Dear Masae Ootani,

As the strongest vocalist in the sadly-defunct Melon Kinenbi, I think you could have done without the crap autotune effects on your debut solo single, 「killing my caddy」. And maybe made it sound a bit less like something cut from the soundtrack of Project Gotham Racing.

And maybe released it through something other than a Japan-only, cellphone-only streaming site. Look into selling on iTunes; any distribution mechanism that requires more effort than “Google for a torrent or a Hotfiles link” will never put money in your pocket. You have ten years worth of loyal fans who will click a simple “buy now” button, and you didn’t give them one.

It’s catchy, at least, even if it doesn’t sound much like you.

My new favorite Melon Kinenbi song...

I’d never heard this one before, but it showed up on URA MELON (now available on the US iTunes store; they really are getting better about releasing stuff internationally). No video, but someone has uploaded it to Youtube as the soundtrack to a really awful low-res still photo. The title is Fuwafuwafuu, or “Fluffy…”.

For a band that Hello!Project had no real interest in promoting, they certainly let them record a wide range of material. And they gave them the single goofiest video in the history of the agency…


Dear Ai Kago,

[Update: Okay, now that my ears have recovered from the assault, I can say that 17才よさようなら doesn’t suck. I barely reached it the first time I listened to the album, because everything else is so awful. This one has better voice processing, better use of your range, a less amibitious vocal style, and, yes, you know how to deliver lines in Japanese far better than in English. The worst part about the song is actually the part where you’re not singing, so go ahead, do more like this one.]

The title of your new album is “Ai Kago Meets Jazz”. In line with my policy of supporting the segments of your career that do not involve truly dreadful photo shoots, I included it in my latest order from Amazon Japan. Thirty seconds into track 1, I began regretting this decision, as I realized that they never said anything about singing jazz.

I knew your voice was thin (but occasionally pleasant), I knew your English was weak (in an often-amusing way), but I admire the way you’ve managed to build more publicity and success after being kicked out of Hello!Project than most of the other girls will ever get while they’re members. So I bought it, and, well, it sucks.

I mean, really sucks. Halfway through, I found myself hoping for a duet with William Hung, so my ears would stop bleeding. And I liked your previous single “No Hesitation”, and even the b-side “Children of the Night”, despite its painful Engrish interlude. It wasn’t that you were singing in your own language, just that you were working within your limits. Jazz, particularly in a language you’re not comfortable with? Forget it; you simply don’t have the skill and confidence to deliver the lines.

[okay, there are some non-painful moments, when you stick to your lower register and don’t try to jazz it up, but they don’t last long; honestly, if you’d just done it as a standards album, sung straight and pitched for your voice, it might have worked]

iTunes I18N

Interested in Girls’ Generation, but don’t want to order CDs from YesAsia? You can buy their latest album from the US iTunes Store, but only if you know to search for “소녀시대”.

Interested in the extremely talented South Korean singer Younha, popular in both Korea and Japan? Don’t bother looking, she’s not there, not as Younha, ユンナ, or 윤하. On the bright side, if you search for “윤하”, you’ll find 윤손하, who is also a pretty, pretty good singer, although her Wikipedia page suggests that she’s a bit of a bridge-burner.

Melon's Not Dead, or will they?

After being kicked out of Hello!Project in The Grownup Purge, idol group Melon Kinenbi’s career initially didn’t look much different. The label had been grudgingly giving them occasional promotion and a single once or twice a year, and they had a monthly concert gig with guest performers, and that continued. In fact, things improved slightly, with the release of five indie singles collaborating with other bands, leading up to their just-released album and DVD, Melon’s Not Dead (even available on the US iTunes store), and an upcoming 10th-anniversary tour.

Their last tour, and last album as a group. When the tour ends, they’re disbanding, and the team of Smoky, Quirky, Psycho, and Bambi will be no more.

My copy of the album arrived yesterday. I was already fond of Don’t Say Goodbye and Seishun On The Road, but some of the others don’t work for me, largely because the groups they collaborated with have very different styles. Review to follow.

Boy meets girl

Or, more precisely, boy band meets girl band. They had me at Sooyoung stretching in tight sweats…

Thought for the day...

I’m quite fond of the work of South Korean singer Younha. My interest started when someone brought one of her songs in for our Japanese reading class, but I eventually went on to pick up her Korean albums as well (which were much cheaper than their Japanese equivalents). This morning, I was listening to some tracks from Peace Love & Ice Cream, and found myself thinking:

"I can't wait until she releases these in Japanese, so I can understand the lyrics."

(amusingly, the title track is a cover of a song recorded in English by Dutch artist Sandy Dane; I think they even used the same backing track (Sandy Dane, Younha), although the lyrics are apparently quite different)

Fear My Genius!

I just clicked on the new iTunes “Genius Mixes” button for the first time, and this is what came up:


“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”