J-Pop Spotlight: Official HIGE DANdism
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
In November 2018, I was watching an episode of one of the biggest music shows in Japan, Music Station, to see band AKB48 perform their recent hit single during that time—“NO WAY MAN.” In the same episode, a band named Official HIGE DANdism performed their recent hit single around that time, “Stand By You.” I heard it, I liked it, and I decided that it sounds like Fall Out Boy… plus the usual sound of J-Pop. Since that performance, the rising band would create some of the most popular songs and become one of the biggest bands in Japan.
Official HIGE DANdism, or, in English, Official Moustache Man-dism. The group consists of lead Satoshi Fujiwara who plays the piano, Makoto Narazaki who plays the bass guitar and saxophone, Masaki Matsuura who plays the drums, and Daisuke Ozasa who plays the guitar and is the shortest member in the band. The band began in 2012 after the members graduated from their respective music programs at Shimane University and Matsue National College of Technology. To any music students that are reading this story: it is possible that you will have success after you graduate from the college.
Because the name of the band has “moustache” in it, the band’s logo also is a moustache, and the theme is seen throughout their music videos. The reason why the band is named Official HIGE DANdism is supposedly due to their “wish to continue playing together until they’re old enough to look good in mustaches,” according to Sync Music Japan.
I also believe the name comes from them wanting to make music that will get everyone excited in this age of growing a moustache. I listened to more of their songs and they have a lot of exciting songs that are a mixture of rock, electronic, and funk. Most of their songs talk about love, the hardships of work, and fun times.
Fujiwara’s singing is one of the reasons why the band sounds like Fall Out Boy—but Fujiwara’s mixing of the songs adds funk to them. They released their first mini-album in 2015, Love To Peace Ha Kimi No Naka, which sounds clever and very fun. A great hit single from the album is “SWEET TWEET,” which talks about relationships. The music video features a couple trying to figure out love.
The band starts to get attention with their hit singles that lead up to their first full album ESCAPARADE. For examples, one only has to look to “Coffee to Syrup,” “Tell Me Baby,” “No Doubt,” and one of my favourite songs from the band, “Brothers.” In the music video of “Brothers,” the band drives the infamous AkibaKarts (karts inspired by Mario Kart) around Tokyo. The song has a summer sound that it gets me excited, and I always jam to it. The band’s recent album—and first album under their newer record label, Pony Canyon—is called Traveler, and summarizes their breakthrough year with songs like “Pretender” and “Yesterday.”
Their recent music includes more orchestrations than their earlier music, making it sound more like alternative music. My favourite J-Pop song of 2019, “Pretender,” was the most streamed song in Japan in the year. When I heard the song for the first time, I thought that it was a Ken Hirai song. They even got worldwide attention by filming the music videos of “Pretender,” and 2019 single “Fate,” in Shanghai and New York City respectively. The band’s next hit single, “I LOVE…” arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day. All of Official HIGE DANdism’s songs matches their motto, which I believe is making music that gets everyone excited, moving, and growing moustaches.