I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Especia -- Kurukana (くるかな)

Especia is easily my favorite aidoru group of 2014. Even though the girls are far from being great vocalists, their musicians team is absurdly great, as they’re responsible for the decadent and retro "City Pop meets disco" sound that the group keep implementing with each new release. Crowning this concept, last month, in May 2014, Especia released “GUSTO”, their first full lenght album with lots of interesting songs. The one that first caught my attention was “Kurukana”, one of the songs chosen to promote the album.

“Kurukana” is a very unique song that showcases Especia’s nostalgic factor very well. The laidback groove, typical of a lonely night in a Tokyo apartment during the 80s, is the most charming point of the song, but the vocals are also very likeable. Although the song, per se, is great, if combined with the video it makes an even more outstanding result. Full of dated visual effects and an aesthetic that resembles Japanese early morning shows mixed with world weather reports, “Kurukana’s” video is just an explicit ode to the bubble era. In a very simple way, it’s pure genious!

Especia’s “GUSTO” album reached #42 on the Oricon charts, selling around 2097 copies. Lyrics, music and arrangement for "Kurukana" were all done by Maserati Nagisa (マセラティ渚).


  1. Hi, Marcos.

    I'd probably say that the song was "City Pop meets Disco meets aidoru", and it's a great meeting. Whoever thought up the video must have been a perpetual night owl...including the test pattern at the end, that is exactly what I used to see when I stayed up at night in Japan!

    Listening to the song itself was great but having the video in there makes things perfect. Having said that, the song by itself was interesting since you have this lovely City Pop rhythm matched with these aidoru voices, and as far as I can remember from a few decades ago, aidorus and City Pop were mutually exclusive musical entities.

    I'd be interested in seeing more of these neo-City Pop aidorus pop up. If we can get the techno-aidorus such as Perfume, why not the urban contemporary equivalent? Thanks for introducing this one!

  2. Hi, J-Canuck.

    I knew you would be interested in Especia. Like I said, thay are not very vocally gifted, but I'm accustomed to that.

    The video is very nice. My favorite from the year so far. Also, although "Kurukana" is a more laidback song, Especia has interesting upbeat numbers as well. The album features a lot of horn-driven songs, a couple of early house experiments, Fusion elements, 80s synthpop productions, City Pop and also an Stock Aitken Waterman-styled dance-pop attempt. I'm thrilled with the result, and it's certainly the next album I'll buy as soon as I have some money left.

    About the new wave of aidorus, it's interesting how they're more and more trying to conquer nicher markets, as we can see in 'Especia' with the retro/City Pop vibe, 'Babymetal' with Heavy Metal, 'BiS' and 'BELLRING Girls Heart' with Punk Rock, and groups like '' or 'Momoiro Clover Z', which are related to otaku culture, both in their songs and aesthetics. To be honest, I'm quite liking where the industry is going with this new aidoru boom. The answer is probably in the underground, and not in groups like AKB48 and its sister groups.

    One can argue that real musicians are not successful in Japan nowadays. Although it's true in a direct way, these talented musicians are working behind some innovative aidoru productions like the aforementioned groups. Even if it's not the ideal, they're still making music... music that represents a breath of fresh air if we consider what the music industry have turned itself into.

    1. Yes, I think it would be an interesting thing to see how far this aidoru divergence reaches. I was quite surprised to read the J-Wiki article on Especia and find out their listed genres are AOR and New Jack Swing! Will aidoru-dom become its own J-Pop universe with its own galaxies?

      As for those other musicians, I'm hoping that it will be how I realized the Japanese music industry was like after reading "Japanese City Pop". I used to know just the aidoru, enka and Best 10 guys only to find out that there was this other hidden group of singers. When I was living in Japan, I read about all these eclectic, punk and Shibuya-kei singers that would probably never grace the Oricon charts or the Kohaku Utagassen but were able to happily carve their own niche. Case in point, there is Makoto Matsushita who has been helping out with arrangements for units like SMAP and Kinki Kids, but all these years, he has also been producing his own groovy music by himself and with the band AB'S. They may not be overt in their success but some of these guys have been doing quite well, I think.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.