JPOP Review: New releases from Mika Nakashima, Crystal Kay

I know I’ve been updating a lot about KPOP lately, but when it comes to music, I haven’t forgotten JPOP. This time, the JPOP scene is starting to bloom once again with the comeback of two of the most talented divas in the biz: Crystal Kay and Mika Nakashima. With both having different styles and music genres, it will be very interesting how these two will battle it out in the charts.


I’m a KPOP addict but I have to say, the music sometimes sounds alike. The recent trend of massive use of autotunes just make releases hard to digest, and with the influx of rookies—it’s hard to tell one from the other. Flame me for comparing, but JPOP is much more diverse. There’s one type of music for everyone. And what’s great about it is that most of the artists are not into “concepts” or”trends” too much, except for some JPOP idols, that is. The age group of performers has a much wider range too. In Japan, age doesn’t really matter. You have famous icons such as Masaharu Fukuyama still dominating the charts, even 40-something “idols” SMAP are still active. I’m not saying KPOP does not have space for oldies, of course, veterans are still considered as the best, it’s just that you can see more of them in the sidelines such as variety, radio or other TV shows rather than music shows. But what I’m not really into is the candy pop in JPOP, like those in 50 girl-members in Hello Project (good grief!) and some JE songs. KPOP artists, however, are also great at being overall performers, and their stage/music shows are just amazing. Both have their good and bad sides, I guess. So before I dig my own grave deeper, let’s begin the review!

I’m a huge fan of Crystal Kay since the release of “Boyfriend.” Musically she’s more into RnB with a little dash of pop, a bit like Amerie and Mya. The limited edition version of “Best of Crystal Kay” includes a premium disc that features collaborations with Akanshi Jin (KAT-TUN), Yasutaka Nakata, KREVA, and a new song produced by Taku Takahashi(m-flo). Just a little background, Crystal Kay is a Japanese singer, started in 1999 – present. She was born and raised in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.Born to an African American father who was a bassist from new Jersey and a third-generation Korean (Japanese resident) mother who was also a professional singer.

Crystal Kay feat. BoA “Girlfriend”

GIRLFRIEND– A MUST LISTEN! I love it! It’s got a nice blend of RnB and pop, a very well-mixed combination of Crystal Kay and BoA. Their vocals sounded beyond amazing. It’s got nice flow and a beat that will make your foot bop up and down. Crystal’s voice is a bit soft (and at the same time has that quality of hitting high notes), whereas BoA’s voice is a bit sharper, but nice contrast overall. It’s all about girl power. LOL the song talks about being a girl friend. Like “What’s up girl friend! Snaps!” “There’s no one like you… you’re my best friend…” But I don’t think this is on CK’s best of album because this was released as a single.

Helpless Night feat. KAT-TUN’s Akanishi Jin

HELPLESS NIGHT– Finally it’s released! There’s been tons of rumors circulating around about this collabo! Though I must say, out of all the KAT-TUN members, I could never imagine anyone else doing a joint stage with Crystal than Jin! What a surprise from Johnny’s Entertainment! Usually when they do collaborations it’s within JE, it’s pretty rare to see a JE idol with an artist from another label. I wonder how they’ll appear in Music Station and such! Real newsmaker! I wonder what Kame feels about this! LOL just a backgrounder, Kame is a huge CK fan (squealing like a little boy when CK guested in Cartoon KAT-TUN a while back), plus there are rumors of rivalry between the two. ANYWAYS! Sorry I sidetracked! This song is a mid-tempo ballad that’s got an easy-to-follow beat. A bit melancholic and you can feel the emotions that the song wants to convey. “It’s just a helpless night… My heart melts when you’re gone.” huhuhu~ tears~ Jin’s voice: WOW. He added a sleek, sexy quality to the song. Far cry from his “giri giri” screaming pop-rock KAT-TUN songs, if you know what I mean. This time he’s very restrained and has much more control. And finally Jin gets to use his English lessons he got from LA! LOL

Offtopic: Jin has been gracing tabloids lately because pics of him partying everywhere has been released to see them, CLICK HERE. Psssh. Jin as a party animal? Like we didn’t know that already.

STEP BY STEP – If you’re familiar with Crystal Kay’s trademark style, you won’t be disappointed with this one. It’s a pop-dance song that has a very upbeat chorus. LOVE IT. It’s one of those songs that will energize you when you’re feeling a little bit slow during the day.

OVER AND OVER -At first listen, I wasn’t really into it. The song infused a little bit of trance/disco in the background. You get hypnotized when she says “Over and over” again and again LOL. Takes a little getting used to and it’s really not my thing, but it adds a bit of variety to her album. Lots of rave for her song called Private Dancers feat. Mummy-D & KREVA, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a preview of it anywhere. We’ll just have to wait ’til it comes out. Congrats to CK, her album’s been doing well in the Oricon Chart since its release!



CANDY GIRL– (radio rip) HOT DAYUUM. Mika never ceases to surprise her fans. Now she’s doing a jazzy theatrical song with Candy Girl. I wonder how she’s gonna perform this one! I can only imagine her singing and dancing to it wearing lots of feather, corsette and panty hose. LOL so not Mika. It has that “Chicago” feel, the movie starring Renee, Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta Jones.VERY VINTAGE. The song is a bit loud and with a lot of attitude, made even more jazzy with the saxophone/trumpet sounds and strong female backup singers, mixed with Mika’s deep, sultry voice. You have to listen to it to know what I mean. Someone at the forums said Candy Girl sounds a little KPOP, hmmm… Now that I think about it, it’s the kind of song that Brown Eyed Girls will sing. If you like Moody Night and Candy Man you’ll definitely like this song. Overall, this song sets the tone of her whole album, I guess. I can’t wait for the whole thing to drop soon.
source: jpm,


P.S. Offtopic again. I’ve been feeling a little down since the whole Jaebeom issue that’s why I tried to distract myself by getting updated with new stuff. It’s difficult to write about KPOP news when you see some VERY harsh netizen comments. Sigh. It’s really hard to stay still when everything’s left hanging. Anyways, life must go on! You should really try to listen to Mika and CK. There’s nothing like good music to lift up your spirits!


5 Responses

  1. I agree that kpop is turning stale. It’s like every girl group has to fit some genre, cutesy, hip hop, candy funky, etc. Guy groups also have to fit certain images and everything feels controlled by their company. I think artists in jpop have a little more creative freedom. Still love kpop though but I doubt that some songs I’m listening to now will still be on my itouch in a year.

  2. Thanks for posting news on two of my favorite Japanese artists! I’m loving Crystal Kay’s Best of CK album. I’m surprised it’s doing so well on the oricon charts considering how expensive the album is–I still bought it, but yikes!
    If you’re a fan of Nakashima, then you’ll probably like Superfly as well. Her voice has that same rich quality Mika is known for.

    As for Kpop–I’m all kpopped out. The whole autotone fascination and influx of rookie girl groups is just too much for me! Hopefully by the end of the year, all the less popular groups will be weeded out and things will return to normal.

  3. ck reminds me of tasha, tiger jk’s wife…which leads my random thoughts to his latest mv release congratulations. it’s a feel good song/mv you should check it out. more randomness…watch take care of the young lady kdrama, it’s cliched bt funny plus the clothes!!! i guess it’s my weird way of trying to cheer you up?!

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