New Japanese Vibes (126) – DAOKO x 米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi 打上花火 ‘Uchiage Hanabi’

It’s not often that simply seeing the names of two artists sat by each other instantly grabs my attention. The chemistry between DAOKOand米津玄師Yonezu Kenshi vividly resonates in their blissful new track打上花火 ‘Uchiage Hanabi’ (‘Rocket Firework’), and provides the perfect musical showstopper for the upcoming anime film 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか?横から見るか?Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara miruka? Yoko kara miruka?. After a poignant piano riff introduces the song, a galaxy of anthemic richness shines especially in the chorus, where symphonic strings and pounding drums echo towards the horizon, coupled with DAOKO’s honey-toned melodies and Yonezu’s vocal power.

Other Info

  • Uchiage Hanabi’ will be released on August 16th.
  • The film Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara miruka? Yoko kara miruka? will be released in Japanese cinemas on August 18th.
  • Find out more about DAOKO. 
  • Find out more about Yonezu Kenshi.

© Isaku Takahashi


New Japanese Vibes (103) – 米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi ‘orion’

米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi is one that keeps growing from strength to strength. The Tokushima-born singer-songwriter’s new track ‘orion’ glorifies in a charming and anthemic pop ambience that is richly unique and fit for the mainstream in equal measure. His radiant vocals resonate a youthful energy that soars above the song’s stratosphere, while luminous synth strings, sonorous harmonies, rapturous handclaps and pounding drums summon a life-affirming spirit and sense of inspiration that spills into my soul.

Other Info

  • Yonezu Kenshi’s new single orion will be released on February 15th.
  • ‘orion’ is the ending theme song for the anime 3月のライオン Sangatsu no Lion.
  • Find out more about Yonezu Kenshi in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi / ハチ Hachi

米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi is a musician of today. Showing a keen interest for the latest music technology, the Japanese singer-songwriter started off building a prolific career under the artist name ハチ Hachi, where he would make music through VOCALOID production software and upload it on Nico Nico Douga (*like a Japanese Youtube). Few years later, he would come out of his shell and delight listeners with his friendly vocal tone and pleasant J-Pop influenced productions.

マトリョシカ ‘Matryoshka’ was composed by Yonezu under the name Hachi. Its quirky alt-rock vibe with a motoric EDM propulsion forms the backdrop for the 初音ミク Hatsune Miku VOCALOID personality, singing a vocal melody with some exotic inflections. The occasional harmonic bending and an abstract and chaotic visual reel further enrich the narcotic, dizzy sonic experience.

アイネクライネ ‘Eine Kleine’ from his second album Yankee is a great example of the characteristically friendly musical personality of Yonezu. A vivid parallel of the feel-good nature of J-Pop talents like 上地遊助 Kamiji Yusuke or Japanese-Canadian band Monkey Majik, ‘Eine Kleine’ cocoons the listener and just sits on the audible palette with a gentle foot-tapping groove, simple harmonic progressions and melodies, and the sweet vocal tone of Yonezu.

By contrast, one can perhaps hear an Avicci-influenced dance propulsion and a Coldplay-esque emotional euphoria inアンビリーバーズ ‘Unbelievers’. Featuring in his latest album Bremen, this upbeat number has a seductive sheen inspired by a booming drumbeat, bursting harmonies, bright textures and an anthemic melody by Yonezu’s charming vocals tinged with a subtle vocoder-like filter.

Perhaps defying the strict formula of gaining success in the J-Pop sphere, Yonezu Kenshi stands out as a fine example of finding an individual musical identity while maintaining awareness for mainstream interest. Alongside the array of illustrations created by him to accompany his artistic palette, Yonezu’s creative identity is of personal significance.

Other Listening:

  • Flowerwall
  • Vivi
  • メトロノーム Metronome
  • ドーナツホール Donut Hole

© Isaku Takahashi