One of the things I love to observe the most in J-Pop fans is how badly they’re attached to certain artists that may even not be their all-time favorites, but still provoke more excitement than any other when something new is coming out, and usually these artists are who I consider J-Pop rookies.
There’s something about an artist that’s still blooming that brings out a certain motherly love in his/her fans, and this is even true to an artist that’s re-debuting, as in the cases of BENI and Maki Goto. I pretty much fall for the musician even more when I see they’re almost completely underrated despite releasing music that’s just as good as that of (and most of the time, even better than) current chart-topping artists, and it evokes a passionate feeling in me, a desire to help them out however I can, always support them by purchasing their music whenever it’s available. This is exactly what I felt as I began listening to Maki in her SWEET BLACK days, how she was getting so many opportunities from rhythm zone, (like writing her own songs, being the voice behind an amazing project that portrayed the modern Japanese woman beautifully and being able to do what she loved) but wasn’t able to show it off as much as she could have because of limitations that got in the way and that consequently brought her to avex trax, where she had to compete with other label-mates budgets. She did manage to release some fantastic material in great media that other artists don’t have access to (like her apparent replacement of singles for mini-albums), and though she is currently on hiatus, I know that by the time she comes back she will be greater than ever and will show us yet another side of the mature Gocchin we know and love! I apologize if sometimes Plastic Candy gets a bit too saturated with Maki Goto-related content, but I really feel so much love for her and her music and I want to help promote her marvelous work as much as possible!
I think it’s human for us to look up to people who have been in rough situations (for varying periods of time) and were able to get over everything and emerge better than they have ever been, like BENI and ICONIQ, who, just like Maki, were underrated within the confinements of their own record labels and found different ways of turning their situations around. BENI fixed hers by transferring to Universal, where she went from diamond in the rough to a sophisticated, polished jewel who is currently one of Japan’s greatest bets! Her latest studio album, COVERS, has been an enormous success (I think it was just last month that it was #1 on the ORICON charts despite its release having been 3 months ago) and some days ago she was on Music Station promoting it, which is an enormous step for her! Sitting beside Kyary Pamyupamyu and the boys of Kanjani8 on the show, I’m pretty sure this album and this time in general have provided her with some huge milestones, milestones she wouldn’t be able to overcome if she had remained with avex, a record label that was unable to bring her to her fullest potential, and I’m so proud of how far she’s come! She never fails to impress me with everything she does, and she seems to be on fire! I have a feeling that the next album may be a compilation of her greatest hits under Universal (she’s released 5 studio albums with them already, after all!), so hopefully she’s getting a very neat release now that she’s proven she’s a force to be a reckoned with.
ICONIQ, on the other hand, decided to leave her residing country, Korea, and kick-start her Japanese solo career under avex. I remember her exploding onto the scene as the the talented girl with the buzz cut who wanted to change herself and show us a vulnerable, truer side to her that she wasn’t able to demonstrate in the past. She has been quite successful so far, though keeping herself more on the low somehow (I think she’s the closest an avex artist will ever come to seeming indie). I haven’t been a fan of her latest releases, but I still whip out her Japanese debut album, Change Myself every once in a while since it’s just too precious and beautiful! Just like BENI, ICONIQ definitely went to a much better place in her career and grew into a successful avex number! She has currently released two singles this year, so a new album seems to be on the works!
And then we have JASMINE, a rookie that still remains a rookie due to the fact that so far, she has only released her debut album, GOLD, and some singles. She is yet to truly break out like the girls mentioned previous have done sometime in their careers but she is definitely on the right path! She is actually the rookie who inspired this post since she has recently announced the release of a brand new single, BEST PARTNER for next month and it looks like she’s adopting a completely new look as opposed to her signature street style! I’m very excited to listen to her new material and hopefully we’ll still be listening to a lot by her this year, considering it feels like it’s been ages since we got ONLY YOU! This girl is amazing, and I would recommend her music especially to the Hikki and BENI fans, since she’s very similar to them in style. Her material is of top quality and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed by this uber-talented rookie!
Now, speaking of Utada Hikaru (who is anything but a rookie), Hikki fans may rejoice now that she has announced that she is working on new music and it is most definitely going to be released sometime in the future! It is possible that it may be just a digital single and nothing more, meaning that it’s not because a new song is coming out that she is no longer on hiatus (after all, she did say that she may release songs sporadically during her hiatus if she feels like it), but I’m still extremely excited for the perfection that is still being conceived!
Writing a coriander song makes me a weirdo, but this World Coriander Congress is just… GENIUS!! Gotta love us Japanese folk.—
宇多田ヒカル (@utadahikaru) June 23, 2012
It sounds like it’ll be a perfectly silly song and I’ll have it on repeat for days!
Getting back on track, I think that the rookie card is definitely a very powerful thing to have as a record label. When a fan grows up with the artist, he/she shares an extremely powerful bond with the artist even if the artist isn’t even directly aware of the fan’s existence, and I think it’s a beautiful thing! I don’t feel as close a bond with artists such as Koda Kumi and most definitely Ayumi Hamasaki, since they’re bigger than life at this point in their careers (having remained so ever since I was first introduced to J-Pop), and have evolved from being rookies for the longest time now, but I feel this bond with Utada (who I have accompanied as a rookie in the American market, which even brought me to meet her in person!), Maki and BENI, since it’s been such a joy to follow them closely and watch them bloom even further as artists!
Which other rookie/re-debuting or even re-invented artists do you feel close to or admire greatly? I would love to know!