Staff Selections: March 2017


Kayoko Yoshizawa


Kayoko Yoshizawa is probably best known for her Showa pop influence and while the sound is still present in “Yaneurajuu” she experiments with different sounds that bring life to the album. The album starts off very bare with a lot of acoustic sounds being the driving force for the first half of the album. The album really picks up in sound from track 6 and onward introducing saxophones, accordions, and other unconventional sounds you don’t expect to hear in a Japanese pop album.

Takuya Nakazawa

Aoi Diamond/ Tasogare ni

It’s not too often that I find myself listening to enka, but 21 year old Takuya Nakazawa has a nice voice that draws me into his music. While neither track is innovative on its own, Takuya’s voice does have its own charms to carry the single.



20 Shuunen Request Best+Rare Tracks

I used to listen to Cocco a lot but lost track of her over the years. I was “reminded” of her again when watching the March Music Station SP where she performed her debut single “Countdown”. Still one of my favorites from her, the song begins as a ballad then breaks into hard hitting alt rock for the chorus. The abrupt ending, leaving the listener only to hear her breathing is a nice touch too. I love everything about it. “20 Shuunen Request Best+Rare Tracks” contains Cocco’s most famous songs as well as fan-voted favorites. Perfect starting point for someone new to Cocco, or someone like me who needed to be reminded again of how many great songs she created.


Daichi Miura


I’m going to go ahead and say it: this is Daichi Miura’s best album. I didn’t really go into this album with any expectations because I didn’t like any of the singles this era, besides my third favorite song of 2016, “Cry & Fight.” But the album is way better than I thought it would be. It’s a really good fusion of R&B and dance music that feels quite refreshing. I was really surprised by the song with SOIL&”PIMP”SESSIONS. I can’t remember another Daichi song having a jazz influence, but it turned out really nice. There’s even a baile funk influence, which really surprised me. I know that there’s a lot of bitching about some Japanese music sounding a bit too much like current Western trends, but this album nicely stays on the right side of the line.

Ame no Parade

Change your pops

Last year, Ame no Parade announced themselves as the torchbearers of a new era with their debut album “New generation.” This year, the band wants to change the perception of Japanese pop music with their new album, “Change your pops.”

The album opens with “Change your mind”, a song which shows that Ame no Parade is capable of making a more upbeat song that breaks out their usual midtempo box. But what a lovely box it is, as shown on the album’s standout track, “stage.” This song is a dreamy piece has such an urgency of emotion to it. Frontman Kohei Fukunaga always sounds like he’s on the verge of tears when he sings, but it’s even more believable on “stage.” The band switches things up on the next track, “Count me out”, by bringing in a newfound house music influence, which is also later found on the song “feel.” Ame no Parade’s laid back cool displays itself best on “1969”, the standout track of the album’s later part.

With “Change your pops”, Ame no Parade brought in several different sounds to show the range that Japanese pop has, and to show that it can be cool to those who normally turn up their noses at the genre (think less AKB48 and Arashi, and more Sakanaction, and even The xx). The result is an album that has more standout tracks than its predecessor, which was more of a mood-creating piece made for listening to in its entirety. But then again, having those standout songs, the ones that catch you and make you revisit them again and again, is one of the hallmarks of pop music.

1 2