From Queen to Daft Punk to Lana Del Rey via Muse and Arctic Monkeys
Alexandra Pollard
16:17 26th February 2015

There is no country gifted with a greater number of exclusive bonus tracks than Japan. In fact, they get so much shoe-horned onto the end of albums that to them, a normal-length album must look like an EP.

There's a reason for this - for people in Japan, it's very often cheaper to import CDs and vinyls than it is to buy domestically. To tackle this, local CDs feature any number of special bonus tracks as an incentive to buy local.

It's both a blessing and a curse for those not lucky enough to live there. Mostly though, particularly in the days of the internet, it's a blessing. If you fancy becoming ones of those people whose favourite song by an artist in the Japanese bonus track, then these are the gems you should listen to - from Muse and Arctic Monkeys to St Vincent, Lana Del Rey and more. 

  • Muse - 'Fury' (Absolution) : Matt Bellamy puts as much power and emotion into the breaths he takes between lines than many bands put into their entire back-catalogue. 'Fury' is the sort of hidden gem that surely delights fans on the rare occasion it gets a live outing. A slow burning rocker that touches on Bellamy's atheist side: "Breathe in deep, and cleanse away our sins and we'll pray that there's no God to punish us."

  • St. Vincent (St Vincent) - 'Del Rio': There's such an aestheticism to St. Vincent's lyrics that it sometimes feels as if the sound they produce is more important than the words themselves. Never is this more true than in the impactful refrain 'Del, Del, Rio' on the Japanese bonus track to her self-titled fourth album. A beautiful and rare gem - find it on the recently release deluxe edition too.

  • Charli XCX - 'Break The Rules (Japanese Version)' (Sucker): If we're being entirely honest, as we always are, the English-language version of 'Break The Rules' is one of the most irritating songs, both lyrically and musically, that we've heard for a long time. For some inexplicable reason though, its Japanese-language counterpart is almost brilliant. It's a strange world.

  • Daft Punk - 'Horizon' (Random Access Memories): The Japanese bonus track for one of the most hyped albums of 2013, Random Access Memories, is a yearning, instrumental ballad. It winds down an often relentlessly up-tempo, funk-filled album with a real sense of poignancy - giving the album a whole new dimension.

  • The xx - 'Reconsider' (Coexist): From their second album, 2012's Coexist, comes this characteristically minimalist, haunting gem. The same can be said of almost any song from The xx, but 'Reconsider' is profoundly cinematic, and proves definitively that someone needs to ask this and to score a film.

  • Florence The Machine - 'Bird Song' (Lungs): Slightly lighter on the orchestral heft that Welch is known for, but plenty heavy on the profoundly twisted and imaginative lyrics: "I picked up the bird and above the din I said, 'That's the last song you'll ever sing'. Held him down, broke his neck, taught him a lesson he wouldn't forget."

  • Foo Fighters - 'Seda' (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace): There's a country twang to this wistful ballad from Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and Dave Grohl's voice cracks with quiet, minimalist anguish.

  • Beyonce - 'Dreaming' (4): It's something of a tautology to ever bother saying that Beyonce's voice sounds amazing, but few demonstrate its quality to quite the extent of 'Dreaming', from the Japanese release of 4.

  • The Libertines - 'Cyclops' (The Libertines) : It's a mark of how strong The Libertines' self-titled second album was that 'Cyclops' didn't make it on. It's a syncopated delight with a baffling blend of humour and pathos. The Libs at their best, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that it makes an appearance on their summer tour.

  • Lorde - 'Bravado' (Pure Heroine): She's still only 18, but Lorde's voice has matured significantly over the past few years, as is showcased perfectly on her Hunger Games contribution 'Yellow Flicker Beat'. On 'Bravado', she sounds heartbreakingly young, compounded by lyrics such as, "I was frightened of every little thing that I thought was out to get me down, to trip me up, and laugh at me."

  • Queen - 'Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)' (A Day At The Races): Queen really went all-out with this beautiful Japanese bonus track, in which Mercury's frequently falsetto, vibrato-filled vocals are as theatrical as they've ever been. We say all-out, because the chorus is sung entirely in Japanese. One of Queen's greatest ballads.

  • Lana Del Rey - 'Flipside' (Ultraviolence): The first minute or so of 'Flipside', from Ultraviolence, sees Del Rey's lilting vocals accompanied only by a reverb-filled guitar riff before it expands into a full-blown ballad. In the very best way.

  • David Bowie - 'God Bless The Girl' (The Next Day): The severity of Bowie's American accent every time he sings the word "girrrrl" is a little distracting, but this Japanese bonus for his latest album, The Next Day, is, to borrow St. Vincent's phrasing, a party record you could play at a funeral.

  • Arctic Monkeys - '2013' (AM): A little darker in tone and melody to much of Arctic Monkeys' critical and commercial firestorm AM, '2013' would be equally at home played in a sleazy club as a festival. It would improve either scenario considerably. it may not be any more, but we still can't help but love Turner's drawl of "It's two thousand and thir-teen - all across the galaxy". A landmark track from a landmark year.


Photo: Splash/WENN