J-pop talk: Ieiri Leo [家入レオ]

So, it’s been forever since I updated this blog. I have several ideas for new posts, especially I wish to make a series of “things foreigners wished more Japanese people knew”, where I’ll write about some annoying stereotypes foreigners experience in Japan – but also overall some misconceptions many Japanese people have about certain things in the international world.

Today, I just felt like sharing some music, since I realized that I’ve not, yet introduced one of my newer favorite artists – Ieiri Leo.

I feel in love with this girl a few months back, when I was looking for new music. I often look for new music and when I listen to new artists they often feel bland. I was actually thinking how I missed being completely captured by a voice or a song, when I pressed play on one of Ieiri Leo’s songs – Message. I had only listened 20 seconds when I knew that she was the girl I was looking for. Especially after YUI went hiatus and later dropped her solo career, I’ve mostly only been all about Abe Mao – who I have earlier introduced here. Ieiri Leo has the type of voice and songs I love the most – a little similar to YUI and Abe Mao. She has also been trained at the same school as YUI – which might explain the slight similarities in style.

Wonderful pop songs, which are not too cheesy or repetitive. I sometimes like cheesy pop songs to dance around to, when that’s the case I listen to AKB48 or other idols.

When I just want to listen to music, which I feel reach me on another level, I listen to Abe Mao, YUI, Nishino Kana and now Ieiri Leo.

Ieiri Leo is a young girl, born in 1994 and is now 19 years old. Like pretty much all my favorite artists and idols – (and people) she is born in the island of Kyuushu (Fukuouka prefecture). Apparently I’m drawn to Kyuushu people. YUI (Fukuouka), Abe Mao (Oita), Kashiwagi Yuki (Kagoshima) and now Ieiri Leo. Even my husband is from Kyuushu.

She debuted in 2012 with the song: Sabrina.

Next she released “Shine”, which is one of her most famous songs.

Which has nice lyrics that reminds people that you will fall down many times in life, but as long as we keep on shinning, we can climb even the “tallest walls”

By international standards, Ieiri doesn’t have a perfect voice, but in Japanese standards, it’s good. I don’t really seek the perfect, beautiful voices – that would also make it hard for me to love Japanese music in general. I actually find a lot of perfect voice to be a little boring, wheres people like Ieiri, Abe Mao and YUI has a lot of personality in their voices. A uniqueness, which I love.
After hearing Ieiri’s songs and loving them all, I hurried to buy her album and singles while there still were limited editions left to start my new collection. That’s the same I did with Abe Mao some time after her debut, which is why I own all limited edition CDs she’s made. Same reason why I have the first indies singles by AKB48, which at that time were cheap and only had very few copies – since I used to be a fan.

Ever since her debut, Ieiri has managed get the attention of many in the music world and she has won several awards, including best new artist.
All her singles have been in the top 10 of the Oricon charts.
The newest single by Ieiri, released last month, is “Taiyou no Megami” (Goddess of the sun) Got 7th on the charts and it’s another beautiful song.

Her next single will be released in the end of January.

With this, I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

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J-Pop talk: Abe Mao.

So today I’ll make an small introduction to one of my favorite Japanese music artists.

I have two favourite singers; one is YUI, who I’ve been a fan of since the release of her single “Feel my soul” back in 2005. The other one is a singer called Abe Mao, compared to YUI she is rather unknown, which is why I thought I would mention her.

Abe Mao is 21 years old, born in Oita prefecture and debuted in 2009 with her album called free.

I discovered Abe Mao while looking around on youtube, where I came across her debut song free, which was not long after the release of the album of the same name.

I liked her music style, which showed some similarities to YUI. I liked her voice, her energy and overall presence.  Her voice wasn’t flawless, neither is it today, but her voice is filled with personality, a charm that lures you in and a voice that isn’t just one among a million.

Like with YUI, Abe Mao posses a kind of uniqueness that can draw an audience. They both also write their own lyrics, play the guitar and piano as well.

After listening to “free”, I looked up some of her other songs, which was part of the debut album, and I was quickly hooked. On a whim I decided to buy her album and even managed to get my hands on the almost sold out limited edition. Shortly after her first single was released, titled “Tsutaetai Koto / I wanna see you” and from there I started to anticipate all her new releases, which I of course also pre-ordered to keep my newly found and growing Abe Mao CD collection in tact.

What I also love about Abe Mao is how she doesn’t try to look or act perfect. She doesn’t try to be a polished idol. She has a nice humour, which she doesn’t mind turning against herself. I mean, how many singer would write a song called  ストーカーの唄~3丁目、貴方の家~ (The Stalker Song ~3rd block, your house~). Which has lyrics like these:

”You little sister, she’s cute. She’s called Moe-chan, right?

”The 3rd block, the stakeout of love”

”Don’t be scared. I’m just looking.”

”I’m just loving you. Please notice”

Abe Mao has a great array of both; fast paced, rock-ish songs, amazingly beautiful ballads, acoustic-like songs, fun, upbeat pop songs and many other styles that are hard to put in categories. Especially because Abe Mao possesses great diversity when it comes to her music and she never becomes neither boring nor ordinary.

Of course the biggest highlight for me occurred this summer when I was able to see Abe Mao live in Tokyo. She has an amazing stage presence and energy and while seeing her perform you have no doubt that she’s doing something she loves. Something I hope she can continue with for years to come, because she deserves it. She’s not just one in a million, she’s Abe Mao.

Last, I’ll finish of with her latest single, Soba ni Ite (Full version), which is a song I really love. It’s a beautiful ballad, both in words and overall feel and really displays Abe Mao’s talent and potential.