26 April 2015

Japan #4: Two less known favourites

Today's post's music comes from my favourite country: Japan. I am already on the number three (after this post on number four) on feature posts about Japanese music, but all the previous posts have been Favourite Artists posts. So, I also wanted to make a regular type of post for Japan too. Now is the time for that.

Wikipedia: Japan
Like I said, Japan is my favourite country in music. In this post from last autumn, I talk about my for Japanese pop music, aka. J-pop. I have been a huge fan of Japanese music for over ten years now and it has inspired me to study Japanese, and I hope to move to Japan one day. Most of the music I listen to is Japanese, so I have lots and lots of songs I would like to feature in my blog. It was very hard to pick the five songs for this post.

I ended up choosing one singer and one duo. I really love both of these, obviously. Besides all three of these singers being models, they have only released one album each and are not that well known, as the title of this post reflects. Nowdays unfortunately it all seems to come down to promotion and if an artist does not get enough funds from their label, they hardly have success. There are so many great singers around the world, that are left unnoticed thanks to lack of promotion. That is why I personally love to look past the charts and sales.

Here we go now...

The duo is called Marin & Riena. The group was formed in 2009 and consists of two models, whose names make up the group's name. Riena is the vocalist. She has lots of experience in modelling and also from miss competition. Marin is the rapper of the duo. She has experience in hip hop dancing and lyric-writing. Marin actually writes the lyrics for the group's songs. Both girls have been interested on working with music since they were children. They are, or at least were previously, signed to Japan's biggest record label, Avex Trax.

The song above is called Love Train. It was Marin & Riena's second single back in 2010. It is a pop music song formed by Riena's singing parts and Marin's rap parts. In my opinion the song is not a typical J-pop song. The volume of the rap parts has its affect in this (usually Japanese girl groups do not have or have only one rapping part in their songs), but I think sound-wise too it is not that typical.

I find this song fairly simple, though the alteration between singing and rapping adds a nice dimension to the song. I think both of the girl's vocals come out very nicely and they are the main hook in this song. The music is good too though. It is highly catchy, the chorus especially but other parts too, and feels fresh yet familiar. This is my favourite song from Marin & Riena, and also one of the first songs I fell in love with when I seriously got into J-pop. So this song feels a bit nostalgic for me.

This other song from the duo is called 夏の香り / Natsu No Kaori, which in English means The Scent of Summer. Summer is a perfect word to describe this song. It is very summery and fun song. The beautiful music video with tropical flowers and beach, just adds to this feeling. This was Marin & Riena's debut single in the summer of 2010.

I myself love to listen summery songs this time of the year (or actually anytime of the year, but particularly now), when there is snow and slush when the summer is suppose to be near. This song brings the upcoming summer straight away to my mind and makes me feel warm. The song is very cheerful and bright. I really love the vocals from both of them and the music is just lovely. Most of summer songs nowdays have a strong dance beat in them; This does not, which in my opinion makes it a great, softer alternative for the common type summer songs.

Unfortunately, as I stated before, the duo has not released lots of music. All their songs are from 2010. Since they have not received much of attention, it is hard to find information on them. The introduction of the group was based on the introduction from their label's website. It would be nice to know what they are up to nowdays. I personally hope to hear more music from them, since I really like their voices.

This other artist is one of my favourite singers: mini. Even though she has only released one album, she has already got a place in my heart. I absolutely love all the songs I have heard from her and her music is just the type I love the most: a mixture of J-pop and electropop with a strong beat. I also highly love her voice. I seriously hope she will release more music in the future. It was a serious struggle for me to choose three songs for this post, even though she has just so little of music out.

The first song (above) is called Are U Ready?. It was mini's solo debut single, released in 2010. The song has a very strong electropop sound. It is dark shaded and quite bit dramatic. The heavy electric sound of the song just demands attention and I find this as a very strong debut single.

I actually listened to this a lot last year. I believe it was one of the most played songs in my iPod last year. When I first heard this song, I did not like it that much. I did like it, but not very much. My music taste back then was more towards bright pop music, rather than dark electropop. But now that my music taste has changed a bit, this song has become one of my current top favourite songs. The beat always makes impression on me.

mini, whose real name I do not know (though I once read somebody saying it was Michiko, but do not quote me on that) was born in 1985. She has a long career in modeling and her legs have an insurance. In 2010 she was signed to Avex Trax, which, like mentioned earlier in this post, is the leading record label in Japan. Her producer is called Jin, who is known as the producer of a famous Japanese group GReeeeN. mini's debut album was released in May 2012 and it is called エレクトハーコーバンバンピカソ / Electro Hardcore Bam Bam Picasso. I seriously love that name.

Though mini's music is mostly relaying on heavy beats and an electric sound, she is also capable of singing different kinds of songs. Two of Us is a prove of this. This song is a ballad. It does have a electropop sound to it, but it still a very beautiful song. The lyrics are quite sad with a story of the singer being in love with somebody, but they are just friends. This obviously hurts her.

I find this song very emotional (which is rare for me) and touching. I absolutely love mini's vocals and she puts a lot of feeling to them. Even without understanding much of the lyrics, I found the song touching. I love how it is a ballad, but still manages to bring in the electropop sound, all beautifully blended together; Usually, in my experiences, these two factors do not work together so well. This is just my kind of ballad.

As the title of her album could hint: mini is a bit crazy with her music. But in a good kind of crazy: she stays interesting and fun, without going overboard. The song above is the weirdest of mini's songs, and I say that as a compliment since I love this song. It is called ハーコーぷにんそす / Haakoo Puninsosu, which means Hardcore Princess, even though mini (or whoever wrote this song) wrote the title in incorrect way to make it sound cuter. The song is pretty messed up by itself, but the music video just brings the craziness up to a whole another level.

I love the song both music- and vocal-wise. It sounds very interesting and fun. I feel artists often go overboard with this kind of songs, but in my opinion this song just works perfectly. This gets stuck in my head immediately when I listen to it. It is totally crazy, but if you look beyond that, you can notice it is actually a very good song. I sometimes can not stop listening to this, since it is so hooking. And I love the music video too. This is just my kind of craziness. I think in some level mini represents the type of music I would release if I were a singer, so maybe that is why I love her so much.

mini has not released music since the release of her album, but she is active on Twitter. I believe she currently works within fashion field, but I think I remember seeing her posting some photos of music activities. I am hoping I recall correctly and that it is a good sign. She does seems to still be signed to her record label, which is promising towards the hope that she will eventually release new music. I will hang on and wait optimistically.

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