Twice – Yes or Yes, and the visit on Knowing Bros

My beloved Kpop group returned with yet another EP this November, entitled Yes or Yes. Twice had an admittedly intense year, with a release after release and busy performances schedule. I can only be happy, as their songs tend to get stuck in my head for a long time and the new one is definitely no exception, but I do hope the girls get some well-deserved rest. The music business is pretty fierce in South Korea and it’s all about the timing – Twice along with Blackpink do enjoy plenty of spotlight right now, but how long can this last? From JYP or YG’s perspective they probably can’t afford to slow down, but let’s not go overboard…
Having said that, Yes or Yes? Totally yes. The new tune is surely another success for the band. Continue reading →

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Songs I like for getting lost in thoughts, self-reflections, and contemplating life decisions

Here’s some of the stuff I listen to drift away.
Continue reading →

Ayano Kaneko – 祝祭 ひとりでに (Shukusai Hitorideni) album

Oh Ayano, you really are the best around. While I tirelessly continue to jam to Ayano Kaneko’s 2nd full-length CD – Shukusai, which came out in April, much to my excitement the album got an acoustic rework recently. This new version is re-titled as 祝祭 ひとりでに (Shukusai hitorideni) – Festival alone(?) – as in, it’s a completely stripped down release, with Ayano singing and playing the acoustic guitar by herself. All the songs from the original Shukusai re-appear, and as I’m actually learning to play the guitar since October last year, these rearrangements motivate me real hard (though I still suck). Continue reading →

Dance the Night Away with TWICE and the KPOP Summer 2018 (short) Summary

Barely 3 months after What is Love, TWICE reissued the EP in July, rebranding it as Summer Nights, and now that the summer is coming to an end, I’m finally getting round to write about it. Only three new songs appeared, including the main track – Dance the Night Away. The upbeat, EDM-y song did not completely win me over, though when you accept it for what it is – a light summer party banger, then I guess it’s decent? The visuals of the girls were stunning (no surprise there), the MV is enjoyable and despite the fact that the band did not promote for a long time on music shows, they continued to garner wins and got another deserved popularity boost. Continue reading →

Shiina Ringo 2018 – the tribute, the 20th anniversary, the Russia trip

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How relevant Shiina Ringo exactly is in 2018? Some gave up, some chose Seiko Oomori, I largely listen to Ayano Kaneko now, though she’s someone completely different. Hence, my answer – Ringo continues to be fairly relevant on my playlist, but that’s about as much as I can say, other than that the opinions of the rest of Ringo fans community vary greatly.

This year marks Ringo’s 20th anniversary since she debuted in the music industry, and as such it came with a new tour, a tribute album, and oddly enough, she paid a visit to Mother Russia (?!). What can we make out of it all? Will an apple and a cat be replaced by the hammer and sickle? We can only speculate. Continue reading →

Ayano Kaneko 2018 update – Shukusai – 2nd full-length album

The second update post about my (currently) favorite Japanese singer. The singer-songwriter/girl with an acoustic guitar shtick isn’t anything groundbreaking, as there are many artists like that in Japan (and in the Western side of things Joni Mitchell or Emmylou Harris have been doing that decades ago). Yet, while listening to Ayano Kaneko I get the feeling she’s a real talent, there’s something special about her music. Her releases continue to bring a smile on my face and the songs make me tap my feet, and that’s what counts, right? A week and a half ago 祝祭 (Shukusai – Festival) came out, which is Kaneko’s second full-length album, following 恋する惑星 (Koisuru Wakusei – Love Planet) from 2015. Continue reading →

Ayano Kaneko – Mure-tachi (群れたち) album

Ever since I’ve heard 恋する惑星 (Koisuru Wakusei) in full, I’ve been hoarding any カネコアヤノ (Ayano Kaneko) CDs I could find. The thing which I decided to skip on was last year’s LP, 群れたち (Mure Tachi). I’m becoming more and more of a collector, but I still haven’t got round to purchasing a turntable, so I decided against ordering a vinyl recording, only for the sake of having it. The moment it sold out, I’ve already regretted my decision… Thankfully, Kaneko actually released the album again in February, this time in the CD format.
The lack of English information/news about this lovely artist, and purely depending on my extremely limited Japanese and Google Translate to find the info sucks, but I’m slowly getting hang of it. Continue reading →

What is Love? TWICE is.

JYP sure has struck gold with TWICE. The band’s brand of bubbly pop, sugary voices and smiley faces sells ridiculously well, while the views on Youtube reach some crazy new heights (TT is at 350 million, while the newest song is already at 74 million).
The band made a comeback earlier in April with a new EP entitled ‘What Is Love?’. The title track doesn’t really bring to the table anything groundbreaking stylistically – it’s exactly what one would expect from a hit made by Twice, and apparently, it’s exactly what the masses want, as the girls have won on most of the Korean music shows over the last few weeks. I’m kind of picky when it comes to TWICE songs – I’m constantly rocking to TT, Like Ooh AAh, and last year’s Signal and Likey, but my response to Knock Knock was lukewarm at best, and Heart Shaker is way too cringy for me (‘yeah yeah no no’) – What is Love? fits into the first group of tunes, as the song is the right sort of catchy and the music video is really cool. Continue reading →

The Best of Knowing Bros

The best TV talk show I’ve ever seen? Sure, I enjoyed Mock the Week, back when Frankie Boyle was ripping everyone and everything to shreds. I laughed hard at Dave Letterman’s attempts to make guests feel as awkward as possible (to lesser extent, Conan O’Brien sometimes does the similar shtick). Graham Norton had me cracking up many times. There’s also Polish Kuba Wojewódzki show, where the titular host is joined by guests for the no holds barred chat. It was kind of fresh and unusual at the time over here, but I feel it became just crass with no subtlety, and the guy got way too political, instead of staying a goofball. Then, the hope was gone with Letterman’s retiring (he’s back though!!!!), and all that could be heard was the fake-ass giggle of Jimmy Fallon. I sought relief and laughter in the world of Korean variety shows, Running Man and New Journey to the West standing out as genuinely hilarious shows. But the truly unrivaled show came in the form of Knowing Brother aka Knowing Bros aka Ask Us Anything. Continue reading →

Yuki Saito – Japanese pop gem from the 80s

When I hear the term ‘Japanese idol pop‘, two names that first come to mind are Momoe Yamaguchi and Akina Nakamori. That’s my opinion though, as both were quite different artistically than most of their peers –  Yamaguchi and Nakamori stood as sort of femme-fatale figures, capable of powerful delivery, whose music was often dark and/or provocative. They were certainly huge back in the day, but even then, the bubbly sugar pop dominated the scene, and it continues to do so to this day. I’m definitely not trying to make it sound as if it was a bad thing – the 80s produced a great deal of amazing idol-singers, and there are some newer artists I’m also fond of.

Music-wise I particularly love the 80s, and my previous great discovery from that time was Yukiko Okada – her catchy music and the tragic story gripped my heart. My most recent unearthed 80s gem is Yuki Saito. I did hear about her before, but only in the context of the timeless 80s anime Maison Ikkoku and the superb song used for that show –  悲しみよこんにちは (Kanashimi yo Konnichi wa – ‘Hello Sadness’). It was composed by Tamaki Koji of 安全地帯 (Anzen Chitai) fame.

However, I soon found out, that there’s much more to her career than an anime opening theme. Continue reading →