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I know I explained last time that real life in Japan isn’t all that mad, but music videos is one area that they really excel (?) at. If you’ve ever seen a really weird music video and thought “WTF did I just watch?”, it was probably a Japanese pop video. And before you accuse me of not understanding a different culture and being utterly culturally insensitive: I’m not – they’re just geuinely completely weird.
Here therefore, are 10 of the weirdest, for – your viewing pleasure / disappointment / shock (delete as appropriate).
Numa Numa: Remixed by a Japanese dude in drag
Heh. Remember that awesome Numa Numa song? Sorry to have reminded you then. After a particularly viral interpretation of the words in Japanese, it hit mainstream pop. Maeken, a popular drag comedian at the time, did this amazing cover as a schoolgirl with a crush on their teacher. If you can’t tell who the dude is (and I totally understand – the dancing gyaru look equally like drag queens), it’s the one at the front, wearing a blue jumper.
Ah what the hell – here’s the original Numa Numa song, as interpreted in Japanese to be cats playing a drinking game. Obviously.
AKB48 – Aitakatta
I’ve picked this because it’s the largest pop group in Japan and one of the highest grossing pop acts in the world: $200 million in sales in 2011 alone (compare this to Justin Bieber at around $100 million in 2010 and you get an idea of how popular they are). Consisting of 64 girls from early teens to mid–20s, the group was originally formed from around 8,000 hopeful applicants, whittled down to 24, and has been growing ever since (replacing members as they “graduate”).
PonPonPon by Kyari Pamyu Pamyu? Well that makes sense. A more recent title that seem to be deliberately playing on our love of weirdness. The title may seem weird enough, but wait until you see the actual video. As one YouTuber commenter puts it:
“this is what you see if you could take the entire country of Japan and grind it into a fine powder, and snort it all in one go.”
Spot on, I can confirm. A few highlights:
- fat blokes in pink dress with mesh faces
- wireframe turtle in the window; actually, loads of weird crap in the window
- oversized green plastic ducks dancing a konga
- Kraft macaroni and cheese product placement
- acid trip visuals
Shame the song is so horrendously un-catchy.
You know what, every one of this girls videos is just freaky, and not in a good Lady GaGa kind of way.
If you’re only going to watch one (why did I put this last then!?), make it this one – it’s actually kind of catchy. Get some “chewing love” everyone.
You know you’re going to watch that again, right? It’s ok, go ahead – I’ll be right here when you get back.
Nodame’s Fart Exercises
Ok, not pop, but still a music video for kids. Words fail me though – I give up. Here’s my translation of the first few lines:
Let’s make a good one, let’s make a good sounding one
Do-re-mi-fa pu pu pu; Waaa
The big ones, the small ones,
Whatever – they’re all the same
Put your hands on your hip, come on let’s go!
Hey, hey, puuuuuu~
I’ll leave it there, shall I?
Sailor Fuku o Nugasanaide
This one is from 1985, and it’s the lyrics that make this song beyond ridiculous. The words are as follows: “don’t make me take my off my (sailor) school uniform. It’s not time yet. You’ll just have to wait”. Yup, totally serious – you can read the full English version here.
DJ OZMA – Drinkin’ Boys
A dance party anthem by 2006 star DJ Ozma. There’s no frontal exposure in the video, but it’s still very much a not-safe-for-work.
Dir en Grey – Obscure
Dir en Grey are a 90s visual-kei rock band, which basically means gothy metal trash with an emphasis on the presentation elements (read: lots of makeup). Unlike most of the videos here, this is so far removed from cute; and very much NSFW. I don’t blame you if you skip over this one, it may give you nightmares.
Took me a while to read the title of this one, but indeed this is an ode to vegetables. I love the fact that they went to trouble of recreating a supermarket shelf in 2/3rd size to make the kids look bigger. It looks like this might have been released only as a mobile ringtone, so if you absolutely must have this song, use a YouTube to MP3 converter to grab it.
Hinoi Team – Night of Fire
World, meet the craze known as Para Para, a catchy mix of happy hardcore and trance set to talentless girls who dance with their hands alone, sometimes looking disturbingly like an air hostess giving safety instruction. A few years ago, you could still see high school drop outs standing in front of train stations practising this (the large glass fronts make for great mirrors apparently), so definately something to look out for if you’re ever over there. Popular because anyone can do it; have a go!
PS: I’m probably revealing a bit too much about my shockingly horrendous musical tastes here, but if you find yourself wanting more of this ear busting power pop then go look up “buchiage trance” and “parapara paradise” ;) You’ll also find a lot of these ParaPara songs popping up in the Dance Dance Revolution series.
That’s it – my eyes are burning, my ears are bleeding, and I needn’t tell you you about the tons of other weird crap that didn’t make it onto this list because my editor would have shot me, but I still had to watch. I hope you’re amused, because I’m scarred for life. Now it’s your turn: I challenge you to find a weirder Japanese music video that I haven’t seen. If you do, you win my eternal admiration.