We update with 10 new J-Pop songs once each month, on the day first day of each month.
RSS feed for our song reviews can be found at: https://jtop10.mymti.org/category/j-pop-song-reviews/feed
1. サザンオールスターズ- 闘う戦士(もの)たちへ愛を込めて
Recca’s thoughts: A nice companion to “DONG CHANG SWAG,” also reviewed this month, because they both have a bit of “sea shanty” feel to them in parts. However, this, like certain Keisuke Kuwata songs, seems to draw its influences from all over the world in the best way possible. The rhythm of the lyrics is unique and purely Southern All Stars. 9/10
Download from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/tatakaumonotachi-he-ai-wo-komete-single/1396407292
2. RADWIMPS- HINOMARU
Recca’s thoughts: Alongside the very Japanese song title, which evokes the “Rising Sun”, this song throbs with a Japanese drum-inspired heartbeat. It’s a reflective song and a change from the typical RADWIMPS chart-topper. But, of course, it has that catchy “whoa whoa” chorus to pull us all in near the end. 7/10
3. 宇多田ヒカル- 初恋
Recca’s thoughts: I may speak too much about the oft-used “big J-pop” orchestra sound these days, but this is one song that uses the sound to its advantage. It’s not the solid-gold Utada single I’ve come to expect in recent years, but I’m also not the biggest fan of slow songs. The uneasy melody of the lead-in has a way of sticking in my head. 8/10
4. TAMTAM – Esp feat. GOODMOODGOKU
Recca’s thoughts: Two completely different avant-garde soundscapes wash over you right from the start, before settling into some fat bass and smooth vocals. Funky, chill, unique, otherworldly at times, and a total joy. I’m excited to hear more songs like this from the Japanese indie scene. GOODMOODGOKU’s verse in the middle adds a little bounce and is accompanied by some lovely piano noodling. 9/10
5. Suchmos- VOLT-AGE
Recca’s thoughts: Suchmos strays into the world of rock n’ roll for this one. It’s not too melodic either, and feels very tense. I’m a bigger fan of Suchmos’ more jazz and funk-inspired tunes, so it’s not my favorite. Bonus points for some funky bass, though. Not really my thing. 4/10
6. HYDE – WHO’S GONNA SAVE US
Recca’s thoughts: I had just about given up on HYDE and his associated bands because I thought his vocal style hadn’t really changed since the days of L’Arc-En-Ciel. Here he comes with a new, EDM-tinged rock tune to prove me wrong. The product isn’t terribly original, and the English lyrics are not all that skillful, but I’d rather hear this than a style of J-rock that has ultimately become cliche. I appreciate the change-up, HYDE, but other bands have done this style better. 5/10.
7. 松田聖子 – 永遠の愛で変わらない愛で
Recca’s thoughts: The latest from the long-running career of MY GIRL, Seiko Matsuda. A happy song for skipping along a sunlit path. The retro flutes add a nice echo of the past alongside a more contemporary arrangement. It doesn’t hold up to any classic Seiko anthems by any means but it is an enjoyable detour. 7/10
8. Mii – What You Say
Recca’s thoughts: The upbeat beginning hooks you and the beat is very atypical of J-pop, which piqued my interest right from the outset. If this were in English, I would not be suprised if it was in the latest Top 40. That is not to say that this is a straight-up copy of Western pop music. The use of piano in the quieter parts of the verses still feels “J-pop” to me. Looking forward to seeing more from Mii. 8/10
9. DA PUMP – U.S.A.
Recca’s thoughts: This retro ‘90s-style banger is really riding the wave of recent nostalgia for Japan’s bubble era nightclubs. The silly lyrics about the U.S.A. just add that extra dose of camp and humor that makes this more than just a faux-throwback tune. Not that this is an instant classic or anything, but it makes me smile. 8/10
10. THE CHERRY COKE$ – Dong Chang Swag
Recca’s thoughts: I had no idea there was a J-rock equivalent to The Dropkick Murphys. This upbeat little ditty is a great reminder how the rock scene in Japan spans all genres. It makes me want to visit a fake Irish pub in Tokyo and raise my glass. Don’t care all that much for the singer’s voice, but it goes well with the style of this song. I can’t help but enjoy this one. 8/10