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Kahimi Karie


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Kahimi Karie

カヒミ・カリィ

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.

What is most obviously remarkable about Kahimi's music is her voice which is not only undoubtedly mesmerizing to male listeners but also clearly sets a foundation for the Lolita Goth subculture which flourishes in Tokyo's Shibuya/Harajuku district. (Current films depicting this "lolita" trend include Kamikaze Girls and TV PEEP Show.)

With the voice of a child, Kahimi's often gritty music explores all the nuances of sensual tease and expectation-laden contemplation of girl-meets-boy. The audible effect is quite powerful and certainly unforgettable.

With lyrics comprised of Japanese, French and English, the themes here run from rather mature sensual poses to almost child-like reflection, and run the gamut from retro euro-hop to beat crunching contemporary rock. To date, Kahimi has produced six albums, the most recent being Montage (2004). She has also produced three "compilation albums", the first of which, entitled simply Kahimi Karie (1998), I am reviewing here. In addition to these there are many other singles and EPs, including the vocals on Sony's most recent PlayStation version of Katamari Damashii (2005).

This is definitely fun and addicting stuff, and I bring it to your attention here because I seriously doubt you will be introduced to it elsewhere. Samples of the songs on this album are available here.

The songs on Kahimi's 1998 compilation album entitled "Kahimi Karie" are the following:

Good Morning World (3:31)
Candyman (4:25)
Elastic Girl (5:48)
Mike Alway's Diary (3:18)
Le Roi Soliel (5:16)
Take It Easy My Brother Charlie (3:39)
Zoom Up! (2:02)
Serieux Comme Le Plaisir (2:18)
Lolita Pop Dollhouse (4:08)
Dis-Moi Quelque Chose Avant De Dormir (2:05)
The Way You Close Your Eyes (2:43)

My favorite songs on this album are "Le Roi Soliel" and "Lolitapop Dollhouse". Since my college courses in French have turned to la crappe, I post here simply the lyrics of the latter: (Please read closely.)

Lolita Pop Dollhouse:

Tell me I'm allowed to play the Fender Jaguar
Like the Velvet Underground
Tell me I'm allowed to hammer on a drum kit
Crazy for the love of sound

I'm gonna tear my playhouse down
(Lolitapop dollhouse)
In a baby pop wall of sound
(Lolitapop dollhouse)

And girls are exactly who they want to be
And bad girls are exactly who they want to be
Bad girls are allowed
Because they're just too proud
To care what people say
They do it anyway

I'm gonna tear my playhouse down
(Lolitapop dollhouse)
In a baby pop wall of sound
(Lolitapop dollhouse)

I'm sick of being Alice in Wonderland
Sick of living Victorian England
I'm sick of being a porcelain girl
In a porcelain world
Is that all you ever want me to be?

If you want me I'll be shooting with the junkies
If you want me I'll be swinging with monkeys
If you really love me smash the walls around me
If you really want me take me how you found me

I'm gonna tear my playhouse down
(Lolitapop dollhouse)
In a baby pop wall of sound
(Lolitapop dollhouse

Tell me I'm allowed to be
(Baby you're allowed to be)
Tell me I'm allowed to see
(Baby you're allowed to see)
Tell me I'm allowed to touch the world around me
(Baby you're allowed to touch the world around you)
Tell me I can make love to anyone anywhere
(Baby you can make love to anyone anywhere)
Tell me I'm allowed to jumping into the crowd
when I'm all wet with sweat and the music is loud
(baby you're allowed to jumping into the crowd
When you're all wet with sweat and the music is loud)
That's great (that's so great)

Here are some videos:

Song: Le Roi Soleil

Song: Good Morning World

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