Every two months, The Glow’s resident pop/indie expert Mutsumi Okazaki chooses some of her favourite new tracks. Here are her five top Japanese tunes from March and April 2022.
With “i care”, Homecomings, a four-piece band formed in 2014, released their second single of 2022. April in Japan is a time when the winter cold gradually ends and the weather starts to warm up. The warmth of the song is perfect for such a season and once again, Ayaka Tatamino's elongated vocals give the song a sense of temperature that only Homecomings can provide.
As the title implies, this song is about taking care of yourself. Japan ranks quite low in the gender gap index among developed countries, and we still see the words 'femininity' and 'masculinity' everywhere. In an interview, Tatamino stated that the song is about the fact that no matter your gender, you can choose to care for yourself. In such a society where it can be difficult to live, I want to cherish Homecomings' music, which gently pushes us to choose whatever we wish.
King & Prince is a five-member young Japanese idol group who are signed to Johnny & Associates. Founded in 1962, Johnny's is a long-established agency that has been at the forefront of the Japanese entertainment industry, fostering male idol culture and producing numerous national idols.
King & Prince is also known by the nickname “Kinpuri” and the group has a wide following, especially among teenagers.“Odoru yō ni jinsei o.” [“Dance Your Life Away.”] is their ninth single. It is a positive support song for people who have made a new start in life, such as those going on to higher education or finding a job.
The music video features the five members wearing colourful suits and dancing on a set which resembles a company, making it feel like a musical. There’s no doubt that even by simply watching such the video, you’ll definitely feel cheery.
King & Prince have been active in their global expansion, preparing profile pages in English and uploading dance practice videos on YouTube. As a potential first step for Japanese idols entering the global arena, I’m rooting wholeheartedly for the group’s success.
Rock band Hitsujibungaku wrote “Hikaru toki” [“Time to Shine”] as the theme song for the anime Heike Monogatari [The Tale of the Heike], which has been distributed by Netflix. This is the first time they’ve written a theme song for an anime, and they challenged the convention that one should read the script before writing its theme.
Incidentally, The Tale of the Heike is a long story of unknown authorship said to have been established in the Kamakura period (around 1240) in Japan, and is one of the national teaching materials included in the curriculum for second-year junior high school students. It is compulsory education in Japan.
The fact that this track is the theme song for the anime of Heike Monogatari will no doubt make the band even more popular and give them a far wider audience. Having played a major role with their delicate singing voice and melodies with this, I’m looking forward to Hitsujibungaku’s future progress!
Actor and singer-songwriter Gen Hoshino’s new song “Comedy” is the ending theme song for Netflix anime SPY x FAMILY, which is based on a Japanese manga of the same name. It’s about a family not made up of blood relatives but which has, thanks to a series of circumstances, come to live together.
In Japan, many people define a family as a group of people related by blood, but Hoshino, as seen in the music video, depicts a family in which he and some mysterious creatures go about their daily lives. Wrapped in his signature warm feel, it’s a song exploring different kinds of familial relationships.
I think it's good that there can be so many different forms of family. I hope you’ll listen to this gentle music, including his singing voice and sound, and that it will relax you to your core.
Last year, singer-songwriter Ayano Kaneko performed at the Nippon Budokan, a gateway to success for Japanese singers, and is now becoming one of the country’s best-known singers. It’s been almost a year since her album Yosuga [To Rely On], and she has previously written songs about valuing oneself and one's own identity – and this time, too, she reveals a gentle yet strongly-anchored work, full of her uniqueness.
The costumes for the music video were supervised by keisuke kanda, a brand Kaneko is regularly seen wearing, while the film was a collaboration with Kensuke Ide and Mei Ehara, both of whom are familiar faces to Kaneko. The video, shot on 8mm film, is like a work of fantasy. Kaneko picks up a mysterious egg and explores the forest with her friends, and the work has a sense of storytelling which is rare in her music videos.
I continue to look forward to Kaneko’s future as she continues to reveal many new aspects of herself.