My face hurt from smiling so much! That's what I remember most about CHAI's Tiny Desk. CHAI is a sweet, colorful blanket of joy. These four women from Japan — twin sisters Mana and Kana, along with Yuna and Yuuki — are on a mission to expand the conventional notion of what we think of as "cute" or "kawaii" as it's called in Japan.
So, the quartet made its grand entrance wearing hooded pom-pom outfits, with loosely choreographed dance moves, while the band's song "This Is CHAI" played boombox style. It felt adorable. But once the hoodies came off, revealing their matching pink, crop top uniforms, the serious fun began.
CHAI's music leans punkish, and the outfits quite pinkish. The songs played at the Tiny Desk come from both the band's 2017 album Pink and the 2019 album appropriately named Punk. The group's lyrics bounce back and forth from Japanese to English, often in the same sentence.
CHAI chose "Future" for the final song, with more lyrics to brighten my smile and the smile of those around me.
"This is just my FUTURE！
This song about us forever！
Are you ready？
Never seen before！
It's just what I imagined！
If you're looking to lighten your life, the Future is CHAI.
- "Hi Hi Baby"
Mana: vocals, keys; Kana: vocals, guitar; Yuna: vocals, drums; Yuuki; vocals, bass
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Josh Rogosin, James Willetts; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Jeremiah Rhodes, CJ Riculan; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Bob Boilen/NPR