Why I Go To A Johnny’s Concert More Than One Time

The third week in March of 2015, I took the Shinkansen about 50 minutes to Nagoya to see NEWS LIVE TOUR 2015 WHITE. NEWS hadn’t toured in 2 years and it was hard not to feel the excitement inside and outside of Nippon Gaishi Hall, all the fans teeming in anticipation about what NEWS had in store for this tour. The actual concert itself was all-new, with many mistakes, as Nagoya was the fist stop on a 3 month long tour.

Fast-forward to the weekend after and my best friend Meghan and I are on our way to Sapporo, a 2-hour flight away from our home base of Kansai. The feeling of Sapporo was different than Nagoya, the venue being more intimate than other venues that I had been to with the members of NEWS themselves coming into the audience. The fans were very warm and inviting despite the cold weather of Sapporo and we made a new friend along the way!

A few months pass and finally NEWS comes to where I live in Osaka in early May. Since I had already been to this tour 3 times previously, and it was on my own stomping grounds, everything seemed very familiar. During the actual concert, you could tell the members were confortable with the set-list and the fans knew what to expect as well, as this was many fans’ multiple time seeing this concert as well.

When I tell people that I have traveled around the country to see my favorite Jpop group, many laugh in disbelief and/ or awe at how many times I have attended and the distance I have traveled just to see a group preform live. Every time this happens I think to myself how much I enjoyed attending and how I do not regret it at all. I often wonder why it seems strange to people the amount of times that I go and the distance that I travel to see these Johnny’s groups. To me, each show and each venue is a different experience, even if the set list is the same. Sometimes they even change the set list to fit the venue or the time of year (for example insert Christmas songs at a concert close to Christmas). Also, the gap between the beginning of a tour and the end of the tour and that evolution is very interesting to see as well. Johnny’s in particular tweaks things even between an afternoon and evening show. There is also a difference between arena venues and dome venues as well, arena venues being smaller and intimate, the artists coming directly into the crowd, and the domes being more elaborate performances complete with pyrotechnics, waterworks, lasers and huge moving stages.

For Johnny’s in particular, the MC’s also change each time. MC’s are the talk portion of the concert where the group takes a break and just talks to the audience about recent happenings or informing them of upcoming events. Each concert is different and you get a little bit more of an insight into the members themselves and the group dynamics. For somebody that is a fan, this is fascinating. As for myself, I enjoy getting to know the members as people and not as celebrities and during these concerts, little parts of their personalities pop out each time.

Last, but not least, it is about supporting the artists themselves. Sure I buy all the singles and a lot of memorabilia, but also going and supporting them in person is something that is important to me as well. Seeing a performance live and listening to it on a CD are two totally different experiences. Concerts are one of the only true times that the fans and the artists can meet face to face. Fans come together and support their group and create a bond that can’t be explained easily in words. You become friends online through the same bond and you finally get to meet in person at the concerts and share the same joy and excitement for seeing the group.

Going to a concert multiple times might seem crazy at first glance, but next time you speak with someone who does see the same show multiple times, maybe try to look beyond the surface and ask yourself if you have anything that you are passionate about that you would do or see multiple times.

Memories of Tegomass 4th Live “Tegomass no Seishun”

Tegomass no Seishun was the first tour I went to, and travelled around the country to see, since I started living in Japan. Previously, I had only been to the Kansai Area where I live, or Tokyo and occasionally Nagyoa, which is the closest venue to Kansai. For Tegomass no Seishun, I went to Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, and Yokohama. Each venue was a different experience for me and I wanted to share some of those memories.

Osaka

Osaka was the first leg of the tour and I was able to hit for tickets, despite it being one of the smallest venues of the tour. I hit for the first day, second show so it was one of my first times going to the first day of any Johnny’s concert tour. The day before was presale goods, so I took the train out from Kyoto, where I had been living at the time, in the heavy snow and went to buy goods for me and some other friends. The fondest memory I had was this mother and her son in front of me in line and the boy was just chatting away about Massu the whole time.

The next day, one of my friends came down from Nagoya and we hung out before the show, being at the venue when the first show of the day got out. You could see everyone was in high spirits as they came out and I was so excited when they finally let us into the venue for the second show. I had no idea what the set list was going to be like, so during the concert I got excited when certain songs came on. The venue was so small, so we really could hear Massu and Tegoshi when they sang “Aoi Bench” with out any microphones. I cried at that song, and every other time I heard it when I went to the tour. My first impression of the concert tour was “Wow! Tegomass has grown so much!” I had been to the Mahou tour over 2 years ago, so it was almost like a “Hey! It’s been a while” and “Wow! Look how much we all have grown”.

Yokohama

I went home to America a few days after the Osaka venue for almost a month, and when I came back I was still on Spring break from my MBA program. My friend Rosie from Thailand and I had been planning a trip for this tour since it was announced, so after a brief trip to Hiroshima for sight seeing, I went to Yokohama and met up with Rosie. We were only able to go to 1 of the 4 shows, but this time was a different feeling because it was an arena venue, not a small hall like Osaka.

To be honest, Yokohama was not my favorite show because they seemed too focused on the technicalities versus showing the fans a good time. They were filming at the afternoon show I went to, but I believe that the evening show is what was actually put onto the DVD and the afternoon show was just a dress rehearsal for recording the night show. It was still an amazing show, but I think it was because the last show I had been to was in a small hall where they could give the fans more attention, it was a bit of a change to go to an Arena venue. When I go back and look at the DVD, they did an amazing job at filming this tour though! I am glad they filmed Yokohama.

Fukuoka

After the Yokohama venue, Rosie and I took the Shinkansen 5 hours from Tokyo to Hakata for the next part of the tour. This was my first time to Fukuoka, so I was excited to explore southern Japan a bit! It was the beginning of April, so the Cherry Blossoms had just bloomed in Fukuoka. It was quite warm for the beginning of April and the venue was right by the sea, so we were walking around the pier before the concert. It was so pretty!

My favorite memory was when we were standing around the side of the venue near the pier and we saw a group of girls gathered around looking towards the venue. They would like squeal every few minutes at something and Rosie, my other friend Monica and I, couldn’t figure out why. Eventually after a few times, we figured out it was a soccer ball that popped up every so often over the top of the venue wall. Everyone knows that Tegoshi plays soccer before the concerts, so we all assumed that it was him playing with a few people before the show. Eventually, the security guard began to shoo everyone away.

Fukuoka was my favorite leg of this tour. Tegomass were both in high spirits and the venue itself, Marine Messe Fukuoka, was big, but not huge. You had a good view of the stage and the layout from wherever you were sitting. We went to both days, the first day we were in the 10th row of the stands and the second show we were up towards the back of the stands on the second floor. In both seats you felt involved in the show!

Nagoya

A last minute decision spurred me to go to Nagoya, the last venue for the tour. Nagoya is only a 45 minute Shinkansen ride from Kyoto, so about a week previous, I decided to go, at the invitation of some of my friends who were also going. I met up with some amazing Tegomass/ NEWS fans and we talked for so long about the concert and everything that happened! I stayed at my friend’s place in Nagoya with her other friend and it was basically a whole slumber party in her small apartment with blankets everywhere on the floor! We talked until the late hours of the night and was one of my favorite concert memories to this date.

I ended up in the Arena right near the back stage, and Massu and Tegoshi both came close to me and were singing “Kiss kaeremichi no love song” in front of where I was. My favorite memories of this concert was Massu jumping down from the stage and handing a child one of the sign balls near the back stage.

“See you Next Live” appeared on the screen after the encore at every concert. In Nagoya it held an even more special meaning to me, because it marked the end of my first tour I had traveled for. Tegomass is my favorite concert to see live because of the live music and the band that backs them up. I can see them time and time again and never get bored becauase each time is totally different.

This tour I spent with such a variety of people and made so many memories. A concert is more than just seeing the group live, its connecting with fellow fans who love the same thing as you as well.

To Tegomass and all the people who I met back in February 2014 to April 2014, Thank you. It’s a tour I will never forget.

Johnny’s Talk – Concert Rules

The first time I went to a Johnny’s concert back in 2009, I had no idea about concert manners. I didn’t understand why people held these things with messages or people’s faces on them (later finding out they were called “Uchiwas”) and waved glow sticks in unison (called penlights) or why there were no photos allowed inside the venue. Over the years, I learned the concert manners and now understand why these things, and many others, happen. In this post, I will discuss some major concert rules and why they are there.

No Photography or Video allowed During the Concert or in the Venue.

The number one thing you will notice when you get in line for a Johnny’s concert is that they search your bag. During this check they ask you if you have a camera, the reason being you are not allowed to take pictures or videos during concerts. This is one of the biggest rules that might be a huge contrast to your own home country. In America, and many other countries, you are allowed to take video and pictures during a concert or inside the venue. In Japan for the most part you can’t, even for concerts outside Johnny’s. This doesn’t mean as a visitor to Japan and as a foreigner that this rule doesn’t apply to you though.

The reason for no pictures or videos during the concert or inside the venue is because they don’t want anything shared on social media or to be shared without their consent. This may seem constraining, but that is how the Japanese music industry works. In return, they usually release a DVD and official pictures. Another reason is etiquette, holding a camera up in the air the whole concert may mean blocking other people’s view around you. In some venues, cameras are also seen as a health and safety hazard.

Uchiwa Etiquette

Uchiwas are those things that fans hold with the member’s faces on it or a message written on it. In a concert in America, you are allowed to make signs or something to hold during a concert, but since they are too big, Japan uses Uchiwas to do the same thing. Now, these Uchiwas are not allowed to be held over your face or be more than the typical Uchiwa size. If you do not know the size of an uchiwa and want to make one, click here for the proper dimensions.

The reason that these rules are in place is because if you raise the Uchiwa over your head, it blocks the view of the person behind you and ruins the concert experience for them. This also goes for the amount of Uchiwas you hold at the same time. You are only allowed to hold 2 Uchiwas at a time in your hands, as it will block the person to the side and behind you from seeing properly.

Stay in your Assigned Seat

As a health and safety standard, as well as to keep things orderly and to protect the safety of the talents, stay in your assigned seat. Even if you are on the end of a row, don’t step out into the aisle. Also, don’t run to catch any streamers that are falling further away from your seat.

Listen to the Venue Staff

The staff members are in the venue for a reason, to help direct the audience and make sure everything is in order. You will see the staff members everywhere, and they will also be directing you to where to go and what to do. When you are in and around the venue, follow their instructions. They are the people holding the signs that tell you to take no pictures in the venue and also direct you if you need help. If they approach you about something, please be respectful and do what they say. The staff do not bother you if you aren’t doing something out of line. I am not perfect about this, and I have snapped at a staff member before, but also know that they are just doing their job.

I hope you guys have enjoyed this post and give it a like if you found it helpful! Please let me know in the comments below what you think and if you have any other things to add from your experience.

Album Review: NEWS – WHITE

NEWS-WHITE

NEWS “WHITE”, released on February 28th 2015, is NEW’s most recent album released a year and a half after their previous one. This time they used the theme of “white”, which has always been their “group color”. They also experimented with new sounds and new concepts, such as implementing a short film in the album. It topped the weekly charts, beating Acid Black Cherry.

The Songs

MR.WHITE

This is the title song of their album and also what their short film was based off of. I heard it on Koyama’s radio show K-chan news in the middle of February and I loved it the first time I heard it! This is a different type of sound compared to what NEWS has done in the past, with a “funk” vibe to it. I love the combination of the beat with the horns. The vocals are amazing and the key really suits their voices. When singing on music programs to promote the album, they always sung this song and you could see how confident they were with the concept through their performance.

KAGUYA

KAGUYA was NEWS’s most recent single that was released in January. It has a very “modern meets old” feel to it and is an “epic love song” that showed a more sensual side to NEWS. For a full review of this single, please click here to read my post about it.

NYARO

NYARO was originally released about a year ago, but only as a Bra commercial tie-up song for the brand Walcol. The fans have never heard the full version of this song, so it was great to finally hear it. It’s a very NEWS like “summery” song. It has a country feel to it with fiddle like sounds and country like guitar. Paired with the kind of dance beat in the background, I think it makes a new and interesting combination. The echo of “Nyaro” in the background in the chorus makes it such a fun and catchy song that get’s stuck in your head.

SEVEN COLORS

SEVEN COLORS was the theme song for the 2013 and 2014 FIFA Club World Cup and is personally my favorite of the three soccer songs that they have released. Since both times were in Morroco, it has a dance-electronic beat combined with African drums.  I like the uptempo-ness of the song combined and the variety of sounds.

Weather NEWS

Weather NEWS is probably the most news-like song out of this whole album to me. It’s a call and response song, very much like “4-Fan” was in their 2013 “NEWS” album. The whole concept of having a call and response song is such a fun concept to me and makes me feel involved in the concert and with the other fans as well. For the music, it’s a very simple song with simple lyrics, and it was a very nice surprise to have Shige do the rap part and not Massu, who had seemed to take on the rap parts since Yapami had left the group.

Super Sonic

NEWS normally has one “hard dance” song on their album, and Super Sonic was this album’s dance song. What makes it different than the other dance songs that they have done more of an electronic and dubstep feel to it, which seems to be a theme in Asian pop in general recently. When I first heard it, it sounded reminiscent of an Arashi song from their “Digitialian” album. It’s like a combination of a rock song and a dance song combined together and is probably my favorite dance song of theirs to date.

Black-Jack –Inter- and “BYAKUYA”

I combined these two together because one leads into another. Black Jack is an interlude or kind of intermission into the other part of the album, but more specifically into BYAKUYA. It’s a dubstep type song that you would probably hear in a club and somehow merges well together with the fantasy like sounds in BYAKUYA.

Now speaking of fantasy, BYAKUYA is an all out fantasy song, a cross between a pirate theme song, like out of Pirates of the Caribbean, and something out of Harry Potter or “Nightmare Before Christmas”. If you think about it, it also sounds like something that KAT-TUN would do, an epic song that has lots of “visuals”. There is so much going on in this song that you have to listen to it a few times to really hear everything. The first time I heard this song I felt a combination of “What is this epicness?” and “What did I just listen to?” because there was so much going on.

ONE –for the win-

One -for the win- was the 2014 FIFA World Cup theme song that member Tegoshi was also the main caster for.  This song has a more Latin feel to it, which really surprised me the first time I heard the song. This song is one of the songs that gets stuck in my head so easily because the chorus says all the names of the countries that participated in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

White Love Story

Out of all of the songs on the album, this has to be the song that struck me the most. It is such a light and fluffy love song, but more specifically a wedding song. The lyrics are so sweet and the harmonization combined with the piano and the lyrics make me tear up every time I hear this song. This song personally showed me an evolution in NEWS, a maturity from the typical love song to something that was deeper in a sense. The lyrics talk about a man treasuring a woman so much and wanting to make her happy and protect her from now on. At one point the lyrics say “You are my Heroine”, it might seem sickly sweet to some people, but I think that it’s a beautiful song and a beautiful melody, which makes it on my top songs on this album.

Ai Kotoba 「愛言葉」

Ai Kotoba is the song that NEWS wrote themselves for their 10 Year Anniversary Event. NEWS has gone through a lot in the past 10 years, going from 9-8-6 and then to 4 members, so this was was a song dedicated to the fans and them coming this far as 4 members. It’s a very sweet song with a simple melody, but a deep meaning. It’s  a special song for the members, as well as the fans. When I heard it in the countdown this past year, I was crying so hard.

Solo Songs

Koyama Keiichiro – Romeo 2015 「ロメオ2015」

This was a song that Koyama and former NEWS member Nishikido Ryo did as a duet together in a concert a long time ago and Koyama decided to revamp it as his solo for this tour. It has a latin flair, but it is quite simple if you listen carefully. It is sexy in a subtle way and the vocals aren’t too harsh and it suits Koyama’s voice very nicely.

Masuda Takahisa – Skye Beautiful

The first time I heard this song I didn’t know what to think of it and I didn’t like it that much. I was very confused at the rhythm changes, going from soft and “mysterious” to hard dance club like music. I had to listen a second time before I actually understood the tempo changes and how it all flowed together, and then it became one of my top songs on the album.

Tegoshi Yuya – Anata 「あなた」

Coming from his solo last album/ tour “Lovin U”, this was a bit of a disappointment to me when I first listened to it. It was very simple love ballad compared to the previous two solo songs, really focusing on the voice more than anything. It was quite boring for a while, but once I listened to it a few times and felt the lyrics and the piano, I began to like it more.

Kato Shigeaki – Escort

Escort is my favorite of all of the solo songs this tour, just for the beat of the song combined with the lyrics. Shige wrote the lyrics of the song again this time, and I think he was trying to spin off of his previous solo “Dreamcatcher” with “flowery” lyrics again. I like the piano and “funk” kind of vibe to the song and it flows very nicely, although some of the English lyrics make me giggle every time I listen to it.

Overall impressions

This album was a new direction for NEWS, they experimented with some new styles of music, but you could still very much feel classic “NEWS” throughout. It showed a more mature side of NEWS in a way, an evolution almost. In particular, Byakuya and Black Jack –Intern- and Kaguya were a bit out of the ordinary for NEWS, but it gave them a more mature feel. My favorite songs were White Love Story and NYARO, along with Weather NEWS, which were the most “NEWS” like songs on the album, in my opinion.

I hope you enjoyed this review! What do you all think of NEWS “White” album? Please let me know what you think in the comments below and press the like button if you enjoyed this post.

Johnny’s Talk: Why do I love Johnny’s?

Recently, I have been asked by some readers how and why I became interested in Johnny’s and I decided to write down some of my thoughts.

Tegomass no Mahou - Kobe, December 2011

Tegomass no Mahou – Kobe, December 2011

Starting in December, I have reached the point in my life where I am transitioning from school to a full time job and it isn’t the easiest transition. During this transition though, I have been really taking the time to think about why I love the things that I do and prioritizing my time accordingly. As most of you know, Johnny’s is something that I have loved since I was in my first year of University and I have just grown to love it even more over the years and since I have moved to Japan. Why do I love Johnny’s so much? Why do I dedicate so much time to something seemingly just taking my money? I will be explaining some reasons why I love Johnny’s in this post.

Johnny’s makes me smile. Plain and simple as that. Every time I listen to Johnny’s music (which is everyday) I smile. It gives me energy to start my day and calms me down when I am having a bad day. It’s just me and the music at that time. I also have many memories connected to the music and when a particular song comes on; memories of that time in my life flood back and make me smile. Now this can be true of almost any music, but Johnny’s is the music that I have relate the most to.

It’s not just the music that makes me smile, but seeing the boys that I support on TV, doing various projects, working their hardest and seeing them do amazing things makes me happy too. It makes me want to strive and work harder because I see them doing their best in a cut-throat environment and they still smile through it all, but at the same time are close to the fans. They aren’t perfect and can show their more vulnerable side and we know they are human.

Johnny’s gives me someone to support and grow with. After many years of loving Johnny’s, I have settled into whom in the agency I like the most and support the most. For me, that is mostly NEWS, with some other groups that I go and support; mostly the “You and J” groups, which consists of Kanjani8, NEWS, and KAT-TUN. Most of my favorite Johnny’s are not much older than me, normally between 25 and just over 30 years old. Throughout the years, I feel like I have grown with them and seen them accomplish more and more as we all grew towards our dreams. I know it sounds cheezy, but these boys (or I should say men) do amazing things and it makes me want to do amazing things as well. When I see their concerts and performances I am blown away by the quality and the hard work that is put into it. They might not be the most talented people in the entire industry, but you can tell that they work hard, and that is what matters to me. They don’t grow and fit one mold of Johnny’s; they all break off and do what they love to do. Take my favorite group NEWS for example: Koyama is a newscaster, and is an anchor for the news program News Every. Tegoshi loves soccer and is doing work directly related to it, even becoming a main caster for the FIFA World Cup in 2014. Massu loves fashion and now has his own column in a fashion magazine and designs the NEWS tour costumes. Shige wasn’t amazing at literature when he was younger, but he has already written 3 novels and many short stories and is Johnny’s first novel author. Once again, seeing them do amazing things makes me want to do amazing things as well and push myself harder. The best part is that there is a group for everyone to enjoy and there is such a variety of talent in Johnny’s.

Johnny’s lets me be a part of a fandom of amazing fans and being a part of something bigger than just me. Fandom is an amazing thing. I wouldn’t be the person today if it wasn’t for the people that I met through the Johnny’s fandom. Some of my closest friends I have made through this fandom and the experiences of traveling and meeting people from all around the world, are priceless. Fandom isn’t perfect by any means, but it is a mesh pot of amazing people from all around the world coming together that love the same thing. This isn’t just on the internet, but when I go to concerts and I look at the crowd waving their penlights in unison in support of that group, it moves me and I realize I am not alone in what I love. Concerts are one of my greatest joys to attend because I get to interact with fellow fans and I get to see the Johnny’s that I support in person and show my support, even if only I am 1 in thousands.

Tegomassu no Seishun - Fukuoka

Tegomassu no Seishun – Fukuoka, April 2014

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Kanjani8  Jyuusai – Osaka,  August 2014

Last, but not least, Johnny’s gave me a dream. Anime and Manga started me off on my love for Japan, but it wasn’t real to me after a while. When I found Johnny’s, I found a whole new culture and it opened the world to me. I never thought I would want to live in Japan before I entered University, but when I found Johnny’s I wanted to understand what they said, and I wanted to learn more about the Japanese culture. I dived head first into learning Japanese and studied business, and I eventually moved to Japan, then I wrote my business graduate school thesis on the business of Johnny’s. They gave me the motivation to move overseas, away from my family, to open my mind and push myself out of my comfort zone. I realized recently that the thing that I love the most is making people happy and giving them hope in a world that doesn’t do that well. Johnny’s does that for me and lets me find that about myself. From here on out I will be searching for exactly how I want to do it, but I know entertainment and Johnny’s is something that does that for me, along with Japanese Fashion and Music in general. I want to harness what Johnny’s does and let people understand that Johnny’s is more than just pretty boys dancing and singing.

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I hope you all enjoyed this insight into some of my thoughts recently! Why do you like Johnny’s? What makes you happy? Have you found your dream and what is it? Please comment below to let me what you think!

Review: NEWS – KAGUYA

KaguyaKAGUYA is NEWS’s first single of 2015 released on January 7th, and they came out with a bang! The theme of this single was “Princess Kaguya”, which is a famous story in Japan called “Princess Kaguya – The tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. It made it to the #1 spot on the Oricon weekly charts and stayed in the top 3 throughout January. Famous Director Ninagawa Mika directed the Music Video and did the Cover Jacket shooting.

The Songs

KAGUYA

KAGUYA is an “epic love song” that is a perfect combination between modern and ancient; the overall sound is modern with a combination of old sounds and old style lyrics infused into it. I love the echo of “Saga, Saga” in the background of chorus! The lyrics have a poetic feel to them, written in the perspective of the men who loved Princess Kaguya. The song is quite sexy, but in a subtle way, really showing NEWS’s grown up and sensual side. The song follows the story of Princess Kaguya, in which there are 4 princes that are invited to the home of the princess to try and become her husband, and they instantly fall in love with her.

Butterfly 「バタフライ」

The first time I heard this song I thought, “This is very much a NEWS-like song”. The vocals are very sweet and is a typical NEWS-like love song. I love the piano in it combined with the soft guitar. The part Koyama sings before the chorus starting with “Anata” each time is just so heartfelt and sweet and the harmonization of NEWS’s voices when they sing “Butterfly” is just amazing.

“Wasurenagusa” (Forget-me-not) 勿忘草」

The melody of this song, combined with the piano, reminded me of TM Revolution’s “Thunderbird”, which Tegomass had performed together with him on Music Fair before. This song is short, but very heart wrenchingly beautiful. This song surprised me because it sounds more like a Tegomass song than a NEWS song, but the vocals, especially Shige’s, are amazing for this song.

TOP OF THE WORLD

This is a very upbeat, dubstep-electronic like song. It’s not hard-core dub-step like Kanjani 8’s “Sorry Sorry Love”, but it is more of a lighter electronic dub-step song. I was attracted to this song because I love dance like songs, so I hope that this is one of the songs that they perform in concert in their upcoming tour.

TRAVeLiNG

This is a more of a swing like song with elements of their past song “Say Hello” in it. I liked the fun swing sound to it, which is rare in NEWS songs. Based on some feedback online I saw, people really didn’t seem to like this song, but I think it would be a fun song for them to do in concert.

KAGUYA – Music Video

The music video, as mentioned previously, was directed by Ninagawa Mika, who is a famous director and photographer known for a very colorful and sexy style to her works. She has directed AKB48’s “Heavy Rotation” music video and also was the director for the movies “Helter Skelter” and “Sakuran”, a movie about high-level prostitutes in the Edo period of Japan (Please correct me if I am wrong). This music video for Kaguya was no exception, full of color and very sexy, but in a subtle way. There is something very sexy about old-style Japanese clothing and props, like kimonos. It showed a more sensual side to NEWS that we haven’t really seen before. I love the dance when they pull their shirts to the side and show their shoulder slightly and also dancing while holding the Japanese style umbrellas. The set covered with colorful umbrellas and ornaments was outstandingly beautiful as well. I love the old style Japanese feel to the music video, showing them in an array of outfits from traditional kimonos to a more modern style button down shirt during the water scene. Ninagawa Mika did an amazing job with this music video, bringing out NEWS’s sexy side.

Final Thoughts

This is NEWS’s first single that hasn’t had any tie-in to it in a long time, and no soccer song as well. I am in love with this single and think NEWS and their whole team did an amazing job planning it. I think it was sexy and colorful, but still stuck to NEWS’s regular style, which is more “pure”. The B-sides were really good as well, making this one of my favorite NEWS singles in recent times. I really liked this change of pace and I can’t wait to see more from them in the future.

 

What do you think of KAGUYA? What did you think about Ninagawa Mika directing the Music Video? Let me know in the comments below!

Review: KAT-TUN – Dead or Alive

Second Guest Post by my amazing friend Meghan! She is an amazing writer and requested to write about the new single “Dead or Alive” by KAT-TUN! 

Dead-or-AliveA new year has started and KAT-TUN has come out with a killer single. This January KAT-TUN released Dead or Alive. This song was written for Kame’s new movie, Joker Game, which was released on Jan 31st. Jovette and Maiko Rivera, the writers of Dead or Alive, have done a fantastic job with this song and has matched it well with the spy-love theme of the movie, while at the same time still holding true to the style he usually write s for KAT-TUN. Personally I was exhilarated to hear that he had written Dead or Alive and knew from the start that it would not disappoint.

Proving my point, Dead or Alive made it onto the World’s Top 20 Single Awards at number 12, that’s above Maroon 5 and Ariana Grande.

Dead or Alive sadly didn’t get much exposure on the usual programs. Due to the difficult situation at the moment in Islam with the Japanese hostages, KAT-TUN had decided that it would be best to perform their B-side tracks instead out of respect.

Dead or Alive

The first A-side of this year has really outdone itself. The theme of this song was clearly ‘spy’ which I believe really opens itself to a variety of possibilities. Dead or Alive focuses on the secret lifestyle yet also showing that there is someone that they would protect no matter the circumstance. After seeing Joker Game, I understood that the song matched exactly to the movie and really brought out the emotions that Jiro Kato (Kame’s Character) had towards Lyn (Kyoko Fukada).

The arrangement is fantastic; bringing a large range of instruments that is common in Jovette’s style and also reminds me No More Pain. Even with the large presence of string instruments, the guitar is what really catches my attention. The tune is catchy and also elegant; the transitions are smooth and flows throughout the whole song, including a quieter section in the middle of the song which ties it all nicely together without being repetitive at all.

The lyrics continue the whole mysterious spy-love theme with phrases like “I will fly to save you” and “Searching for the meaning to live”. It possesses an almost lost and searching feel with an understanding that love is what you ultimately protect regardless of danger.

Polaris

Polaris is a big contrast to Dead or Alive. The music is light and sweet, a perfect little ballad. This to me I think is common to find on a KAT-TUN B-side. Normally we have a big A-side, very rocky and edgy, and then a sweet and loving ballad to balance it all out.

Polaris is about the stars and love. I want to say it’s about lost love as it possess a melancholic tone but the sweet idea of promises of tomorrow that ends this song makes me think otherwise. Therefore, I would describe this song more as hopeful.

White Lovers

White Lovers, which was sang on TV a few times, is another sweet song in my opinion, almost with the same feeling as Polaris. However White Lovers seems to be more about young lovers. The song is sweet and all about learning about one another. It’s a sweet song with a good beat that’s got a lovely piano playing in it throughout.

I would describe this song as very Junno-like, not only because of his large amount of singing parts in it, but rather because the song reminds me of some of his solo songs. It’s sweet and cute and the blending of all of KAT-TUN’s voices go very well. Whereas Polaris was more hopeful, this song seems more promising and about enjoying the relationship.

You are delicious

You are delicious is more a dance song. It’s energetic and upbeat with a good hook and smooth transitions. The most interesting part of this song is the lyrics I believe.

The lyrics speak a lot about enjoying the night until morning using the analogy of roulette to explain that anything can happen. To anyone who is familiar with the club scene, the song seems to talk about the thrill of the club and about meeting with people and spending a fantastic night with them. As usual, KAT-TUN is dancing on the line with this song, not right out making explicit, but there are enough edgy phrases that make it rather suggestive.

Overall, it’s a great song to bounce along to.

Hanasanaideai (離さないで愛)

To anyone who was following the series of solo songs and the solo music videos that KAT-TUN had recently been doing, you would understand what I meant when I say that Hanasanaideai was nearly a disappointment. This was one of Kame’s first solos and was often performed on Dream Boys. I understand that Kame would want to give live (both on CD and visually) to this solo.

This song is very Kame-like. He portrays it confidently and beautifully, bringing across the insecurity a woman can feel in love. It dances on the edge of desperate and hopeful. Yet still echoes nicely with the music and matches well with the type of songs that Kame usually chooses for his solos.

The music video is intriguing. A lot of loneliness is portrayed in it but also bringing through a lot of hope. The part that I was most interested in was how it seems that Kame has hit the bottom and yet refuses the assistance of a stranger (aka. Junno). Where the song talks a lot about hoping to be never let go, this just seemed a little contrasting to me. Half the video also features Kame dancing. Half of me suspects that this is an echo of his new drama starting February 6th (Second Love).

Dead or Alive – Music Video

Although I love the song, I found the music video a little bit of a disappointment. It’s beautifully shot and does fantastic work with the lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spy theme and how KAT-TUN are all running around espionage style and singing. But part of me wanted more. I desired dancing that we usually get in their other videos, and if no dancing, at least a loose story line. The making of the video is a lot quieter and toned down than usual, but still has a few entertaining parts that made me laugh.

The special edition

As some of you know, this single featured a special edition which you had to order especially online. The title track is the same, and the design is the same as the Regular edition (a little disappointing, I was hoping for at least a different cover photo) but the contents were worth it.

The B-sides of this CD are live recordings from the countdown concert 2014-2015 and features all the members solo songs sung live as well as In Fact and Dead or Alive. It also featured a long 30 minute special talk especially for the fans which did sound a little like a radio program without the music (the members words, not mine)

Overall I think that the single was very well put together and featured some good songs. I’m glad that Jovette and Maiko wrote the A-side this time and that I hope that he will be writing more of their singles in the future.

If you haven’t heard the songs already, you should definitely check it out.

Single Information

Royal Kingdom Music (Jovette and Maiko’s site)

World Single Awards ranking

World Single Awards article

Translated Lyrics of Dead or Alive

 

 

I’m Meghan, a South African who has lived all over the place. Currently I live in Japan where I am a teacher, a writer, a traveller, a translator, a blogger and a dreamer. Meghan’s blog

Concert Report: Johnny’s Countdown 2014-2015 in Tokyo Dome

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This year on New Year’s Eve, I was able to attend Johnny’s Countdown for the first time! Since I became a fan, I have watched it every year on TV. This year though, Johnny’s Countdown wasn’t broadcasted on television, so it was different compared to previous years . In this post I will talk about what happened in the concert briefly, followed by some thoughts I had afterwards. Let’s get started!

The Concert

The concert started promptly at 11:00pm, starting with a video showing the names of all of the groups that were performing in Johnny’s Countdown this year, and then each group performed by debut year from the most recent debut. Johnny’s West started, followed by ABC-Z, Sexy Zone, and Hey! Say! JUMP. There were actually a lot of fans of these groups in particular that I spotted in the crowd, besides Kinki Kids, which surprised me. These are the “Kouhai” groups, or the younger groups,and it was an interesting experience to see all the different fans from these groups and how different the demographic was from the shows and concerts that I normally go to. I had seen Hey! Say! JUMP live back in 2011 for “Summary” in Kyocera Dome, but I had never seen the rest of the groups live before. If you had read my blog post about my 2014 favorite Johnny’s release picks, then you probably know that I was very interested in Johnny’s West and Hey! Say! JUMP in 2014 and that it was so much fun to sing and dance along with their songs! They really are fun groups to watch live.

After Hey! Say! JUMP was NEWS, which is my favorite group in Johnny’s, so it was very emotional for me to see them back at Tokyo Dome after about a year and a half, singing one of the same songs. They sung their new single “Kaguya”, as well as “Ai Kotoba” and to be completely honest, I was crying hard throughout their whole performance, especially at “Ai Kotoba”, which was a song written for their fans for their 10 Year Anniversary event and not yet released on CD. (Edit. NEWS just announced an album today 1/16 that has “Ai Kotoba” in it) It was very emotional for me to see them live as 4 members after so long.

Next up were Tackey and Tsubasa. This was Tsubasa’s first performance back from being admitted to the hospital, so you could tell that the Tackey and Tsubasa’s fans were very excited. After T&T was Kinki Kids. This had to be my favorite part of the countdown, besides NEWS, because I have heard amazing things about them performing live. I am not a huge fan of Kinki Kids, but their performance blew me away. I have always wanted to seem them live, and this was the perfect opportunity to! I loved hearing their famous debut single “”Garasu no Shonen” (硝子の少年) live.

After Kinki Kids, came the Sempai groups, Shounentai, who has Higashiyama in the duo, as well as Okomoto Kenichi (who is the father of Okomoto Keito of Hey! Say! JUMP. It was fun to see father and son interact with each other on stage, Keito at one point putting on his father’s jacket for him). After they finished perfoming, it was the countdown! After the countdown, Matchy came out on a motorcycle and rode around the dome! It was then introduced that it was his 35th Anniversary, and he performed for about 20 minutes. After his performance, special guest Kuroyanagi Tetsuko came into the dome in a police car with sirens and everything straight from Kouhaku, then came on stage and talked with the Sempais. She congratulated Matchy on his 35th year anniversary and also congratulated Tsubasa on being released from the hospital.

After this, all of the groups then came out and performed one of each of Matchy’s songs, ending with “Ikagen”, in which they all wore the same white jacket with “ikagen” on it. With that, there was the ending greetings and then the concert officially ended.

Overall impressions

This year’s Johnny’s countdown was different than other years, the biggest reason being because they didn’t air it on live television as they normally do. Talking with my other friends who have been many times, normally it would be very “start and stop” because of the TV broadcast and the talents themselves couldn’t really interact with the fans that much. This year, it was smooth and more fan interactions by each of the groups that performed. The Sempai groups did an amazing job performing as well and a highlight for me was seeing some groups perform live that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to see in a normal concert.

I had a few concerns though, which were the talking parts, and also Machy’s performance, and some fan manners. First off, because it was Matchy’s 35th year anniversary, they put a good amount of the attention on that, especially because it was December that he debuted. Because of this, Matchy dominated most of the talking parts, as well as the special guest, Kuroyanagi Tetsuko. Nobody besides Kinki Kids and the other sempai groups (Okomoto Kenichi and Shounentai) talked. If it weren’t for NEWS’s Masuda Takahisa being silly in the background on the screens, NEWS fans wouldn’t have seen much of NEWS talking, same for the other groups too. Many people online were upset at Matchy dominating most of the countdown concert, but others enjoyed it for the sempai groups, so it was divided on this particular point. I still think it is good to respect and honor the sempai groups, but they should have informed us that this would be a special Matchy tribute instead of thinking we would get our normal group interactions singing lots other group’s songs.

Another concern of mine was I saw a lot of people around me, and in the dome in general, sitting down during group’s performances that they weren’t a fan of. Since the concert was dominated by the sempai groups, a lot of the people who came for the younger groups were bored during the other performances and sat down, some even on their phones. Why was this a bad thing? Well, at a Johnny’s concert most people stand up and support the groups, so it is seen as rude to not support the other groups and just sit down. A lot of people online were mentioning this point as well. To be honest, I can’t blame them for wanting to sit down, I even sat down during Matchy’s long MC, but I didn’t sit down when the groups were performing. Even if I wasn’t a fan, I listened and stood up to support everyone and cheered them on.

Have you ever watched Johnny’s Countdown before? How do you think this compares to other years? What do you think about some of the points brought up? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Japanese Entertainment – Hey Say Jump: Looking back at 2014

Welcome readers! We interrupt your regularly scheduled Lauren’s World for a takeover by the Notorious Rambler (also known as Holly). Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times.

Actually, Lauren asked me to write up a guest post for her blog, and so I’m choosing to write about one of the few things I know a lot about: Hey Say Jump. It’s fitting perhaps since Lauren was the one who introduced me to all things Johnnys and sent me down this rabbit hole of no return. (There may or may not have been an incident where I danced to Hitomi no Screen with knives in Lauren’s kitchen once. But I’ll admit to nothing and you can’t prove anything.)

But I digress. I came here to talk about Hey Say Jump (known now and forevermore as HSJ for the purposes of my laziness). More specifically, I came here to talk about HSJ and the year they hit a sort of renaissance. 2014 was a good year for the group, so let me just ask you to spare a few moments of your time while I tell you about it.

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Japanese Entertainment – Top 10 Johnny’s Release Picks of 2014

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It’s the end of 2014 , which means wrapping up the year with this year’s Top Johnny’s Release Picks! I have picked my favorite 10 releases of the year and will tell you a bit about them. some artists that I normally don’t pick have appeared in this year’s list, so I hope that you will enjoy wrapping up 2014 in Johnny’s style!

Johnny’s West – Yume wo Dakishimete/ Jipanngu ookini daisakusen「ジパング・おおきに大作戦 / 夢を抱きしめて」

Johnny’s West debuted this year with “ee janaika” and “Yume wo dakishimete/ Jipanngu ookini daisakusen” is their second official single. While I was in the store looking at some other music, I decided to have a listen to this single because the jacket covers were colorful and intrigued me. I ended up falling in love with this double A-side single and I found myself singing it at random times during the day for months, especially Jipanngu ookini daisakusen. Even now I have an energy boost whenever it comes up on shuffle in my iPhone. Yume wo dakishimete is a more “Johnny’s-like” song, I love the “Latin” sounds in it and shows a different side of West than I had seen before.  I even ended up buying their first album after listening to this single and quite enjoy that as well. Have a listen to Johnny’s West for some “genki”, fun music!

Kanjani8 – Ittajanika/ CloveR「言ったじゃないか / CloveR」

This was Kanjani8’s first single on their new Label, infinity records. CloveR was for member Ohkura’s movie by the same title, and Ittajanaika was for member Nishikido’s drama “Gomenn ne seishun”. Ittajnaika is a more rock band style song and the thing I love most about it is the music video and the lyrics. Its kind of reminiscent of a past single “It’s my soul” Basically, the lyrics are about guys not understanding why women say things and lie and wanting to know the truth from them. CloveR, on the other hand, is a more pop-like song that actually reminds me of a One Direction song. It’s different for Eito to have a more love pop-like song like that and I thought it was a perfect song to tie into the movie. It make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I hear it!

NEWS – ONE-for the win-

“One-for the win-“ is NEWS’s first single since “World Quest” in December 2012. Member Tegoshi Yuya was chosen as the main caster for this year’s FIFA World Cup Brazil and “ONE – for the win-“ served as the FIFA World Cup 2014 theme song on the network Tegoshi served as the Main caster on, Nihon Television. It’s an upbeat song with a Latin “Brazil”, summer feel to it. The amazing part of this song is that all the participating country’s names are contained inside of this song and didn’t just cheer on Japan, but every team participating! “One – for the win-“ was the song that defined my summer this year and has a special place in my heart. I have lots of memories watching Japan play in the World Cup this year with friends and cheering on Japan with this fun and energetic theme song!

Tegomass – Tegomass no Seishun 「テゴマスの青春」

“Tegomass no Seishun” was Tegomass’s first album since October 2011 and they didn’t disappoint! Tegomass has a signature “light and upbeat” style to their music that never fails to move me. With “Seishun” Tegomass, now 27 and 28, graduated to a more mature sound while still sticking with their normal style of music. They focused on the music and vocals more than ever and it really showed through the tour they had this past spring too. They had collaboration with the “Godspellers” called “DONUTS” and the main song promoted on the album, “Hikari”, has an incredibly beautiful music video. For more information and my full review of “Tegomass no Seishin” click here!

Kanjani8 –Omoi Dama 「オモイダマ」

Omoi Dama was used at the Theme song for this year’s “Koshien”, the hugely popular and prestigious High School baseball tournament held every summer in Japan. They had a high school band participate in the music video and the “marching band style” sound to the song is just amazing and reminds me of my own high school and University days cheerleading for American football and basketball games. The rhythm of the song speeding up and slowing back down and the meaningful lyrics connecting to the baseball tournament, cheering on people’s dreams really makes this song amazing. I listen to it when I feel down and every time I hear it now it makes me smile and know not to give up.

TOKIO – LOVE, HOLIDAY.

“Love Holiday” was written by member Nagase Tomoya and was a collobration song for the JRA (Japan Racing Association). It’s an upbeat song and I love the guitar in it. It has a kind of “country rock” combined with a swing feel to it and the bass combined with the horns in the song really makes the song for me! They are the only “band group” in Johnny’s, so their style and music is different from the typical Johnny’s sound. I really haven’t ever been a huge TOKIO fan, but since Massu (from NEWS) started working with Taichi on Ippuku, I have been becoming more intrigued in the group because of a close friend, and since this year was their 20th year anniversary, they had a lot of promotions and I was able to get a better feel for TOKIO than before.

Kanjani8 – Jyuusai 「十祭」DVD

This was Kanjani8’s 10 Year anniversary special event held this past August and it didn’t disappoint! This was also Kanajni8’s first DVD release on their new label. The quality is amazing, along with the videography itself. They had another Eight Ranger skit and also did a Johnny’s medley! Their feelings of the past 10 years were put into this special concert and it really shows through, even in the DVD. As an added bonus, they did other songs that they don’t usually perform and the fans were able to decide some of the songs that they did in the concert as well. It has a feel of a typical Japanese Summer Festival and I loved it, as summer is one of my favorite things about Japan. I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time as when I went to this concert. Kanjani8 concerts are really an amazing experience, even on DVD.

Hey! Say! JUMP – smart

Hey! Say! JUMP was the first group I got into in Johnny’s! I hadn’t been following their music closely for a while, but this album caught my attention in the CD store and I decided to buy it. I was very surprised at the variety of music that was inside of it, from a Hip Hop sound, to band style, to pop. It was at that point that I realized that they had many sides to them and it was an interesting concept to me. I really enjoy most of the songs on the album and realize just how much Hey! Say! JUMP has grown since I was a huge fan of theirs. In 2015, I would really like to follow them more closely than before!

Kanjani8 – Kanjanizm 「関ジャニズム」

To be perfectly honest, I hated this album when I first heard it. I loved all of the singles from when Kanjani8 changed to their new label, but this album was a big question mark to me. I only liked the main song, E J Coaster, and the singles, and that was about it. I put the album down for a while because I got busy too, and then picked it up again a few weeks later. I fell in love with it! After listening to it a few times, I was able to pick up the flow of the album and the feel of the album and I thought it was amazing. It is a bit different than typical eito, but eito style none-the less. There have been mixed views about this album by people I have seen online, but I think it’s good that eito is taking charge of their stuff more with their own record label. Though it is more pop-like than before, it still has band style songs and has the “eito-feel” to it.

NEWS – NEWS 10th Anniversary in Tokyo Dome DVD

This DVD is a very special DVD to me, as I was able to attend this special even in person, and I was able to celebrate NEWS’s 10th Anniversary with them. This was NEWS’s first time back in Tokyo Dome since their LIVE LIVE LIVE! tour in 2010, which was about 3 years before this special event was held. They had an amazing enter stage set up, along with 2 live marching bands that came and performed with them. They even wrote a song for the fans that was only performed at this event called “Ai Kotoba”. This DVD also includes behind the scenes footage of the whole concert tour, as well as LIFE OF NEWS part 2, continuing from LIFE OF NEWS that was on the DVD with the Album “NEWS”. The album was amazing, so the set list and the songs are all amazing in this DVD, too.

Bonus: KAT-TUN – come HERE

I was originally not going to include an 11th this year, but I felt like I had to put this in here as well because the album was different from past KAT-TUN albums and I want to mention it along with the other releases. The title song “come Here” is a very pop-ish song, when KAT-TUN is normally more edgy and rock-like. People who don’t know KAT-TUN too well might think that they have changed style judging from just this song, but if you dive deeper into the album it has a rock feel to it as normal, just a bit more on the pop-ish side. I love Udea’s solo “Art of Life” along with Nakamaru’s “Crescent”, and all the singles are definitely KAT-TUN like.

Phew that was long! Johnny’s has had some great releases this year, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for the fans! What did you think of these pick for 2014? What are your choices for the top Johnny’s releases of 2014? Comment below and let me know!