“Weekly” J-Song Roundup #7 – Hoshino Gen, Polkadot Stingray, Kizuna Ai (and more!)

Hello hello, and welcome back to another J-song roundup!

While this one will be overall normal like the rest of the posts in this segment, it can be considered a little special since this could be the last song roundup post of the year. If it happens to be, I just want to say thank you for following this particular segment and it has been my pleasure to present and suggest some (hopefully) great Japanese music to you guys! 2018 was definitely a year where I branched out significantly to music outside of anime and discovered some incredible artists that I loved throughout the year…

…ah, but don’t worry! Sorry if it sounds like this segment is ending, it won’t (lol).

But that being said, this week’s list consists of artists I’ve talked about already who recently released new songs and some new artists that I’ve discovered recently. Without further a do, let’s jump right in!


“Singing I Love You Baby” – DADARAY

About a week and a half ago, DADARAY came out of nowhere and released a new single called Tandoor. When I saw it, you can say I was pretty excited to listen to some new music from them.

Out of the two songs, I think my favorite is definitely this track, “Singing I Love You Baby”. The mellow beginning of the song with the vocal and piano performances from both REIS and Etsusha definitely hooked me in quickly. It then transitions into including more instruments to spice it up; they even added in some synth into this song which was a good touch. Plus if you’re pretty familiar with DADARAY’s music, REIS is the main vocalist while Etsusha is more of a back-up singer. But with this song, it was nice hearing a balance in vocals with both of them; Etsusha can absolutely sing and I hope I can hear more of her in the future!


“Shiny drive, Moony dive” – Uchida Maaya

As I mentioned last roundup post, I’ve changed music streaming services from Spotify to Apple Music cause of some dumb reasons involving paying for Spotify Premium… ugh. However, I think this change is for the best since I have an iPhone and am quite enveloped in the Apple ecosystem of products (lol). But back to the topic of music, I discovered well-known and talented seiyuu Uchida Maaya’s artist page and to my surprise, Apple Music actually created an “Essentials” playlist for her that even includes a detailed description! And let me just say, thank God I discovered that playlist because after listening to this song, as well as the other ones, Mayayan has absolutely become one of my favorite seiyuu idols to listen to.

“Shiny drive, Moony dive” takes on a more happy-go-lucky approach, compared to the other songs I’ve listened from Uchida Maaya like “Setsuna Ring a Bell / セツナ Ring a Bell”, and it’s simply just enlightening to hear Mayayan sing a song like this. I loved the rock-n-roll/pop music combination this song has; there’s just so much going on with the guitar solos and the blasting trumpets, all mixed in with her sweet vocals. But I think my favorite part is definitely the chorus, it’s SO catchy.

Also the 1950s diner aesthetic in this music video was a great addition to this track 🙂


“your song” – SUPER BEAVER

(uhm, disregard the visual part of this YouTube video, it was the only one I could find with the actual song in it lol)

If you watched a fun little show called Barakamon back in the Summer 2014 anime season, you possibly remember the great opening song from that show, “Rashisa / らしさ”. The one who performed that song is a band called SUPER BEAVER, and while I haven’t really dove too much into the rest of their discography, I can say one song makes them a legit nice band to listen to.

SUPER BEAVER changes the style a bit in this song, “your song”, and expresses a more acoustic and heart-warming track. The vocal styling of Shibuya Ryuuta is always super smooth, and with that mixed in with the mellow vibe this song gives off, it makes for a delightful song to listen to.


“Hello,Morning” – Kizuna AI

If you haven’t been keeping up with this “Virtual YouTuber” craze going on… well, first off, let me say that it is a thing happening on YouTube. Essentially, these are YouTube channels that have motion-capture anime girls doing entertaining things, most of the time it being playing popular video games like Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, etc. Arguably the most popular Virtual YouTuber right now is an “A.I.” named Kizuna Ai. She runs two channels: one being a general variety entertainment channel, and the other being a let’s play/gameplay sort of channel. Kizuna Ai can be considered a “meme” among the YouTube community due to the funny noises/sayings and antics she does, but surprisingly… she actually performs really nice music.

Yes, you heard me right. Alongside being a gaming YouTuber, she actually is a pop singer. Ai-chan has released several singles over the past six months (one song was even produced by one of the most beloved DJs, TeddyLoid), and it was even recently announced that a Kizuna Ai live concert will be held in Tokyo and Osaka next week (Dec. 29-30). And as I said earlier, she actually has a really nice voice and has released some great songs, one of my favorites being “Hello, Morning”. I don’t listen to a lot of EDM but I still really enjoy the genre, and I think Kizuna Ai (and other artists like tofubeats) has sparked more interest in me. The production by Nor is fantastic and it’s a pretty damn sick song to listen to; I think the most intriguing part were the bass drops (lol). But yeah, the overall composition combined with Kizuna Ai’s really nice vocals made this song very enjoyable.


“Uchoten / 有頂天” – Polkadot Stingray

I love Polkadot Stingray, let me just say that first (lol). And the hype for their second full-length album coming out next year on February 6th, Uchoten / 有頂天, is definitely increasing, as they have made music videos for a few of the amazing songs featured on the album like “ICHIDAIJI” and “Pandora’s Box / パンドラボックス”. Most likely I’ll order it when it comes out!

PS released the music video to one of their songs, “Uchoten / 有頂天” (which has the same name as the album itself), actually yesterday! And I just cannot stop listening to this insanely good track. It absolutely has the unique Polkadot Stingray style/charm with Shizuku’s distinct vocals, Harushi’s always-sick guitar riffs, Uemura’s funky bass-playing and of course, drummer Kazuma’s bowtie-suspenders-shorts style of clothing. But the main reason why I really really love this track (other than it being a Polkadot Stingray song) is the fact that they added other instruments they don’t really include in most, or even all of their music. When I heard the trumpets playing in the chorus, I was legitimately surprised; it almost reminded me of other bands that included trumpets in some of their songs like SHISHAMO and BRADIO. If I’m not mistaken, they haven’t included wind/band instruments in any of their songs so this was such a great change of style (there was also a keyboard solo in this song).

But yeah, the new Polkadot Stingray album, I believe, will be yet another incredible one from this band.


“CHASE!” – Kusunoki Tomori

So if you follow or have heard of the newest Love Live school idol group, Perfect Dream Project/Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, you would know that the group finally released their first album about a few weeks ago. The album includes a group song called “TOKIMEKI Runners”, alongside the solo songs from each member. Well, I finally got a hold of the album and it’s pretty darn good! I think that’s all I’ll say about the album in general; I can save my overall thoughts for another post.

However I wanted to discuss one particular solo for a couple of reasons: one, it’s my favorite character solo out of all of them; and two, the seiyuu for Yuki Setsuna, Kusunoki Tomori, just turned 19-years-old a few days ago! And yes, you read that correctly. She is only 19-years-old and has already been a part of popular franchises like Love Live and even Sword Art Online where she played the main role of LLEN in SAO: Gun Gale Online. That being said, I thought it would be nice to talk about Tomoriru’s performance in Setsuna’s solo.

Well first off, Tomoriru can SING. Literally the first 12 seconds of this song, you’re hit with an angelic-sounding voice and at that point, you already know this song will be good. The combination of pop and rock/metal was not one I expected when it comes to a character like Setsuna, but it’s not at all a bad thing; I think it fits her well. Also I admire the passionate-sounding vocals; you could tell Tomoriru put her all into singing this song as Setsuna.


“POP VIRUS” – Hoshino Gen

I’ve discussed a ton about Hoshino Gen on my blog whether that be featuring him in a J-artist post or even talking about the popular J-drama he starred in as a main role. And there is absolute good reason why I talk about him frequently: he’s a great artist! Hoshino Gen is probably considered one of the most popular pop artists of the new generation, as seen with track hits like “SUN”, “IDEA / アイデア”, and his most popular song “Koi / 恋”. I bring this man up today because about a few days ago, he released his fifth studio album, POP VIRUS, and I’ve been listening to it constantly.

The first track, which has the same name as the album itself, is actually a pretty noteworthy one. I say that because it’s kinda different from the rest of the album and even his usual music style. “POP VIRUS” gives off a more mellow, R&B kind of vibe unlike the happy-go-lucky pop rock music heard in a lot of his songs. And I really enjoyed it! Hearing Hoshino Gen sing in almost a hip hop-like vocal style was only one of my favorite things about this song. But of course, it does still maintain his unique charm, especially with his iconic and memorable voice.

While not my favorite song off his newest album (that would probably have to go to “Hada / 肌” or “Koi”), it’s still a pretty darn good song.


“Let me hear” – Hayami Saori

I don’t want to go too into who Hayami Saori is since I wrote an entire post about her; but in a nutshell, she’s one of the most popular and talented voice actresses in the anime industry right now. Some notable roles of hers are Ononoki Yotsugi from the Monogatari series, Yukinoshita Yukino in My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and of course, Nishimiya Shouko from the hit 2016 anime film Koe no Katachi. But if you didn’t know, she is actually a musical artist, and a really good one for that matter!

The MV for one of the songs on her upcoming album, JUNCTION, was released about two weeks ago and my goodness, it’s a nice song. I think the main genre that it reminded me of is definitely soul. Her vocal styling and the accompanying background vocalists, I thought, were very reminiscent of classic soul-style songs you’d hear here in the United States. Plus the instruments fit so perfectly with Hayamin and the background singers.

Also when Hayamin sings the line, “let me hear…”, towards the end… man, it gives me the chills, it’s so good lmao


Aaand that’s all I wanted to talk about today!

Thanks for sticking around for all eight artists, if you did, and I really do hope you liked this week’s compilation! And I just want to quickly say, while it looks like I’m almost neglecting this so-called “weekly” segment, it’s not because I don’t like doing it. I really do love talking about Japanese music and suggesting new artists to you because I find it absolutely interesting and fun. A little stress or writer’s block may get into the way of this segment being weekly, but I still do try to find new tracks and artists to listen to in order to discuss them. Basically what I’m trying to say here is that I hope I can make this segment more frequent than what it has been in recent weeks/months in the new year! Plus, I definitely want to review more albums.

And as always, if you have any comments or even music suggestions, please leave it in the comments section! I’m always happy to take suggestions or discuss the music I featured today even further.

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Lastly, this post won’t be the last one I write for 2018! I plan to write a couple or even a few more before the year ends so stay tuned! 😀

-al

  1. I love this Hayami Saori song! And wow, Kizuna Ai…do you know who voiced her?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Or provided the original vocal samples?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    2. Yeah, I’ve been wondering who voices Kizuna Ai as well and while there have been many speculations such as believing it’s an seiyuu named Kasuga Nozomi and some even thinking it’s Toyosaki Aki (Hirasawa Yui from K-On!), I think her identity still remains a mystery 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. Huh. Guess we’ll wait and see then.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. […] “Weekly” J-Song Roundup #7 – Hoshino Gen, Polkadot Stingray, Kizuna Ai (and more!) […]

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