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Recently in Japanese Music Category

Kahimi Karie

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Sophisticated Lolita Shibuya Sound

Kahimi Karie is an exemplar representative of the ultra-hip "Shibuya-kei", the unique blend of jazz, hip-rock and 60's kitsch prevalent in Tokyo's Shibuya/Harajuku district. Other Japanese bands in this genre include Pizzicato 5 and Fantastic Plastic Machine. Unlike these others, however, Kahimi's vocal style, which is simultaneously childish and seductive, sky-rocketed her to instant stardom, resulting in several gold-hit singles and several albums. Not only does she maintain her superstar status in certain contemporary sub-culture scenes, but soon youth and geeks throughout the globe will be mesmerized by her charms through her lyrical role in the latest Japanese (read international) video games.


Cibo Matto - Viva! La Woman

Nippon-esque Urban Trip-Hop

The band Cibo Matto was formed by Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda following their move from Japan to New York City. Their wholly unique and hypnotic trip-hop music is immediately addictive. Sophisticated beat and arrangements are intertwined with quirky yet eerily profound food-themed lyrics sung by Miho in her cutesy Japan-English girl's voice.


By popular demand...

More Kaji Meiko lyrics!

After reviewing the very cool Kaji Meiko CD, which, by the way, is both highly addictive and soothing in that sexy kimono-clad, sword-wielding, gonna-cut-your-heart-out-and-leave-you-bleeding sort of way, I have received many requests to translate her lyrics.

Here, I have translated Kaji's Shura no Hana (Flower of Carnage). This song, like Urami Bashi, can be heard in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.


By popular demand...

After reviewing the very cool Kaji Meiko CD, which, by the way, is both highly addictive and soothing in that sexy kimono-clad, sword-wielding, gonna-cut-your-heart-out-and-leave-you-bleeding sort of way, I have been inundated with requests to translate her lyrics.

So here I have translated perhaps the most (recently) famous of Kaji's tunes, Urami Bushi, the so-called "Grudge Song". (More lyric translations are soon forthcoming.)

The lesson I have learned from this exercise is the following: Gentlemen, if you EVER hear your significant other singing or even humming this tune, I seriously recommend to IMMEDIATELY EVACUATE the premises. You can thank me later.



Kaji Meiko's Audio CD
[Zenkyokushu]

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GODDESS ALERT!!!

As has been mentioned here and elsewhere, exemplar tough-girl actress Kaji Meiko (????) also had a budding singing career during the 1970s. Her voice graces several themes songs from well-known films of that era. And more recently, Quentin Tarantino used Kaji's original songs in his noir-samurai-tough-girl flick Kill Bill volumes 1 & 2.

Kaji produced a single audio CD, a "complete works" collection entitled Kaji Meiko Zenkyokushu [????????]) (and yes, zenkyokushu in fact means "complete collection of songs"!). The CD contains a total of twenty songs all of which Kaji sings, including the theme songs of the Scorpion and Lady Snowblood films (which Tarantino also used), films, I should add, in which Kaji plays the leading role.

Below I've added the titles of each of the songs as well as some scans of the sexy little booklet which accompanies the CD.



?56?NHK?????

[NHK's Annual Red/White Song Competition]

Every year for the past 56 years, Japan has broadcast a national music competition entitled Kouhaku Uta Gessen (????? / "Red and White Song Battle"). For the first three years the program was transmitted via radio, but in 1954 Japan's first TV broadcast capabilities went online, marking the start of the Nippon Housou Kyoukai (NHK / ??????), the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation. Thus from the very advent of television broadcast in Japan Kouhaku Uta Gessen has been a favorite televised national event.

The program runs annually on New Year's Eve from 7:20pm to 11:45pm, during which time the nation's top musicians perform in what amount to a "boys against the girls" competition. Appointed judges and segments of the population are invited to vote for either team, and at the program's end, the tally is counted.

Below you will find photos and info on this year's competition. Due to the time zone difference between Chicago and Tokyo (we are 16 hours behind Tokyo), the live broadcast is recorded in Japan and then distributed on DVD through Japanese stores here in the States in time to be watched here on New Years Eve (!!). For those in the USA, if you can imagine "Dick Clark's New Years Eve" multiplied by 100, you'll get a notion of the importance of this annual event.



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