The other day I blogged about Pink Lady, an amazing Japanese disco duo from the 70s. Well, I’m sure that Perfume (one of Japan’s most popular girl groups of today) owes a debt of gratitude to their pop pioneering.
Among all the new music that we’re bombarded with these days, it’s easy to forget about the classics that paved the way years ago. One Japanese group that always brings a smile to my face is Pink Lady. They have a deadly mix of short skirts and crazy disco-pop vibe that’s strangely infectious. It’s really hard to stop listening to their tunes once you’ve gotten started, so be warned.
Check the video below for one of my favorite Pink Lady songs called ‘Southpaw.’ It certainly doesn’t help that they’re easy on the eyes too. Read the rest of this entry »
Do As Infinity is a popular Japanese band which debuted on September 29, 1999 with the release of their first single, “Tangerine Dream”. Their name is sometimes abbreviated as D.A.I., revealing that Do As Infinity was named after the band’s guitarist and composer, Dai Nagao. With the release of their A-side compilation album Do the A side, Do As Infinity disbanded on September 29, 2005, after a career which spanned six years, six albums, twenty singles, seven compilation albums and eight live DVDs. The band reformed on September 29, 2008, and reportedly will have their first new release in spring 2009.
Miz (Watanabe Mizuki, 渡辺みづき) is a Japanese pop/rock singer born in Kitami, Hokkaidō, Japan. She was born on March 6, 1981, and currently juggles music careers in Sweden and in Japan. Though most of her music is released in Japan, she chose her central location for recording as Sweden, a little island called Gotland. She mainly does promotional videos, photo shoots, and recording there.
At a very young age, Miz has expressed a great interest and talent in music. She always wanted to become one of the singers she hears on the radio, but living in such a rural area as Hokkaidō, there were very few opportunities for her. One of Miz’s biggest hobbies during her high school years was going to a local beauty salon. And since she was a regular customer, she had become very good friends with the salon manager.
It was at that time when there was an idol audition being held, and posters were being put up in over 20,000 beauty salons all over Japan. Miz had kept looking over the poster, and the salon manager realized this. So she decided to suggest that Miz enter the contest. Hundreds of people competed, but in the end, Miz was the winner.
Immediately postponing her other plans in life, she decided to chase after her musical dreams. After graduating high school, she moved to Tokyo and soon after that, she was signed under Universal Victor. Under a stage name, Mizuki Watanabe, she released I WILL, her debut single. Following that, she also released another single called Ambition, but she wasn’t asked to release anything else after that. Both singles are now out of print in most Japanese CD stores.
After the release of Ambition, her brief career ended. However, she would not give up. She kept taking singing lessons at a studio, and eventually made a demo tape with the help of a writer. Soon, she was introduced to a producer named Tord Backstrom.
Tord Backstrom was looking for someone to perform a song written by a Swedish writer and upon searching, he found Miz. Immediately, he knew Miz had what it took to become a star. In the year 2003, Miz was on her way to Sweden to meet her creative team. They were very surprised once they met her, and they weren’t even sure whether she was Japanese or not. This was because she spoke English very well, better than most common Japanese people, and she liked to give hugs (normally, Japanese women like to keep to their own space)!
First, they had planned to release some music in Sweden. Her Swedish debut single, Waiting, hit charts soon after and debuted at #8. Soon enough, an album was also released. Story Untold emerged on the scene on September 22, 2004 and contains 10 all-English songs.
By that time, she had also released some other music. Her Japanese re-debut single New Day came out that same year. At that time, most of the biggest names in J-Pop were high-pitched, nasally singers. This was not the case for Miz. She was a fresh new face re-appearing in Japan, and people fell in love with her rich, strong voice. New Day debuted at #20 on Oricon charts. To promote her first Japanese album, Say It’s Forever, Miz was invited to a Channel V-hosted concert in Taiwan along with other local and foreign artists, she performed 3 songs, New Day, Waiting for, and Say It’s Forever. Also, she attended a show AIUEO to gain more publicity in her short visit, the host was apparently her friend before she made her major debut in Japan. She became one of the most popular Japanese artists in Taiwan that year.
Since that day, Miz has been steadily releasing her music up to today. She writes most of her original Japanese lyrics, and is becoming quite fluent in English, that pretty soon she could be writing her own English songs also.
After releasing her second album Mizrock in February 2006, Miz disappeared for a long while. In May 2007, however, her official website was updated with news of a new release coming in July. Other websites such as ORICON and Tower Records confirmed this news, listing a mini-album titled Good bye, yesterday to be released under the name “Mizrock.” It is also with this album that Miz moved from Victor Interactive to Nayutawave Records.
In June 2007, “Good bye, yesterday” from her “Good bye, yesterday” album was used as the second ending song for the popular anime, Romeo X Juliet.
October 2007 she released a new single, “Best Friend” and in February 2008 she will release another single titled, “Thank You”.
Check out Miz’s English debut song written by Swedish composer, Jan Johansen :)
Leah Dizon (リア・ディゾン, Ria Dizon?, born Leah Donna Dizon on September 24, 1986) is a model, singer, actress, Gravure idol and TV personality in Japan, born in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. Her ethnicities include Chinese, Filipino and French. In 2006, she moved to Tokyo, Japan after being accepted by a Japanese talent agency for her modeling. Soon after, she began her music career releasing Japanese language songs.
Leah Dizon was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her parents were casino dealers. Her father was a business man in one of the largest cities in California. She has two older brothers, an older sister, and two younger brothers. She says she grew up listening to Rock and R&B music. She took dance lessons and was in her high school theater. Dizon dreamed of pursuing a career as a singer.
Bonnie Pink, real name Kaori Asada (浅田 香織, Asada Kaori?, born April 16, 1973 in Kyoto, Japan), is a Japanese singer songwriter. She lived in New York during 1998 and speaks English (many of her songs are entirely in English). She writes and composes all her songs, and plays guitar and piano. Kaori Asada has said that the name Bonnie Pink is random and that she thought the words were cute together. There is no special meaning behind the name, she chose it because it was easy to remember.
Bonnie Pink was quite famous in her early years during the 90s and the early 2000s but she slowly drifted out of popularity. However, in 2006 her hit single A Perfect Sky went to the top of the charts and brought her back into the J-Pop spotlight and her latest albums have become very popular and major successes for the 35 year old singer.
Yo Hitoto (一青窈 Hitoto Yō, born September 20, 1976) is a Japanese pop singer. Her mother is Japanese and her father is Taiwanese. She can speak three languages: Japanese, English, and standard Mandarin Chinese. Tae Hitoto is her older sister. Her name Hitoto is not her real surname, it’s her mother’s maiden name. She changed her name when she came to Japan. Her father died when she was really young and her mother died when she was 16.
She completed kindergarten in Taipei before moving to Japan, and she has lived there ever since. She graduated from the department of Environmental Information of Keio University and participated in the Keio University a cappella group, K.O.E., during her days as a student. She used to have live concerts on the street with fellow K.O.E. members before she met Youichi Kitayama, a member of the famous Japanese a cappella group the Gospellers. Mr. Kitayama encouraged Yo Hitoto to compose her own music. Before this encounter, she had been a backup singer for many other artists..
To date, Yo Hitoto has released eleven single CDs and four albums.
Yo Hitoto’s debut single “Morai naki” propelled her to stardom, and her songs enjoy wide popularity. Her clear voice and singing style, which is compared to the style of folk songs of Okinawa, attract many fans.
In Taiwan she is known for singing a Taiwanese folk song, which was included in her second album, as part of a Suntory beer commercial.
Yo Hitoto performs a song at the finale of the game, Dynasty Warriors 3.
In 2003 she debuted in her first film Café Lumière, as the lead character Yoko.
Her latest best of album sold over 700,000 copies(Platinum status in Japan), becoming her best selling album yet.
Chitose Hajime (元ちとせ, Hajime Chitose?, born January 5, 1979) is a singer from Japan. She is from Amami Ōshima and sings in a style particular to that region, with distinctive falsetto effects. Because of this, it is said that her voice has a relaxing effect that has been observed in electroencephalograms taken from the brains of people listening to her singing.
Chitose Hajime was recognized as a gifted folk singer at a young age. She won many folk song competitions, released two traditional folk albums on an indie label, and was approached by numerous record labels. She decided to study to become a beautician instead of pursuing music. However, Hajime had severe allergic reactions to many of the chemicals used by beauticians. She withdrew from school, and seriously considered a music career.
In 2001, she released a self titled mini-album on the indie label Office Augusta. The album was covers of older songs, but was so well received that Hajime was pushed to release another mini-album. In August 2001, Chitose released her second mini-album with Augusta Records entitled Kotonoha (コトノハ, Kotonoha?). This release featured 5 original tracks.
In 2002 she released her first major label single on Epic Records – “Wadatsumi no Ki” (ワダツミの木, “Wadatsumi no Ki”?). It was the third highest selling single of the year behind only Hikaru Utada’s “traveling”, and Ayumi Hamasaki’s “H”. Three months later, she released a brand new single, “Kimi wo Omō” (君ヲ想フ, “Kimi wo Omō”?). While also very popular, it was not nearly the success that her first single was, although it did help to cement her as a permanent artist.
Her first major album, Hainumikaze (ハイヌミカゼ, Hainumikaze?), followed later in the year. It sold 800,000 copies, charted for 57 weeks, and was the 16th highest selling album of the year.
She released 3 more singles before her second major album, Nomad Soul (ノマド・ソウル, nomado souru?), was released in 2003. Shortly after a concert tour, and the release of a live album and DVD in 2004, Hajime announced that she would be taking time away from the music scene to get married, and have a child. Her first child miscarried, but she successfully gave birth to a girl on January 20, 2005.
She returned to the music industry in November 2005 with the single “Kataritsugu Koto” (語り継ぐこと, “Kataritsugu Koto”?), the ending theme for the anime BLOOD+. The single was a hit, reaching #12 on the Oricon charts. She followed this success with her next come-back single, “Haru no Katami” (春のかたみ, “Haru no Katami”?), the ending theme for the anime AYAKASHI – Japanese Classic Horror. This single sold 6050 copies in its first week, and remained on the charts for 7 weeks total. A third single was released before her next album. The single, “Ao no Requiem” (青のレクイエム, “Ao no Requiem”?), was the theme song for the Studio GAGA film Hatsukoi. It featured 1 extra track, and charted for 3 weeks. The following week, Hajime released her third original major album, Hanadairo (ハナダイロ, Hanadairo?). The album was available in both a regular edition, and a limited edition. The limited edition featured a 13th track, “Shinda Onna no Ko” (死んだ女の子, “Shinda Onna no Ko”?) with Ryuichi Sakamoto), as well as a DVD containing the music videos for “Kataritsugu Koto”, and “Haru no Katami”.