Japan's hottest tunes right now

(Editor's note: the following article was submitted anonymously by a fan of the website. It fits nicely into our ongoing ‘Japan Month’ so we’ve chosen to publish it. If you’ve got a submission of your own, email hi@johnwhiles.com but note that no payment or exposure will be offered)

Mickie Yoshino - Ode To Joy (feat. Mummy-D)

One of the best songs I heard whilst in Japan is this phenomenal Ode To Joy funky rap. Much like the death of Diana, you'll never forget where you were when you first hear this song. For us, it was in a delicious chicken ramen joint in Nara. There was an older lady who served us and a younger man, maybe her son; the restaurant only had one other table occupied, and they were blasting out a really incongruous mix of excellent, but bizarre, tunes as if it was a perfectly normal thing for a public facing establishment to do. This song, with its influences spanning multiple genres and hundreds of years, is already a timeless classic and would be a great choice of material to beam into space to alert the universe to the genius of the human race.

Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas - Just Awake

We discovered this song whilst scrolling through songs to play on the popular drumming arcade game Taiko no Tatsujin and it turns out it's not only one of the best songs to drum along to (level: difficult) but it's also one of the best songs of all time. I thought I could make a comparison of the band to Linkin Park, as both have two singers - one who can belt high notes and has dyed hair, and a counterpart who sings lower and has not dyed their hair - but on reflection this is where the similarities end.

Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas make music which is hard to describe because it's screamy and metal and electronica-y and ADHD and has a whole lot of autotune, and it's done with such flawless musicianship that it somehow sounds cheesy, like a demo song on your new Yamaha keyboard, so naturally they are the perfect kind of band to soundtrack an anime (which this song does).

Taiko no Tasujin rating: 10/10

Ado - New Genesis

This song is also part of an anime soundtrack because Japan and we could not escape hearing it in shops, on TV, in arcades or blasted on the street. As such, it's hard to say if this is a good song or if we've been brainwashed to believe this is a good song. What I can say is that the singer does a very excellent job singing and you probably don't want to try it at karaoke.

The anime it soundtracks is called One Piece Film: Red, which isn't a mistranslation, and is part of the beloved One Piece manga franchise. The plot of the film seems incredibly convoluted but I think the jist is, there's a character who's a great singer who hides her identity but there's going to be a big reveal of who she is, and would you believe it, the singer of this soundtrack song also hides her identity in real life!! She's like a Japanese Sia, or Gorillaz.

Taiko no Tasujin rating: 7/10

Sekai No Owari - Habit

Habit was released in June 2022, meaning this was probably a summer smash, but it was still being played everywhere when we went over December/January 2023 meaning it was an autumn and winter smash too. An endless smash. "A song about habit." That's the only lyric in this song that's in English so it's a bit mysterious, but the translation of Japanese Wikipedia on this song has a helpful tidbit to help explain:

The title "Habit" has the meaning of "habit", but in this work it is used in the sense of "habit".

Oh and it's also on a soundtrack to an anime. (Editor's note: I saw this song performed live on 'Kohaku Uta Gassen', which is a popular singing competition that takes place on new year's eve. It's like if Jools Holland's Hootenany, and Eurovision were combined into one. Highly recommended).

Taiko no Tasujin rating: 6/10

Music video dance rating: good


Want to receive email updates from me?