That’s My Jam – April 15, 2016

Welcome to an EDM filled edition of That’s My Jam, because the PVs for two EDM-inspired idol songs came out this week and I love them both.

Dinosaur Brain – Dance Dance Dance Dance

I have to admit, Dinosaur Brain initially came on my radar almost entirely because of their group’s name. However, their first single, Snow Parade, quickly got my notice for being completely catchy and a really solid debut for this EDM group. Dinosaur Brain just put out their PV for Dance Dance Dance Dance today, off their first album Brainwash, which is coming out this July.

Dance Dance Dance Dance is a bit less accessible than the fantastic Snow Parade – it’s a lot more straight up EDM, whereas Snow Parade was a lot more melodic. Dancex4 features a lot of rapping, and several sections where it’s more focused on the EDM rather than the members itself. However, it’s also very solid and, very catchy – I’ve had this stuck in my head all day. Dinosaur Brain is definitely a group you should keep in mind if you are interested in EDM. Even if you’re not, I’d urge you to give them a try – they’re a really fun group that’s just getting started.

ANGERME – Tsugitsugi ZokuZoku

More EDM, this time from Hello!Project. Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku is just nonstop, in a good way. There is a ton of energy from the arrangement, to the rap sections, to the frequent background vocalizations. This song really shows off ANGERME as a group, including its newest member, Kamikokuryo Moe. I’m also impressed by Tamura Meimi, who does surprisingly well in the rap sections (in addition to being arguably the strongest singer in Hello!Project right now). I’m not looking forward to her leaving the group soon. Still, Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku is probably ANGERME’s strongest song since last year’s Taiki Bansei, and works great.

That’s My Jam: Friday, April 8

Time for a new series of posts! I haven’t posted as much recently as I did in years past. I understand why – Happy Disco is one of the many writing venues that I’m interested in, and I have to do it in addition to my full-time job, classes, fiction writing, etc. However, I think the biggest thing I miss about writing on Happy Disco more often is promoting things. I loved doing review posts every Monday (and keeping up with my TIF posts) because that allowed me to share things in the idol world. Unfortunately, my reviews tend to be longwinded (still working on the MomoClo album reviews) and as such take me a lot of time to write.

That’s My Jam is ideally going to be a weekly installment of 2-3 idol songs I’m listening to most at the moment. It could be new stuff, old stuff, anything I want to give a quick write up about. I’m going to try and keep these brief so that I can get this out weekly. This won’t replace reviews – one of these songs I am most definitely reviewing later. However, it’ll allow me to talk about what I’m listening to on a weekly basis, and hopefully let me share more of my favorite idol music. Because, as I was lamenting on Twitter last night, there are too many good idol groups out there.

Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) – Party People Alien

Up Up Girls have long been a group I’ve been wanting to hear more from. They certainly have had a high quantity of music, but not a lot of it grabbed me, aside from a few songs here or there. However, their recent move to make more electronic/club music has been a really great move and I think has done a lot to set the group apart. Last year’s Bijo no Yajuu was one of my favorite songs of the year, and their most recent single, Party People Alien, has certainly captured my attention. It’s infectious – the chorus (which, interesting enough, doesn’t even feature any vocals from Up Up Girls), continually gets stuck in my head. This song is very well crafted and could very well be Up Up Girls’ break into something big.

Niji no Conquistador – Alien Girl in New York

Looks like the theme of this week’s post is “alien!” Niji no Conquistador was my big discovery last year, and they have quickly established themselves as being a group with very solid music. Alien Girl in New York is a disco-themed song with a strong melody and a strong arrangement. It’s also got a very catchy chorus, and there are a few surprising choices in the production of the song (the big solo near the end is almost entirely whispered). It’s an interesting song and one of my faves.

Team Syachihoko- Cherie

And of course I’ve been listening to Team Syachihoko’s latest. I find it hilarious that whenever Syachi claims they’re doing something they’ve never done before, it’s a much more conventional single than they normally do. Cherie is just a great song – it’s very classic idol and very straightforward, but has a great melody, is performed well by the members, and has a great instrumentation (lots of strings and horns). It’s a very classic idol song, and I absolutely love that.

Thoughts on Babymetal’s American TV Debut

If you had told me five years ago when Babymetal first came to my attention that I would eventually watch them on a popular American late night show, I would have probably laughed. And yet, here we are.

Last night, Babymetal made their American TV debut performing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, promoting their new album Metal Resistance. Which, again, is strange to even write.

There were a lot of great things happening last night that were I think real wins for Babymetal. First, there was an enthusiastic Babymetal audience. I know there were some fans who went specifically just to see the group. So when Colbert announced them at the start of the show, they got by far the loudest cheer, showing some real enthusiasm. Another thing I thought was particularly great was that, even though there was a comment about “I’m not sure what I’m about to see” from Colbert, this was mostly just a straight performance/promotion, and didn’t feel entirely gimmicky. Plus, it was a good performance that also put a spotlight on the band as well as the actual members of Babymetal.

The biggest misstep of the night was the choice of song being performed. I totally understand why they chose to perform Gimme Choco – it’s the song that went viral around the world and has racked up 45 million views on YouTube. If the average American knows a Babymetal song (which, largely, they still don’t) it’s going to be Gimme Choco. That said, it is a misstep to be performing that song to promote their next album.

Right now Babymetal has gotten the viral hit, but their main goal is actual relevance beyond the gimmick and the novelty. Recently, The Guardian posted a review of their recent UK performance indicating as much. Falling back on Gimme Choco feels like falling back on the viral hit, the gimmick. I personally think they should have performed Karate, the song they’re promoting most off of Metal Resistance. Plus, this has the added bonus of focusing a lot more on Suzuka’s vocals. Gimme Choco’s great but it doesn’t show off just how strong of a singer Nakamoto Suzuka is.

That said, what does this mean for Babymetal? I think that this is another stop on their path to longevity. I’m not sure that this necessarily means mainstream success in the US, but it sure helps in their case for being legitimate rather than just a gimmick (this, along with their upcoming US tour and their other international performances this year). I doubt that Babymetal is suddenly going to go mainstream, but the fact that they’re performing on American TV two years after they went viral shows that they aren’t going away as quickly as some might have thought.

If you’re wondering if this will affect the popularity of Japanese pop idols in America… it probably won’t do anything. Babymetal has become fairly removed from idol culture (understandably so), and I can’t see this being a major gateway for idol groups to come perform on American TV. That said, I know that quite a few foreign Babymetal fans have gotten interested in Sakura Gakuin after becoming a Babymetal fan, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.