“Dance trance all in a globe”: A Celebration of a Timeless Trio

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One of the first Japanese pop groups I ever discovered was globe. A trio that included a legendary producer, a virtual unknown, and a up-and-coming rapper and VJ. This year marks their twentieth anniversary since their debut single. Since their debut, globe has changed the Japanese pop music scene in their own way.

After TM Network performed their final live concert TMN 4001 DAYS GROOVE in the spring of 1994, keyboardist Komuro Tetsuya decided to form a three-piece band with MTV VJ and DJ Marc Panther. Komuro was one of the hottest producers in the Japanese music scene by that time. Along with being a member of the mega-popular band TM Network, he was also producing hits after hits with artists like Mizuki Arisa, TRF, Watanabe Misato, and others. His most famous single, “Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokoro Tsuyosa to”, a collaboration with ex-Tokyo Performance Doll member Shinohara Ryoko, was released in the summer of 1994 and sold over two million copies. With all this prestige, Komuro was looking to create another super group.

But, what should it be? With whom?

The first member, which was mentioned above, was Marc Panther. He was going to be the rapper of the group while Komuro was going to be the producer, keyboardist, composer, and backing vocals. Komuro choose the band’s genre as eurodance. Which made Marc’s role easier to understand because a lot of dance music from the West incorporated rapping into their high-energy music. Nevertheless, all they needed was a lead vocalist, which Komuro would find in one his many talent auditions. He picked a then-unknown young adult from southern Japan named Yamada Keiko.

The group made their debut on August 9th, 1995 with the song “Feel Like dance”. At first, keiko’s face was obscured during TV and public appearances as the company thought it would be a neat idea to have a “ZARD-like”, mysterious member. The first single’s music video was actually all done in CGI. (Which would have another version later on with the member’s faces.) It wasn’t until the second single, “Joy to the love”, when we first saw the members.[1]

1996 proved to be a monumental year for the group. They released the wintry break-up song, “DEPARTURES”, in January with huge success. The single was the band’s first number single to chart on the Oricon charts and it sold over two million copies. Their self-debut album was more impressive as it sold over four million copies.

By the end of the decade, globe proven to be one of the top artists in Japan with all their singles charting in the top 10, many reaching the number one position. However, the group changed during the new millennium as they steered away from eurodance and got their hands dirty by experimenting with house and trance. One the best examples to describe globe’s trance sound is the 2002 album “Lights2”, especially with the instrumental piece “TRANSCONTINENTAL WAY”.

keiko and Komuro got married following the release of “Lights2”. Also, the group’s activities slow down tremendously by 2005 as keiko started her solo career, Marc was sort of continuing his, and Komuro was heavily involved with the restart of his old band TM Network.

However, the group has also been facing setbacks since mid-2000s. One of these setbacks happened in 2008 when Komuro was arrested and sentenced for fraud. The group was supposed to released their thirty-first single, a cover of TM Network’s signature song “GET WILD”, on November 26. However, it was shelved and later placed on a best album due Komuro’s arrest.

Another setback happened in 2011 when keiko was rushed to hospital after collapsing at home. It was later discovered that she suffered from subarachnoid haemorrhage and went to rehabilitation, which she is still primarily focusing on at the moment. Two years after the tragic incident,  Marc and Komuro decided to continue the group without keiko by releasing a series of remix albums; “globe EDM Sessions” (2013), “GDM” (2014), and “Remode 1” (2015). These new albums had past favorites updated as EDM-styled songs, which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet. Although, I have seen Marc and Komuro recently doing nightclub tours to promote “Remode 1” and their 20th anniversary. It looks like the lives were a great success judging by the pictures and messages.

i first got into globe when I was a junior high school student. Back in the early 2000s, avex trax had three main music video channels that were streamed over the net for free. I would always spend my free time watching these channels as I was just beginning to get into Jpop. The first globe song that I listened to was their 2002 trance-flavored “OVER THE RAINBOW”. What made me like the song was the mystical but yet mysterious synthesizers and keiko’s pure vocals.  However, I would become more in love with its b-side, “INSPIRED FROM RED & BLUE”, as it so emotional and powerful.

I think the emotional side of globe’s songs made me like them when I was younger. Even though I didn’t know a lot of Japanese back then, I would understand the emotional side of each song due to how keiko used her vocals. I could feel such emotions like sadness in “DEPARTURES”, frustration in “Wanna be a dreammaker”, and longing in “Wanderin’ Destiny” thanks to keiko’s efforts. And due to that, these songs helped me during the most difficult times of my life.

keiko’s techniques would also inspire me when I started voice lessons. keiko will always be one my biggest inspirations for singing because I really admire her ability to hit high notes, her marvellous tone, and the ability to put a lot of emotions in her singing. So, in honor of globe’s twentieth anniversary, I sang globe’s debut song. Now, I am no keiko, as you can recognize while listening. But, I had lots of fun singing and also rapping.

Please listen to my cover here: 

Here is the original:

“Feel like dance” isn’t my favorite globe song. I don’t think it’s even in my top five list….

…However, here is my top five list for globe songs:

5. SWEET PAIN (1995)

4. FREEDOM (1996) / Love again (1998)

3. Music Takes Me Higher (from the album “globe”; 1996)

2. INSPIRED BY RED & BLUE (2002)

1. Wanderin’ Destiny (1997; which was the theme song for the drama “Aoi Tori”, starring one of my favorite actors Toyokawa Etsushi.)


References

[1] “Globe.” Globe – Wikipedia. 24 June 2004. Web. 16 Aug. 2015.  (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe)

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Don’t Wanna to Get Happiness with TRUE KISS DESTINATION?

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It’s been another day where I am sitting at Starbucks and writing as I wait for my internet to be installed at my new apartment. My new apartment? What? The reason why I haven;t been writing a lot on this blog recently is because I recently moved from countryside Yamanashi to big city Nagoya. Because of this, I lack internet at my place and it’s takes time to get be hooked here in Japan. Don’t worry, I be up and running, writing more, once I get my place online.

But, since I am on a writing spree, I would like to share a song I been listening all day today. The song is performed by the Japanese duo named TRUE KISS DESTINATION. This band was another in a series of groups, artists, and projects that was founded and produced by the music mastermind of the 90s dance scene, Tetsuya Komuro, TRUE KISS DESTINATION was formed in late 1998 when it was announced that Komuro was going to work with former dos member Asami on a dance music project. The duo released their first indies self-titled album on February 1999. Released on the group’s very own label, “TRUE KiSS DESTiNATiON” was hailed as a sensation at various dance clubs as it added an American hip-hop/R&B flavor by being recorded in the heart of New York City with various American artists like De La Soul and Lisa Wilson featuring on certain tracks.

TRUE KISS DESTINATION moved on with a major debut in the spring of 1999 by releasing the single “AFRiCA”, a cover of the classic TOTO song. The group had about average success as their singles and albums charted in the top 50 on the Oricon charts. When they planned to release their fifth single in late 1999, TRUE KISS DESTINATION decided to shorten their name to “Kiss Destination”.

Asami and Tetsuya Komuro kept on releasing music well into the new millennium, often on indies labels, while the pair became closer romantically. The two decided to get married in 2001 and had a kid together. However, the wedding bliss ended a year later when the couple decided to divorce. Thus, ending TRUE KISS DESTINATION.

“VICTIM” is a song that was featured on the duo’s debut indies album. The song features minimal background instruments like the typical drum kit found in any dance songs, the synthesized sounds, and boom bass. I think what makes up for the lack of instrumentation is the vocals, especially in the chorus. Asami doesn’t really have bad vocals as her singing and stamina is really strong during the verses. But, it is during the chorus where the song and even her vocals really shine when her vocals are combined with the hushed R&B background vocals.

What also stands out is the erratic rhythms throughout the song. The use of staccatos in the chorus intensifies it as makes the melodic arches more dramatic. The staccatos are also found throughout the song: the background vocals introducing the song, the musical interludes, and other places.

Despite it’s simplicity, “VICTIM” is a hidden treasure with the great use of the vocals, the R&B sound, and the fact that it’s produced by Tetsuya Komuro and Marc Panther, a match made in heaven.