Thankful for Jpop 7: New Horizons

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

[I finished the 4 PM post with less than a minute to spare. This post will be done and waiting for 6 PM well in advance, since by 6 PM I’ll actually be eating turkey and stuffing.) 

As attached as I still am to the four groups mentioned last time, I’m also thrilled whenever I find a new group or artist who catches my attention… There’s the exploration, the sudden rush of finding a new treasure to provide hours of distraction and joy. And there are those I keep telling myself I need to try sooner or later, such as Whiteberry and Bennie K… and I’ve got a bunch of Go!Go!7188 clips on one of my hard drives that I keep meaning to watch.

And then there are those who just grab one’s attention the second you give them a chance and you’re not quite hooked yet but can see it happening hard and fast. It happened with Hinoi Team and when I heard "Special Generation", it was like I heard Berryz for the first time. Early dream hit with a surprising force of revelation. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, you’re knocked off your ass and the Kuhnian pardigm shift is like a splitting atom.

And there are a couple of acts I’ve discovered in recent weeks that fit that description.

First is Harenchi Punch, whose "Megaphone" PV is fun and brash and tries really hard to rock out, doesn’t quite make it, but still manages to be a very good time. According to Santos of Idolizing St. Anna, they’re all about opposing the more perverse aspects of Japanese pop music…

Um…

There isn’t a Harenchi police that’ll track me down for going against their principles, right? Besides, the girls are so cute – all three of them. The rapping girl isn’t at all bad, though she doesn’t really get to show off her flow much in the single. The guitar-playing girl with the cool-nerd glasses has a great vibe to her – and if she’s really playing the music for the single, I’m in love with her. But the lead singer is definitely the one to watch – she’s got so much energy and power, with a solid voice. I really need to track down "Hakusen Start Line" and see if it’s as good as this one.

Second, and more surprising for me, is Sowelu. I’d heard about her for a long while now, but she’s another of the soloists who I assumed would be of the diva mold I’m not particularly fond of. Well, her new single and PV "Get Over" is really good, I found out. What made me want to try it, I don’t know – it may be that it shares the same title as a dream song I really like. Anyway, I’m feeling the start of a major jones for her.

The song is catchy, midtempo R&B and slinky… she’s an outright beauty, which I didn’t realize, though it’s a distinctive beauty with that strong jawline. (I’d never seen pictures of her before this.) She could have been just eye candy that’s fun to watch but impossible to listen to – you know, like Hiro and Ueto Aya – but she turned out to be more than that. And there’s an interlude with a heavier dance beat and a dance sequence that’s just… 

Wow.

Not to slam Koda Kumi too hard, but when she tries to dance sexy it isn’t all that… sexy. There’s a similar interlude in her "Shake It", a song I love, and it’s worth comparing the two. Ku-chan has the suggestive moves and the come-hither looks down pat, but it’s still lacking something. It still seems an act, very much rehearsed, its intention to titillate as bare as a backup dancer’s midriff. Sowelu’s dance in the middle of "Get Over" smokes – her moves are more confident, more sensual, more everything. She plays a more convincing sex kitten, if only because the sex feels more real from her. She gives off the visual equivalent of pheremones, and it’d be a very neutered hetero male who can’t sense that heat.

If Sowelu was an AV idol, I’d pick up every freakin’ DVD she put out, or at least download it. As it is, I’ll be keeping an eye out for PVs by her and maybe pick up a DVD or two when I get a chance…