The J-Pop Thread

As suggested part way through the hijacking of this thread

The J-Pop thread! Any artist from Ayumi Hamasaki to ZONE is fair game. Discussion, reccomending, questions, all good.

Just a starting point…

My favourite groups are (Currently) The Brilliant Green, Puffy, Morning Musume (and the Mini Moni subgroup*) & ZONE.

My first introduction to J-Pop was Amuro Namie, way back when. About when she released Can You Celebrate. Although it took a couple more years before I could find any real amount of J-Pop to be able to call myself a fan.

Well, uhm…yeah. I’m bad at starting discussions…

  • Sue me…they’re cute. I have a weakness for all things cute.

The Pillows?

One of my good friends is absolutely OBSESSED with Morning Mesume, all of their offshoots, and Smap. She made me a couple VHS tapes full of random crap from both bands, and although the music isn’t something I could listen to forever, the videos are absolutely AWESOME!

The video for Mini Moni’s “A~in” is the greatest, most amazing thing I have ever seen! I wish all music videos were that spastic and siezure inducing.

And I have to admit, I have a bit of a crush on Mika Todd (she’s over 18, so it’s cool).

Although I haven’t heard much of their music, I’m going to give a second vote for The Pillows.

One of the thing I like most about the Japanese is that their performers don’t really have to be very good, or all that attractive. There’s this great dance number/video done by Smap at the end of one of their shows where the guys do a whole bunch of kung fu and dance steps, yet they obviously don’t know what the hell they’re doing, or have the physical capabilities to do so. Watching them try to breakdance is a riot, but the public eats them up, and I find that awesome.

I haven’t seen the A~in video. ;_; I absolutely adore the song though. The only videos of theirs I’ve been able to get ahold of are Mini Moni Telephone Ring Ring Ring, Strawberry Pie, Jan-Ken-Pyon and Crazy For You. That last is a bit whiplashy after the sheer cuteness (and general craziness) of the first 3, but it’s good, too.

I do have their movie and series of shorts, though! Yarunoda Pyon is way better than MM The TV.

And Mika’s graduation concert. And a couple performances from Hello Morning. So, I’m doing pretty good on that front.

But…totally need to get A~in.

Me too. I use a photo of her as an ava on another board, and occasionally, I’ll stop on my posts to look at it. She’s a pretty, pretty young woman.

These guys are now on my ‘gotta find’ list. Unfortunately, I haven’t been having much luck with the Japanese part of that list. ;_; (Them, Folder 5, Kick the Can Crew, and some VK stuff.)

Ahhh, good ol’ Kick the Can Crew. If you like them, check out Blankety Jet City. I actually like them a lot more…much more high energy and upbeat, and a bit less like rap.

If I can find it, I will. I have been singularly unsuccessful in finding their stuff, unfortunately. :confused:

J-Pop is something that caught my attention maybe a couple years ago, but I haven’t made the time to explore it much at all. Shang Shang Typhoon is the only band I’m even a little familiar with, and I only have managed to obtain a smattering of their music. I think is from Denmark, but they’re apparently big in Japan, along that same vein.

Oh, I’ve recently heard Gackt. Not bad at all.

I highly recommend Papa Lapped a Pap Lopped by Gackt. It’s a very silly title, but the music is really energetic/charged and just sounds damned cool.

Not to wiz on the parade, but J-pop was absolutely awesome from about 1990 to 1997. Bands like Wands, T-Bolan, Sha-ran-Q, and B’z ruled the charts with absolutely smokin’ tunes. Soloists like KAN showed true creative power.

After 1997 or so, it all went to hell. As in the US, all the bands began to be aimed at the kiddie market, so you got crap like SMAP and Morning Musume. I can’t blame you for thinking even that stuff is good, as it does have its charms, but it is the result of a precipitous devolution in quality. Try some of the mid-90s bands and see what J-pop used to be: nothing short of spectacular pop music that was never given a chance in the US market.

I’m not a big fan of Morning Musume, just a bit too cutesy for me. SMAP is fun for singing at the karaoke place, but I don’t usually listen to it on a regular basis.

I was first introduced to J-Pop about 10 years ago by a foreign exchange student from Japan that attended my high school. (and since then I have become somewhat proficient with the Japanese language as well, singing J-Pop tunes in the car and trying to translate them on the fly in my head is a good way to work on my fluency). My first favorite songs were from Mr. Children. I also got a lot of Chisato Moritaka soongs from my friend since that was her favorite. I used to be hooked on Speed as well, until they disbanded a few years ago.

I think I’d put Globe as my favorite group right now, though, I haven’t heard any new stuff from any groups for the past couple years, so I don’t know what else is out there right now. I still like Mr. Children a lot, and I think Dragon Ash has some excellent songs as well. I also am a big fan of Dreams Come True and Do As Infinity.

Some of my favorite particular songs:
Globe - Perfume of Love
Globe - Illusion
Mr. Children - Tomorrow Never Knows
Mr. Children - Ame Nochi Hare
Judy And Mary - Sobakasu
Chage and Aska - Meguriai
Dreams Come True - Arashi Ga Kuru
Do As Infinity - Tsubasa No Keikaku
Do As Infinity - Deep Forest
L’Arc En Ciel - Fourth Avenue Cafe
Southern All Stars - Ai No Kotodama
Souther All Stars - Tsunami
My Little Lover - Evergreen

Wow… I could list a lot more :slight_smile: I need to go out and find some more recent music. I do tend to listen to J-Pop more than American music…

I could never get into Dreams Come True, myself.

Couldn’t put my finger on what it is, but they just don’t appeal to me at all.

And, yeah, Momusu is cutesy. I’m a sucker for cutesy.

I guess it’s one of those “ok in small doses” things, because there’s very little J-pop that I can honestly say I like. Although I’ll happily admit to liking Puffy, and I’ll begrudge an acknowledgement that Morning Musume can be infectious (trivia: Morning Musume’s creator and manager is Tsunku, the former lead singer of Sha-ran Q).

What gets me is that the Japanese market doesn’t seem to have the overexposure backlash that other countries do. When I first came to Japan in 1995, the top band was SMAP. Now, ten years later, the top band is still SMAP. If you flip through the channels after 7pm, you probably have a 50-50 chance of seeing one of them, either as an extra on a variety show, as a group one of their own variety shows (they have 3), or starring in a drama somewhere. There is not a single week when one of them is not on the cover of a magazine. There is not a single night of the week when one of them is not on TV, and some nights they’re on every network.

Oh well, I digress. In addition to Puffy, there was a loopy little band called Bus Stop a few years back that I really went for.

I hate, hate, hate SMAP’s music. However, as much as I can’t stand their songs and should, by principle at least, detest them for being a pre-fab boy band, I can’t help not minding them that much. They have a show where they do sketch comedy and they can be genuinely funny. They occasionally have hilarious surreal bits that could appeal to Monty Python or KitH fans. Another show has two members talking about movies. Surprisingly, the films they choose tend to be more art house flicks than Hollywood blockbusters. Takuya Kimura even played in a Wong Kar Wai movie. The extend to which SMAP was engineered to appeal to virtually everyone in some way or other is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The very thought of Aaron Carter reviewing a movie, like, say Andrei Zvyagintsev’s The Return would be material for surrealist comedy sketch. However, Shingo Katori and Goro Inagaki did and they were still totally “in character”.

Lately, my tastes lean more on the older, un-cool side of 70s folk – musicians like Kaguya Hime and Kei Ogura. While it’s true that the J-pop scene was significantly better in the 90s, you can still find a few gems in the sea of pre-fab crap. From the list I posted in the other thread:

Shiina Ringo
Her voice can be grating at times, but she’s easily one of the most interesting artists. She’s a fan of Radiohead and it shows; after scoring a few big hits, she went for more adventurous and somewhat less accessible music. Lost a few fans but gained some respect.

Boom Boom Satellites
Haven’t heard of them lately. They were a big underground act that surfaced in the charts in 2000. Very efficient mixture of rock and electronic sonorities. Definitely a band with potential international appeal.

Sentimental Bus
Bubble gum punk. Around 1999. They had a song called “Weed Crown”. It was about rolling in the grass. Not rolling grass. Really. Their song “Sunny Day Sunday” is HUGELY fun and was a big hit with the expats when I was still hanging out with them.

Crazy Ken Band
Great, fun band that miraculously made it into the charts last year. They mix funk with other influences like latin very well. Definitely one of the best current acts.

Asian Kung Fu Generation
One recent pearl for the rock fans. Sort of the Franz Ferdinand of Japan – rock band that gets the basics just right in a lackluster year.

The Yellow Monkey
I knew a guy, Taro, who used to sing his guts out on Yellow Monkey tracks when we went for karaoke. Made me like them. They’re the sort of band I guess people think about when they say things used to be better in the 90s.

Ego Wrappin’
This a band that does very good jazzy pop. Very catchy, very fun. Another band that used grass-roots support to jump into the charts.

There’s others, of course, but believe it or not, I’m not terribly into the pop music scene. Those were just a few of the musicians that came to mind at first.

Sentimental Bus! That’s who I was thinking of, not Bus Stop. For me, it was a toss-up between who I loved more: the nutty chick with the enormous afro, or her partner who was just losing his shit on that giant bass drum.

And true, when they’re not singing, the SMAP guys can actually be interesting.

Even though I’m closing in on my seventh year in total here in Japan, I still can’t really say I enjoy the local music…

I don’t know what it is, but it just doesn’t appeal to me at all. Further, to my ears, it has sounded the same for about 15 years now… But maybe I haven’t become refineed enough and listened to it enough?

Not that there haven’t been a few good ones throughout the years - once in a while, a nice tune comes along.

(Some Chage & Aska stuff is good; lately, some female singer from Okinawa whose name I can’t remember; the theme-song from Koko Kyoshi; etc. etc.)

But, I see a great deal of interesting recommendations in this thread, so I might check some of them out.

But Morning Musume?? I haven’t been paying attention, but I thought they were all around 14-15 years old? (Maybe they were once, but not any longer…hmmm?)

Chitose Hajime, I hope. She uses traditional Okinawan vocal techniques on western style music. Namie Amuro is also from Okinawa, along with many other popular artists.

The youngest current members of Momusu are 15 (Sayumi Michishige and Reina Tanaka). The oldest is 23 (Kaori Iida). The rest of the group is ranged out pretty evenly between that.

First generation ranged from 13 to 24 when they started.

Mini Moni tended to be younger members, due to the group’s gimmick being the short members of Momusu (with Mika borrowed from Coconuts Musume). They were 13 (Nono), 14 (Aibon), 16 (Mika), and 19 (Yaguchi), I believe, although the numbers keep adding up wrong when I try to work it out.

Most of what I like I got introduced to through anime openings and closings. Although I’m not well-versed enough to know whether I’m mixing genres, there are a few in particular that I like:

ROmantic Mode (why do they capitalize the O in there, anyway?)
T.M. Revolution
Two Mix
L’Arc en Ciel

The latter is particularly interesting to me because they changed from having some kind of eurobeat sound to something akin to nu metal with their more recent stuff. All the same, the JRap elements have persisted the whole time.

Move Website

What does it say for a group when a lot of their stuff gets used in television shows, anyway? In the states, the bands that do openings and closings don’t seem to be all that popular (if even known, from my experience), but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Japan.

Count me down as another person who got into J-pop through anime. There will always be a special place in my heart for Hayashibara Megumi. :slight_smile: There’s just something about her voice.

Glad to see someone else likes Shiina Ringo. Though definitely an acquired taste, I’ve actually come to really like her vocal style. She’s a master of distressing her voice for emotional effect.

I also like Every Little Thing. Their songs are so insanely upbeat and energetic - perfect for a long drive. I do prefer their older stuff though - I think Mochida Kaori’s voice is failing her as time goes on.

Yaida Hitomi seems to be another solid choice for upbeat, catchy pop music - she’s relatively new to me, but so far I’m liking what I hear.

As for Morning Musume, I think they’re…meh. Sure, they’re cute, and some of their songs are darned catchy, but they’re just a bit too manufactured for my taste. I don’t really expect pop singers to write their own music, but whenever I listen to them I just can’t escape the feeling that they’re just singing whatever someone much older tells them to sing.