[Johnnys 101] So You Have Begun to Stan A Johnnys Group – All the basics you need to know

So… you have begun to stan a Johnnys group. Welcome! It’s going to be a very sparkly and emotional ride, but let me give you some tips to help you start out.

This is a new series on my blog called “Johnny’s 101”, where I answer as much in depth about the infamous Japanese boyband agency Johnny’s and associates as I possibly can. As a bit of background, I have been a Johnnys fan for over 10 years now, and have also written my graduate school thesis on the business of Johnny’s. I don’t know everything (as Johnny’s can be mysterious in a lot of ways) but I hope I can give an insight into Johnny’s that you might not know yet.

But first… What is Johnnys?

Johnnys is an all-male talent agency founded in the 1960s by Johnny Kitagawa. The agency is mostly known for training boys (called Johnny’s Juniors) in different parts of the entertainment industry (singing, dancing, acting, etc.) from a young age by having them back dance for the debuted groups, seeing which ones are popular, and then debuting a select few. They aren’t just simply boybands but are involved in many different activities in the entertainment industry in Japan, such as television, movies, fashion, and even novel writing and newscasting. Some of the most popular groups that have come out of Johnnys are SMAP and Arashi.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to today’s topic which is basics of the agency and the fandom that you should know as a new fan (and maybe a reminder or refresher for those OG fans out there!)

1. Johnny’s is extremely strict (as are the fans) and behind the times

Johnny’s hasn’t digitalized yet (even worse than the rest of Japan… which is saying something) which means there are no YouTube videos or digital music downloads. Hard copies only, my friends! They are super strict with what is uploaded to social media and media sites as well. Around 2014 or so is when they actually put their artist’s pictures on their OWN website and their fan club was super analog until about 2 years ago (hard copy tickets, paying via bank transfer and all) Shocker isn’t it? In my opinion, this is a huge barrier to growth for them, especially internationally. BUT! With that being said recently they have made some huge changes, like Johnny’s official shop goods being sold online within Japan, revamp of the online fan club system, and especially so with the juniors YouTube channel, which is promising. My question though: is it too slow? Let me know what you think!

As for the fans, concert manners and sharing media online is policed pretty strictly. This varies from group to group though, as each fan base has a different “culture” so to speak. An example of this is with my favorite group NEWS, concert spoilers during the tour are kinda a big no-no, as NEWS themselves said a few years back they prefer all the fans to be surprised, so…. you won’t see the set list and hardly any detailed spoilers until after the final show is finished. It’s not to “end game” level, but we protect from spoilers as much as possible. MC is perfectly fine to spoil so bring all the weird things they say!

2. Johnnys is based in Japan and caters mostly to a Japanese audience

Johnny’s is based in Japan and caters to Japanese fans within Japan. I see a lot of fans getting upset that Johnny’s doesn’t do much for international fans and say “Johnny’s hate international fans” but at this point in time with the current stage of the agency, I think these thoughts are misguided. I could make an entirely separate blog post about this (comment below if you want it!), but to sum it up the Japanese music industry is #2 in the world only after the United States. Because of this, Johnny’s can make enough money just within Japan no problem only catering to Japanese fans. Why should they spend the money to expand overseas when they dominate the Japanese market and make enough money anyway? Even fans inside of Japan have a hard time getting concert tickets even when they are in the fan club and the artists only have enough hours in a day, so how can they expand and think of going overseas when they are at capacity inside of Japan? If you think about it that way, you can see why Johnny’s wouldn’t want to cater to foreign fans, as they have their hands full inside of Japan already. Does this mean they shouldn’t share media outside of Japan? No, I think YouTube and social media is essential, but in terms of an international fan club and translating things into many languages, it’s not going to work for a long time and not a good choice business wise. They first need to get the digital infrastructure up and running in Japan first.

3. The Twitter community is probably the strongest to find fan friends (Japanese and foreign)and get the latest information.

Back in the day, LiveJournal used to be the community of choice but in the past 5 years or so that community has pretty much died and everyone is on Twitter. If you want to make fandom friends, make a twitter account and get started by talking with other fans! Japanese fans are also heavy users of Twitter (as Twitter is the dominant social media platform in Japan besides Instagram) so you can get almost any piece of information you need on there. For the most part, us fans are extremely friendly and are more than happy to point you in the direction of what you see looking for. Just be sure to respect the other fans and don’t assume that the way things are done in your country are done that way in Japan and in Johnny’s.

4. No Johnny’s talents have individual Twitter or Instagram accounts or even social media

Okay okay, there is 1 exception that literally happened when I was writing this, which is Yamapi! He was on Weibo, but then on May 16th, he made an Instagram, a Johnny’s first. In general, though, Johnnys do not have social media (including youtube… except the Junior’s channel I mentioned above!) and their “blogs”, called Jwebs, are behind a paywall and are only in Japanese. This poses an interesting dynamic, as the world has moved rapidly towards an era of social media and digital music downloads and streaming, in which Johnnys is pretty archaic. So, if you want to find any information about the group or see their music videos you will have to go on a hunt around the internet.

 

Did I miss anything? What information would you like as a new Johnnys fan or as an OG fan what advice would you give to new fans?

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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.

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

Johnny's-picks-2014
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!

Johnny’s Talk: What To Wear To A Johnny’s Concert/ Event?

One of the hardest things for me to decide on when I go to a Johnny’s concert or event is: What should I wear?

Now, I believe that fashion is very personal to everyone and what he or she chooses to wear is a reflection of who they are. Each person has their own style and what they like to wear and there is no right or wrong thing to wear to Johnny’s concerts! I personally like dresses and skirts and a more mature style of clothing, as well as when I go to Johnny’s concerts I don’t want to draw attention to myself more than I already do by being foreign. Some people like to dress up in cosplay or dress up to draw attention to themselves, so it is all based on personal preference and what you feel comfortable wearing! Even for Japanese fans there is a huge gap between the people who dress “normal” and the people who go all out and cosplay and dress up, so don’t worry too much about it! Fashion in Japan is so wide and varied that you won’t feel bad with whatever you decide to wear. So with all that being said, this post is about how I decide what to wear to a Johnny’s concert and maybe it could give you some ideas yourself on what to were when you go someday! Here are some questions that I ask myself when I go to a concert that help me decide what I will wear:

“What group am I going to see”? I always start out with this question. This is a big factor because each group has a different kind of presence and the fans dress differently and act differently as well. For example, NEWS fans are considered “fashionable” and the group itself has more of a “prince” type of image, so I will pick the overall theme of my clothing based off of that. KAT-TUN on the other hand has more of an edgy rock-like feel to them with darker colors, so I tend to wear darker colors to their concerts and try to be a bit edgier with what I wear, but still stick with my own personal style though. The most out-there group that I normally go to see is Kanjani8, and the way that the fans dress is very much a reflection of the group themselves. It’s always fun to see what Kanjani8 fans will wear to the concerts!

“Who is your favorite member”? Johnny’s groups usually have colors associated to the individual members in the group. An easy way for the fans and for the members themselves to identify whose fan you are is to wear your favorite member’s color to the concert. Sometimes I follow this, but other times I don’t. It all depends on the concert and the group for me, as well as where my seats are. For example, for Tegomassu no Seishun I chose not to wear my favorite member Massu’s yellow color in Fukuoka and Nagoya, but instead wore the green color that the concert goods and the theme of the concert was based off. In Yokohama and Osaka though, I wore Yellow.

What season is it and is the concert/ event outside or inside? This also plays a factor into what clothes I would wear as well. KAT-TUN’s countdown concert I wore dark clothes because it was winter and because they were edgier as well. NEWS’s concerts were inside and outside, so the outside concerts I didn’t dress up as much because it was in the middle of summer and I would be sweating a lot, but the inside concerts I decided to dress up a bit more because I wouldn’t be sweating as much. Also, waiting for goods outside can be a factor as well, so take that into consideration when you are choosing your outfit as well!

Will I be wearing any of the concert goods I am buying? For Kanjani8’s Jyuusai concert, there was a “happi” that they were selling and I wanted to buy it so I decided on the dress that I wore based on that. I thought the happi would look better with a collared dress, so I wore that. Another popular thing to do is to wear the concert T-shirt right after buying it or personalize the concert T-shirt for another show that you will go see in the same tour.

A note on Stage plays: For stage plays, I would recommend toning down what you wear to a concert if you normally cosplay or dress up a lot for these events. With stage plays you have to remember that the Johnny’s guy is only one member of the cast during this play (even thought he may be starring in it) and other people who aren’t Johnny’s fans will more than likely be attending as well for the other cast members who have nothing to do with Johnny’s. The purpose is to enjoy the stage play and support the Johnny’s guy, not for the Johnny’s guy to notice you or to draw attention to yourself, which is different than a concert. With this being said, there is a certain respect for the stage and arts when you go to see stage plays so please try to be respectful of that. The manners for concerts and stage plays are different is all, not that one is better than the other. For the most part, most people I see at stage plays dress normally and I don’t even know they are going to the play unless they are a carrying around a bag from the group that the Johnny’s guy in the play is in. I personally dress like I normally do everyday, but if it’s an evening show I might dress a bit more fancy.

Here are some pictures of what I have worn to past Johnny’s concerts!

Tegomassu no Seishun - Fukuoka

Tegomassu no Seishun – Fukuoka Picture courtesy Monica (blog: the beauty of existence)

Kanjani8 - Jyuusai

Kanjani8 – Jyuusai

Tegomassu no Seishun - Nagoya

Tegomassu no Seishun – Nagoya

Masuda Takahisa Stageplay - Strange Fruits in Osaka

Masuda Takahisa Stageplay: “Strange Fruits” – in Osaka

Was this helpful? What do you normally wear to Johnny’s concerts? Please let me know in the comments below!

Lauren’s Top 10 Favorite Johnny’s Releases of 2013

Though it is already May, I had this document sitting on my computer since the end of last year and I thought that it might be nice to share!

This time, I will be talking about my top 10 favorite Johnny’s releases of 2013. I made a YouTube video on my favorite Johnny’s releases of 2012 at the end of 2012 and people seemed to enjoy it, so I thought it would be good to wrap everything up again as well for 2013. These are in no particular order, I simply chose my top 10 favorite Johnny’s releases of 2013!

 

1: Tegomass – Sayonara ni Sayonara and Neko Cuudoku

テゴマス「サヨナラにさよなら」「猫中毒」

It’s no secret that Tegomass is one of my favorite Johnny’s groups and with that being said their two singles released this year, Sayonara no Sayonara and Neko Chuudoku are first two in my favorites of 2013! Tegomass hadn’t released a single since early 2011, which made it 2 years since their last single. These two singles are very different from eachother, but both reflect some of Tegomass’s charms. Sayonara ni Sayonara was cute, but with a adult twist and amazing calming vocals. Neko chuudoku was a new venture, Tegomass dancing for the first time in their music video which brought out their cute side, which they are famous for! I cannot explain how much I am in love with these singles and their B-sides as well! I have a review of Neko Chuudoku here if you are interested to hear more details!

 

2: Kanjani8 LIVE TOUR 8EST

関ジャニ8LIVE TOUR 8EST

This DVD was released in April 2013 and was their tour from 2012 and their 8 year anniversary. The DVD was filmed outside at Nagai Stadium in Osaka and the day it was filmed, it was pouring rain so you get to enjoy Kanjani8 acting funny in the rain. This DVD also has the first Eight Ranger comedy skit since their 2009 tour, PUZZLE. It was actually filmed during one of the performances I was able to attend and this tour holds a special place in many eighter’s hearts for the nostalgia and for representing how far Kanjani8 has come in just 8 years. This DVD is definitely for Eighters new and old alike! This was the coupling tour with there 8 year anniversary album by the same name “8EST” that was released in 2012.

 

3: NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 Utsukushii koi ni sure yo!  DVD

NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 〜美しい恋にするよ!〜

This NEWS DVD is one of my favorite DVD’s hands down and for many reasons. First is that this DVD was the first tour that NEWS did with just 4 members. Second, they preformed all the fan favorites that the fans decided on from their BEST album released in 2012, as well as the member favorites and solo songs. It was a special concert and was filmed with many emotions on the first day of the tour, which is rare for a Johnny’s concert that normally films towards the end of the tour. I didn’t see this tour the day that it was filmed and attended another location for this tour, but I felt the emotion pouring out through the DVD even through I wasn’t there. NEWS has become closer to their fans more than ever and this was an amazing comeback tour!

 

4: NEWS- “NEWS” Album

If I had to pick a favorite Johnnys album of all time, it would have to be this album, followed by NEWS Pacific and Tegomassu no Mahou. This was NEWS’s first album as 4 members with all the songs originally sung by the 4 of them. I love everything about this album, from the order the songs are in to the solo songs. They also included a DVD called LIFE OF NEWS where the members went on a day off together and introduced something they were really into to the other members and showed new NEWS’s dynamic. This album was the perfect combination of fun and mature and it marked NEWS’s new chapter as 4 members. If you would like more details on this album as well, I wrote a review about it here.

 

5: KAT-TUN – “Kusabi”

KAT-TUN 「楔-kusabi-」

KAT-TUN always ends up ninja-ing their way into my favorite list every year and this time it is with their mini album called kusabi. This was released in November and is the first release since Koki was asked to leave Johnny’s for breach of contract. I had been listened to this album non stop to prepare for the countdown concert and new years fan event that I went to at the end of last year and the beginning of 2014.  The title song, kusabi, is my favorite song on the album followed by Gimme luv. The reason I like this album so much is because I feel like they are starting to go back to the old KAT-TUN sound that I am used to when I got into KAT-TUN during queen of Pirates and Break the Records era.  Kudos KAT-TUN for a great mini album!

 

6: Yamada Ryosuke – “Mystery Virgin”

山田涼介「ミステリー ヴァージン」

When I first heard the title of this song I was like HUH? Because it really doesn’t make sense, even with the lyrics of the song it only clears up the title a bit. BUT despite that, I fell in love with the beat of this song and since Yamada Ryosuke was the reason I got into Johnnys and a song I loved by him Moonlight was a special song on one of the editions of this single, this is in my top 10 johnnys releases this year. This is also the theme song for the Kindachi Special drama that aired in January of 2013 year that Yamada starred in along with his fellow Hey! Say! JUMP member Daiki Airioka.

 

7. Kanjani8 – “JUKE BOX”Album

関ジャニ∞ 「JUKE BOX」

This was Kanjani8’s album released in October of 2013. This album is classic Kanjani8 with their combination of funny songs and band style songs, as well as the bonus features that came with the album, including being able to vote for your favorite unit performance for the JUKE BOX concert tour. They have all kinds of style of music from band style to ballads, to comedy to dubsteb electronic dance music, which make the album interesting! The main song this year for the PV that was included on a DVD with the album was “Takoyaki in my Heart” and it is very Kanjani8 like and is basically a member introduction.  They broke up into 2 Units this year and each wrote a song with the theme of “Manly”. The making of these songs were on the DVD with it as well. Kanjani never fails the fans with tons of bonus features for the price!

8. Hottake Band – Sayonara, Arigtou

堀田家BAND 「サヨナラ☆ありがとう」

This was the theme song for the drama that Kamenashi Kazuya from KAT-TUN was in back in the Fall called “Tokyo Bandwagon”. This was a special unit formed with the person that plays the father of Kame’s character, Tamaka Koji. I really like this song because it sounds like a drama theme song for me, not just a random song that was put in there. The guitar is so nice, with the combination of the airy acoustic guitar but also the electric guitar that pairs with it.  It gives a fall-like feel to me, which is when it aired! It also fit the theme of the drama as well, which was Family. It brings back so many memories of this past fall, good and bad, but mostly of my best friend returning to Japan! We listened to this song at Christmas while making Christmas dinner together, it being our first christmas without being with our families. I was sick a lot during December, and being able to spend christmas with her meant a lot to me so this song reminds me of that Christmas every time I play it and I smile.

9. Kanjani8 – He so magari/ koko shikanai keshiki

関ジャニ∞「へそ曲がり/ここしかない景色」

This was a double A side single released by Kanjani8, “He so magari” for the Drama Okura was in called “Tenki Onee-san” and 「ここしかない景色」 was for the movie that Ryo was in called “Kencho Omotenashi-ka” 「県庁おもてなし課」. 「へそ曲がり」 always reminds me of last spring and I love the beat of the song! I often find myself jamming out to it when I am walking around the city to and from school. 「ここしかない景色」is a band song for Kanjani8 and though it sounds kind of sounds like a generic band song, I like it! I like the acoustic guitar sound in band songs that keeps the rhythm of the song paired with the electric guitar back and forth.

10: KIS-MY-FT2 「キ・ス・ウ・マ・イ ~KISS YOUR MIND~ / S.O.S (Smile On Smile)」

Kis-My-Ft2 ninja-ed their way into my top 10 again this year as well! Though I am not a huge fan myself, I watch them from the sidelines and there seems to always be at least 1 song that I like from them each year. This year was another Double A-side single, but the song that I like is 「キ・ス・ウ・マ・イ ~KISS YOUR MIND~ 」。This song never fails to get stuck in my head! The beat is amazing, upbeat and a good up and down of pace throughout the song. I also love the choreography of the Dance in the PV (though I think the concept of the music video is kind of strange to be honest….) so I prefer watching the dance version of the PV because I actually tried to learn the choreography since I liked it so much.

 

So there you have it! My top 10 Johnny’s releases of 2013! What made your cut? Please comment below telling me your favorite Johnny’s releases below and why. I would love to hear new recommendations!

 

Top 5 Spring-Like Songs of 2014

Spring is already in full swing here in Japan. The Cherry Blossoms bloomed, their petals have already fallen, and summer is beginning to peak on the horizon as the temperature continues to rise by the day. I find myself inspired by music that has a seasonal feel, so today I wanted to write a post on my top 5 favorite songs of this Spring before the season changes! They are in no particular order, just how I feel like presenting them! Also, I am a big fan of J-pop, so all of these songs are Japanese songs.

 

#1: SAKURA, I love you? – Nishino Kana (西野カナ)

Though this is a sad love song about not being able to get over some one, the beat and the sound of the song is very Spring-like to me. I can listen to this song over and over again and feel myself walking through a row of Cherry Blossom trees. Even when its not spring I like listening to this song to make me feel like I am back in Cherry Blossom season. The music video is beautiful and every time I go to Karaoke I have to sing this song with the music video playing in the background.

#2 “Sakura Girl”「サクラガール」- NEWS

This song has a lot of the same sounds as Nishino Kana’s song above. I think it is the synthesizer that makes the beat of the song very spring-like to me. It’s a sad love song about a fleeting love, just like the short time a cherry blossom tree blooms for. I love the harmony and the chorus of “La, La, Love, Sakura”. Just like the above song too, I can just imagine walking through a row of cherry blossom trees and can feel the emotion of not being with someone anymore who you loved dearly.

#3 “Sayonara ni Sayonara”「サヨナラにさよなら」-  Tegomass テゴマス

This is a slower song compared to the other two songs, but the softness and sweetness of the song and the lyrics make me think of a love that starts in the Spring and the promise of never saying goodbye. The Piano and the music video also give it a spring-like feel as well! This song was also released Spring of 2013 so I have the image of this song being a spring song in my head. This song is also my favorite Tegomass song, next to Kiss “Kaerimichi no Love song”「キッス帰り道のラブソング」。

#4 “Haru Meki”「ハルメキ」 – Tegomass テゴマス

Another Tegomass song! Somehow I relate Tegomass with Spring recently and I think it’s because in 2013 they had Spring single releases and this year they had a Spring tour. This song is a song off of their new album “Tegomass no Seishun” . The title means “Spring Like” or the “Coming of Spring” and the lyrics are all about how everything is becoming like spring and the flowers are blooming. I love this song because its very upbeat and is a different type of spring song than is mentioned above, because it isn’t a love song.

#5  “Hana ni Omoi wo”「花に想いを」 – Tegomass テゴマス

The final pick is also a Tegomass song. This was the B-side track from their “Neko Chuudoku” single and I had no idea it was the B-side until I heard them perform this song in the concert tour I went to. The Harmonica and the the country-like feel to this song really makes me feel like I am in the country side in America with a bunch of flowers around me. It’s a different feeling than the first few songs, because America and Japan have different perceptions of spring. Spring is about flowers blooming, but in Asia it’s specifically the Cherry blossoms and plum blossoms that it revolves around. In Americ,a its about flowers blooming in general and Easter. This song really makes me smile while I am listening to it walking somewhere recently, and I can really feel that spring is here!

 

I hope you all enjoyed this post! Please comment below and tell me your favorite songs of this Spring and why! I look forward to hearing them!

Review: Tegomass – “Tegomass no Seishun” テゴマス「テゴマスの青春」Album

“Tegomass no Seishun” is Tegomass’s 4th full length album and also their first album in 2 years and 3 months. The Title of the album basically translates to “Tegomass’s Youth” or “Tegomass’s Adolescence”. This album includes songs produced for them by “The Godspellers” and “DEPAPEPE”. This Album also is the lead in for their tour that started in February, going through the end of this Month, with the same title, “Tegomass no Seishun”.

 

Album Editions

Limited Edition: CD + DVD

Image

 

The Limited edition comes with the 12 songs of the album and a 40 minute DVD of the Music Video and Music Video Making of「ヒカリ」”Hikari” . It also comes with a 28 Page Booklet, which includes the lyrics of the songs and photos.

Regular Edition: CD

ImageThe Regular edition comes with the regular 12 songs, plus 2 bonus songs. One of these bonus songs was written by Tegomass themselves called 「月の友達」- “Moon Friend”. It also comes with a 16 page booklet that includes the lyrics and some photos as well.

The Songs

The theme of this album is “Youth” so all the songs for the most part have to do with being youthful, the pains of youth and the joys of youth.

「蒼色ジュブナイル」- “Inexperienced Juvenile”

This song is an upbeat song that kicks of the album very nicely! Tegomass is always good about organizing the songs of their album in a good order. I think this song was a great pick for the first song of the album because it has very Tegomass like sound to the song, which shows off their vocals and harmony and is upbeat, but still has a soft easy-listening quality about it. They also kicked off the tour with this song as well! Its a song about looking back on your youthful days. This is one of my top 5 songs on this album!

「ハルメキ」- “Become like Spring”

This song is another upbeat song about the coming of spring, just like what the song title implies! When I first heard this song, I had a feeling that this would be one of the last songs in the concert because it was an upbeat song that Tegomass tends to end their concerts with before the encore, and they did!  This is also one of my top 5 songs on the album.

「いつかの街」- “Town of Someday”

This next song slows down the pace of the album and really shows off Tegomass’s vocals and harmony.  I can just sit back and listen to this song with my eyes closed and even though This is more of a sad song that is about not seeing your dream anymore and wandering aimlessly not sure what to do, I feel calmed and reassured somehow.  Everyone has had this feeling the past, or may be going through this as well, thus included in the “youth” theme of the album.

「DONUTS」

 The Godspellers wrote this song for Tegomass and it has this old “do-wap” feeling that I love! This also happens to be Massu’s favorite song on the album and his reason for it being that he feels that the Godspellers really knew Tegomass’s style and harmony well and made an amazing song! The funny part of this song is that DONUTS means Vinyl records, not literal donuts. When I was listening to the lyrics at first I was confused until I saw somebody comment it was vinyl records and not real donuts because the lyrics say “I found a black donut in the back of my closet”. This is my favorite song on this album that isn’t a single, the reason being because of that old style music feel and the harmonies in it. The lyrics are also really sweet too!

「ファンタジア」- “Fantasia”

The first thought I had about this song is that I really like the Piano in it. It has a good rhythm that changes a bit with the chorus and I like the build up from the verse into the chorus and then slowing back into the verse again, then ending slowly like the song began. It has a good flow to the song as well! This particular song is a sad love song and I think it fits with the rhythm of the song. This isn’t one of my top picks of this album, but I really like this song when it was performed live!

「タイムマシン」- “Time Machine”

The first time I heard Time Machine I was immediately attached to it. I think the Melody of the song and the instruments are what really attract me to it, as well as the lyrics. This is the one song that I love to play over and over and even though its a sad love song about regrets and not being able to turn back time. It calms me because of the melody and the amazing vocals and harmony. Zopp-san, who writes a lot of songs for Tegomass and NEWS, wrote this song and even replied back to me when I said that I really liked his songs he wrote for the album!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 4.30.36 PM

He said that ”the lyrics were about a Journey, if you can understand that he would be relieved!” This song really was a journey and I loved it, thus making it my favorite song on the album!

「サヨナラにさよなら」- “Goodbye to Goodbye”

I did a review about this single already that you can find HERE. I really enjoy this single a lot and it is my favorite single that is on this album!

「少年~Re:Story~」- “Young Person Re. Story~!”

The main point that I like about this song is the light, rock-like rhythm of the song and the Guitar. Its light and airy and gives of a very vibrant aura.  This is a song about having a dream as a kid, loosing it, but then finding it again and the resolve to keep continuing. The 「もう一回、もう一回」”One more Time, One more time” That is repeated again and again in the song is very encouraging to me and also fits with the theme and the rhythm of the song.

「innocence」

Tegomass always has one “harder rock” song on their album and this was it! I also like the guitars in this song as well and how the rhythm changes from the chorus to the verse.  The rhythm of the song is also very catchy and easy to remember and I tend to hum this song sometimes! I wasn’t attracted to it initially, but after I went to the concert I really enjoyed it a lot and I listen to it a lot more than I used to.

「猫中毒」- “Cat Obsession”

I also did a review on this single, so if you would like to know my thoughts on this song go ahead and click HERE. It is very fun song and very Tegomass like!

「色鮮やかな君が描く明日の絵」- “The Colorful Picture of Tomorrow that you Draw”

What immediately struck me was all the different sounds in this song.  Guitar, Organ/ Keyboard, and also the changing tempos in the song as well. The lyrics are very cute with talking about “Black Magic” and “Yellow dreams”, really conveying the title of the song. It is a very cute and light, upbeat song!

「ヒカリ」- “Light”

This is the main song for this album that Tegomass decided to make this the PV for this time around. This song is a ballad and is very easy listening, but it builds up at the end of the song then slows back down again. The lyrics are very powerful, saying to treasure each day because the same day won’t come back again. I needed to hear this type of song at this point in my life because I am always looking 100 steps in front of me, so it reminds me to just take one day at a time and I don’t have to plan so much. Just enjoy the present more  because you won’t get this day back ever again. I love how Tegomass songs have such amazing meaning!

「きれいごと」- “Beautiful Words”

This is a beautiful song. The guitar is so soft and the vocals are so gentle that I also fell in love with this song as well, the first time I heard it. I really just want to go to bed after listening to this song because it is so soothing and comforting. I normally don’t like ballads, but Tegomass’s vocals really pull me in and make me love their ballads. Besides “Time Machine”,  this song is my next favorite ballad on this album.

「月の友達」- “Moon Friend”

This is the song that Tegomass wrote for this album. On their radio show they held a survey of what type of song they should write and the results came back as an upbeat song. From that, Massu wrote the lyrics and Tegoshi wrote the music with their band director for the Tegomassu tours and it turned out to be a fun upbeat song with strange lyrics about shooting for your dreams! I really like the reoccurring “ooooh yea, ooooh ooooh yea” in the song! Its catchy and I find myself humming this song a lot recently because it makes me motivated and gets my blood pumping when I am waking someplace.

Final Thoughts

Tegomass are now 26 and 27 years old, so they have graduated into their late 20’s, which calls for a more mature album. In the last album that they released, 「テゴマスのまほう」- “Tegomass’s Magic”, they were 24 and 25 years old, so you can tell the difference between the feel of the album right away. They still keep many Tegomass elements, with the sounds of the songs and the style, but you can tell that they bridged the gap from early 20’s into late 20’s. I think this time they chose the theme youth to look back on their youth and bridge the gap from being the “cute duo” to being experienced musicians. . The vocals in this album have improved over all, in my opinion, compared to the last album. All in all, Tegomass was able to  keep the sound that they are known for, but also make it more mature. When I think of Tegomass now I don’t think of them as idols, but I think of them as performers and musicians. This was an amazing album and I hope now that people can look at Tegomass as musicians rather than just Idols from Johnny’s.

 

*DISCLAIMER* I am still learning Japanese and these translations of these song titles,  Japanese content, or any other translations from Japanese aren’t perfect. Please bring to my attention if you think I have any errors.