A Plea For J-Pop
    • WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2014

    • Posted by: Devin Granados

    Lately I've been feeling neglected by American pop culture, as it has apparently decided to overlook my mountainous land of Japan in favor of our South Korean neighbors. In 2012 K-Pop star Psy slid right into popularity in the US like a slightly oversized, but slick Samsung Galaxy. "Gangnam Style" was Asia's first major interruption in American pop culture since Yoko Ono plopped herself in the middle of the Beatles. Daps to him, Psy is one charismatic fella, but really America...we gave you Pokemon for heaven's sake. Let's do a run down of all the culturally invaluable tidbits Japan has given you: sushi, zen gardens, Nintendo, Sony, Final Fantasy, Anime, Gwen Stefani's questionable Harajuku phase, and World War II—fuck that was pretty bad—but we did give you Street Fighter...

    For years Japan was America's favorite bedfellow but now that we're feeling a little ignored we're going to regain your attention with seductive young-ins dancing around in ridiculous clothing. The latest adorable Asian, who just recently turned adult, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (her full stage name is Caroline Charonplop Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) has been hopping around stages in the U.S. since her breakthrough "Pon Pon Pon". This tripped out music video for said tune went viral and catapulted Kyary and her bouncy pigtails into J-Pop stardom.

    As is somewhat common in J-Pop, Kyary pounced out of the lolita/decora modeling industry and charmed everyone in the music biz with her super "kawaii" ("cute" in Japanese). From the start, she hooked one of the biggest producers in Japanese Electronic: Yasutaka Nakata, who produced for Japanese pop idols like Meg and SMAP. Recently, thanks to Nakata's heavy dub style production, she released a single that makes me feel like Skrillex should consider signing her to OWSLA. The girl has Lady Gaga level spunk, and the American electronic scene could definitely benefit from her brightness.

    In addition to Kyary, there are plenty of other unsettlingly young, half-dressed Japanese girls making cute hand gestures. CAUTION: the following videos maybe too cute to handle and also infectiously catchy.

    Perfume predate Kyary by a decade making them veterans of the J-Pop circuit. They've been shuffling into perfectly synced dance formations since before Kyary even hit middle school. The group's albums are also worked by Nakata, hence the similarities to the aforementioned pop princess.

    Girl groups have taken over Asian pop music in the past few years, and E-Girls are gaining sweet success from it. This girl group consists of 29 different members, practically a whole police force of Kawaii 50, shooting down offenders of all things cute. The group consists of five different squads on cute defense: Dream, Happiness, Flower, Bunny, and EXPG Girls Dancer. Imagine being arrested by an 18-year-old Japanese girl in a tutu wearing bunny ears...calm down pervs.

    Although not a girl band, Polysics similarly offers America some really weird music and an equally weird music video to match. The video features a schoolgirl breaking it down, a marching girl waving a baton, and a policeman in a slow-mo chase.

    There's also this throwback that no one should ever forget. Puffy Ami Yumi were part of the original cute girl rock wave of Japan. I'm not sure how menacing they really manage to be in this video, but childhood throwbacks kick ass so I'm down with it. I'm just super confused and slightly creeped out by the Guitar Wolf, who awkwardly appears and plays his guitar behind his head.

    To sum up my plea with the American public, Japan's music scene would like your attention. Even if some of it lacks quality, it's fucking adorable. And let's be honest here, all our cute pop stars are not looking so cute anymore, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus? Eek definitely not. We're not asking for you to take us seriously, because we wouldn't run around covered in pink plushies if that were the case; all we want is a little recognition for providing some truly hilarious and ridiculous entertainment.

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