A Cirque de Minuit ~Mayonaka no circus~, and as the name implies, the theme of the tour will be of the same Cirque du soleil shit that P!nk's done for her past 2 major tours and Kumi touched on for her Trick tour.

Capsule preview Wave runner in the form of a mega-mix movie

Due to the lukewarm reception and dismal sales of Capsule's album CAPS LOCK the follow up was always going to be a return to the likes of Stereoworxxx and World of fantasy to shut everybody up who had dismissed it. For better or worse, that's exactly what their 15th studio album Wave runner is sounding like. The focus on EDM is strong with this one. So strong that album producer Yasutaka Nakata should have just called the album 'EDM' and been done with it. I bet he probably wanted to.

Everything I've heard from Capsule Wave runner thus far has sounded generic and void of Nakata's signatures that we've come to love over the years.

The songs sound as generic as a bowl of rice. But the silver lining to this is that Nakata finally decided to let Toshiko sing on more than one track. "Feel again" is the first song I've heard Toshiko lace from start to finish without copy and paste jobs of verses in quite a while. I don't know what she did to let Nakata pass her the mic, but props to her. Nakata showed Toshiko zero respect on CAPS LOCK. None at all.

Given just how generic Wave runner is shaping up to sound, it wouldn't surprise me if those who hated on CAPS LOCK were caught with their tails between their legs and come to the realisation that it wasn't such a bad album after all. Wave runner sounds way too basic from a guy who should be running circles around EDM. I mean..."Party maker". Even Pamyu Pamyu's "Mi". Club bangers with twists. Nakata, c'mon now. You're so much better than run-of-the-mill David Guetta and Calvin Harris sounding tripe. I really hope the tracks we've yet to hear offer something special, or that those we have heard switch up on the final album versions and surprise the pants off of us.

Listen to... Kelly Clarkson - Heartbeat song

Kelly Clarkson - Heartbeat song | Random J Pop

Kelly Clarkson is back, bringing in the new year with a brand new single and an album to follow.

"Heartbeat song" is in the vein of Kelly's most notable hits "Since U been gone" and "My life would suck without you", and if that doesn't scream 'chart success', it also sounds like something from Taylor Swift's 1989. So "Heartbeat song" it will have no problems securing the 32 year old Texan another hit.

With some of pop's vocally challenged women having had their moments in 2014, it's great to have Kelly delivering a solid pop record with a great vocal, and she's barely giving anything on this song.

Kelly's sixth studio album (excluding her Christmas release Wrapped in redPiece by piece is slated to release in March. Kelly has also confirmed that she will be touring in the Summer in support of the album, so be on the look out for dates and locations to see if she'll be playing at a venue near you.

I've never been a Kelly Clarkson fan per se, but have always listened to her albums and found myself falling for at least one song from each of them. My last Kelly Clarkson addiction was "Darkside". A great song which ranks as one of Kelly's best in my books.

SNSD's Jessica hits the studio with one of Michael Jackson's brothers

SNSD's Jessica hits the studio with one of Michael Jackson's brothers | Random J Pop

Jessica was monumentally kicked out of Girls generation after being giving an ultimatum to either focus solely on the group or pack her bags to work on her clothing line. This is the super abridged version of events. Google 'SNSD Jessica' and you will find many a low-down on what happened and that her booting from the group was something which was brewing over time. It seems as though that if she wasn't kicked out when she was, chances are she would have left. This is as much as we're going to get for now, because nobody involved is going to risk having a price put on their head for spilling the tea on what really happened.

But despite Jessica wanting to focus on fashion, it would seem music is still on her agenda.

Jessica has already begun to work on solo material with the help of Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine (the one who looks like a black, melting Action man figure). Please don't ask me questions about how this came about, because I'm trying to figure it out myself.

Perfume gear up for the home release of their Gurun Gurun tour and act like LEVEL3 didn't happen

Perfume's will be dropping a home release of their Gurun Gurun tour in March. Or what I like to call the Farewell LEVEL3 tour, because Gurun Gurun made out like LEVEL3 did not happen. Yes, there was "Party maker". But that performance got scaled down for Gurun Gurun like lives weren't put in danger on hydraulic lifts in the Tokyo dome a year ago and none of it ever happened.

I forgot all about this tour because it came and went so fast and it wasn't really all that memorable. Gurun Gurun was one of Perfume's least memorable tours because there was nothing special about it. The girls had great energy throughout, the outfits didn't completely suck and the setlist was decent. But the lack of a concept and a tour defining performance left a lot to be desired.

Perfume's World tour 3rd was conceptually tighter than Gurun Gurun and had one killer performance which had everybody talking. Forget Gurun Gurun. We need a home release of World tour 3rd.

Music video: Ginette Claudette - Jump

New Yorker Ginette Claudette released her debut album Tainted emotions last year, but she is keeping things moving and starting the new year afresh with a brand new song titled "Jump". Produced by Polo Crew, August Rigo and D10, and written by Ginette herself, the song stinks of Brandy's lacefront and I mean this as a compliment in the nicest possible way. I love me some Brandy, and any chick who can work a Brandy angle with her music and work it nicely will always get my attention. Then to see Ginette giving me Namie Amuro "Baby don't cry" realness in the video too, it was a wrap. "Jump" was officially my shit.

Check out Ginette over at Soundcloud to hear some of her other material and her host of covers.

Shoutouts to Frederick, one of my longest standing followers from the days before there was even a blog, for putting me onto this song. It's found itself several homes within my Winter, Chilled and R&B playlists. Cheers fella.

Album art + tracklisting: Ayumi Hamasaki - Love classics

Ayumi Hamasaki - Love classics | Random J Pop

Ayu stays chasing her former glory days like a carrot on a stick, as she prepares to release her second 'Classical' album this month - in the midst of a single release and a tour. Unlike the first A Classical album which was simply orchestrated re-arrangements of her songs, Love Classics features mash-ups of Ayu's songs with the works of iconic classical composers. Because we are all wondering what an Ayu song would sound like mashed-up with a famous classical piece. *Tumble weed slowly rolls around the whole of Shibuya*

A classical was a big success for Ayu at a point where her popularity was on a decline and it featured arrangements of old songs which were better than the new material she was putting out at the time, so it's only natural that Avex would attempt to recapture that by doing it all over again. We will act like this release has nothing at all to do with Namie Amuro's Ballada leaving her bald and crying on the toilet for weeks on end.

Music video: Jessie Ware - You & I (Forever)

As has been a theme for every single off of Jessie Ware's second album Tough love, her latest release "You & I (Forever)" is of a completely different gear to what came before and is yet another song written in collaboration with a high profile name in music. "Tough love" was written in collaboration with Benny Blanco of Katy Perry and Ke$ha fame. "Say you love me" was written by Ed Sheeran. "Want your feeling" was produced by Dev Hynes. "You & (Forever)" is written by the master scissor leg, drop kicker Miguel.

The music video to "You & I (Forever)" ties in nicely with the visual direction of the album (which sadly features no images in its inlay). But what is most alluring about this video is that it's the first video where the super cool, super composed Jessie we have always gotten in videos is replaced by a woman who can't contain how in love she is. Beyoncé and Jay-Z thug it out on beaches at night. Jessie Ware and her boo kick it in an Photoautomat.

Jessie got married before the release of Tough love. Up until that point she was very coy about talking about her relationship with her then fiancée. And whilst her Instagram featured odd pictures of him, there was nothing that obviously pointed to him being with him. But on the release of her single "Tough love", not only did Jessie open up musically, but she became increasingly open about her husband to be. Ever since tying the knot it's as though floodgates have opened, and Jessie wants the world to know who her husband is and how in love with him she is. Her Instagram features more pictures of him and her with him, in interviews she's frank about which songs are about him ("You & I (Forever)" was written about him taking so long to propose), and he features prominently in the music video.

Jessie Ware. Serving hot music and heart to the masses. One wig snatching song and video at a time.

Sunday shade: When Beyoncé meets Final Fantasy

With the highly popular PlayStation video game Final Fantasy X getting HD remasters, I figured it was only right that B'Day fantasy gets a HD re-master too. 

B'Day fantasy was born out of the question: What would Beyoncé do in a life situation as a Final Fantasy character?

And there you have it.

Album reviews: I am...Sasha Fierce | 4 | Beyoncé