“Say, have you heard of ‘Oshi’?”
This is the opening line of 2019 NHK dorama Dakara Watashi wa Oshimashita (English Title: “My Favorite Member”), in which a 30-year-old office worker stumbles across a performance by underground idols and is slowly and inexorably pulled down the rabbit hole to chika idol wotadom. This entirely relatable synopsis was enough to garner the show a high priority on My Dramalist as soon as Papermaiden made me aware of its existence. And as much as I wanted to binge all eight 30-minute episodes as soon the fansubs were complete, I disciplined myself and slowly devoured the show over the course of a few days.
It was a rewarding effort. The dorama shines as an incredibly instructive, rewarding and, in the end, empathetic spotlight on the world of underground idol. In delivering this detailed insight, the show adopts a mostly naturalistic tone and doesn’t sugarcoat or romanticize the struggles of the idols or wota. Although the story unfolds through a melodramatic plot device, both the idols and their fans are portrayed as real, imperfect people trying to build a better versions of themselves.
If nothing else, the show answers the question I saw posed on Twitter the other day: “Is the ‘w’ in ‘wota’ silent?” Continue reading
Idol supergroup APOKALIPPPS have been active for a while now, but unfortunately a bit out of reach for us Western fans. The group is still very much an indie thing and their previous singles haven’t been terribly assessable due to their limited distribution, so supporting the group has mostly consisted of cheering the group on from afar…
Well, cheer up peeps, because the APOKALIPPPS is finally reaching worldwide!
The wonder group has self-released an EP, “APOKALIPPPS ONGEN”, and it’s also seeing a digital release via the major streaming networks, so you have no excuse to sleep on it! I eagerly decided to give a listen…
Sitting down to a first listen of the fifth BiSH album, CARROTS and STiCKS, the big question is: Which BiSH will predominate? The brazen punks who got kicked out of Tokyo Idol Festival? The potential game changers who released a two-minute thrash punk single as their major label debut? Or the commercial idols who promote cell phones and sing anime theme songs?
We know the punk is still in BiSH as demonstrated every time they let Ling Ling center and she does the emotional equivalent of kicking your teeth down your throat. At the same time, it’s hard to give punk cred to a group that’s signing exclusive deals with Apple to restrict the digital distribution of their own music. I certainly won’t begrudge a person for making a living off their art, especially in the crap ass world of Japanese entertainment where the vast majority of power and profits are concentrated in the hands a few management moguls who are far less benevolent than BiSH’s boss-who-we-love-to-hate, Junnoske Watanabe. And it’s not like those of us who have climbed aboard the BiSH train can cry about genre, aesthetic or ideological purity anyway. Watanabe has never hidden the fact that he is punk in the same way that Malcolm McLaren was punk: thumbing the nose of a conservative society is good fun and all, but only if you can make a buck (pound or yen) doing it.
Ever since it was announced that Aqbi superstar Kai was joining the TRASH-UP!! roster, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what she’d be doing as a solo artist. Kai of course, is no stranger to TRASH-UP!!, having been part of the oddball folk song trio Engawa, (Most often referred to in these parts as “The weird Beni/Kai thing”) and considering the close ties between my favorite idol label and Aqbi, (Including Yoneko and Mizuho connections!) it made perfect sense as career transition…
Anyway, there’s been a bit of an anxious delay on my part because I tried to order “Moonlight Tokyo” from Amazon Japan and it was momentarily listed with a possibly two month shipping delay. (!) I don’t know if I’m correct in my theory, but I’d like to believe that’s because it was a surprisingly bigger seller than anticipated, so that’s what I’m running with. It pleases me to share that the digital version is finally online!! streaming with Spotify and Apple Music, and the latter platform is selling it via iTunes as well. For lossless purists, I keep checking on OTOTOY but no luck just yet, but don’t assume it won’t happen eventually.
So anyway, how is Kai’s solo debut? Continue reading
NECRONOMIDOL release their highly anticipated five-song EP, scions of the blasted heath, this Wednesday, June 16. It is their first studio recording since the graduation of beloved and iconic idols Hina and Sari, and the addition of new members back in January.
This album cover is what they call a “conversation starter”.
Being the first studio offering by the new line-up of Kunogi, Michelle, Rei-chan, Okaki, Himari and her omniscient hair makes this EP one of the most eagerly awaited releases of the year. Team Homicidols were lucky enough to be blessed with a preview copy (all it cost was my soul but I wasn’t using it much anyway). It’s a diverse set of tracks by fan-favorite songwriters exploring themes of trauma, entropy and conquest alongside the omnipresent influence of Lovecraftian terror. Here’s a sneak peak:
It was about time BABYMETAL paid homage to David Bowie. I mean, while Bowie crushed just about every pop genre on the planet except Heavy Metal, he was largely responsible for the early creation of Glam Rock.
- Without Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, we have no KISS.
- Without KISS to influence a young Yoshiki, we have no X Japan.
- With no X Japan, we have no BABYMETAL.
So when BABYMETAL’s new single, “Elevator Girl”, opens by directly channeling the piano riff from Bowie’s early 80s classic, “Modern Love”, the circle of life seems, in some ways, complete. In truth, the direct influence on this single is probably less Bowie’s soul and groove-flavored New Wave, and more the J-Pop fusion of acid jazz, funk and techno that coalesced around the same time period into the broad City Pop genre. City Pop has seen a lot of attention lately with interest from Vaporwave aesthetes, YouTube channels streaming curated City Pop feeds 24-7, and it’s own brief “I didn’t know [insert name here] put out a City Pop album” meme.
City Pop is also heavily influencing a number of current groups in the alternative idol world including early album-of-the-year contenders Atarashii Gakkou No Leaders, GuGu-LuLu and the fledgling OWA Yoru.
(This is a lot of words so far just to talk about a three-minute song. What we are seeing here is an unfortunate side effect when a group as musically fascinating as BABYMETAL only releases three pieces of new material in a twelve-month span. In the absence of an “Elevator Girl” MV to talk about, let’s continue the over-analysis:) Continue reading
Zetsu is an 18-track epic from two of the greatest warriors in chika idol. Since forming in 2014, Montero and Kai of Zekkyosuru 60 Do, aka Screaming Sixties, have driven enough miles to circumnavigate the globe twice while performing approximately 300 gigs a year. And that isn’t hyperbole.
The next time you find yourself in Japan you can be certain that, somewhere, Screaming Sixties are performing a show and you need to get to whatever city they’re playing in because that’s why they made Shinkansen.
Before I get into the review itself, I want to make sure I don’t bury the lede: This is an essential album that you need to purchase immediately!
If you have any thoughts of picking up Zetsu (and you should), you need to open the website of your Japanese music retailer of choice and order it today. Most sites are starting to flag this CD as back-ordered and, if history repeats itself, once the first pressing of this CD is sold old, the only place you will be able to find it is at a Zekkyo60 live. Also note: most retail sites won’t recognize “Screaming Sixties” as the group name so you will need to search on Zekkyosuru 60 Do or 絶叫する60度 . Continue reading
Whoops! This article came a bit late. Well, Maniac took the wheel for me last time Gokigen Teikoku released a music video, so really I have no excuse, let’s just watch it.
Since we, at Homicidols, believe it is always good to challenge your horizons, we put Papermaiden on the Gokigen Teikoku MV review this time.
Her impressions after the cut Continue reading
The Cyclone is a small black box theater in a Shibuya basement which, according to the posters it uses for wallpaper, has played host to gigs by just about everyone over the past 20 years, including Cthonic, Crossfaith, Abigail Williams and every chika idol unit you’ve ever cared about. This past Saturday, it also hosted Yukueshirezutsurezure’s Emergency One Man Live, the emergency being Futamaruya Shidare’s sudden exit from the group.
The Cyclone’s capacity is 300, which seems to have been determined not by some safety conscious fire marshal, but in response to a challenge to see how many people one could stuff into the space, shoulder-to-shoulder, wall-to-wall.
SAKA-SAMA have been something of a favorite with Team Homicidols since they first formed in 2016, but at the same time, they’ve remained a perplexing enigma of an idol unit. Constantly shifting membership rosters are always part of this territory, but this group seems especially prone to changing it’s line-up with each passing season, with only Kokone and Dr. Mahiru providing consistency as it’s founding members. And the music of SAKA-SAMA, primarily billed as “Low-Fi Dream Pop”, is in truth equally unpredictable, with a wide variety of unique genres and styles that run the gamut of shoegazey indie-pop to oddball quirky country songs and spoken word pieces, making it a rather difficult task to describe what exactly the group does. Mind you, this isn’t a complaint by any means, I’m just trying to clarify why writing about TRASH-UP!!’s in-house idol group is well… quite a challenge.
So after a couple of years of compilation tracks, EPs, singles, and one live recording, SAKA-SAMA have finally released an actual, honest-to-goodness full length album, titled, appropriately enough, “It’s a SAKA-SAMA World’! I’ve been excitedly anticipating this release since the moment it was announced, and I eagerly snatched it from OTOTOY right away. I came to realize quickly that this is an album that, just like anything related to SAKA-SAMA, has certain unique traits that can’t be summed up after a breezy listening session. This is what we call a “grower”, or a “slow-burn”, wherein one must dig in deeply to truly reap the rewards of the listening experience, and develop an opinion based on multiple takes instead of relying on easy gratification.