Introducing Hyadain Week: Exploring a Decade of Kenichi Maeyamada a.k.a. Hyadain!
This Side of Japan brings you a special series of features all about Hyadain, one of the most influential J-pop producers of the 2010s
As loud and shameless his music can often be, Hyadain’s influence to J-pop in the 2010s can seem harder to pick up on than his peers. It’s easy to understate the stylistic features of his production as unique elements because it's now assumed as the common language of a typical mainstream idol song: colorful personalities, silly lyrics and hooks, kitchen-sink arrangements. His idiosyncrasies inform the mainstream to the point his contributions seem as though it has always existed in idol music at large. Throughout the decade, they’ve also become ideas that many groups have pushed against to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.
The producer’s origin story is starting to sound more familiar these days with more and more J-pop artists being raised by Niconico Douga. While he worked to make a name for himself as a songwriter in the late ‘00s under his birth name, Kenichi Maeyadamada, he began gaining a following on video-sharing site as Hyadain. He uploaded dozens of tracks based on video-game characters, re-arranging the themes of the associated games into original songs. The narrative premise of most sound like novelty—many basically write out fanfic between characters—though the meticulous process very much informs his work to this day.
Some corners of the internet still remember him as the guy behind the songs about Mega Man bosses. Others may know his music from the 2011 anime Nichijou. Idol fans, meanwhile, best associate Hyadain with talent company Stardust and its stable of idol groups. He was instrumental in launching the career of Momoiro Clover Z, writing many of their early singles like “Ikuze! Kaito Shojo,” and he continued to work with many Stardust groups after such as Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku and Tacoyaki Rainbow. He has branched out long ago to work with many other idol groups and pop acts, but the company barely began to move away from his influence in the last few years.
“Ikuze! Kaito Shojo” explains the base Hyadain sound from its clash of noises, fast-paced line distribution, and abrupt change in structure. While a classic bubbly idol personality shines through, the actual music is organized chaos with him constantly adding in twists and turns to keep an audience’s attention. He prioritizes fun over the fashionable, believing less restraint on displaying one’s personality, the better. It’s an essence that has made him so fitting to work with an act like Dempagumi.inc; it’s a signature that connects him to others like BEYOOOONDS. Unorthodox assortment of noises, bombastic concepts, shamelessness—if a song doesn’t nick these qualities from Hyadain’s playbook wholesale, it’s competing with his liking.
Underneath the quirkiness and ridiculousness, however, Hyadain songs consist of a moralistic heart. The over-the-top music ultimately is in service of these messages about individuality, diversity, and a celebration of the self. The more you spend time with his songs, you can feel him starting with this central moral and expanding that through hooks and chorus of music. Whether it’s a song about ghost-hunting, an alien discovering Earth, or a war between mushrooms and bamboos, the thematic takeaways are always at the forefront over the out-there concepts.
With a full decade now past since his breakthrough single as Hyadain, Momoiro Clover Z’s “Ikuze! Kaito Shojo,” we want to celebrate his incredible body of work released throughout the 2010s. I’m joined by my very special guests Crests to talk all this week about what we consider his 10 essential songs. We tried to capture a diverse look into his catalog as possible, sticking to one song per artist and tracks released all throughout the 10 years—though we bend and break the unofficial rules for a few selections.
Ten songs are certainly not enough to talk about his entire discography. So we do have a Spotify playlist that includes more of his tracks that we touch in passing. The featured songs will be revealed as the days go by and their posts go live. You can check back on this page for a full overview of the week and jump back and forth between the days once the songs are all revealed. Happy listening!
Crests is an idol enthusiast of 9 years (chika, major, female, male, you name it) and also a Hyadain enthusiast with a collection of over 700 of his works. They can be found on Twitter talking about these things, including a thread on songs you may not know were done by Hyadain. They've also made a Spotify playlist of every song he's worked on that's available on the platform.
Day 1 (March 1): “Ikuze! Kaito Shojo” & “Hyadain No Kakakata Kataomoi-C”
Day 2 (March 2): “Datte Aarin Nandamon” & “Oh My Ghost? ~Watashi Ga Akuryo Ni Nattemo~”
Day 3 (March 3): “W.W.D.” & “W.W.D. II”
Day 4 (March 4): “TAKOYAKI in My Heart”, “Sing!!!!!”& “Kinpachi Dance Music”
Day 5 (March 5): “RAINBOW ~Watashi Wa Watashi Yanenkara~” & “Tadekuu Mushi Mo Like It!”