Welcome to the J- factor ! ! ! This post is based on a popular TV series which maybe some of you have seen. Basically we have three categories. Solo, Group and Oldie. I will nominate one track for each category and Mr P will nominate one for each category and then you will have the chance to vote for your favourite. We hope you have fun listening to the tracks and voting for your favourites ! ! !
Call me S*mon C**ell and pass me a pair of high waisted trousers. It’s time for a head to head J-Factor contsest. The rules are clear ( vote for me) and the gloves are off !
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Ding ! ! ! Ding ! ! ! Round 1 – Solo Artists ! ! !
Sakura - Gackt - Mirror
Gackt is and interesting character ! ! ! He is actually distantly related to the old Ryukyuan royal family and after nearly drowning while swimming in Okinawa he gained the ability to see and communicate with spirits and ghosts. He was a pioneer of the Visual Kei movement in Japanese music and achieved fame with his band Malice Mitzer before starting a solo career. He still has a Visual Kei act as a solo artist but I like him when he is less stylised. He is also a successful actor and author and totally hot for a slightly older gentlemen ! ! ! This is the unplugged version of one of his hits, I like it as you can hear his voice and see him without all the Visual Kei make-up and overdone rock backing.
Interesting. I’ve only ever come across Mr Gackt ( sounds like someone clearing their throat !) when he’s all dressed up. This “clean” version is certainly different from his normal stuff. Personally I find all the clapping a bit annoying and therefore I’d vote for the other solo track.
Pairubu - Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Fashion Monster
Recently appointed “Harajuku Kawaii ambassador” Kyary is best know for her outrageous look and work in the fashion arena. Now she’s bringing her unique style to the world of music. This is her latest track, a hymn to all things fashiony. Save yourself some time and vote for this one on my recommendation.
Ummm . . . .I choose the unplugged version of Gact because I did not want to discourage our fan with extravagant costumes and then you choose this and insist on the video . . . Men ! ! ! Actually i really love this track -it is a real earworm ! ! ! Kiriko Takemura (who is also known as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu ) is an interesting character. She is a very successful model and business woman in the fashion industry (her company make the best false eye lashes ever ! ! !) and last year she launched her musical career and like everything she does she has done it totally professionally and of course successfully. She is also a very interesting writer about fashion and Tokyo street trends. The song is quite ironic and funny and has a great J-Pop feel to it. I like it a lot ! ! !
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Ding ! ! ! Ding ! ! ! Round 2 - Groups ! ! !
Pairubu – Kiiiiiii- Ossy O’s Bomb
Sakura gives the background to this one. Slightly barmy ( but in a nice way). I’m not sure if they are still active, their sole album, from which this comes, is a thing of rare delight and contains a totally unique take on “Brown Girl in the Ring” that has to be hear to be believed. They can be seen on Youtube performing with cheap keyboards and puppets. Which is fine by me.
I do not know very much about Kiiiiiii but I like them a lot. They are a duo with Utako Tamaya on vocals and Reiko Tada on drums. They met in Junior high school aged 12 and have been making music together since then. They release their tracks on 7 inch vinyl but not in CD format and of course there are downloads available. Their track No More was an hit in the indie charts and they have achieved a cult status since then. I like the sense of fun they have in their music and their eccentric style. I enjoyed it very much ! ! !
Sakura - Superfly (ft Lemon Bats) – Alright
Superfly started as a group of students playing rock cover versions for fun when they were at university, but when they graduated, two of the members, singer Ochi Shiho and guitarist Koichi Tabo, went on to become professionals and signed to Warner Japan as Superfly. They released their first album in 2008 called Superfly which became a double platinum album in physical copies sold and had over 500,000 iTunes downloads. Superfly have released three more albums after their début and all of them have been platinum albums. The amazing and charismatic singer, Ochi Shiho is a really big star here of course and has even had an asteroid named after her ! ! ! I am lucky to have seen them live two times and they are really one of the best live bands I have ever seen ! ! !
O..k….ay….I’m going to live dangerously here by disrespecting one of Sakura’s picks but I really don’t like this one very much. It’s far to “Dad rock” for my tastes and reminds me of many a bad night in the Japanese themed pubs of Surrey many years ago. Not a “keeper” for me, I’m afraid.
Will someone tell Sakura to stop hitting me….
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Ding ! ! ! Ding ! ! ! Round 3 - Oldies ! ! !
Sakura - Katsuko Kanai – Tanin no Kankei (Like Strangers)
Katsuko Kanai was born in China but her family came to Japan as refugees after the war and she had a very modest childhood but she studied ballet and in 1962 (age 17) she became a dancer and later a model and actress where she appeared mainly in TV shows where she was famous for her beauty . She started her musical career in 1967 and between then and 1985 (when she retired) she released 40 singles. This track is her most successful and sold over a million copies. I really love her laid back and sexy voice and I think this track really captures Tokyo in the swinging 1960 decade ! ! !
This is I like. Slightly on the cheesy side ( or tofu-y as Sakura can’t eat cheese) but very evocative of it’s time, I think. Nightclubs, Yakuza, Kirin Beer and Squid tentacle snacks that’s what it says to me. Nice one.
Pairubu – Kenzi and The Trips – Bravo Johnny wa Konya mo Happy (Bravo Johnny is also happy tonight)
Bravo ! Well played Mr Kenzi. Very 80s (on account, no doubt of being recorded in the 80s) in sound , a fine slice of pure “punk” Japan style. This must have sounded really exciting back then and, I think, still holds up. Love the way “Bravo” gets stretched out to “Berravoooe”. Pogo a gogo !
Kenji Ueda is a really respected rock musician and has had a great career (and still has actually.) He started his professional career in 1984 with the name Kenzi in the band Leo Star 8. After Leo Star 8 he formed Kenzi And The Trips in 1987 and achieved quite some success. He later formed the fantastic band The Pillows in 1991 and they have now released 18 albums and more than 30 singles. As well as his work in The Pillows he is also a successful songwriter for other musicians and has had great success as a producer, where he is well respected particularly for his work with Going Underground. I really like his work and this early track captures the fun and energy that has been one of his characteristics through out his career.
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We Say ! ! !
We had a lot of fun making the post and we hope you have enjoyed the tracks and the bands. I think it is a varied selection with maybe some bands you have not heard before. So please vote for your favourites in the poll ! ! !
(Hint – the the ones I nominated ! ! !)
So there you are. The winners, I think are obvious. Thank you all for voting for my selections, it was only to be expected, of course. I’d like to commiserate with Sakura for coming , not last, let’s not be unkind, shall we call it “runner up” ?