As the quarantine drags on, grooming standards and the fine art of looking fine are in global decline. Some folks (certain Americans anyway) are taking to the streets with assault rifles and “I Want a Haircut” signs. On the other hand, there’s Japanese pop-punk quartet CHAI, champions of the “neo-kawaii” cause and determined demolishers of bullshit beauty standards. They’ve got a point to make, and it’s all the more pertinent as our collective bad-hair days extend into weeks and months. “Keep it real,” they sing on “Ready Cheeky Pretty”, their brand-new single. “Imperfect is perfect!” The tune’s video is also now out, an animated collage with colourful paintings care of bassist Yuuki, and the English lyrics (CHAI know that their audience is now absolutely international) are added as subtitles too, for purposes of clarification or karaoke.
If you enjoyed that, you might want to know that a couple of weeks ago, CHAI posted their quarantine cover of Kyu Sakamoto’s “Ue o Muite Aruko”. Better known to Westerners as the novelty pop song “Sukiyaki”, Sakamoto’s plucky, bittersweet 1961 hit – still universally beloved, some 60 years later – might be considered Japan’s true national anthem.