Kana Nishino: The gyaru's favorite new singer

Kana Nishino: The gyaru's favorite new singer

Sony finally jumps on the Avex bandwagon and produces a young female singer who has an audience beyond the 50 year-old aging hipsters at Sony

Viewing GAL-tokei for an entire week will teach you that the Shibuya gyaru's favorite new singer is Kana Nishino (西野カナ). The 20 year-old Mie native has been a hit newcomer for Sony SME -- a company known in the past for ceding the entire tanned skin cultural world to its rival avex.

Nishino's sound is familiar for the J-Pop world: flattened Auto-tune vocals, electronic beats, sweeping strings. She, however, lacks the forced American R&B "soul" that plagues her rivals. This 100% pure Japanese musical experience may be what appeals to the gyaru, who tend to like Japanese brands, Japanese stars and Japanese local culture.

The video for Nishino's new single "Dear...," however, is not so desperate to attract an exclusively gyaru audience. Sure, Nishino is dressed in the "moko-moko" fuzzy white hat and jacket that have marked recent Shibuya 109 winter fashion. Yet the schoolgirls featured in the video have pale skin and long black straight hair. They also are seen studying. These are both things the gyaru can't sympathize with. 

Contemporary sociologists will find special meaning in this video for the prominent role of the mobile phone in the girls' lives. (Even Nishino holds her pink handset while singing). Everyone in the video is almost completely isolated from one another, and the cell phone is their sole means of social communication. The boyfriend at the end can only communicate his true feelings through text message. (Also notice the subtext of "working together to overcome hardship" of the final love message.)

Overall the video is extremely low key -- but so are Japanese kids these days. This kind of relatable non-chalance may make Kana Nishino a winning formula for gyaru and non-gyaru alike.

W. David Marx was CNNGo's initial Tokyo City Editor. His writing has also appeared in magazines such as GQ, Brutus, Weekly Diamond, and Nylon, as well as his web joural Néojaponisme.

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