By David Yamaguchi,
Tomioka High “This is Me” Dance
It is not every day when Hollywood visits a real high school to film a dance performance. Yet the dance club of Tomioka High, Osaka Prefecture, stands out. When they took second place in a 2017 national high school dance competition, videos of their routine went viral. Warner Music Japan accordingly captured them swirling through a stunning new routine to aid in advertising the opening of the “The Greatest Showman,” starring Hugh Jackman, in Japan (1.3 million views).
TO CONTINUE our earlier review of Japanese entertainers, a logical follow-up question is who are some interesting Japanese bands? It is worth addressing here because Japanese musicians seldom get airplay in the United States. This is because Eurocentric Americans dislike hearing lyrics in languages other than English beyond occasional phrases of Spanish or French. The question is also apt because the internet is starting to wonder who will perform in the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In this context, Asia-facing readers can simply turn to Google for an independent index of Japanese bands. Two such groups that have captured my attention of late follow. Mondo Grosso – This is an innovative techno-pop group (2.4 million Google hits). For starters, check out their song, “Labyrinth” (9.6 million YouTube views).
Wednesday Campanella – This group sings something between techno-pop and Japanese rap (160,000 Google hits). I like their song “’Melos,” illustrated by lead-singer Kom_i’s journey to the Mongolian desert (790,000 views). Regarding J-rap, at first view, it might appear to be merely a copy of American rap. To its credit, however, is how much smoother it sounds! This is due to the greater suitability of Japanese words for song lyrics. Most consist of syllables comprised of a single vowel or consonantvowel pair (a, ka, sa, ta…). Moreover, rap is simply an arena in which Tokyo girls—long famed for the speed with which they speak—can excel. Kom_i accompanies her rapid-fire words with amusing antics.
Tokyo Bon 2020
Google the above to find an amusing song about Tokyo with over 13.4 million views. It is a collaboration between Malaysian hip-hop artist “Namewee” and “Cool Japan,” NHK’s tourism- promoting TV program. Namewee has a knack for visiting different Asian countries and capturing their essence in catchy songs in a way that only foreign visitors with fresh eyes can.