MUSIC

Anime-Inspired Alt J-Pop Duo Bakénéko Is Back with Glitch Electronic Bop, "Stay"

"Stay" lures listeners in with joyful, exciting energy that masks an inherent darkness hidden in the lyrics.

Bakeneko

Hot on the heels of their stellar debut single, "Remember," LA-based alt J-Pop duo Bakénéko is back with an electric new song⁠—"Stay."

Inspired by anime music and light novels like Doki Doki Literature Club, otaku fans will feel right at home with singer/songwriter Mai and composer/producer Brandon's chosen aesthetic. Further carving out a niche true to their namesake (Bakénéko is a shapeshifting cat yōkai from Japanese folklore), "Stay" is a bilingual bop that effortlessly alternates between English and Japanese. The musically complex track blends dreamy electronica with upbeat pop rock in the vein of J-Pop idols like Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Frequent shifts between Mai's haunting vocals during the soft verses and glitchy, robotic vocals during the amped up refrains create a captivating sense of dissonance that is aptly reflected in the lyrics.

"Stay" tells the story of a possessive girlfriend attempting to coerce her former lover back into a relationship through surveillance and harassment. Much like a real abusive relationship, "Stay" lures listeners in with joyful, exciting energy that masks the inherent danger of lyrics like: "Stay, stay, stay / Tell me you'll obey / Doing whatever I want to / Oh, no way / I can make you play / Try me once, you'll never escape." If we're too busy focusing on the fun exterior, we might not spot the red flags until it's already too late.

Mai said, "'Crazy ex' is what the girl I'm portraying is called, right? But when a guy actually showed this kind of behaviour to me, people reassured me that he was just 'committed to love.' That's why I stayed so long in that relationship, and I hope flipping the genders helps others see how manipulative and messed up that double-standard is."

Alongside their projects as Bakénéko, Mai and Brandon's audio work can also be heard on film and television, across series for Netflix, E! Network, Facebook Watch, Amazon Prime TV, and an upcoming unannounced AppleTV+ production. Make sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter, too, especially if you like engaging with talented musicians who know what's happening in My Hero Academia.

It should come as no surprise that J-pop phenom, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, has recorded a track for the Japanese release of the latest Star Trek film, Into The Darkness. After all, Star Trek is a series about intergalactic space exploration, and Kyary is an alien from another planet masquerading as a J-pop star.

The song is reportedly titled, "Into The Darkness," and was produced by longtime Kyary hitmaker, Yasutaka Nakata. It'll play during a club scene in the film, which is due for release in Japan this August. Kyary recently sung about space invasion and UFOs in her last single, "Invader Invader," so recording something for Star Trek should be a total breeze.

In other news, Kyary has made it to the final round of our Greatest J-pop Star of Today tournament. If you want her to beat fellow Yasutaka Nakata proteges, Perfume, then start voting! You've got until 10am EST on Monday, June 24.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is j-pop personified, so it's strange to hear her trying out the very un-Japanese genre of dubstep on her latest single, "Invader Invader."

The song features all the usual off-the-wall J-pop quirks that make up Kyary's Yasutaka Nakata-produced tunes, just with a couple of added brostep drops forcefully jammed in. It should sound awkward, but in the hands of an unpredictable Harajuku princess like Kyary, it ends up being as wonderfully silly as everything else she's ever done.

The new sound probably had something to do with Kyary's growing global recognition and her recently wrapped world tour. In an interview with Japan Times from last month, the 20-year-old said: "I am definitely hoping to reach more people abroad. My next single “Invader Invader” deliberately has a really easy-to-remember chorus in English so that, hopefully, everyone can enjoy it."

Even if you're not a fan of the dubstep sound, watching Kyary play the part of a Kawaii Skrillex in the accompanying music video makes it all worth it.

 

Female pop stars from the East are breaking out faster than Justin Bieber before the magical gift of Proactiv. But how does a casual fan differentiate between the onslaught of new artists? K-Pop sensations Girls' Generation and The Wonder Girls have been making a heavy push with U.S. singles, television appearances and Pop-Off infamy on this very site, but there are others looking to experience similar success Stateside. Japan's 19-year-old Kyrary Pamyu Pamyu is a former model and cover girl, who also broke out with a brand of fake eyelashes (Harajuku Doll Eyelashes by Eyemazing x Kyar) in 2011. (Always have a surefire backup plans, ladies.) So she's basically the Claire Daines of Japan, except not really. KPP made her colorful U.S. debut with a few shows in Los Angeles this December, and singles ("Jelly," "Tsukema Tsukeru," "PonPonPon") are currently available on iTunes. Her songs are both frantic and catchy; her wardrobe consists of what you'd pull in a blackout, only after coming home from some secret basement rave. With any luck, we'll all be wearing the looks of this actual Harajuku girl come 2013.

But seriously, you guys, this "Candy Candy" video is bananas. Oversized hair bows and the return of the dreaded hand-heart gesture are the least of our worries here, as her florescent backup dancers appear to favor choreography that falls between The Chicken Dance and The Swim. Running with toast in one's mouth just feels dangerous, which is probably why the chorus emphasizes "chewing" so much? Either way, this is now stuck in our heads, we think we have next fall's Halloween costumed figured out and we couldn't be happier on this dreary Thursday. Watch below, but beware of the giant, googly-eyed onion. We hear it's tear-inducing powers are stronger than that of your typical yellow breed.

[The Hairpin]