Category Archives: J-pop

A Curtain Call for Monkey Majik

Monkey Majik - Curtain Call

Popular Japan-based four-piece rock band MONKEY MAJIK recently released their latest album, ‘curtain call’, on January 25. Their 13th full-length studio album explores brand new musical possibilities for the future of MONKEY MAJIK, with 14 songs covering a wide variety of music styles – offering a chance to experience a whole new side to this veteran band as they enter the 23rd year since their formation.

Monkey Majik

With their mix of Japanese and English lyrics and their splicing of rap and pop, this is an album that only MONKEY MAJIK could make. Look out for standout track ‘This Is The Night (MONKEY MAJIK × GAGLE)’, a collaboration with the hip-hop unit GAGLE that embodies MONKEY MAJIK’s borderless style. Meanwhile, the cover artwork expresses the album’s musical breadth, based on the concept of “infinite change”.

The four-piece hybrid rock band based in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, comprises Canadian brothers Maynard (vocals and guitar) and Blaise (vocals and guitar), and Japanese rhythm section TAX (drums) and DICK (bass).

The band released their debut single, fly, in 2006. Since then, they have created countless songs for commercials and theme songs for movies and TV shows, as well as collaborating with and composing songs for other artists. Following the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s Tohoku region, they were appointed Tourism and Goodwill Ambassadors of Tohoku, hosting the earthquake reconstruction support project, SEND Ai, the same year, and holding fundraising concerts and auctions as part of their continuing activities to aid rebuilding in Japan’s Tohoku region. In 2020, they celebrated the 20th anniversary and released the best-of album MONKEY MAJIK BEST -KACHO FUGETSU- in January 2021. They plan to hold a tour of Japan from February titled MONKEY MAJIK LIVE TOUR 2023 ~ THE HITS ~.

Marty’s Mega Big in Japan

Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman

Tokyo-based guitarist and onetime Megadeth member Marty Friedman has released a new version of his 2018 song ‘The Perfect World’ featuring guest vocals by +α/Alfakyun. The singer, who is famed for her extraordinarily versatile vocal technique and wide register, brings a new interpretation to Friedman’s hit song that will appeal to fans of the original and newcomers alike. 

Friedman commented, “There is no limit to +α/Alfakyun.’s voice, and she can do all sorts of things, so we were able to really change the atmosphere of the original.”

‘THE PERFECT WORLD (feat. Alfakyun.)’ music video

‘THE PERFECT WORLD (feat. Alfakyun.)’ is the only track with vocals to be included on Friedman’s otherwise fully instrumental album ‘TOKYO JUKEBOX 3’, which is released on October 21, 2020. The album is the third in Friedman’s series featuring guitar covers of recent Japanese hit songs, and it includes his cover of ‘Gurenge’, the opening theme to globally popular TV anime ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’. As with the other songs on the album, Friedman’s cover of ‘Gurenge’ showcases his uniquely characteristic guitar skills and his creative talent as not only a master musician but also a composer and producer. Friedman’s cover brings a Western twist while retaining the song’s distinctly Japanese flavor, and its video on YouTube has racked up hundreds of thousands of views around the world.

The striking cover photo for ‘TOKYO JUKEBOX 3’ shows Friedman dressed in a kimono, complete with colorful makeup, showcasing Friedman’s unique reinterpretation of Japanese culture while also giving fans a surprising and exciting new look to enjoy.

Having risen to fame as the lead guitarist of legendary heavy metal band Megadeth when it boasted sales of over 13 million albums worldwide in the 1990s, Friedman is now a household name in Japan, with credentials not only in the world of music but also in television, film, literature and commercials. Before moving to Japan in 2004, Friedman taught himself Japanese and famously placed second at Arizona State University’s Japanese Debating Competition. In 2005, he became a regular member on the legendary rock variety program ‘Hebimeta-san’ broadcasted by TV Tokyo, surprising not only heavy metal fans in Japan but also around the world, as videos of his performances surfaced online. 

This was followed by regular appearances on the TV show ‘ROCK FUJIYAMA’, which became popular worldwide. Since then, Friedman has appeared in many TV programs from national public broadcaster NHK and other stations, while also contributing as a regular columnist for a magazine and a newspaper. He published his first book, whose title loosely translates as ‘It’s All Good! I Came to Japan for J-pop’, which became a bestseller. He has also made appearances in films such as ‘Gu Gu, the Cat’ and ‘Detroit Metal City’.