KAT-TUN’s “RESCUE” PV: First single that doesn’t suck

I’ve never really been into KAT-TUN; I listened to Queen of Pirates, but I didn’t get it. Furthermore, I’ve never been into the entire (male or female) idol fixation. I am, however, a sucker for good pop music and KAT-TUN’s newest single is certainly good, if not fantastic. There’s something particularly wonderful about the title track, “RESCUE”: it’s desperate, and hauntingly so. It’s set against a frenetic, fast-paced techno/dance hybrid that increases the sense of urgency; the chorus never really tells us what exactly the boys need rescuing from (“Into place / lost in maze” doesn’t really help, although I guess it explains all the running to nowhere in the video), but the post-pomo atmosphere gives us some idea. Or maybe these dudes just want to phone home.

Apparently, someone got wind about a few of my favorite PVs of all time and now everybody is catching onto the super slow-mo bandwagon. I am, of course, now intrigued.

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Oricon’s top 100 selling singles/albums of 2008…so far

Simply put, the Oricon Charts are Japan’s equivalent to the Billboard. A portmanteau of “original” and “confidence,” the list-maker has recently compiled its top 100 selling albums and singles as 2008 hits its mid-point. Some thoughts:

  • There are two EXILE albums in the top three, neither of which I’ve listened to. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that I haven’t listened to every album or single on the lists; I suspect simple uninterest that names like NEWS and V6 evoke are the reasons behind this ignorance. Also: BoA’s THE FACE only made it to 31, 5 Johnny’s Jimusho groups beat out Ayumi Hamasaki’s single, and T.M.Revolution is not on either list. Fair enough.

  • Perfume’s GAME is number 16, Hikaru Utada’s HEART STATION is 4 – the two most deserving albums on this list.

  • Ayumi Hamasaki’s GUILTY is number 8, right under Koda Kumi’s Kingdom – both are probably due in part to the brand names they have become than the actual content of the albums, which were pretty mediocre.

  • There are also two KATTUN singles in the top three, neither of which I’ve listened to. The Japanese are nothing if not consistent in their devotion.

  • Apparently, SMAP is still releasing music. 17 years and counting.

  • It’s important to remember that while there is correlation between sales and popularity (the real reason for putting theses lists together is usually just an easy way to interpret what the public’s “favorite” music is), I suspect a more accurate representation of popularity would be the Japanese iTunes’ Top 25. A quick Google search confirms this list does not currently exist.

  • GReeeeN is all over these lists. I had no idea people actually listened to them, let alone spent money to.

  • But most importantly, nary a Western record is to be seen amongst the top 25 of either chart (if my shoddy katakana skills are correct, the first is Madonna’s Hard Candy at 32). My interpretation is that a) the Japanese are extremely loyal to the home teams, and b) the Japanese music culture is continually expanding, growing, and developing, and like an American who tunes into the radio expecting to hear Leona Lewis, there is simply more interest generated within the market due to the ease and convenience of access. While American music is still omnipresent (and probably just as easy to catch as the new Namie Amuro single – number 8, for those keeping score), the same argument can be made of Japanese music to Americans (re: Internet, although I suspect this will, in turn, incite arguments of language barriers [everyone in Japan is exposed to English in some form on a daily basis and are used to the sounds and texture of the language, whereas Americans are still unaccustomed to foreign languages outside of Western Europe]; also, sheer laziness). But in terms of Japan, cultural loyalty is earning my respect rather than resentment; years ago, the top selling figures were more likely Western, today the Japanese are proving they can hold their own and in some cases, even transcend that of their Western peers. Now if only their appearance on Billboard was just as quotidian.

Below are my picks for Top 25 singles and albums of 2008…so far.

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