In connection with my desire to fully keep up with the J-pop industry, I’m planning to do a weekly round-up of any new releases that have caught my ear. Some of these may have been covered on the blog already, but my hope is that this will become a one-stop shop for anyone interested in what’s new in J-pop.
With that in mind, here’s where you come in: I’m one person with one set of musical preferences, so please embed any other new J-pop tracks you’ve enjoyed in the comments so we can get a fuller spectrum each week.
*And just like I do with my reviews, I’ll wait until full versions of songs are available before posting them in this round-up. This will mostly apply to Johnny’s groups, who still limit the majority of their YouTube uploads to shorter, edited versions.
2023 Index: Feb 1 – Feb 18 // Feb 19 – 25 // Feb 26 – Mar 3 // Mar 4 – Mar 10 // Mar 11 – Mar 18 // Mar 19 – Mar 25 // Mar 26 – Apr 1 // Apr 2 – Apr 8 // Apr 9 – Apr 15 // Apr 16 – Apr 22 // Apr 23 – Apr 29 // Apr 30 – May 6 // May 7 – May 13 // May 14 – May 20 // May 21 – May 27 // May 29 – Jun 3 // Jun 4 – Jun 10 // Jun 11 – Jun 17 // Jun 18 – Jun 24 // Jun 25 – Jul 1 // Jul 2 – Jul 8 // Jul 9 – Jul 15 // Jul 16 – Jul 22 // Jul 23 – Jul 29 // Jul 30 – Aug 5 // Aug 6 – Aug 12 // Aug 13 – Aug 19 // Aug 20 – Aug 26
BE:FIRST – Salvia
Released as both an anime OST and double a-side with mentor SKY-HI, the synthier moments of Salvia show promise. I’m still mostly frustrated by BE:FIRST’s music, though. I want to love it, but it tends to have this murky energy that drags it down for me.
Exile Takahiro – Unconditional
Feels a little “adult contemporary,” but it’s pleasant.
King Gnu – Specialz
This is another song that could do with a kick of extra energy. I like the sound of it (and it’s already a big hit thanks to King Gnu’s cachet) but I just think it could go bigger and bolder.
MA55IVE The Rampage – Invaderz
This hip-hop sub-unit of The Rampage just isn’t for me, unfortunately.
MISIA & Rockon Social Club – Kizudarakeno Oujya
There’s a great sense of pomp and circumstance around this song.
Morning Musume – Heavy Gate
Okay, this was actually released a few weeks ago but I forgot to cover it. The album’s out this week, so it makes sense to post the video. It’s decent.
ONE OK ROCK – Make It Out Alive (song of the week!)
I really like this. It’s just straight-ahead, energetic rock with a great chorus and punchy performance. It’s a song of the week!
Produce 101 Japan – Leap High
This is the theme to the third season of Produce 101 Japan — the first with female contestants. It’s okay. The melodies are bit repetitive, though.
REIKO – No More
REIKO is a soloist working under SKY-HI’s agency and this is his debut. It’s very funky and smooth. I’d actually like to see BE:FIRST’s music move in this direction.
Ryugujo – 2 MUCH (song of the week!)
I’ll share my full thoughts later this week when the music video’s released, but for now I’ll say that I adore Ryugujo and I adore this song. It’s a big evolution for them. It’s my song of the week, and I won’t be surprised if it ends up being my song of the month!
SixTONES – Creak
I really appreciate how this steers them back to the rock sounds of their debut era. It’s a quirky track – probably my favorite SixTONES single in some time.
SKY-HI – Sarracenia
Lots of SKY-HI related things this week! He’s turned into a one-man empire. This isn’t up there with his best work, but I like it fine enough.
Stray Kids – Social Path (ft. LiSA)
I wrote about this here. I liked it!
UNLAME – I Am I
UNLAME is such a cringe group name! This is a new unit debuting as part of the AKB48 universe. The song is pretty good and I’m curious how their sound will grow from here.
Vicke Blanka – Snake
This is really funky and upbeat. I love the production.
Yufu Terashima – Daiuchu No Mugen Ai
Super quirky, super hyper Eurodance-infused J-pop. It’s fun!
Hey! Say! JUMP – Super Delicate (2012)
I feel like I’ve already used up my Hey! Say! JUMP quota on this feature, but they keep posting old videos on YouTube and I can’t resist sharing my favorites. This is one of my all-time top JUMP songs and I’m happy everyone can now listen to it!