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Headline

The Voice of Tokyo for over 50 Years

JAPAN’S NO.1 ENGLISH LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

Serch Form
Latest Issue
About Us

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Top New Songs from Japan: May 2022

Top new Japanese songs you might have missed from May 2022

By Kim Kahan

There’s a wealth of new music releases from Japan out there and it can be daunting to sort through them all. Combine that with Golden Week and it makes for a very busy month indeed. Rap leads the way with tunes featuring the likes of IO and Double Clapperz. Elsewhere we have avant-punk based around “Alice in Wonderland” and the closing track from a food-themed Japanese drama.

Jumadiba – Kick Up

Following last year’s acclaimed album, Kusabi, comes Jumadiba’s collaboration with Ralph, “Kick Up,” produced by Tokyo man-about-town, Double Clapperz.

The track begins and already the pair are away, with flow like a freight train. Together they make a formidable combination thanks to their contrasting voices — Jumadiba is high, with frenetic lyrics, whilst Ralph’s signature growl is calmer and measured. We get the feeling that both are taking a no-holds-barred approach with their signature style, conscious that they will balance each other out.

Beat fit for a drill tune amid shattering strings makes for a dark track that will have you skanking in your bedroom.

Mikado Koko – Jabberwocky

If you like your music boundary-free and kooky then check out this one from ‘DIY, post-avant-punk’ artist, Mikado Koko. Moving on from her days as a deep house producer, this is a track that is fizzing with spoken word and sophisticated post-punk mayhem.

After producing the chip-tune wonder, “NFT” earlier this year, her next release sees an altogether different direction, taken from her album Alice in Cryptoland. Dramatic witchy words cackle over a cacophony of instruments as she reads aloud the poem from which the song takes its name: “Jabberwocky,” from Alice in Wonderland. Fluttering snatches of saxophone are nestled amongst glitchy snares and skittering hi-hats.

Mono no Aware – Ajimi

This charming slice of upbeat indie was actually released at the end of April.

Originally composed for the Japanese drama Share Suru Ra! Instant Ramen Arenjibu Hajime Mashita, we see plucking guitar lines reminiscent of a meandering country track, over jangling drums. This is an interesting juxtaposition that works, harnessing the band’s playful side over their musical integrity.

Their sense of humor is on display with lyrics that speak of conveyor-belt sushi and start to sk-sk-skip. We imagine that the show’s producers were happy with the lyrics, which seem to reference ramen and seasonings or some type of culinary item multiple times in a verse. Fun visuals in bubblegum colors by Chou Yi are worth checking out too, changing ever so slightly with subtle precision.

Dongurizu – Bomboclap

Coming fresh from playing the FKKT Festival in Nagano are Dongurizu, a duo made up of rapper Mori and producer Chomo.

Thanks to their single “No Way” receiving widespread attention across South American TikTok, the pair shot to fame last year. “Bomboclap” is taken from the third EP in their four-part series, entitled “4EP.”

The track is mixed and mastered by Chomo, with artwork by Mori. Hollow drum claps and muted beats bound along slick wordplay by Mori. We can imagine this soundtracking an opening party at the latest hot bar, with people sipping cocktails and head bobbing.

DJ Tatsuki – Tokyo Kids (Cover)

Jumping onto the current trend of major sampling by rappers comes DJ Tatsuki’s track “Tokyo Kids,” an unabashed cover of “Tokyo Kid,” a Japanese classic jazz swing song by Enka queen Hibari Misora. Featuring long-term collaborator IO and rapper MonyHorse, use of a classic jazz song over a rap track brings to mind classics such as J Dilla’s “Workinonit.”

Lyrics by MonyHorse shout out arguably the best Tokyo neighborhood, Setagaya, sprinkled with words in English to keep international audiences in check. Vinyl crackle alongside remastered clips of the 1950 movie, Tokyo Kid to pay homage to Misora’s original efforts. The theme of the movie – an orphan’s dreams of achieving big things – is hinted at in the lyrics with the line “rich ni naritai” (”I want to be rich”).  Don’t we all.