NEO JAPONISM, who absolutely own and really need more love among you blockheads, released their latest album, THE SPIRIT, about six weeks ago. We did the lead single when it dropped, and frankly I thought that was going to be the end of it. But then this morning brought a shining ray of more NEO JAPONISM MV to gawk at, and in doing so I had a thought that hadn’t struck me when listening to the album, but suddenly seemed fairly clear: If Yanakoto Sotto Mute are the perfect modern idols, are NeoJap the most modern idols?
Let’s do that MV:
So you heard and saw all of that, right? At least so far as your own sensory capabilities allow? Good. So bear with me: What did you see? You saw idols, in fairly advanced-level outfits that are much more about the look of the unit than the looks of the unit; you saw those idols dance probably not quite at the same level as a Philosophy no Dance or Osaka Shunkashuto, but still much better than the vast majority of their contemporaries; and just to speak to the MV, it tells a little visual story and is professionally produced but otherwise isn’t out here trying win awards — it’s a vehicle to deliver the product, which is the song and the people performing it, and nothing more.
And what did you hear? This is where we go from “idol thing good” and into “actually let’s think about this for a minute.” I’ve noted a few times in the recent past that idol being a thing unto itself that supersedes the what being performed means both that the music an idol performs can be literally anything and that the music an idol performs can and will run through trends completely divorced from idol itself. And right now we seem to be in a trend that wants a lot more hip-hop influence, with rapped vocals more prominent among non-hip hop acts and more liberal employment of rap-friendly beats in all manner of songs that otherwise have nothing to do with hip-hop. We are of course still in the post-BiS age, so punk rock and metal and even safe-ass ol’ idorock aren’t just things, but prominent things, but note the emergence in the past year of acts old (WAGAMAMA RAKIA) and new (INUWASI) that took the successful loudol formula and smashed the more emergent youth-culture-oriented genre elements into it. Call it Heat n Beats, if you will. And here you have NEO JAPONISM doing it not just well, but doing it as well as anybody and (yes, I’m a mark, shut up) probably accomplishing it more successfully than all but a handful of contemporaries could hope to pull off.
Thus goes this weekend’s idle thought. Yes of course I’m praising a particularly personal favorite group for Being A Thing. You’re free to disagree! But the album is amazing and you should be listening to it, and when you do you’re free to find yourself agreeing with me with vigor and gusto.
And because I didn’t Weekender them for the first time in a while, here’s the obligatory live clip: