♫♪  SKY-HI - “Limo”

In the imperialist arms race between the Korean Wave and Cool Japan, let’s not pull any punches: J-pop has the sheer size advantage of any all-inclusive infantry. Over the years, the Japanese charts have made room for everything from electronic pioneers to imaginary rock to soulful noise pop. But in terms of marshalling virtuoso weirdness into a standardized (and internationally scalable) contemporary pop format, Korea has claimed that territory since they discovered it. Even with Nakata-produced powerhouses like Kyary and Perfume, there’s just no way touching a “Fantastic Baby” or “FxxK U” in a mainstream dreamland made of them.

SKY-HI’s “Limo,” then, comes as a pleasant surprise. With the help of producer Broken Haze, the 28-year-old idol – a member of Japanese group AAA, who wrote the music and lyrics here – turns out a tidy pop single that synthesizes a classic Rustie vocal barrage, pizzicato synths a la Air France, a pre-chorus drumline fit for f(x), and the type of heavy, dry Nakata synths that were such a formative influence on Passion Pit and PC Music both. There’s even a duple-meter trap ballad outro! They’ve still got something left to learn – “Limo” is at least one chorus too long – but it’s an encouraging start to 2015. The fact that his label Avex even let this thing reach YouTube progress itself.

• SKI-HI: http://avex.jp/skyhi/index.php

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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