I haven’t written about Shiina Ringo, my favorite Japanese female artist in a while. There wasn’t that much going on around her, and the recent years showed that cashing in on CM music is the thing she’s focused on the most. And that’s coming from a guy who thinks that Sunny (Hi Izuro Tokoro) was a decent album, Nippon is corny, but acceptable, and Ringo Expo ’14 was an enjoyable hot concert recording (a bit of a mess at times, but a hot one). 逆輸入 ～港湾局～ (Gyakuyunyū: Kōwankyoku, ‘Reimport: Ports and Harbours Bureau’), the self-covers CD, which came in 2014 was pretty cool as well. Finally, three years since the aforementioned Reimport and Sunny albums, we got a new record this December – and guess what, it’s the vol. 2 of Reimport. Continue reading →
The bad taste in my mouth left by last year’s atrocious Coca-Cola song, Nagaku Mijikai Matsuri (長く短い祭), isn’t easy to wash off, but life goes on… Shiina Ringo appeared on the 66th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, the Japanese New Year’s Eve music show, with the aforementioned tune and I loathed the vocaloid voice as much as ever. The act as a whole was visually great and Kamisama, Hotokesama intro bit was quite enjoyable, but the auto-tune just ruined the experience completely.
Anyhow, after few months of waiting on my part, WOWOW has finally broadcast a concert from 2015 tour. There was also another show of hers aired – a part of the 5th anniversary of Dream Festival on TV Asahi ch1, which took place on November 21-23 of 2015. What can I say – I’m crazy about her and she pretty much nailed it on both occasions, though there were few things I deem unnecessary. Continue reading →
It never ceases to astound me how the Japanese stay seated during indoor concerts. It does not happen every time, but it’s a fairly common thing. However, music shows which take place in the open-air venues is a completely different story – the crowds go utterly crazy and that sheer intensity still emanates from the video footage of those events. Some big music festivals occur in summer – Rock in Japan, Fuji Rock or Rising Sun Rock Festival to name a few. They are usually covered by Japanese TV to a degree, so it’s always a good source for finding new artists to listen to, or enjoy those I already like. Continue reading →
The amazing Japanese songstress returns with a new summer single and unfortunately it makes me question her integrity as an artist.
When Ringo first started out, she played fairly straight-forward pop-rock mix with few twists here and there which paved her way into stardom. Then came Shouso Strip, KSK or Sanmon Gossip and we were wowed by her genre-bending and experimentation. I do not ardently love each and every song from these albums but I definitely admire the road she has taken. The more recent album – Sunny – is not up to par with her older releases but it is still a decent and pleasant record.
This new single is an atrocity. Continue reading →
Women in the music scene can rock and surely they do, and I can’t stress this fact enough. It bothers me that lots of guys are still like, ‘she’s a girl so she can’t play heavy metal’, ‘she should stick to pop’, ‘it doesn’t fit her’. As if music genres were gender-bound, limited to specific race or sexual orientation. Just look at rap culture and the way white artists continue to be perceived. Beastie Boys were a sensation back in the day and more recently so was Eminem, but they had to fight lots of negative preconceived notions to achieve success and gain appreciation. People still go, ‘wow she’s a female, yet she raps as good as man’, or ‘I don’t listen to George Michael, coz he’s gay’. Music is all matter of taste, but the issues mentioned should never play a role in deciding whether you like an artist or not. Times surely change for the better, but the music fascism remains, I have no doubt about that. Riot grrrl movement of the early 1990s, with bands like Bikini Kill, Le Tigre or Sleater-Kinney, addressed the problems of the male-centered society and the place of women in music, yet the mainstream culture still did not get this memo. Continue reading →
Shiina Ringo has been quite busy last year. In May we saw the release of the self-cover album Gyakuyunyū: Kōwankyoku, in June there was NIPPON single which coincided with FIFA World Cup, finally on November 5 we got the first ‘proper’ full-length album from Ringo in 6 years, Hi Izuru Tokoro named in English as Sunny. Opinions among the fans varied, and it was understandable, as the singer included not one or two, but 6 previously released singles (Ariamaru Tomi dating back to 2009 and Sanmon Gossip recording sessions!), which left us with only 7 new songs. Continue reading →