We need a replay (君は僕のeverything)

OK, so it’s a Japanese release. But, y’know. It’s SHINee.

SHINEee – The First (2011)

What’s so great about this?

Style change. It’s a j-pop release, but it still has some of that SHINee scribbley-sketchy-doodle and ripped paper styling that turns up in a lot of their CDs. That said, the style seems a lot cleaner than their earlier k-pop albums. It’s becoming less personal and more commercial. It’s still big on odd fonts and random motifs (in this case it involves a rabbit and a slightly creepy clown) but it’s more vector based than hand drawn, although the vectors aren’t all clean cut computerised lines. It’s very boyband-y, but what did I expect from a k-popsicles-gone-to-Japan boyband? It’s still more interesting than a 40 page photobook purely of their faces (though some fans may disagree there).

Other than that it’s very… plaid. The photoshoot theme is another of those “give those kids some random props and see what they do with them”. Don’t get me wrong, I do quite like this album as an object, but it’s not as successful as some of their others in a similar style (like Romeo) or as nicely done as their second Japanese album Boys Meet U (that CD+DVD randomness with it’s prints, patterns and vectors will be mine one day, oh yes).

Do my eyes deceive me, or is that Helvetica for the lyrics? J-pop loves Helvetica, and not just for functional text. I’ll have to do a post on it one day.

Want to see more?

The album comes in a medium format book (almost A5) with the disc held in with a plastic CD clip (down with the tyranny of the foam circle tab!)

Anything to declare?

To-to-to-todoke to-to-to-to your heart.

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The eyes have it ☆

CD inspiration today isn’t K-pop (shock horror) but J-pop. While J-pop CDs don’t tend to be as elaborate (and apparantly are unworthy of unboxing videos on YouTube) there are some nice examples out there that aren’t just interesting photobook concepts.

hitomi – peace Best of collection (2007)

What’s so great about this?

I love the minimal feeling, using bright CMY colours to liven up the bold K of the sans serif type. It feels like a set, template driven and functional rather than trying to be full of personality. It’s bubblegum pop with sophistication rather than childishness (this album marked hitomi’s 13th year in music). I’m not sure if the star is a hitomi-brand sort of thing, but her singles have included it in the title a few times (“Speed☆Star”).

I think practical probably is the best way to describe a lot of J-pop related design. It’s not big and bold and eye catching like K-pop. It’s job is to give information in an easily readable way (along with the expected photobook images), and it doesn’t often diverge from this. However in this case it seems functional can come with a hint of fun.

Want to know more?

Hitomi Furuya aka hitomi (lower case h) has been a model and actress as well as singer, penning the lyrics to her own songs from the age of 18. Her music style has always been very much the pop sound of the time (through 90s dance to pop-rock guitars to electro-club).

If you like being mildly confused, I recommend taking a look at her 2006 music video for single “Love Angel”. 2 words: sheep people.

hitomi official site (JP)

Can you feel this?

Inspiration time again, but it’s not k-pop. It is… j-pop. And it’s not packaging, but… Web design?!
I’m not usually impressed by j-pop websites. They’re usually very similar, and can be so cluttered with little ad boxes and CTAs that I just don’t know where to look. But today I was surprised by “Queen of J-pop” Namie Amuro’s lastest album promo pieces.

They’re going for classy fashion magazine, with the beautifully shot high contrast black and white photography combined with feminine serif fonts that evoke Vogue. The white space and side scroll effect is a breath of fresh air when looking at j-pop sites. Everything’s broken down into easily viewable pieces rather than crammed onto one page. The parrallax scrolling effects aren’t in your face either, but add a nice touch of dynamism to moving through the site (e.g the tye on the splash section, the YouTube video that swings up into position).

There’s also a teaser trailer using the same style.

While I’m not sold on the music this time round, I do like to see something so considered amoungst the pop sites that usually aren’t so user friendly (especially if you don’t read Japanese!).

Namie Amuro official website

Curiouser and Curiouser

At the moment I’m tweaking animations, making a book, making a poster, coding one website and re-working a little of another. Watch this space! But somhow I still came across this video.

We’ve all seen album previews on TV or (more likely) Youtube. But I doubt you’ve seen one like this.

Korean pop group Girls’ Generation released their first Japanese langauge album this week, and their record label has been putting out promo videos with short clips to advertise it. The music is your average pop girl band sort of thing. However, the choice of visuals is… unusual.

It’s like a strange new Windows Media Player visualisation. It must have been interesting to put together.
Is this an excercise in surrealism? Some viral marketing to get the online community talking?

Whatever it is, the album sold 122000 copies in 2 days. Yikes!