Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Can This Idol Save J-Pop

A recurring theme in the Strange Boutique column has been the question of what has gone wrong with pop music in Japan. Amid discussions of the pernicious influence of advertising agencies, record industry conservatism in the face of declining sales, and the faceless, self-replicating Eurobeat monstrosity from out of Akihabara, there was one fundamental thing that Japanese pop seemed to have lost: The ability to make you go, "Wha…?"

For many, however, a pinprick of light emerged from the shade of not-quite-as-influential-as-it-was Tokyo fashion hub of Harajuku this July with the release of "Ponponpon," a song by fashion model-cum-singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (her label, Warner Music Japan, refuses to confirm her real name). Largely passing underneath the mainstream media’s radar at first, it was a viral smash hit that annoyed people who deserved to be annoyed but delighted teenage girls, Belgians (where, along with Finland, it topped the iTunes electronic charts) and bemused netsurfers everywhere with the Technicolor blizzard of candy canes and eyeballs that made up its video, and its idiotically catchy "pon pon wei wei wei" chorus, courtesy of capsule/Perfume producer Yasutaka Nakata.

Read the rest of the story: The cute ‘n’ kooky world of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Japan’s newest pop idol.

Jewish rights group asks J-pop band, Kishidan, to apologize for Nazi garb

A leading Jewish human rights group on Monday asked a popular Japanese pop band to apologize for appearing in a TV program in uniforms resembling wartime Germany’s SS, or the Nazi Party’s armed units, saying it disrespects Holocaust victims.

In a statement, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed its "shock and dismay" over the appearance of the pop group Kishidan during an interview aired on MTV Japan on Feb. 23, asking that the group drop the Nazi-like attire.

"Such garb like the uniform worn by Kishidan is never tolerated in the mainstream of any civilized country outside of Japan," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center, in the statement.

Read the rest of the story: Jewish rights group asks J-pop band to apologize for Nazi attire.