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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Kyary pamyu pamyu

So what’s Kyary Pamyu Pamyu? That’s the stage name of 18 year old Takemura Kirikiko, who is a Harajuku model and blogger who in 2011 also turned into a recording artist. Her first single PONPONPON was released in July 2011. She also managed to get the 16th place at last.fm’s “top 100 new discoveries” in “best of 2011”. She also have her own line of fake eyelashes. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is also known for 変顔 (Hengao) which means “weird face(s)”, which she enjoys making a lot. So when she’s not busy looking like this:

She often likes making faces like this:

She often takes pictures of these faces and uploads them to her blog or/and twitter. She started out as a fashion blogger and then managed to get a professional career modeling for Harajuku magazines like “zipper”. Her debut single and debut mini album (もしもし原宿/Moshi Moshi Harajuku) was produced and composed by Nakata Yasutaka, which is a member of the electro pop duo Capsule and also famous for producing music for artists such as Perfume, MEG and Suzuki Ami. It is also pretty evident that some of the electro pop sounds from these mentioned artists has been carried over to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music, which has the electro beats and the auto tune voice, but she also manages to keep something that makes her unique. Her music is cute, weird, catchy and gets stuck in your head. The fact that she’s not just a solo version of perfume is apparent in the actuality that I don’t like listening to perfume or such artists. So it surprised me how fast Kyary Pamyu Pamyu grew on me since I do not normally enjoy or find myself listening to electro pop. I decided to give her try after seeing updates concerning her newest single “Tsuke matsukeru” on a news page for Japanese media, I guess I was intrigued by her “weirdness”, but when I finally hit the “play” button for the Tsuke matsukeru music video I didn’t expect to like what I would hear.

Her voice was a bit like I predicted, very girlish, high-pitched and to be honest not that vocally talented. But, I still watched the full video and even decided to download her single – I was hooked. And that feeling certainly didn’t change when I got around to listening to her debut single PONPONPON, with it’s “ponpon way-way-way, ponpon way pon way ponpon” which is meant to get stuck in one’s heard like a virus. And this “virus” does also seem to spread outside of Japan, since more and more non-Japanese people (including myself) have found interest in this weird girl and when Japanese internet magazine Nikki Trendy Net did a interview with her they included this in the headline: 海外でも人気の原宿系カリスマモデル! (Harajuku charisma model who’s popular even popular overseas) The interview can be found here : [Nikki Trendy Net ] (in Japanese) which includes talks about her beginning to like lolita fashion in a young age, but when she entered elementary school she couldn’t dress like that anymore and dressed in regular clothes from GAP and Uniqlo instead.

Her songs hold neither any deeper meanings nor any serious feelings for that matter – they’re just light, cute and catchy. I’ve included two of her videos for those who feel like trying her out.

A good weekend to everybody.