Artist Spotlight · j-pop

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: JO1, A Japanese Produce-Made Act Giving Us Top Quality Music

Today we come to you with a Japanese act which was formed through Produce 101 Japan, and they are kind of outdoing their Korean peers in regards to quality music. Join us in this venture to Japan.

Wow, our first AS on an artist outside of Korea, but honestly most of JO1 trained in Korea, and they were formed through a Korean invented show, so I don’t think the stray is too far from the ordinary. I meant to do this AS around the beginning of this series but only got to it now, almost half a year later. Please forgive me but this just means we have so much more music to enjoy from JO1 today! I, of course, found the group while watching another survival show (you know I am a sucker for those). Produce 101 Japan was one of the purest things I ever watched. And the aspect that the winning group would be permanent made getting into the show even more appealing to me. I haven’t regretted it since even if it is a bit hard for me to keep up with them since I am not that much into J-Pop. Let’s start off with the group’s details!

JO1 debuted on March 4th, 2020 with their single PROTOSTAR. They were formed through the Japanese spin-off of Produce 101 in 2019. Unlike the Korean groups coming out of the show, JO1 is permanent, as one condition to join the show was to not be signed with any label. This is why I was drawn to this show, I know there would be pain but at least the group coming out of it wouldn’t break my heart by disbanding after a couple of months. JO1 is managed by Lapone Entertainment which is a joint company by Yoshimoto Kogyo and CJ ENM, this explains why the group is also very active in Korea. They even appeared on MCountdown last month.

Source: tumbral

JO1 consists of 11-members which are: Yonashiro Sho (Leader, Main Vocalist), Kawashiri Ren (Main Dancer, Lead Vocalist, Sub-Rapper), Shiroiwa Ruki (Vocalist, Rapper), Kono Junki (Main Vocalist), Sato Keigo (Lead Dancer, Lead Vocalist, Sub-Rapper, and my pick since episode 1), Kawanishi Takumi (Lead Dancer, Lead Vocalist), Kimata Syoya (Lead Dancer, Lead Rapper, Vocalist), Ohira Shosei (Lead Dancer, Vocalist, Rapper), Kinjo Sukai (Lead Vocalist, Rapper), Tsurubo Shion (Main Rapper), and Mamehara Issei (Main Dancer, Lead Rapper, Vocalist, Center, Youngest). Man, I remember when Mame won the center position, being shocked as I thought that was Ren’s for sure, same with Ren not becoming the leader but Sho being it makes a lot of sense now. I love these babies a lot and I love how they tackle the Japanese market in a K-Pop strategic kind of way! I just won’t ever forgive them calling their fandom JAM though… I can’t believe I’m a type of breadspread.

So yes, I have been following JO1 since their Produce times and I love seeing them grow. Their discography is tiny so far – they are still mere rookies – but their songs have kind of given their Korean peers a run for their money. So, let’s get into four songs I absolutely love by JO1.

Shine A Light (2020)

Shine A Light was the promotional single of JO1’s first studio album The Star which was released in November last year. I absolutely adore Shine A Light, it was such a nice surprise to hear this sound from a boy group. Like a breath of fresh air when you compare them to their Korean counterparts. Lee Minyoung of producer team Eastwest, who has also helped with a lot of other songs especially for IZ*ONE, helped compose this bop of a song. I like that Japanese and Korean producers come together for JO1’s music, it makes for some really great and authentic bops able to tackle both markets. Shine A Light is a really upbeat pop song and just grabs you, it does suffer from the second verse rap break but this doesn’t stop the flow of the song. The music video is so pretty, as it shows us the members roaming around the same intersection in a fictional city. They seem to be separated by time and only a shining light connects them, which is so cute as a concept. May I say Sato Keigo looked extra amazing during this music video?

Running (2020)

Running is a b-side from JO1’s debut EP PROTOSTAR in 2020 and I absolutely love this song, it is one of my favorite b-sides from JO1. I am so glad Running got its own animated short little music video, I can’t help but feel like this is a short film. Running is a beautiful ballad and reunites Korean producer team Eastwest with the same Japanese writers as for Shine A Light. A power team if you ask me. The full version of the song is so beautiful, so make sure to listen to it. JO1 have such amazing vocalist and I am glad we get to hear them in Running.

OH-EH-OH (2020)

Oh-Eh-Oh is co-written by no one else but Hui from Pentagon. Oh-Eh-Oh is one of his better works if you ask me and challenges all the bad boy, angsty energy K-pop boy group showed us last year and makes it fun. Oh-Eh-Oh is so much fun really,it just makes me dance. I feel like Hui really snapped with this, expect for again the second verse rap break, I guess J-pop and K-pop songs just gotta have the rap huh.. Oh-Eh-Oh was the promotional single on their second Ep STARGAZER and I love the music video for it. Give me that gangster plot! Ren is so hot playing the bad guy and we even get some fighting scenes. There is so much that went into the production of this music video and its easy to follow, which me likey. JO1 is on top of their game.

Voice (2020)

It was super hard for me to find an actual video to insert for this beautiful ballad. So I am sorry that I only found this but it still has gives us what we want, the entire beautiful experience that is Voice. Voice is also a b-side on the STARGAZER ep and my absolute favorite song from that EP. It shows us, that yes, Junki is in fact the main vocal of JO1, he has grown so much as a vocalist since Produce. There is even a version where he sings the entire song on his own. A King. Non of JO1 really have to hide when it comes to vocal skills though. You are wondering, who is behind Voice? Yup, the same old team giving us the goodness we deserve. Man JO1 has some real gems in their discography and I am glad they are sticking with the same team behind their music to make it so consistent.

Born To Be Wild (2021)

Born To Be Wild is JO1’s latest release from their upcoming EP Challenger and boy it’s groovy! I love this song! It is nearly perfect J-POP retro fun if we didn’t have the freaking second verse rap again but the bridge is heavenly and makes up for everything. The music video is also super fun to watch and my boys are shining. Not a lot of boy groups have giving us this sound and JO1 are nearly perfecting it. K-Pop boys better step up their game. However, I just had to share Born To Be Wild even though it is quite new. It just bops and deserves the love. So please do listen to it!

And that’s it, I hope you at least find one song among these you will enjoy as much as I do, JO1 is going to release a new single this month and I know we will be getting even more quality music. This might be the only J-Pop act we tackle for the time being, but you never know what the future holds! Until next time and let me know which is your favorite JO1 song.

You can find JO1 on InstagramTwitter


6 thoughts on “ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: JO1, A Japanese Produce-Made Act Giving Us Top Quality Music

  1. Glad to see you guys cover your first J-Pop act! Have you checked out the LDH groups? I think songs like Fantastics’ High Fever (a particular favorite of Deforested) is a pretty good start.

    The agencies in J-Pop tend to be 10x worse than the K-Pop ones. Thankfully, I think LDH is an exception thankfully.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks 108Music for recommending FANTASTICS’ amazing song, High Fever! That song is just memorable and one my favorite 2020 J-Pop release. You guys should really check them out!

        I do agree that Japan still is very conservative capitalist, although LDH being owned and managed by their own artist is kind of better than most of the sh/tshow.

        Liked by 1 person

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