It happened as it usually happens; I was hating all of the decade lists as it is such a silly and arbitrary measurement of things that don't obey those kind of lines. Then, amidst all that, I thought of a list. Maybe some people didn't spend the decade in Japan. So for you:
Great Japanese Songs You Might Have Missed This Decade!!!!!!!
In no real order.
1. Chisa no Koi no Uta- Mongol 800 (2001)
This is the one song that couldn't be left of the list. It is undebatable. If you lived in Japan you heard this song. No one doesn't know this song, written by three 19 year olds and promoted with no video and little advertising. Why did it explode all over Japan in the 2001? Because it is insanely good.
2. Everything- Misia (2002)
Misia came a different route than Mongol 800. She is a complete product of the Japanese studio system. That being said, her talent is very real. If you like over the top sappy R and B like I do, this is right in your strike zone.
3. Joint- Rip Slyme (2003)
Japan plays host to a plethora of rap pretender parasites. Amidst the infection lay some healthy tissue. Witness Rip Slyme. These guys are good because they cut their own path rather than ape MTV videos with hot cars and big coats. They make good music. I used to DJ this just so see if people could dance to it. Answer? Mixed. Go on and make me laugh you silly bastards.
4. The Great Amateurism- Rhymester (2003)
Speaking of Japanese hip-hop, Rhymester had a 2-3 year period in which they couldn't stop making great songs. This is one of the lesser known ones. It never really got a foothold. I always wanted to use it when I was DJing but I couldn't find the vinyl anywhere. Nevertheless it is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of all time. Pretty bad-ass in my opinion. Look for Rhymester to pop up on here again.
5. Haruka Kanata- Asian Kung-Fu Generation (2002)
This song gained some traction amongst anime fan in the West as it was used a one of the theme songs for Naruto. As I don't watch cartoon I missed out on that, but it is a song that won't really leave you. I included a video with the translation because, for my anyway, it is a strangely hard to understand song even though it is somewhat straight forward.
6. Prism- M-Flo (2001)
In my mind M-Flo is one of the underreported music stories of the decade. A Korean-Japanee guy leaves divinity school in America and forms a group with his friends from international school. This is what happens. M-Flo is still going strong without Lisa, but they don't really do it for me the way their first two albums did. It is worth noting that Lisa has one of the hottest voices ever.
7. Girigiri GanGanGan- The Cromagnons (2007)
Hiroto has been tearing apart the music scene since the mid '80s, first in The Blue Hearts then in The High-Lows. He got it together again with The Cromagnons who released one of my favorite songs of all time in 2007. As usual the lyrics are superb.
8. Tandem- Halcali (2003)
This is probably what people expect out of Japanese music; a little interesting, a dash of underage sexuality and a heaping teaspoon of what the fuck. Needless to say I was in love from the first moment. I turned to Ed and said, "We will probably find out they are in junior high." And we did. Objectively, if I can be, it is a good little song. Weird, yes. But good. It is also my alarm clock tone.
9. Super Butter Dog/Rhymester - This Y'all That Y'all (2002)
Rhymester pops up again for this collaboration with Super Butter Dog. This was from an album of Rhymester collaborations with other groups that I wore out listening too. I believe Super Butter Dog was the dude from Kinki Kids. Either way, they lay it down on this track. I particularly enjoy them rhyming the days of the week.
10. Lifetime Respect- Miki Douzan (2001)
Here it is. The grandaddy of all of them. An insult to call a one hit wonder. No one doesn't know this song. No one knows what happened to this guy. Everyone plays this at their wedding. No one can sing this at karaoke unless they crawled out of the deepest Osaka ghetto. Figuring out the lyrics to this song was one of my most challenging forays into the Japanese language. Result? I now say ええかげん。 Insanely great track about taking care of your spouse when they are senile and watching a movie and then doing it. Also the only love song I know that says "I don't know about getting married, but I sure am gonna get you pregnant." Word. A reggae MC named after a dead pro-wrestler.
11. Sono Nukumori ni Ryu ga Aru- Sambomaster (2003)
Back when I used to have Japanese MTV this song came on. I have never looked back. I love Sambomaster dearly. They have never stopped being good, but this song is still it for me. These guys look like they work in a VCR repair shop and then play music that kick everyone elses's ass completely. I saw them live for free on accident and this is just what they sounded like. Their lyrics are also insane. Insanely good. I have asked Japanese people what they are talking about and not many get it. I won't delve all the way in but the chorus to this song goes, "Me who has lost everything. You who has forgiven everything. The thing that I clutch in my hand now is the scary path called warmth. Tears fall. Love is born. Love is born. The rains of May begin."
12. Scary- The Mad Capsule Markets (2004)
As I have said before, I band that by all accounts I shouldn't like, but they make good songs sometimes. If you have ever seem Takanori Gomi fight, you have probably heard this song.
13. Wadatsumi no Ki- Chitose Hajime (2002)
When some yells out "Amami Oshima Represent!" Who answers? Hajime Chitose does. This song is so odd. No one else sings like her. This will be in your head for a while. If you are wondering what the deal is, she sings in "Shima Uta" style. Something you hear a lot in Okinawan music and many of the southern islands. She was a celebrated folksinger back on Amami.
14. Look Back Again- Yaida Hitomi (2001)
A very Japanese pop song that was stuck in my head for about two years. It wouldn 't be a stretch to call Yaida Hitomi "my type." It doesn't hurt that she has a literature degree from Kansai Daigaku. She wa classmates with my college football teamate and he said no one talked to her because she wasn't cute. Japanese guy fails again.
That's the list for now. I will come back to it as the things I forgot resurface. I will also add some honorable and dishonorable mentions. The "S" on this keyboard is broken. Forgiveness please.