Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: From relevant J-pop act, to useless marketing puppet

I’m not even reviewing Kyary Pamyu Pamyu‘s new single. It’s useless. Why should I repeat myself for the millionth time, after all? If you want to know what I think about Sai & Kou, just read my previous reviews of her singles: It’s the same exact thing. Over and over again. It’s a chore, it’s tiresome, the complete opposite of what a pop track should be.

For how stupid it may sound, this makes me genuinely annoyed. Because we’re talking about two persons, a talented producer and one of the most successful japanese acts of the last five years, that simply don’t care about what they’re doing anymore. They just do it because they have to, cause they’re tied to contracts with a rental agency, a videogame company, a conbini chain, and God only knows what else.

It’s annoying, because their chemistry proved to be a source of greatness in the past: PON PON PON was an amazing pop tune, and Nandacollection one of the best J-pop records of 2013. This album in particular, that I still play on a regular basis, makes me particularly nostalgic: listening to Kyary’s music today almost feels like hearing a different voice, a different person. Or, more precisely, a marketing bot with an annoyingly high-pitched voice.

“Sup Kyary, it’s your boy Yasuta… *yawns* Yeah, I got a call from a sunglasses company, they sent me guidelines for a new track, I made the instrumental while I was waiting for my noodles to be ready, get ready to record the vocals. Let’s do it fast, I gotta play tambourine for a Perfume album mix.” This is the the dude who wrote tie-in tracks like Polyrythm and Secret Secret, today.

Don’t get me wrong: creating songs for commercials is normal, and sometimes necessary in the context of the Japanese music industry. That’s not the problem, despite the fact that basically all of her recent tracks are tied to commercials is ridiculous and exaggerated.

The real problem is that Kyary is a phenomenon with an identity that worked great until three years ago: It peaked with Nandacollection and decayed after that, cause there has been no interest in making this girl and her music enjoyable anymore. No sign of originality, just the same thing repeated over and over again, until it got irremediably obsolete and worse, to the point where instead of great pop tunes like Ninjary Ban Ban and Invader Invader, we now get stuff like Sai & Kou. Which is the song of nothing, like everything she released in the last two years. Mondai Girl may be the only exception here.

Kyary recently released a compilation album of her best tracks, a type of release that usually leads to two scenarios: she’s finally done with music and she’s retiring, or she will keep going, in a way or another. There were rumors last year about a collaboration with overseas producers, something that could possibly lift the Harajuku icon (gosh, this term just doesn’t suit her anymore) from this abyss of shallowness and make her music interesting again. Nothing has changed after more than a year though, so the hope of seeing Kyary’s music produced by someone who actually wants to do something decent is fading away.

Whatever will happen to what’s left of the Fashion Monster, I hope this excruciating series of useless releases will come to an end. Cause not only it’s pathetic, it’s also incredibly sad, especially for someone who jumped and screamed like a madman to Nandacollection’s tunes in the front row of Club Asia on New Year’s Eve, one meter away from the dude who made this girl unique five years ago.

Please, stop it.

– Alex



5 thoughts on “Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: From relevant J-pop act, to useless marketing puppet

    • Ayu has been active for more than 20 years though, so it’s a bit more understandable in a way. Kyary debuted 5 years ago and reached the same level of boredom, which is pretty bad if you ask me.

      I agree though, both of them definitely need a break/retirement.


  1. Alex, very, very well written. I loved KPP and went and seen her in concert many years ago when she came to NYC for the first time. The energy she gave off, the way the crowd reacted, and hearing Space Invader for the first time played live was something I would end up trolling Youtube for months afterwards looking for shaky cam footage of audiences everywhere who had recorded this amazing song.
    And now, KPP who?
    I got tired of the same thing over and over again. As a musician, SAI is just a recycled version of melodies and chorus structures from about twenty of her older songs. It’s really pathetic, but here is where I worry, and follow me on this, if you will.
    Have you ever seen Helter Skelter, or read the manga? It’s about a Japanese girl who is so famous she can’t really be herself, and it’s a bloated, possibly over-exaggerated version of what it’s like to be famous in Japan. The reason I bring it up is because I think KPP has reached maybe a level of fame that she is no longer the product of herself or her music, but of whatever her label wants to make her be in order to get contracts for CMS and movies and whatever else brings in the yen. And my fear is that, just like the main character in Helter Skelter, KPP is heading for a breakdown, or worse. Let’s not forget she hinted at being abused as a child in a past interview, if I remember correctly, and just seeing her in interviews and on Japanese variety shows, she seems to not have much emotion to her, or at least she hides it very well. So that makes me think there’s A LOT more going on with her than we’re seeing, and this usually means the death of a person’s artistry when the behind the scenes stuff takes over and becomes more important to her than making smart creative decisions that can make both her agency, record label, and herself happy.
    Case in point: Wasn’t it rumored that she was dating some guy last year? Could it be that she cares more about him than her music now? That would be at least somewhat plausible, if not understandable, given the massive amount of fame this girl has…she might be more interested in pursuing a private life than a public one, and is just riding out her record contract until that happens?
    Time will tell.


    • That’s an interesting point of view. I never read that manga, but I see your point, and I think it’s possible. Even though we are not allowed to know much about an artist’s private life (which is totally fair), her personal situation, whatever it is, may be and influential factor for sure. We’ll hardly ever know about it though, so we can just guess from the little we know. She used to date Sekai no Owari’s singer, but apparently they broke up last year. In any case, that’s a valid point of view. Hope she’s doing well, though.

      Thanks so much for reading, glad you enjoyed the article 🙂


  2. Pingback: BLOG | Independent artists and Marketing bots | Land of the Rising Sound

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