So I said I would give you a little update on Japanese music.
Well, I’m afraid it ain’t gonna be pretty.
Most Japanese music is J-Pop, short for Japanese pop (if you hadn’t already guessed). They love their boybands like crazy, and go through them like wildfire. All the girls at school have paraphernalia with their images on them (think, backstreet boys and spice girls still), but surprisingly enough, there aren’t any girlbands like we used to have the Spice Girls or now still – Girls aloud. They’re all pretty boys that spend hours on getting their hair right and their correct outfits that make them look ‘cool’ and ‘tough’. That pretty much describes most Japanese men (think boys) though.
I told one of my kids once that in the west we don’t really listen to Japanese music, and she was so surprised! Probably couldn’t imagine what else we’d listen to.
SO! One of the most famous bands is SMAP, so big that they’re even very well-known throughout most of Asia. They’ve been going since 1991 apparently (i.e. a lot of changes in members because they all look reasonably young!) and have about 5 members. All I know about these guys is that one of them was recently caught doing drugs and it caused a huge fuss! But my kids at school never really mention them.
Besides them I’ve heard a lot about a band called GReeeeN, one E for each member of the band. Original right? I’ve only really heard one of their songs, and it’s sickly sweet, and the videos have the clenched fist singing and white outfit dancing. Oh yes.
Arashi is also very big at the moment, the name stands for storm. I think there’s about 7 members to this band, with their recent new single being called ‘everything’. Again, at school ARASHI (they like to write in capital letters) paraphernalia galore. Other names to throw around is NEWS (one letter for each direction on a map and there’s 4 members to this one), KAT-TUN, though kat-tun are more bad-boy and make less accessible music to those corny-loving music fans. EXILE are pretty big, and I have to admit, I’ve listened to them a little bit over time. One of my teachers wears an EXILE tour t-shirt at school all the time. Check any of them out on youtube, but it’s all pretty much the same to the untrained ear (which includes me!). I think I will try to learn about them for my kids’ amusement sake, but try not to listen to them.
In general, Japanese people can’t sing. Which is probably why they stick to pop, as it lends most to people with shitty voices. That’s why most other types of music out there isn’t often made (successfully that is!) in Japanese. As far as the rap scene is concerned, the only one introduced to me was by an American friend here, and one of my Japanese friends didn’t know him. Ozrosaurus is the name, and he likes to go ‘lolling’ around a random Japanese neighbourhood, which, to be perfectly honest, looks more like something found in America than a typical Japanese ‘hood.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any female singers in Japan! Oh no, they stick more to the solo stuff, and the slow very high-pitched song which is associated with ‘cuteness’. They are also idolised, and some names that come to mind are Chara and Kumi Koda. For some reason though I never hear as much about these as I do about J-pop bands. Apparently a lot of Korean singers come and sing in Japanese here. One of the most successful ones is MINMI, who does some more reggae-influenced music than die-hard J-pop.
Also, one of my teachers who likes English punk music gave me some Japanese bands. The only one, which is pretty emo, is jeepta, that I think is decent. Hi-standard conforms to the idea that Japanese people can’t sing and Ken Yokohama I haven’t really listened to much.
And that’s about as much as I can divulge about the Japanese music scene. Check some of them out on youtube for your listening pleasure!