Friday night shuffle XIV

I put the ol’ iRiver on shuffle and post the first five songs that come up.

a-ha – Celice: Despite the fact that a-ha is best known for their 80’s classic “Take on Me” and seemed to almost disappear after the insta-acclaim of the single, the group has continued to release albums well through the 90s and 00s. In 2005, their music took an abrupt turn with the release of Analogue, an album that consists almost entirely of piano, synth, and drums. While this may seem almost nauseatingly redundant, the album took me pleasantly by surprise as an innovative turn for the band, while retaining the classic 80s sound they were best remembered for. This is the opening track of that album. It is delicious and easily one of the catchiest singles released in 2005. That is all.

Eriko Imai – Set Me Free!: An old Japanese pop track from 2001, following the wake of Eriko’s off-hand comment that many in the industry persevered through popularity rather than hard work, a comment that damaged her career (although concerning the Japanese pop industry, so true). Not the best track I’ve posted up here, but fun enough.

Every Little Thing – Face the change: Classic Japanese pop/rock from one of Japan’s longest running and best loved acts. This is one of the first Japanese pop songs I really got into, so it brings back many, many horrendous memories of trying to achieve the cute Ayumi Hamasaki haircut that went horribly awry. The lead singer, Kaori Mochida, has an almost transcendently clear timbre and great range, and a now unmistakable voice in her genre, while the guitar solo is a brilliant example of middle to late 90s Japanese pop guitar (think B’z: anything they’ve done, ever).

Inoue Marina – Beautiful Story: Taking us back to the Japanese pop present, this is a recent 2007 release. To be honest, I’ve noticed that this is almost the anti-thesis to Japanese pop music today, which is mostly concerned with organic instruments à la big band, or American influenced hip hop. This sort of electronic/dance pop is more rare and mostly found in indie girl-group Perfume or the earlier work of bless4 (although it is worth noting that 2007 is turning out to be Yasutaka Nakata’s year and if it’s any indication – Japanese pop in 2008 is going to rock).

The Birthday Massacre – Under the Stairs: Although still a relatively unknown band that enjoys a steady cult following, I still believe the Birthday Massacre are one of the most innovative groups releasing music today, with their distinctive industrial/synth rock melodies and the trademark, almost bright and contradictory vocals of Chibi. This isn’t one of their best songs, not by far, but it’s a good idea of the direction the rest of their discography heads towards.