The End of CHEMISTRY? NNNNNOOOO!!!

14.4.12 ShaSha LaPerf 4 Comments

Yep another music post, but this has been a sad, sad, week for me.

I just found out that Chemistry...is going on hiatus for solo projects.


Yoshikuni Douchin and Kaname Kawabata

Most of the readers know I'm a HUGE Chemistry fan so I'll keep my gushing about them short. I've been a fan of the group since 2001. Granted I was first drawn to Chemistry because of their looks, but it wasn't long before I fell in love with their music and vocals. These guys are definitely my fave Japanese R&B group--actually their one of my all-time fave music groups period (well right after Boyz II Men). The groups has been able to maintain a presence in the ever-changing world of J-pop for 11 years. I'm not a huge fan of collecting singles--seriously do y'all know how much Japanese singles cost!? But I do have all their albums, a few magazines, and of course my three autographed items for last year's Otakon.
Although Chemistry worked as a group, they weren't strangers to solo projects. They often would have solo songs on their albums and would perform at their concerts by themselves. They've also appeared separately on albums with other artists, like Kawabata working with both Crystal Kay and Amuro Namie. Last year, they did solo concerts around Japan.

But it was still a shock to see these guys split. Okay, okay, so it's not TOTALLY split. It is just supposed to be a hiatus. Then again, Utada Hikaru has been on a hiatus for what, 3 years.

I guess what makes me the saddest is that with the split of Chemistry, I'm also seeing the fall of J-R&B in Japan. Japanese R&B has always been just under the radar, but there were a few artists that brought the music to the spotlight. Of course everyone know Kubota Toshi and Hirai Ken, but also groups like EXILE, Full of Harmony, and SOULHEAD could did very well on the Oricon charts. However, the sound of music and technology is drastically changing and artists are as well. Nowadays, few R&B artists are still doing well, alike AI. Others have slipped quite a bit. There are a few new artists that were able to make a splash like Ms. OOJA and Jasmine--both of which I recommend. But the R&B balloon has been slowly but surely losing air. And chemistry--one of the last popular R&B groups--is splitting up. Well I guess I can't say the last. Technically Full of Harmony is still of group and the EXILE family (J SOUL Brothers, EXILE, COLOR, and the new group BREATHE) is still pressing on. LOL EXILE is turning into an R&B/dance version of Johnny's but I digress.

So the rest of this post will be dedicated to my fave 11 Chemistry songs. I choose 11 since that's the number of years they performed as a duo.So sorry for being video heavy but had to do it!


Piece of a Dream
Ahh, the first Chemistry song and video! I love this video because they look so damn awkward and were trying to press the "cute Douchin" and "tough Kawabata" look. They look so damn angry for no real reason. This is probably one of my fave Chemistry videos because of the use of sign language at the end. I just thought it was a pretty cool thing to do.






Point of No Return
This is the first Chemistry song I actually heard and is still a top five fave of mine. LOL when I first saw Kawabata in this video, I was like, "wait is that dude blasian!?" Nah, he just tans a lot apparently. Anyway this video was shot in Hawaii. Damn, they still look so angry for no reason.




Wings of Words
Funny, I've never seen Gundam SEED Destiny, the anime this song was made for. Actually I kinda hated this song when it first came out, but bought the single for it because it had solo songs by Douchin and Kawabata. It wasn't until I went to their 2006 Fo(u)r tour and saw them perform this song live that I fell in love with it. LOL at one time I actually had a video of myself singing this song on YouTube, but deleted it years ago.I kind hate the video for this song, so I choose to use the liver performance from the concert I went to here.





Life Goes On
This song was featured in the anime series Antique Bakery. Actually this is only on version of the song. This one is the "K" version or "Kawabata" version because Kawabata was behind the sound for this song. Douchin's version "D-side" is much slower. K-side was used as the opening for Antique Bakery while the D-side was the ending song. The is the first video where Kawabata decided not to wear a hat through the entire video. Sadly he was showing off that ugly blonde shit on the top of his head. But this is such a fun song and video and usually ends up on a CD of mine.





Almost in Love
This song is just fucking beautiful to me. At one pointed a I had the lyrics translated into English and lost them. I'm still kicking myself over that one. Anyway I love the melody of this song and the video. Unfortunately the majority of the videos I found were out of sync. So again I'm going with a video from their Fo(u)r concert.



All My Love
This is a solo Douchin song that appeared on their Regeneration album. Douchin usually goes for a sappier ballad or a song that's heavy on acoustic guitar, so I was surprised when he did this pop/R&B number. I was also surprised when Chemistry had a mid-career crisis and decided to add dancers to the group. So not only was Douchin breaking out with this number he also danced to it as well. It was kinda hilarious watching his awkward dancing, but I love this song. For their Regeneration tour, both Douchin and Kawabata released special solo dance versions of their solo songs. Took me forever to find Douchin, but I snagged it off of Tudou.(Sorry not used to embedding vids from Tudou so it may be a bit off in size).



Hold On
Face to Face is my favorite Chemistry album because the vocals and songs were both on point. Hold On is probably my fave track on the album. LOL, I'm starting to sound generic but saying that they sound great and the music is great, but hey it's true. I tried to find the concert version because the stage set up is what really brings out this song, but it's not on YouTube or Tudou anymore. :( And there's no music video since it was an album cut.




No Color Line
Of course I can't have just a Douchin solo. Here's a mid-tempo one from Kawabata. Initially when I saw the songs title and heard the addition of the children, I thought this song was about making the world a better place with everyone working together and not being hateful and what not. I did a very lazy English translation of the song and the song is something along those lines. It was interesting that Kawabata decided to write this song and did fuel my suspicious that he was blasian. LOL but again, he's not. Anyway, I just like the flow of this song and think the kids actually sound cute here. Since this was an album track, there is no video for it.



Why
Why was released on their Hot Chemistry album, which was a winter album and featured more smoother tracks. This song is probably the closest of a full on baby-making music you'll get from the group. It's smooth and sexy.



This Night
This Night is a strange song because it was used for the anime Terra E, yet the song doesn't seem to match an anime at all. It's a cross between baby making music, and "angry sex" music, LOL. It's not a song about happy relationships, yet it has a sexiness to it. At first I loved the video because Kawabata was topless, then hated the slightly domestic violence undertone of it. Then loved it again because Kawabata was topless. Then hated again because Kawabata married and had babies with one of the models in the video. LOL seriously I refused to watch the video or listen to the song for like 2 years, I'm a mess. Anyway, I believe is the only Chemistry video where both Douchin and Kawabata "act." Normally, they do much in their videos except stand around, look angry and be cute. However both men were given story lines in this case. I was a bit annoyed they went the "angry man" route, because neither one of them can really pull it off.



Kimi wo Sagashiteta~The Wedding Song (New Jersey United version)
There are actually two versions of this song, and I like both. The first version was released on their Way We Are album and they later released this version with the addition of a New Jersey gospel choir (unfortunately I have yet to find out who the choir is...Sony just has a vague reference to them on the Chemistry website).



Okay, enough of my Chemistry videos and ranting about the end of J-R&B. I'm on the look out for some new J-groups to get into. In the meantime I'll keep playing my same old Chemistry songs until I get annoyed enough to go back to Japan, stalk them and force them to get back into the studio to make more music, LOL.

4 comments:

  1. I love Chemistry too :O Didn't know about their hiatus though, it's been a while since I've checked up on the progress of my fav J-pop singers.

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  2. LOL I found out about it on Tokyohive. I know they have a Twitter account, but I have an irrational hate for Twitter so I wasn't reading it. And Sometimes I get lazy with their staff blog because my Japanese skills are getting so bad now. I just checked the blog for pictures. :( They just better come back! >:(

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  3. "the R&B balloon has been slowly but surely losing air."

    Why do you think this is? I'm not too familiar with Jpop/r&b. What I've learned so far is from your blog! I'm a major Soul and R&b stan (From Bilal to Erykah Badu)And I've noticed more soul/r&b music coming out of japan than Korea. What people call "r&b" in Kpop isn't really r&b to me. People are too quick to toss that word around.

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    Replies
    1. R&B has been in Japan much longer than Korea I believe. Kubota Toshi is touted as the "Pioneer of Japanese R&B," but there were other R&B artists around his time and earlier; they simply didn't get as popular. Japan and the US probably have deeper connections too: a lot of artists have collaborated with Japanese artists like Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Busta Rhymes, Trey Songs, Omarion, Judith Hill, Chris Brown, Boyz II Men, Teddy Riley, and John Legend, Pharrell Williams. Japan has the second largest music industry right after the US, so they can probably shell out more money to get these people to work together. Plus I think Japan does both a mix of influence and imitation to US music than Korea. Sometimes I think it's pretty obvious who they are imitating. Daichi Miura's Lullaby (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Yi8yAwliY) sounds a lot like a Ne-Yo or Chris Brown song to me. But then there's "Sora" by SOULHEAD (http://youtu.be/5G2rERh7PL4) which definitely sounds like an R&B song, but not a specific artist.

      As for the R&B bubble busting I think there are a few reasons:

      A) Last year I wrote about a lot of Japanese R&B artists being around for ten years or more. Basically they're "old." However none of these older artists are really mentoring or helping usher in new artists.

      B) R&B had it's time in Japan, but we also saw A LOT of artists coming out around the same time and resulted in many one-hit wonders or short careers. It wasn't just SOULHEAD being the R&B/rap female duo; there was Bennie K, Faith, Twenty 4-7, etc. Too many of the same thing at one time and eventually people got bored with most of them.

      C) R&B isn't really R&B nowadays. Chemistry and EXILE have made some songs that I like, but could never imagine hearing on an R&B stations. Both groups were created duo to their VOCALS, but their last two albums were loaded with auto-tune. And their ballad singles sell better than their straight R&B songs.

      There are some artists that still do very well like Shota Shimizu and Hirai Ken, but they're ballads/pop songs seems to sell better than their songs that have an R&B flavor.

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