Quite a toll was taken on modern society’s beliefs this year when we learned that the Mayans hadn’t predicted the end of the world. Scientists and philosophers alike are still reeling from the realization – returning to drawing boards the world over to find out exactly where their calculations and ideologies went wrong. Here in Japan, we were no less shocked at the Mayan inaccuracies as the rest of the world. If the Mayans had predicted one of the most uninspired and mediocre years in J-pop history they would have been spot on.
Granted we’ve had some pretty sparse years since Morning Musume first graced the Kohaku stage a decade ago. This year the scene wallows in particular mediocrity offering up AKB 48 and Exile as the nation’s top grossing girl and boy toy groups. If I have to watch the members of AKB fake tears of joy one more time, I’m going to kill my TV. The most frightening part is that AKB mastermind Akimoto Yasushi announced that he had written like 300 songs for the mini-idols.
We were treated to a catchy drop from Perfume somewhere about mid-year but it quickly got lost in the swirl of dust left by Johnny Kitagawa and his crap-load of talentless androgynous boy bands. Ikimono Gakkari, however delivered a dim ray of hope with this year’s NHK Olympics anthem in their classic J-pop sound… or is it safer to say ELT’s classic J-pop sound.
Princess Princess, the Gogos/Bangles knock-off from the 80’s resurfaced this year looking more like soccer moms than pop divas. Still their limited tour to earn money for the victims of the Tohoku Earthquake was admirable and the more they play the tighter they get. They say that they’re finished after this tour, but I wouldn’t mind a bit if they tried to rehash their boppy eighties sound for one more hit in 2013… just for old times sake.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has a name that would separate the men from the boys in any spelling bee, but, as an act, she has a little something going on. At least enough to excite anime otakus the world over. She’s nothing if not unique, and certainly the kind of “Cool Japan” that is easily marketable abroad. . Her fashion and dancing is as remarkable as her music, and may be the key to her success. Her catchy lyrics run along the lines of “candy, candy, candy, girls love, chewing chewing chewing…” etc., so you can plainly see the universal appeal. All this while strutting onstage like a CG character in hand-me-downs from the Queen of Diamonds.
Yui, Japan’s original root rocker guitar girl, announced that she’s planning to take yet another break. Her double CD release this year was nothing more than a compilation of her greatest hits, well worth purchasing if you don’t have any Yui in your collection, but showing a lag in creativity. Who can blame her. You can actually see the disgust in her eyes, as she is forced to perform next to these cheerleader infested, one-sex-fits-all J-pop/k-pop groups with short skirts, dimples, blow waves… and no soul.