When the Best of 2019 opens up this week, friends, I fully expect that you’re all going to join me in smashing that vote button for NEO JAPONISM as Best Reboot. They are clearly the best and also recency bias is a brutal fact of our lives, so brutal that you are helpless against it, not to mention helpless before my very persuasive arguments. In fact, the great crime being perpetuated by this year’s voting is that none of these new NEO JAPONISM pieces are in the running for other awards despite their clear superiority to everything. Including this new one that’s technically eligible for all awards because it’s still November for a few hours!
Just listen to that. That’s basically everything good and right in loudol — creative structure, aggressive, pop hook that somehow doesn’t take anything away from the sheer volume, another dang breakdown — and I’m absolutely beside myself that something so good and right exists in my world, a reminder of the peak of what idol can do.
I’ll tell you, if 2019 is remembered as being as bad as it usually feels in real time, I want to be the person who’s all “yeah but did you hear some of the really awesome music that happened anyway AND ESPECIALLY THE NEO JAPONISM THAT SAVED CHRISTMAS?!” After returning to life just over a week ago in what’s rapidly emerging as my favorite event of this otherwise godsforsaken year, NEO JAPONISM has even more jaw-kicking idolcore for us, and friends, I don’t know where they’re going with this, but I’m officially along for the ride:
God damn. God DAMN. I’m not completely sold on marrying that chorus to the verses, but this is the kind of hook to the face that I used to delight in finding back when idol was so new and exciting and nobody had yet invented the word “Codomocore”. FFS, it has a goddamn breakdown in it, albeit one that fits the material more than the occasional wedged-in instances that are often more laughable than laudable.
A week ago, I was loudly demanding that NEO JAPONISM be worked into the Best Of mechanisms and then waving last week’s post in everybody’s face to make sure I was being heard; today, I feel like I’m ready to give them all of the awards (even the ones that don’t pertain!) just so for vindication’s sake. What an absolutely gorgeous return to life they’re giving us.
Everybody’s done the heartbreak thing this year, it seems. Groups and individual idols have dropped like flies, literal icons of the business and the tiniest of unknown chika acts as well closing up shop or undergoing massive changes almost as if they all know something we don’t. I’ve personally had my share of blank-eyed staring into the distance at one bit of news or another, and one that I definitely didn’t make enough hay about when it happened was NEO JAPONISM.
For about a year, they were arguably my favorite thing in the business, this hard-rocking, all-out unit that didn’t pull any punches and seemed to make a mark every time they released something into the world. They were just a really fun group to follow, although harder in a lot of ways to love right because there was so much else going on. But did I miss a chance to lavish praise on them? Absolutely not. And so earlier this year when the ~original~ group disbanded in the kind of mass graduation that has been so typical of 2019, I was kind of floored. Unlike all of the other instances, though, manager-san immediately set the record straight and announced that NEO JAPONISM as a thing wasn’t going anywhere, and there would be a reboot on the near horizon. That gives one hope, which gives one optimism, and when little bits of info started to trickle out, it started to become real.
Go ahead and read the title again in the narrator voice from Batman, you know you want to
Well if this isn’t something that I had no desire to follow up on (for sads reasons) and usually don’t even post all that much anymore (for other reasons), but I’ll be danged if I’m going to miss out on an opportunity to publicly air my own dang feelings about a group that I really enjoy probably going the way of like 99 percent of all idol things in history and calling it quits. But: As mentioned before in the Weekender, NEO JAPONISM fairly ominously tweeted about half of the membership needing a break. And today:
Yikes. I mean, that doesn’t outright say “The group is done peace out ya fools,” but it doesn’t look good. Not at all. And it’s just left hanging there in the timeline without supporting information one way or another — the tweet immediately preceding is about a live performance! That is apparently canceled! And we never got that promised update about the members’ status! Unless this is it, and it’s really bad news!
Should I be mercifully incorrect, I’ll be very happy to post that there is a future for one of the coolest and more innovative loudol units going, but I don’t really anticipate that, you know? It’s not really a good sign when they start to offer you refunds!
I like to write posts backwards sometimes. Start with the product, then react to it, then try to contextualize and/or frame, depending. Yes, I realize that The Craft of Blogging isn’t what you’re here for — I’m bringing it up, you impatient nerd, because this is a really good example of how sometimes the intro defies you, so all you can do is start typing and … there it is! Thanks for joining me.
I was listening to this one and I felt this weir twinge of “man, can you even imagine what the idol world would be like without NEO JAPONISM in it?” Which was really weird unto itself, given that they’re still kind of new, you know? But it made me realize that this surprisingly hard-charging group has been responsible for a surprisingly large amount of my favorite idol stuff over the past year and change, and that I always appreciate getting more of it but never really seem to express just how much I appreciate it.
So here goes: I could not be happier or more thankful to have this new one from NEO JAPONISM, and by new I mean that they’re just dusting it off for this tour that they’re on!
For that handful of us that gets irrationally excited every time NEO JAPONISM does something cool and good (for instance right here), this latest stumble-upon of their legitimately impressive, never-disappointing work is really one to pay attention to. Yes, it’s a deviation from what we’re used to from them; yes, at that same time it’s arguably the best thing they’ve put out, and that’s really saying something. Listen to this!
This is just the first entry in a six-day marathon of content drops. I’m kind of annoyed at myself for missing the first few days, in fact, given that this all happened on Friday and the thereafter is littered with excellent live MVs from their Christmas Eve show at Shinjuku Blaze:
What else are we going to get? Whatever it is, it’ll be a treat, and I’ll continue to kick myself for not pushing this always-rising group harder as a real breakout candidate for 2019. Everything they do is at minimum good and often outsizedly impressive.
I miss time. It’s a nice thing to have! Lack of it keeps me from many things anymore. Thankfully, the gods invented things like YouTube and Soundcloud, so I don’t need all the time to keep up with everything, and can sometimes even do it on the go. Like, for instance, this very nice rock song from NEO JAPONISM, who you will recall do lots of nice rock songs in that inimitable way that only idols can. Let’s listen together!
If you’ve been around Homicidols Dot Com to a while, you’ve probably seen me refer to a certain preference for Osaka idols. Something — in the water, probably — about idols from Osaka seems to make them do louder music with some more interesting twists, to the point that there’s a bit of a stylistic signature that sets Osaka idols apart from, say, Nagoya or Tokyo scenes.
I bring this up with NEO JAPONISM because it is, coming from me, a form of real praise to say that they’re the most Osaka idols based in Tokyo, and I’m becoming ever more convinced that they’re going to be a real driving force in how idol and loud are combined in the coming years. I keep rolling my eyes when I see them referring to this as their first single and MV, but a deeper look through all of my hyperventilating posts from the last several months suggests that it is true.
Soundcloud is a pretty great tool for sharing music. I’ve been using it in various capacities for years, going way back to before needing it as a tool for finding Japanese stuff, even. But do you know what Soundcloud sucks at? Sending mobile notifications. So it becomes one of the few things in the game that require active, deliberate monitoring, and you’re SOL if whoever you happen to be following uploads material way ahead of the actual release date, such that the new thing never even appears in your feed (pre-major new BiS, I’m looking in your direction).
At other times, things pop up in your feed and you get a fun little charge. How exciting! I hope it’s good! It’s sometimes a letdown, sure, but also sometimes a thrill … like when one of your favorite emerging units dispenses with the pleasantries and decides that their newest track should be a nasty one:
Well, team, save for some Weekender references (one of which about to be double-dipped below), it’s been a tiny little while since our last taste of NEO JAPONISM, but they’ve actually been cranking out performances and building a respectable little fan base. They’re going places, and it’s cool and good, because idols’ success is always worth rooting for. The other day, they went so far as to give us a new song that, if you’ve read the title of the post, you may surmise as being something that I enjoy!
Listen to that thing go! I love a rollicking punk ballad that verges on anthemic. There’s a lot happening! Here’s the rest of the good stuff: Continue reading →