With the digital age comes music going global — or so they say. But, yes, that does call for more collaborations that span over countries, and over different languages, too . . . just not in this case. In this case they just stuck to one language (plus maybe some thrown-in English), because it’s easier that way. Still, this calls for future international collabs to come . . . maybe?
Now in case you weren’t aware, prior to all these collaborations, I haven’t really ever listened to any J-pop (I suppose Show Luo‘s “Dante” counts, but you know how I got around to hearing that), unless if you count when BABYMETAL got really popular on YouTube (and they’re technically “kawaii metal” so it doesn’t really count). Why is my ignorance relevant? Well, you’ll see.
1. Jolin Tsai – I’m Not Yours feat. Namie Amuro
The Queen started it all when she got Namie Amuro to sing with her in her own composition, “I’m Not Yours”. If I’m being honest here, the first time I heard it, I felt that it was rather “ehhhh”, but the music video was so amazing that I quickly got into it. Jolin is a big promoter of feminism here, which both the song and music video clearly demonstrated, but note that it’s NOT in that harsh, overdone way.
Unfortunately, the English lyrics didn’t really support that.
Let me just emphasize the [poorly written] English lyrics here:
Mirror mirror on the wall
Boys are stupid Let them fall
We’ll still shine like disco ball
I felt like Jolin’s composition was amazing, but what made it more cringe-worthy, was, well, the English — and I later found out that the lyrics were initially just in Mandarin, but Namie Amuro requested for more English, and more English was what we got. However, that was actually the problem here — it was mostly Namie’s English that had the pretty bad pronunciation and everything. At least the few Mandarin lines Namie DID sing sounded really good.
I would probably spam the entire post with GIFs from just this one music video (#notaddicted), but I really recommend that you go and watch it, even with all that not-so-great English.
In the end, Namie Amuro still impressed me enough that I went and searched her up on YouTube . . . only for me to find out that A LOT of songs are in incomprehensible English. I KNOW. But, oh well.
Music Video? 91%
2. Ayumi Hamasaki – The GIFT feat. JJ Lin
Looking at the video thumbnail, I sort of wanted to scream. In what, I honestly don’t know.
Anyhow I think this was a wedding ballad (?); at the very least, the way the song was composed and the music video was filmed supported that. Speaking of which . . . the song was pretty slow. Normally I do quite like listening to ballads, even if they can get boring, especially when it can showcase one’s powerful voice. Yet in this case, the ballad itself was rather bland . . . and, what’s more . . . Ayumi Hamasaki’s voice sounded, well, pretty weak. If someone a more unique and powerful voice sang this, this definitely would’ve sounded much better.
As for JJ’s part . . . I’m actually not sure about how he’s related to the song, really. The whole time I was impatiently waiting for him to just open up and sing, even though I wasn’t all that impressed by this ballad anyway . . . but he just sat and played the piano the whole time (and kissed Ayumi’s forehead in the end but WHATEVER). So I guess his job was to just make an appearance in the music video (to attract more views lol), which succeeded.
At the very least the piano instrumentals were cool (so maybe he did that?).
The music video, too, was fairly standard. To me, the whole point was that JJ Lin was in the music video, JJ Lin was in the music video, and JJ Lin was in the music video.
Initially I was disappointed that JJ didn’t sing, but by the end of it all I was just thinking that Ayumi Hamasaki was lucky that JJ was nice enough to even make an appearance in the MV. So imagine my shock and surprise when, of all people, MY MOM told me that this 浜崎步 was the EMPRESS of J-pop and everything. I’m sorry but she didn’t really impress me.
Music Video? 79%
3. Ayumi Hamasaki – Sayonara feat. SpeXial
I thought that Jolin’s collab with Namie Amuro (a C-pop/J-pop crossover) was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, and was really surprised when JJ Lin got featured, too, so the fact that Ayumi Hamasaki decided to go and do ANOTHER collaboration sort of shocked me.
In this case, I’ve actually never heard anything from the boyband SpeXial, and despite their popularity, I just DON’T listen to boybands.
Let’s just say that, well, this was rather . . . er . . . strange.
I know that you never ever loved me like I still do
And I also know that I never ever should’ve believed what you promised me
How stupid I am . . .
The song I guess sounded okay, in which the composition was good but the singers’ voices were far too weak. From “The GIFT” I already knew that Ayumi’s wasn’t going to be really powerful or anything, but SpeXial’s voice was, well, even weaker. Interestingly, while SpeXial is a boyband (with a ton of members because that’s how everything works nowadays), it sounded like only one person was singing (rather weakly). From the music video, they gave me this sort of “your typical K-pop boyband who all sing in Mandarin” sort of feel. I guess I will applaud them (or the one person who was singing if that was the case?) for having good pronunciation in Japanese, though I don’t really know the language.
Speaking of the music video, it . . .was just plain weird. At one point I wanted to start giggling, while at other points my reaction to everything was basically “wut” .
Most importantly, you DO NOT end a song with “whatever”.
So, yeah. Not that good of an impression of either Ayumi Hamasaki or SpeXial. Whatever.
Music Video? 67%
Was there more than just these three? If so, please comment below.