{Artist Spotlight} amateur J-Pop artists

November 25, 2008 at 12:33 am | Posted in aozorafantasii, HIMEKA, Music, _Artist Spotlight | 1 Comment

I generally don’t follow amateur artists at all because a lot of their work lacks the polished feel of ‘real’ singers’ works. I’m not talking about vocal ability…it’s the overall sound quality. While it’s true there are amateurs out there who can sing better than actual signed artists, they usually don’t have high-tech equipment to record with nor do they have a high-powered staff helping them mix.

Nevertheless, despite the setbacks of recording, there are still a few amateurs out there that pique my interest.

Continue Reading {Artist Spotlight} amateur J-Pop artists…


{Artist Spotlight} Kanon

February 3, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Posted in Kanon, Music, _Artist Spotlight | Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, ne?

When you mention “Kanon” to the usual anime & J-Pop fan, what usually comes to mind is the visual-novel-turned-anime featuring insanely cute characters with impossibly huge eyes. Or for the J-Rock lovers, the bassist of Antic Cafe.

But the Kanon I’m talking about is the classical-based J-Pop singer who provided the unique and beautiful theme songs to the animes La Corda d’Oro ~primo passo~ and Angel Heart.

Kanon’s official profile picture – taken from Channel-Ai’s blog

Kanon has a distinctive voice – it’s powerful and gentle at the same time and also classical sounding and a bit operatic at times. She has a rather wide vocal range; judging from her bright and powerful high notes, I do believe she’s mainly a soprano, but her alto-range notes are very solid as well. If I had to compare her to a western singer, it would be Sarah Brightman.

Style-wise, I think “J-Pop” is a bit of a misnomer for Kanon. She’s one of those “border singers” – on the edge of two genres, classical and pop in her case. In general, most of Kanon’s songs are inspired by (and use samples from) classical pieces (I believe she even used Pachelbel’s Canon in D, but I forgot in which song). Her songs are soothing – perfect for relaxing to after a stressful day, or just when you’re in the mood for something calm.

Song Recommendations:

1. Brand New Breeze
2. My Destiny

The two songs above were anime themes – Brand New Breeze is La Corda d’Oro’s OP and My Destiny is Angel Heart’s 3rd ED.

Trivia: Brand New Breeze was inspired by Edward Elgar’s “Salut d’amour” and My Destiny by Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise.”


my favorite Kanon CD cover

{Artist Spotlight} ICHIKO

November 22, 2007 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Music, _Artist Spotlight | Leave a comment

Alright, let’s face it. Doing a spotlight every week is unrealistic. I’ll just do one whenever the mood strikes me, haha.


“FIRST KISS kara hajimaru/futari no koi no HISTORY” has been stuck in my head all week.

The wonderful voice behind “First Kiss” is none other but the peppy ICHIKO (I linked her Japanese wiki page, but some info in English can be found here).

Back cover of the Zero no Tsukaima ~Futatsuki no Kishi~ OP single

Took me a while to find this one – promoting her Zero no Tsukaima singles, I bet. She looks a bit scary here.

ICHIKO is a belter and goes pretty high without breaking. She also has a bit of a twang in the way she pronounces words – especially at “arawareta” in First Kiss, but it doesn’t annoy me. ICHIKO sort of reminds me of Ikimono-gakari in their song Hanabi but sounds more laid-back.

That said, her music is surprisingly cute and catchy – not the sugary cute you get from anime voice actresses, but with an infectious “shouty” energy. She’s backed by a quirky mix of electronic sound effects, guitar, and brass instruments (I wonder if this is her style or because she needs to sound like this for the ZnT OP songs).

Song Recommendations:

1. First Kiss

End note: Watch the OP sequences on YouTube too!

~ Yoruko

“First Kiss” by ICHIKO is better than any actual first kiss. I’ll bet my 4-GB Creative Zen Micro on that. xD

{Artist Spotlight} Soft Ballet

November 16, 2007 at 12:11 am | Posted in Music, _Artist Spotlight | Leave a comment

I’ll try to spotlight an artist as often as I can (aiming for weekly), but I can’t guarantee it.

Some may be artists I know well, but I will generally avoid that and give a “first impressions,” short blurb on artists new to me. I will not give a numerical rating – that’s for individual CD/song reviews later.

I’ll start off with this week’s feature, Soft Ballet, a Japanese rock/synth-pop band.

Soft Ballet 2

Soft Ballet 1

The band name is very deceiving – if you pictured effeminate guys wearing pink shirts and singing love ballads, you are mistaken (actually, that’s what first came to mind for me).

I randomly grabbed a copy of their 2003 album Menopause (yes I know isn’t that just a wonderful title), and their sound is anything but soft, but it’s great all the same. The lead singer, Endo Ryoichi, has a husky, low, sometimes even sexy voice that is reminiscent of hyde from L’Arc~en~Ciel.

As for their style, I love how the guitars and drums meld with the synthesizer perfectly, without the electronic elements drowning out the ‘real’ instruments and the vocals (a problem that appears in badly mixed synth-pop). I hope to see (or more accurately, hear) some vocodered vocals in some of their songs :P

Song Recommendations

1. Smashing the Sun
2. Bright My Way

From what I’ve read, people who are fans of Yellow Magic Orchestra will love Soft Ballet. And for those who don’t listen to Japanese music at all, Soft Ballet has been referred to as the Japanese counterpart of Depeche Mode.

~ Yoruko

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