Posts Tagged ‘music’

Tokyo plugs into Google Play Music

Friday, October 16th, 2015

If you haven’t heard the latest news from Google Play, you may have missed your opportunity to tune into a Google Play Billboard. From Oct. 8-24, music lovers can head over to Shibuya to, literally, plug into a selection of over 3,500 songs.

The Google Play Billboard is meant to give visitors a much-needed chance to try out its new music service. After LINE launched its music-streaming service in July, followed only weeks later by Apple Music, as Google Play Music seemed to be stuck in buffering mode with no plans to enter the market. However, after finally launching in September, Google has been going to all lengths to make Google Play Music stand out from its competitors.

Located on Supeinzaka near the Shibuya Parco department stores, the Google Play Billboard may appear, from a distance, to be any other advertisement. Within the billboard itself is 1,300 individual headphone jacks, however, continuously streaming music from noon-8 p.m. everyday. Each jack features a different song, and the song selection changes over time so that you’ll never know exactly what you’re plugging into.

Just watching all the careful efforts that went into the construction of the billboard is like watching a symphony.

The 3,500 songs that make up the Google Play Billboard playlist are hand-picked from submissions from the public that people voted for on the official Google Play Music website. The public were given six different categories to vote on — “a song you’d like to play when your significant other comes over”; “a song for when you feel that your heart is going to break”; “a song you’d personally want to leave for the next generation”; and so on.

These categories, which play into people’s emotional connection with music, resulted in hundreds of songs featuring both a wide variety of both Japanese and Western music. Visitors to the Shibuya billboard can anticipate everything from Mary J. Blige to AKB48, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to The Rolling Stones.

Additionally, anyone who signs up for Google’s streaming service by Oct. 18 will be able to listen to the Google Play Billboard’s 3,500 songs unlimitedly for free, as well as pay a lifetime reduced rate of ¥780 per month.

After only a week, the Google Play Billboard has made quite a splash on social media, thanks to the hashtags #GooglePlayMusic and #渋谷3500万曲ビルボード (Shibuya 35,000 song billboard).

Regardless of whether Google’s PR campaign hits the right note or falls flat, the Google Play Billboard has certainly proven that music can bring us all together.

J-blip: Ipsa’s Face Melody

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Every face has a name, a story and . . . a song? That’s the idea behind cosmetic company Ipsa’s newest creation.

We should, uh, take it at face value, but the company claims that its Face Melody program can measure the user’s appearance and write a unique tune based on their attributes. The application will even create a personalized song title for your fantastic face.

Users can go to Ipsa’s website, upload a picture of their face and watch as the program measures their smile level, face balance, face color and lightness. Then Face Melody will generate a song based on a special algorithm and produce a trippy music video complete with 3-D effects and psychedelic visuals.

Go to the Face Melody website to hear your song.

We are the World Cup: anthems from pitches past

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Brazil soccer fans pose with a replica of the World Cup trophy on June 11 inside a metro station near Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. | AP PHOTO

Brazil soccer fans pose with a replica of the World Cup trophy on June 11 inside a metro station near Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP PHOTO)

Japan plays its first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, against Côte d’Ivoire this weekend. Although the tournament kicks off two days earlier in São Paulo, for many the Samurai Blue’s opening game ushers in the event, along with the activities that would normally raise eyebrows but get a pass every four years, such as waking up at 2 a.m. to watch football and drinking before noon.

It will also unleash a new batch of World Cup songs that will play practically on loop for the duration of the competition, including the television network’s special theme tracks to various commercial tie-ins. And that’s just on the domestic side. Pitbull’s voice will haunt many for months to come.

World Cup-related songs have a long and interesting history, including official anthems (from superstars like Shakira down to half of Hall & Oates) and all sorts of country-specific tunes (Weezer sining for the U.S., the Village People putting on for, uh, Germany). Having qualified for their first World Cup in 1998, Japan doesn’t have the rich soccer-music history of other nations (“World Cup Willy!”), but entering their fifth cup, the country now lays claim to a handful of Cup anthems.

Here are the most noteworthy from each edition of the World Cup:

CONTINUE READING about World Cup support songs →

Pulsations (12.21.12)

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

  • Ugai: Japanese People Love Gargling (from AcessJ): The Japanese aren’t the least bit bothered by gargling in public restrooms. If you like avoiding colds and want to up your oral hygiene game, maybe you shouldn’t be, either.
  • Omisoka: Japanese New Year’s Eve (from Zooming Japan): 2012 wasn’t as pleasant as you had hoped? Dismiss it from the mind with a bounenkai party: a gathering to forget the year. Learn more about the customs for oshogatsu and you just may find yourself purchasing a kagami mochi or two.
  • Welcome to the World of Tsugaru Shamisen (from A Modern Girl): Know what separates a Tsugaru shamisen from a regular one? This modern girl explains the difference and talks about her experience at a recent performance. She also shares clips of the music.
  • A Requiem Service for Broken Needles-Hari Kuyou (from Iromegane): Even needles get a day of appreciation in Japan; aside from getting their own Shinto service, these pointy tools are stuck into tofu, konnyaku or mochi so that they may have somewhere soft as a final resting place. Ah.

Today’s J-blip: A song for Ichiro Suzuki

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

[soundcloud id=53864927]

American indie-rock musician Ben Gibbard has released a song dedicated to Japanese baseball superstar Ichiro Suzuki. Gibbard, who is best known as the vocalist for the groups Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service, says he wrote the song in honor of Suzuki years ago but that today was the “best day” to release it to the public — Suzuki, 38, was just traded to the New York Yankees after more than 10 years with the Seattle Mariners. Be forewarned: The song, “Ichiro’s Theme,” is incredibly catchy.

Rediscovering Japan’s ‘lost generation’ and Tokyo Beatles

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Life magazine has dug into its vault and recently released a treasure trove of photos that photojournalist Michael Rougier took for a Life special issue on Japan, published in September 1964. Many of them have never been published before. Rougier contrasted the outer appearance of “youth who seem as wholesome and happy as a hot fudge sundae” with the subcultures he found hanging out in jazz clubs and taking drugs at all-night beach parties. In text that accompanied the photos, correspondent Robert Morse wrote:

Having sliced the ties that bind them to the home, in desperation they form their own miniature societies with rules of their own. The young people in these groups are are bound to one another not out of mutual affection — in many cases the “lost ones” are incapable of affection — but from the need to belong, to be part of something.

Morse and Rougier documented the kids who rebelled against their parents through pill popping, motorcycle riding, swigging booze — and gyrating to the sounds of the Tokyo Beatles. The band was a relatively short-lived phenomenon, with only one album to show for its three years in existence. The music is covers of Beatles’ songs rendered in a mix of Japanese and English. It sounds at once like a straight copy and like something completely new. Judging from the photographs, it hit the right chords with the teens of Tokyo. We strongly recommend that you see the full gallery of photos and read more at It won’t be time wasted.

Post-quake aid on a musical note

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

All Tomorrow's Parties' fundraising event Made in Japan will raise money for the Japanese Red Cross

The music industry both at home and abroad is rallying to raise funds for disaster-hit areas in the northeast of the country. Though it’s perhaps easy to be cynical about the motivations of artists to get involved with good causes, Japan’s disaster victims indisputably need the funds, as well as the morale boost that comes from knowing that music fans across the globe are digging deep to support them in their time of need.

One of the most heart-warming stories to come out of the domestic music scene was news that Johnny’s Jimusho would be lending their trucks to the relief effort. Cancelling all performances for the month of March, the agency’s pretty boys were instead loading up trucks to be sent north. Stars like Hideaki Takizawa helped to load the trucks with much needed relief supplies that included items like toilet paper and antiseptic. Johnny’s acts are also working on a special CD whose proceeds will be donated to a tsunami relief charity.

Across the Pacific Ocean in the U.S., a who’s who of top pop and rock icons took part in the “Songs For Japan” charity album project. Now available on iTunes for $9.99, artists on the 38-track album include Lady Gaga, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters and Justin Bieber. With royalties waived, every cent is going straight to the Red Cross relief fund. This week, Kyodo reported that it was iTunes’ top-seller in 18 countries.

One of the artists on the CD, Ne-Yo, has also showed his moral support by going ahead with his post-quake dates in Japan and donating some of the proceeds to relief efforts. The artist felt it was the right thing to do, giving fans something to smile about in a difficult time. Not all foreign artists scheduled to play Japan during March agreed with Ne-Yo’s stance, though. Ke$ha cancelled her Japan dates out of respect for the victims. A statement on her website reads: “My heart is with Japan right now through this disaster and these hardships. I genuinely don’t think right now would be appropriate timing for me to perform in Japan given the content and the spirit of my show, which is all about feeling exuberant, rowdy and wild.”

While the question of whether concerts in Japan are appropriate at this time is a thorny one, plenty of charity concerts abroad are going ahead. The international indie scene has been particularly quick to mobilize itself behind the cause. As soon as the news of the tragedy became apparent, organizers of SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, which already had 20 Japanese acts on the bill rallied to collect funds at the festival for the American Red Cross relief effort and raised in excess of its target $100,000. In New York on March 27, acts from Japan and elsewhere, including Sonic Youth, Sean Lennon, Cibo Matto and Yoko Ono, performed at a concert to raise money for Japan earthquake relief efforts. In the U.K. All Tomorrow’s Parties, which just held its first-ever festival in Japan before the quake, have organized a fundraiser slated for April 21. Acts on the “Made in Japan” bill include LFO, Fuck Buttons and Squarepusher.

A more mainstream music fundraiser, to feature as yet to be announced global music talent, is currently being planned in London for April. The event is organized by Live Nation and will take place at Wembly Arena. Also coming up in April is a special fundraiser being held at Manchester’s iconic Hacienda on April 22. “From Manchester to Japan With Love” will be headlined by Basement Jaxxx and funds raised will go to the Japanese Red Cross.

Virtual karaoke dates, courtesy of Konami

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

loveplus karaoke

Need a karaoke partner? Rinko Kobayakawa, Manaka Takan and Nene Anegasaki are at your service.

For me karaoke is a really bad date. I mean who wants to hear the excruciatingly awful vocal stylings of your new beau, or indeed subject them to your own caterwauling. That’s why Konami’s version of the karaoke date ticks all the right boxes: your virtual reality partner sounds great, has a bunch of cute dance moves and won’t complain if you join in enthusiastically, even if you’re totally off key.

Karoke Date With Your Girl!” is the latest Love Plus spin-off project to capitalize on the runaway success of the virtual dating DS game. A collaboration between Konami and karaoke machine manufacturers Joysound, the Love Plus songs were launched on the Crosso karaoke machine on Nov. 19.  There are three songs to chose from, each featuring a different Love Plus character who is shown singing and dancing along to the music in front of a background that looks like the typical interior of a karaoke room. Manaka Takane sings “Lum no Love Song,” Rinko Kobayakawa does a rendition of “Sobakasu” and the popular Nene Anegasaki performs “MUGO·N . . .  Iroppoi.” If you’d like to check out the results have a gander at this YouTube video.

Continue reading about Love Plus karaoke →


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