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

Japanese Entertainment: 3 Underrated Female Japanese Singers

Although Johnny’s is the main type of music that I like here in Japan, over the past few years of living here I have discovered a handful of female singers that have caught my attention. Some of these singers aren’t extremely popular as compared to big artists like Namie Amuro and Koda Kumi or idol groups like AKB48, but people will definitely know their name if you mention them. That is why I describe them as “Underrated” Female singers. In this post, I will introduce three Female singers that I feel are underrated and are also a good bridge into Female singers in Japan.

1: Becky

Most people will know her as a “Talento”, or a TV personality in Japan, but surprisingly she also has a singing career under the name ベッキー♪♯. As most people are, I was first introduced to her through the variety show ItteQ and some dramas where she made an appearance. She is half Japanese, half English and began her singing debut in 2009 with her single “Kokoro Komete” 「心こめて」. She is the oldest out of the artists in this post at 30 years old, but her personality is so vibrant that she still seems in her 20’s!

For her music, she has a very distinct pronunciation when she sings by emphasizing her vowels and I was very attracted to that when I first heard her debut single. She has a very “pure” sounding voice to me and her more upbeat songs are very fun and vibrant, really showcasing her personality that I see on Television. The songs I would recommend from her are her debut single 「心こめて」(Kokomo Komete) as well 「ヤルキスイッチ」(Yaruki Switch) and 「風のしらべ」(Kaze no Shirabe). She has a YouTube channel with her music videos on it, so head there from the music video for  「心こめて」(Kokoro Komete) linked below!

2: Ayaka

Ayaka is a Japanese singer from Osaka and made her debut in 2006 with “I Believe” for a Japanese drama. Her debut year was a huge success and her first album “First Message” topped the Oricon charts and became the highest selling debut album for a female singer in 7 years. She is married to famous actor Mizushima Hiro since 2009 and also in 2009 she announced a hiatus due to a diagnosis of Graves Disease. She was on hiatus until 2012 and made a comeback with her album “The beginning”.

I was introduced to Ayaka through a Johnny’s friend who invited me to her concert in 2013. I had heard some of her songs before, but I didn’t realize that it was Ayaka that had sung them. This year, I had the opportunity to see her live again, this time for an acoustic live. This time I really felt the power of her voice and her vocal range is amazing! She can be powerful, as well as soft in the same song and her voice is so clear. Ayaka mostly sings ballads from what i’ve heard from her. Some of my favorites songs from her are new single「にじいろ」(Nijiiro), as well as “Beautiful”, which was the theme song for the drama 「シェアハウスの恋人」(Share House no Koibito), and 「はじまりのとき」(Hajimari no Toki). She also has a YouTube channel with some of her music videos on there, so please check out “Nijiiro” below!

3: Nishino Kana.

Nishino Kana debuted in 2008 with “I”. She was originally signed to SME records in 2006 when she won a contest called the “Miss Phoenix Auditions”. One of her biggest hits was “Best Friend” in 2010, as well as well as 「会いたくて」 (Aitakute). She has been nominated and won many MTV Music Video awards and Japan Record awards. She also appears in many fashion magazines for her specific style, which is not quite “Gyaru” , but a popular type of style with college age girls and women in their early 20’s.

Compared to the other two artists, she has a bit more of a “Pop” like sound to her music, making it more mainstream than the other two artists. Though she has more of a pop sound, she still writes a lot of her music. Out of all of these artists today, Nishino Kana is probably my favorite, as I like the majority of the music that she releases. I also find her lyrics very relatable to the average person, especially women in their late teens and 20’s. My favorite songs by her are are “ SAKURA, I love you?” “We Don’t Stop”, and “Be Strong”, as well as “Best Friend”. She also has a YouTube channel, so please check out “We Don’t Stop” below!

Had you heard of these artists before? If so, who do you like? If you didn’t know them before, are there any of them that you became interested in? Please feel free to let me know in the comments below!

As always, please remember to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for new updates!

Johnny’s Goods Storage Ideas: Concert Tickets  

concert-tickets-1Tickets are one of those things that are tangible from an experience that you had, whether it be a movie or a concert or an event, which you want to keep safe to keep the memories alive. Johnny’s concerts are one of those things that are always important to me, so I keep my concert tickets in a safe place after I go to the show, to look back on the experience that I had and the memories associated with it.

Now, how can you store your Johnny’s concert tickets? There are many ideas, and I have tried a few of them over the years. Remember that storing your goods is a personal preference so the ideas that I present below are simply ideas to get your creative juices flowing and see what might work well for you!

Without further adue, here are 3 ideas on how to store your Johnny’s concert tickets!

Idea One: Scrapbooking binder with sticky pages

I used to use a binder with sticky pages for scrapbooking from the 100-yen (1 Dollar) store when I first moved to Japan, like this:

concert-album-5concert-album-6

I currently use this for Purikura and some old movie tickets now, but I used to fill it with all of my concert tickets!

I would recommend this method (but with better quality items) for people who like to scrapbook or like to add little personal touches to keep the memories in a more elaborate form. You also don’t have to worry about the size of the tickets because they will always be able to fit into the sticky pages. You can find very nice albums in many different sizes that specifically are made with sticky pages in many craft stores in Japan that are classified as photo albums. Overseas I have seen them in craft stores as well, like Hallmark or even Walmart and Target (for America) but they are classified under Scrapbooking. Some stores I recommend to look at for these in Japan are LOFT and Tokyu Hands. There are so many options that you can customize it exactly to how you want it to look like.

This didn’t work out for me personally because I didn’t like it visually, partly because of the cheap items I used for it though. I used to decorate and add comments to it, but I realized I didn’t need that extra element. I simply wanted to store my tickets to keep them safe and pull them out to look at.

Idea Two: Photo Album

A photo album is a great alternative to a scrapbook if you want nothing more but storage. I currently use a photo album because I have accumulated many tickets and I want easy access to them and also to preserve them as well.

The album that I currently use is this one I bought from LOFT:concert-album-3concert-ticket-2concert-album-4

 

It says L-Size pockets on the box, so you have to go to the store and make sure the pockets are big enough for Johnny’s concert tickets because they are quite large compared to tickets that I have seen before coming to Japan. LOFT is a bit pricey, but you can look at the samples of the albums before you buy them. Once again, Tokyu Hands also has them in Japan too. Overseas, regular photo albums work just as well too! You just need to make sure of the size of the pockets before you buy it.

Johnny’s has also sold albums specifically for concerts tickets in the past that you can probably at goods resale stores like Manadarake and Gorakudoh.

Idea Three: Simple box

In the beginning,  I first had a box that I would put everything into from concerts that I went to or Johnny’s things I had accumulated. It was an medium size box from my rain boots and I used to throw everything into there that was related to Johnny’s. I started out with this method, but eventually decided to change to a the sticky pages, and eventually a photo album.

The upside to this method is that everything is in once place, not just tickets. The downside is that it can be a bit messy to sort through if you have tons of things. If you keep your tickets together with just some pictures of the events that day, I think it would be a nice memory box to open and sort through sometimes. Once your collection grows though, I would recommend separating things to find them easier. The simple box is great for someone who wants to keep everything in one place though!

 

How do you guys store your Johnny’s concert tickets? Are there any other ideas you can share with everyone? Please comment below!

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Johnny’s Talk: Lauren’s Guide To What To Bring To A Johnny’s Concert

Since many of you all might be coming to a Johnny’s concert here in Japan in the future, I thought I would give you some ideas on what to bring to a Johnny’s concert by telling you what I normally bring to a Johnny’s concert! This is what I bring most of the time when I attend a concert, but it changes sometimes on the show and also the weather as well. Let’s jump right in!

#1: Ticket

This may be obvious, but you can’t enter the concert venue without a ticket. Many a time I have seen on twitter and heard from my friends that they have accidentally forgot their ticket at home or in the hotel. Just double check your bag before you leave to make sure you have your ticket before leaving! This will save lots of trouble so you aren’t rushing to get your ticket at the last minute and risk being late for the show. Also, I personally recommend you buy your ticket before the actual day of the concert as well. This will save lots of hassle and worry if you will be able to attend the actual show. If you are interested on how to ballot for fan club tickets I made a post here about it previously, but if you would like a post about ways to get Johnny’s concert tickets without being in the fan club please let me know in the comments or tweet me!

#2 Money

Another obvious thing, but sometimes I have panicked on wether I had enough money to buy concert goods at the venue because I was rushing. Take that extra few minutes to calculate how much your goods will be and make sure you have enough money for them! It will save you time so you won’t have to get back inside the goods line again for things you couldn’t pay for. Also, when you are having fun at the venue you don’t want to have to worry about money for food and other things as well before or after the show.

#3 Water

Remember to hydrate hydrate hydrate! I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten a bottle or 2 of water and I have regretted it and searched frantically at the venue for a vending machine, only to find that they were all sold out (crazy Johnny’s fans….). Especially outside concerts it is important. Even if its not outside, you will be standing for at least 2 hours and not eating or drinking during that time. Normally during the MC I take out my bottle of water and drink it and have it handy at the top of my bag to drink during the concert as well. Normally the domes allow you to eat and drink inside of them, but there are some instances where you can’t at really small vanes. For this only bring water, not another type of drink. They do having vending machines or convenience stores around or inside the venue, so don’t fret if you forget! I just normally buy before entering inside because its cheaper for the most part and inside the venue might be sold out.

#4 Rain Items: Umbrella/ Poncho

Check the wether forecast if it’s going to rain. If it is going to rain, then I recommend going to a convenience store and buying a fold up umbrella, not a full sized one because it is long and the seats are small in Japan. Keep it inside your purse or concert goods bag! Most of the time the venues aren’t connected to the subway or trains or busses, so you will want to have one with you. The convenience store near the venues might become sold out, so try to buy near your hotel or home or someplace that isn’t near the venue. An umbrella is also handy if you have to stand outside in line for concerts goods, because at most venues the goods line is outside the venue.

Also, for outside concerts you are not allowed to have an umbrella up during the concerts and they are performed rain or shine. So buy a poncho at a convenience store or 100 yen store to keep somewhat dry! Buy an extra one to wrap your concert goods in so that they don’t get wet either.

#5 Recommended Concert Goods

You won’t bring these with you if you haven’t bought them yet, but I will at least say my recommended goods to bring or buy at the concert! This is also up to personal preference as well, so buy the goods that you will want to use! You also don’t have to buy the goods for the actual tour you are attending either ! You can buy them used if you are short on funds or if you prefer a past tour’s goods instead!

a. Penlight

A penlight is a must for a Johnny’s concert! I recommend a penlight because everyone brings them and uses them in the concert and it also in a way makes you part of the actual concert itself. You wave it in time with the music and do the hand motions of the songs with it! My first 2 concerts I went to for Johnnys in summer 2009 (KAT-TUN and Kanjani8) I didn’t buy a penlight and I felt left out because I didn’t realize how important they were until I went to my 3rd concert in 2010-2011 (Kanjani8 8Uppers countdown concert).

b. Towel

This is defiantly optional and up to everyone’s tastes, but recently I have been into buying concert towels because they are useful during the summer in Japan and for rainy days. I normally keep it around my shoulders during the concert. It helps with outside concerts and sweating (even inside concerts too!) and sometimes the guys have you twirl towels in the air to certain songs as well!

c. Uchiwa

Another optional item, but I didn’t know what the point of Uchiwas were when I went to my first Johnny’s concerts, but Uchiwas are the Japanese style fans with the face of your favorite member on them. You buy your favorite member’s (or members’) Uchiwa and it is not only telling the guys themselves who your favorite members are, but also the other fans as well. I always get asked at concerts who my favorite member is and its a great conversation starter with Japanese fans, as well as foreign fans! So hold your uchiwa proud! (but just to chest level… you don’t want to block the view of the fans behind you!)

d. Bag

To keep all of your concert goods in and for putting your newly bought concert goods inside, I recommend bringing a bag! Most of the goods that I buy won’t fit inside my purse so I always bring the tour bag with me.  When I went to Shige’s stageplay a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how many goods I was going to buy and it didn’t fit inside my purse, so I had to run to a nearby 100 yen store and buy a bag! So make sure for a stage play you bring a previous tour bag or your own bag to put the goods inside because stage plays don’t sell bags normally.

Having a tour bag is also another fun way to identify you as a fan of the group and Japanese fans might even come up and talk with you!

 

 

Well, these were my recommended items to bring to a Johnny’s concert! I hope you all enjoyed! If there is anything that you think I forgot or want to know if its okay to bring please comment below! Let me know what your concert essentials are if you have been to a Johnny’s concert before. Also, let me know if you like these types of posts!

 

Johnnys Talk: Johnnys and Marriage + Dating

UPDATED 2-17-2017

Most people in the Johnnys fandom have heard about Jin Akanishi’s recent marriage to Kuroki Meisa at the beginning of February and it has been a pretty hot topic since. Why is that? This would seem like just everyday gossip that you would see in the tabloids about celebrities in America, but in the world of Johnnys, and East-Asian idols, it is a big deal. Some people have asked, “Why is it such a big deal?” and the question is hard to answer, unless you are familiar with how the industry works in general. I wanted this Johnnys Talk to be about Johnnys and Marriage because of Jin’s recent marriage and to shine light on a side of the situation that many foreign fans, like me, would not understand.  I will not be talking about Jin’s marriage specifically, but talking about how the marriages of Johnnys (and East-Asian idols) are different than the marriages American/ western celebrities and how I know Johnnys to get married.

Management

Before getting into marriage and dating, I think it’s important to explain the management system of idols in the east. I mentioned this a previous Johnnys Talk post, but most idols (and celebrities) in East Asia are managed by an agency. This agency acts as a mediator between the idol and the people who want the idol for jobs, as well as manage the all around schedule and what they do for their job as an idol. As I know it, western celebrities don’t have an agency, but just a manager or a PR person who interacts with the press and mediates between others who want to do business with them. In East Asia, the idol will have a manager but they only manage the day to day activities of the idol, not actually give the idol work. There is also a whole hierarchy of management for big agencies like Johnnys, and in some cases the talents wont even have their own personal manager, but a group manager instead. It is the agency’s job to assign work to the idols that comes in from outside sources, as well as assign work for the core of what they do, which is being in a singing group.

Rules and Image

Along with management by an agency comes strict regulations, which include rules about dating and marriage. This isn’t just Johnnys, but most idol groups and talent agencies, though each one’s rules are different. AKB48 and the other groups in the “48” also have these types of regulations. If you break these regulations, you can be kicked out of the group or “asked to resign”. Johnnys isn’t too strict about dating in terms of getting kicked out of the agency, but they are asked to keep the dating very private and out of the public eye. If a Johnnys is caught dating, most of the time it will be denied and the agency (on both parties’ part) will release an official statement that they are just friends, regardless if that is true or not. Johnnys will not get kicked out of the agency because of that, but other talent agencies are stricter. The same goes with marriage, but there are more strict regulations about that in Johnnys. Everything has to go through the agency regarding the talent that they manage, from assigning work, to who they are dating, and if they are going to get married. Why are there all of these regulations and why does everything have to go through the agency? It’s all about image.

An idol’s (and celebrity’s) image is everything in Japan, and East Asia. What agency the idol joins is also an indicator on what kind of image that idol is supposed to portray. In the case of Johnnys, they are supposed to be good looking, clean cut men that seem obtainable to all women. The key here is “seem obtainable to all women”. How can a Johnnys seem obtainable to all women when he is dating someone or is married? This is my business student side coming out, but what if this image is tarnished by dating someone or getting married? That idol is no longer marketable for the agency. If an idols isn’t marketable anymore, that makes it harder for the agency to get jobs for the idol, which means they are keeping someone on that will not make them money. So, the idol must abide by these rules and regulations or risk becoming a liability to the agency. It’s harsh, yes, but managing idols is still a business.

It’s a harsh reality, but not all hope is lost

Now, at this point most people from the west would say at this point “That is so wrong! They should be able to marry and date whoever they want!” Its true, but in reality if they want to keep their job, they have to abide by these rules. Even though Johnnys join the agency at a young age, before they debut they mostly know what they are getting into. If they don’t like that, then they can leave the agency. Many Johnnys have done that in the past for various reasons. Some already debuted Johnnys have decided to leave the agency as well, not necessarily for dating and marriage reasons though. Having the image is apart of the job, unfortunately. Other people might say “Oh! Well, they can just change management or quit”. Because Johnnys have been raised to do this from a young age, many of them only have a high school education, though it is becoming normal for Johnnys to go to college, and is actually encouraged by the agency now. Because of that, they don’t have the ability to change jobs freely because being an idol is all they have known. As for management, it’s VERY difficult to change from Johnnys to other management and still have the same level of activities and popularity that they had in the past, as Johnnys has a huge hold of the market in Japan and the “former Johnnys” sticks like glue. It comes down to Johnnys, and other idol agencies, being a business, though a rather harsh reality.

With all of that being said though, not all hope is lost! Johnnys DO date. They just do it out of the public eye. Johnnys have gotten married before, but there are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled and sometimes there are special circumstances that happen that they have to get married (from what know).

What if a Johnnys wants to get Married?

There are a handful of Johnnys that have gotten married in the past, like Kimura Takuya from SMAP, Inohara Yoshihiko from V6, and Tatsuya Yamaguchi from TOKIO (UPDATE: though he got a divorce from his wife in 2016, and TOKIO member Kokubun Taichi got married in 2015). I think there are a few others, but these are the most recent ones, besides Jin. With all of these, I see a trend of the Johnnys dating the same woman for a very long time, sometimes even living with the woman. (Kokubun Taichi has been going out with his now wife for 20 years before he was allowed to get married) They tend to get married in their mid-ish 30’s (or later), and their fans are older as well. This means that the idol getting married becomes less of a liability to the agency as they grow older, as they are already established idols, and their fan base has grown up with them and are most likely married themselves.  Younger groups are still very marketable because they haven’t hit their peak of popularity yet (for the most part) and their fan base is still young and single (meaning not married) so it is more of a liability for the agency for the younger idols to get married, as the fans will more than likely loose interest if their idol gets married at a younger age.

As for the timing of the marriage, they tell the agency months, sometimes years in advance if they intend to marry. This way, the agency knows how to present the marriage. The exception of this was Kimura Takuya, which came as a surprise. His situation was very similar to Jin; his current girlfriend was pregnant and they suddenly got married because of that. The difference between Jin and Kimura Takuya is that Kimura Takuya said that he had been thinking about getting married with his girlfriend for a while, even before finding out about the pregnancy. Despite these circumstances, Kimura Takuya went through Johnnys before going through with the marriage, but Jin did not. (UPDATE: Kokubun Taichi had waited years to marry his current wife before they got married and even sent out a notice card to everyone in the fanclub when the announcement happened.)

Updates since writing this article in 2012

Since Jin’s shotgun marriage, he left the agency when his contract ran out in 2014. Meisa announced herself being pregnant with their second child in November 2016. Kokubun Taichi was the next person to get married in the agency in 2015, and his first child was born in 2016. Yamaguchi announced his divorce in August of 2016. I have also updated some of the information inside the article as well and I will continue to do so as more information comes along.

I hope you all enjoyed this little bit of information about Johnnys! I think that Johnnys and marriage is an interesting topic and if you have any questions about this topic or for the next Johnnys Talk, or if you have any different information, please comment below or send me an email at nihonchique@gmail.com.