J-pop thrives on commercial tie-ups. This has been the case even before the term “J-pop” came to be in the early ‘90s, as artists have often worked in some capacity with brands, whether to have songs appear in commercials or to have entire new numbers commissioned for advertising purposes. It’s the sort of practice always worth approaching with a certain amount of skepticism, but it’s also just how the game goes down in Japan (and many other places!). A more beneficial approach, then, isn’t to immediately ignore music created from these goofy alliances but to see how the artist works within them.
DAOKO offers up one of the best examples of using a commercial tie-up as a springboard to great music. New song “a n n i v e r s a r y” comes via the smartphone game Dragalia Lost, which sure why not? Yet rather than cruise and deliver something about fantasy characters or in-game purchases, she delivers one of her peppiest numbers in a while that doubles as a celebration of her very busy decade. Watch DAOKO DJ and dance around with CGI creatures below.
This number finds DAOKO working with Taku Inoue, and together they craft a downright jubilant electronic number featuring a disco-leaning tempo and vocal samples serving as audio fireworks. Nothing complex, but simplicity sounds good in DAOKO’s hands, as she bounces over the beat with an easy-breezy vocal delivery that help put the emphasis on the sonic celebration around her (full of great little details too — listen for the little piano melody that sneaks in). While this is tied to something you download from the App Store, “a n n i v e r s a r y” doubles as a nod to what was a pretty great decade for DAOKO, who established herself as a mainstream act and can count one major smash hit alongside plenty of other successes. She takes a second to stop and enjoy all she’s done, and it elevates the song well above any commercial trappings into a joyful exclamation point on her 2010s.