Funky Japanese pop of Dance for Philosophy

BABYMETAL managed to combine idol culture with metal. Halcali or Rhymeberry mix it with hip-hop. Seiko Omoori, just like the legendary Jun Togawa back in the day goes for the anti-idol gimmick. My newest jam, Dance for Philosophy, is a cool 4-piece Japanese girl group, which puts their own, refreshing and bouncy spin on the genre.

Few years ago, I wrote about Yukiko Okada and how amazing the 80s were in regards to Japanese pop music (among other things). I spoke quite harshly about the current state of mainstream Jpop.

At this moment I’m completely mellowing out though, even to the point of buying AKB48’s Mayu Watanabe’s final single with the band, 11 Gatsu no Anklet, back in November. Eminem’s Rap God (weird to see this name pop up in a post about aidoru, huh) defined 2 kinds of music – elevated and elevator music. But should the latter always be considered bad? I must say that from now I’m going to decide it case by case – even some of AKB48 songs are enjoyable to me these days.

Anyhow, I discovered Dance for Philosophy by accident, as it usually happens, and this band is the real deal. The girls introduce their own brand of rocking, which draws a lot from the 80s funky rhythm and vibes, and 90s mellow r’n’b ballads, while adjusting it all to the modern pop sound and accompanying it all with energetic and demanding dance routines on stage.

Dance for Philosophy consists of Otoha Totsuka, Haru Hinata, Mariri Okutsu and Maria Sato. Haru and Mariri are the main singers in most of the songs (Haru being a vocal powerhouse – her range is pretty impressive), while Otoha and Maria focus on choruses and dancing.

The band’s first CD, Funky But Chic, really makes your body move, either by dancing along, jumping along, or just singing along. The music feels familiar, but at the same time original. The underlying caption on the album cover – ‘Supreme Sounds for Ladies and Gentlemen’ (which by the way sounds like something featured on the art of the CDs from the 60s) – is no joke. アイドル・フィロソフィー (Idol Philosophy) is the song that I first heard from them, and made me love them.

The 2nd album – The Founder, which came out in November last year, further improves on faults of its predecessor. The production is tighter, the vocals are better, and the music is more polished. There seems to be more integrity when it comes to songs. And I should mention it’s even more funky than Funky But Chic.  ミスティック・ラバー (Mystic Lover) is basically City pop version 2017, ドグマテイック・ドラマティック(Dogmatic dramatic) is just the grooviest thing since Young MC’s ‘Bust a Move’ and ジャスト・メモリーズ (Just Memories) is so reminiscent of 90s cheesy ballads.

Everything’s so catchy, so energetic and so good. I’m definitely in love with both albums, though I consider The Founder to be tad better.

Even the MV is tacky, but in a good way!

Few days ago Dance for Philosophy released new mix of Dance Founder, the lead track from the last album. It also features 13 live tracks. I ordered it, but I’ll have to wait a bit. I wonder how the live renditions will do, as from what I’ve seen on Youtube the dancing looks really exhausting, so it’s definitely going to take toll on their vocal performance – but maybe I shouldn’t worry.

I’m actually curious the most if they have a backing band or is it the music pre-recorded. The girls definitely sing live, but I wonder if the actual musicians are involved in performances of the band.


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