• Anthony's Jpop Recommendations: "Songs for Night Time Driving"

    Anthony is back to bequeath his Jpop knowledge to you all.

    I know that some of you guys enjoy listening to your music in a certain fashion.
    For example, blasting a hot blooded Super Robot song before going to a sports meet for the adrenaline rush, playing soft and sweet ballads for a good night lullaby, or cheerful punk ronk tracks to start your day.

    So you can call me DJ Smartass, I'm going to present to you 20 Japanese songs that fit in with a chilling night ambience.
    This was made with night time driving as the focus. When the sky has turned dark, playing these tracks in your car sets the mood perfectly, especially when you're out with the boys after midnight.

    "HOME SWEET HOME - reform" - Home Made Kazoku

    This is the remix version of HMKu's hit single "HOME SWEET HOME - reborn", 2006's "Most requested song" of Japan's collective radio stations, and HMKu's catalyst to superstardom.

    This remix is an all around song that screams out the word "chill night".

    The keys, the horns, the drums, and the unique fusion of MICRO's high and KURO's low key vocals, they provide a solid and delicious mix of hip-hop and blues unlike any other chill song.
    Well, this song ranked 3rd in my previous top 10 Jpop list. A perfect opener for your night time collection.

    "Bump! Bump!" - BoA

    This is my utmost favorite BoA song.
    I love the consistent soprano sax and blues scratch prominent all over the track.

    If you are a Jpop fan, you would have known how BoA failed her US debut around 3 years ago.
    She, or more precisely her music producer, changed her style to match the US RNB scene.
    It worked well for "Eat you Up", but for the rest of her album, not so much.....
    Utada Hikaru released her 2nd US album around the same time as BoA's debut, stayed true to her Jpop style and gained moderate to high success.
    This would serve as a big lesson to BoA, who went back to Asia and released "Bump! Bump!" with veteran rapper Verbal.
    The song depicts how BoA is going to shine despite the harsh failures of her past haunting her, how she's going to rise again to the top by just being herself.

     "Mr. Taxi" - SNSD
    NO, NO BUTS.

    "STARSTRUCK" - m-flo loves AI, Hinouchi Emi, Rum
    m-flo is considered a legend in Japan for their ability to collaborate with many artists from different genres and still produce feelgood electronic based music.
    DJ taku is a genius composer and Verbal is a globally accomplished emcee who has been working with giant stars from all over the world.
    Their "m-flo loves" project is generally accepted by the Japanese as a "dream collaboration" of sorts, where m-flo invited various artists to create some songs together.

    "STARSTRUCK" features the up and rising cute Hinouchi Emi who is well known as an urban singer with her sweet voice, Rum who is one part of the Heartsdales female rap duo, and AI who is a quarter Italian RNB singer with a distinct soulful voice.

      "Driving Through the Night" - m.o.v.e
    So the theme is "Songs for night time driving".
    Now look at the song title, look at it closely, it said "Driving through the Night".



    Pardon me, too much oppai can screw with your common sense.
    Well to be honest there are better m.o.v.e tracks out there that could replace "Driving through the Night" in this list, like the cool Friday night song MUGEN, the funky and catchy Blazin' Beat, or their most awesome song and my personal favorite Gravity to name a few examples.
    But yes, you can't possibly skip out a song which blatantly have the same title as this post's topic and is overall a great chill track.

     "Around the World" - MONKEY MAJIK
    To hell with Far East Movement, we have MONKEY MAJIK right here.
    Both are bands famous for their signature "gaijin members", but Far East Movement is totally overrated just because they are big in the US and musically speaking, MONKEY MAJIK is far more superior with their versatility.

    MONKEY MAJIK has been producing Spitz-like feelgood music that are easy in your ears since their early days. "Around the World" was their first breakthrough to mainstream success, and boy they really nailed it with this one.

    refer to my previous Weekly Jpop Goodness entry. yeah I know, this song is catchy as fuck, a must have for your night time collection.

     "We'll See Heaven" - Digital Planet

    Your night is never complete without EUROBEAT! Especially if you drive!
    Please remember that if you have friends on your car when this track is on, don't take everything they say into your heart.
    Their usual response would be, "Whoa Initial-D! Hey drift on that corner!" and you won't believe how tempting it is to follow their words when this song is blasting, when you're out past midnight and the streets are empty.
    Your life is very important, please keep that in mind, you wouldn't want to LITERALLY see heaven just because a song tells you so.

      "SWITCH" - LISA feat. Koda Kumi and Heartsdales

    Another perfect representation of a "chill night" mood. What do we have here?
    We have LISA, the half Columbian former m-flo vocalist, Koda Kumi, the Christina Aguilera of Japan, and Heartsdales, the famous female rap duo.
    All of them are veterans when it comes to urban pop.  "SWITCH" is the result of that extraordinary collaboration, and it is certainly cool as fuck.

    This song was tied up with a very old school PS2 game, Crimson Tears. I played that game for a bit in junior high and completely forgot the storyline lol.

    "1,000,000 Monsters Attack" - SOUL'd OUT

    SOUL'd OUT is one of the more popular rap groups in Japan with their unique urban style.
    DIGGY's somewhat nasal rap style might be annoying to English speakers, but there's no denying his music composing ability.
    Even his solo career is going very smooth thanks to his creativity.
    Combine that with the finishing touch of DJ Shinnosuke and the high speed rap of Brother Hi, you'll get a massive package called SOUL'd OUT.

    "1,000,000 Monsters Attack" was featured as one of FIFA 2005's soundtracks.
    The lyrics may not make sense after the first verse, but the overall music ambient is perfect for night time activities, especially a futsal match.
    Next time you play futsal, bring a boombox and blast this off, it's going to be epic I tell you.

    "Nemurenai no wa Dare no Sei" - Inaba Koshi
    YYYYEEEAAAAA, one from my favorite singer! Time for a blues song bitches! Inaba Koshi is, without a doubt, Japan's number one rock vocalist, the equivalent of Steven Tyler and Bon Jovi. He is the only singer in Japan who possess an explosive energy and high pitched, yet husky and flexible vocals. His flexible voice profile and unique singing style are able to cover a wide range of genres from cheerful pop songs, soft ballads, power ballads, blues, to hard rock, and perfectly convey the feelings of the songs.  Translated as "Whose fault is it that I can't sleep", this song depicts a proud man's struggle of not being able to sleep, yes. The man has this extreme pain and confusion, like a hole has been drilled in his chest and him being the victim of stoning. He feels that something is off with him today. He is confused of how he can smile ear to ear for a certain person's happiness, and how he can feel sad when that person is unhappy. With those nauseating feelings all mixed up, the stars seem to circle around the ceiling, and the night sky has turned bright all of a sudden. For those of you who are rather slow, this is an unconventional love song.

    "GENERATION" - J Soul Brothers

    J-soul Brothers was a former EXILE's brother group that has joined EXILE's ranks as of now.
    Well actually, J-soul Brothers was used as EXILE's first group name after its major debut, but they changed to EXILE after co-founder Yagi Shokichi went to manage another group and used the J-soul Brothers to name his new group.

    J-soul Brothers operate in the same manner as EXILE's. Two vocalists and the rest are dancers.
    You can say that they are a species of pure pop group entertainers, which is rare in Japan's present idol culture.
    "GENERATION" was featured in EXILE's album "MONSTER - someday", which is the first album released after their merge. It has a pretty cool beat and vocals, what else would you like to ask for?

     "Traveling" - Utada Hikaru
    You can't say that you have a good composition of night time music without this track in your list.
    Utada's soothing vocal really brings out the best of her chill songs like "Automatic" and "Movin' on Without You", but "Traveling" takes the crown amongst her vast discography.
    Well, you can say that it is the best Japanese song out there in terms of night time ambient.

    Its very lyrics tells the story of a young woman who has just finished from her work and hopped in a taxi, asking the driver to just joyride anywhere, enjoying the night breeze and scenery.

     "Kagayaku Yoru" - CHEMISTRY

    It is quite sad and disappointing to see one of the greatest pop groups in Japan to break up. CHEMISTRY has been one of the leading pop artist in Japan who excelled in soothing ballads and feelgood music.
    Now Kawabata Kaname and Yoshikuni Douchin has split up to pursue their own solo career, with seemingly no intentions to have reunions whatsoever.

    With the sheer amount of ballads in their discography, "Kagayaku Yoru" (Shining Night) is one of their rarer uplifting songs.
    It was used as the theme song of 2008 U-18 football Olympics, and it certainly reflects the soulful mood of the field: How your friends and teammates are always there to support you no matter what. 

    "Heart of Sword ~ Yoake Mae" - T.M Revolution

    I'm going to put it bluntly here.
    If you don't know this song, you should feel bad. I mean it.
    "Heart of Sword" is a staple knowledge for every single person who are into anime culture.
    No explanations necessary.

    "Only You can Rock Me" - Seikou Nagaoka feat. Mi-yo
    Seikou Nagaoka is a Japanese veteran composer and trackmaster who excels in Jazztronic and freetempo music.
    He has been dabbling in the world of music around the same time as the legendary Komuro Tetsuya and Max Matsuura.
    He composed anime soundtracks as well.
    To Heart, Strike Witches, and the Tenchi Muyou series are some of his more popular examples.
    His music production and arrangement career is even more popular.
    Bigshots like EXILE, KINKI KIDS, and SMAP have been under his care at one time.

    "Aishitene Motto" - Kayo Aiko

    Time for a jazzy sweet, sweeeeet, diabetic love song by Kayo Aiko the idol singer.
    Yes, it's the ending theme for that violent martial arts anime "Tenjou Tenge".

    "Aishitene Motto" literally translates to "Love Me More", and yes, who would not want to love her more with that kind of hypnotizing voice aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!
    It tells a story of how a girl is crazily in love with 'you', how she is not able to fall asleep and how she desperately needs to hug 'you' right now. She wants you to just look at her.
    It is more than enough for her to just be beside 'you', and she will love 'you' more than ever before, always.


    "Kirei na Sora" - AAA

    [PV] Kirei na Sora (AAA) by HyoukaC

    AAA was originally a group of background dancers before Avex decided to put them together into a new mishmash pop group, marketing them as "Attack All Around" with their superior dance moves.

    Their discography consists of mostly energetic and uplifting songs.
    Examples including their ever famous Kamen Rider Den-O's Climax Jump, the dark and edgy Samurai Heart, and the very iconic Blood on Fire.
    They only have a few soft ballads in their discography so suffice to say that a funky song like "Kirei na Sora" is a rare find.

    "Cruel Angel's Thesis (10th anniversary edition)" - Takahashi Youko

    For the 2nd to last number, we have the amazing jazz version of the legendary anisong "Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis", from the 10th anniversary special album.
    Yes, I have a soft spot for jazz music, especially uptempo jazz.
    Heck, you can say that I love everything that has jazz as its roots: Jazz-rock, acid jazz, hip-hop jazz, jungle jazz, jazztronic, pretty much anything really.

    "Real Folk Blues" - The SEATBELTS feat. Yamane Mai

    And for the closing number, we have a Jazz-Blues fusion, the legendary "Real Folk Blues", ending theme of Cowboy Bebop, and hands down one of the greatest songs to be composed under God's hot sun.
    If you have been living in a cave for this past decade, "Real Folk Blues" is composed by Kanno Yoko, who collaborated exclusively with the jazz band SEATBELTS and blues singer Yamane Mai for the legendary anime Cowboy Bebop.

    Even if you don't understand Japanese, you can clearly feel the overflowing emotion put into this song. The strong acoustic guitar, the wailing and screeching guitar, the lonely drums, the harmony of violins and horns, Yamane Mai's soulful vocals and her delicious raspy screams towards the end of the song, everything has been set perfectly by the maestro Kanno Yoko for your pleasure only.

    With this, your night is now complete.


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