Bitter & Sweet
The duo, a pretty rare beast no matter what genre of music you’re talking about. Perhaps even more so when it comes to J-Pop, I mean how many can you name off the top of your head? I doubt it’s much more than a handful in any case, and then we can start talking about stuff like name recognition and music quality and I’m sure the number drops even further.
I’ve been a fan of Bitter & Sweet since their debut in 2014, and a fan of Tasaki Asahi since her solo debut the year before. While I’m still kinda disappointed that her solo career didn’t really pan out, I’m glad that Up-Front decided to pair her up with Hasegawa Moemi and give her another crack at things.
Well, both ladies have taken that opportunity and ran with it. I’m not really sure if they even qualify as idols or not, but what really is an idol these days anyway? Plus, they do a bunch of stuff with Hello Project so at the very least they’re idols by association. Yeah, let’s go with that.
It’s pretty hard to do a year end write-up about Bitter & Sweet because it’s not like they’re releasing a new CD every three months, or whatever the current popular release model is for idol groups. Instead, new music is released almost when it feels like there’s a reason to release new music. This typically means waits of 5 months or more for a new CD, which can be a little excruciating to be totally honest.
Or ya know, maybe they’re not making enough money for them to release new music more frequently. That might be the harsh reality of the situation, but whenever Bitter & Sweet drop some new tunes, they’re usually of a very high quality and more importantly, very good.
2015 musically for Bitter & Sweet was bookended by two releases. The first coming in February and in the form of a double a-side single titled “Renai Wars / Koigokoro”. The former being on of my most favorite songs of the year, and easily earning a spot in any hypothetical “Top 10” list that I might ponder in my head but never commit to paper. It was definitely a great start to the year.
Then things went quiet for a long time on the music front. I guess this is where the disconnect from not living in Japan comes in. To me and the average observer, it would be easy to say that Bitter & Sweet went months without really doing anything of note. Maybe if you live in Japan you’d share the same opinion, but I think it’s a pretty harsh evaluation myself.
You see, Bitter & Sweet definitely weren’t doing nothing. Far from it in fact, they were definitely performing a lot of shows week in and week out. Even reaching such lofty heights as participating in various Satoyama/Satoumi events with various Hello! Project groups. Again, not that you’d really know about most of this stuff unless you were actually in Japan and paying particularly close attention to Twitter, and let’s face it, no one pays close attention to Twitter.
A busy but lowkey 2015 was then rounded out on December 23rd with the release of a mini-album titled “#ビタスイ” or “#BitaSui” if you will. I guess song titles with hashtags is the new up and coming trend in Japan or something. Not sure how well this one will work out though, seeing as if you Google it, Bitter & Sweet definitely aren’t the first result that comes up.
As far as the actual album is concerned, I get the feeling it’s going to be overlooked by a lot of people just because of the time of year it came out. A lot of end of year type things are already written at this point, plus people are more focused on being with family and gorging themselves on holiday dinners than keeping up with J-Pop idols.
Those of us who are still paying attention however will have been rewarded with a top quality selection of songs, with a particularly enjoyable reworking of Tasaki’s “Rolling Days” solo effort. Other highlights include “Mayonaka no Lonely”, “Dream Girl” and “Hallelujah”. If you’re reading this and didn’t even know this CD was coming out, it’s on iTunes for a pretty reasonable price so go check out the previews if nothing else.
Well, maybe it wasn’t so hard to write a lot about Bitter & Sweet after all. While not having a blockbuster 2015 when compared to some other acts, they definitely put out a selection of great music that you’re probably worse off for not checking out. That’s just my opinion though.
Looking forward to 2016, I’m expecting to enjoy the next Bitter & Sweet CD sometime in late May to early June. That’s a long time to wait but with their current batting average, I’m sure it’s going to be worthwhile.