Actor turned singer offers cheerful electronic folk rock
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
There are singers turned actors—like Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga—but there are also a few actors that transitioned to performing music that are very successful. Examples include Hailee Steinfeld, Donald Glover, and Gen Hoshino. Hoshino was well known in Japan for his acting work before he began his music career. Yet, for the past 10 years, his fame has come from his musical talent. International fans know him mostly for his pop career.
His music is fun, comedic, folksy, personal, and a shining example of essential J-Pop. Before his solo career began, he was in an instrumental band called SAKEROCK. He released his first album Baka no Uta in 2010 which includes his first hit single “Kuse no Uta.”
“Kuse no Uta” offers his early sound of alternative folk music and pays homage to his hometown of Saitama—a neighbouring city in the Tokyo area. The music video of the song was filmed on 8mm film. In the video we see Hoshino going around the town and animation being drawn on the video. A similar thing happens in the music videos for the next few hit singles such as “Futon”—where he goes back to his house after a day at the mine; and “Film,” where he plays a reporter while zombies are appearing.
His music starts to get more upbeat in his next hit single “Out of a Dream.” This song and “Monster” both have extensive choreography in their music videos. The video for the latter shows us contemporary dance and Hoshino playing the marimba. It is a playful and fun song. In 2012, Hoshino had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Soon after, he wrote the song “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?”
In his later music he puts both electronic music and orchestrations in his songs. This fresh new sound attained him even more attention. Songs like “SUN,” “Koi,” “Doraemon,” “Idea,” and “Pop Virus”—from his recent album Pop Virus—
are examples of his unique sound.
“SUN” is the song that introduced me to Hoshino. With its poppy 1970s electronic disco sound, it gets everyone excited. During this album, his music videos were choreographed by Perfume’s choreographer MIKIKO. He also began collaborating with Sakanaction’s guitarist Motoharu Iwadera. In the music video of “Crazy Crazy” and “SUN,” we see Hoshino’s alter ego, Nise Akira —a 1970s guy with long hair.
“Family Song,” is a cheerful song about typical day with family fun times. The video for this hit introduces us to a housewife character named Mrs. Ogen. This video actually led to the creation of Hoshino’s occasional NHK show—
Ogen-san to Issho. Last August, the multi-talented singer/actor started offering his music on streaming services. Hoshino also did a world tour which included a stop in New York City. In the city he performed with his friend and famous producer Mark Ronson.
Recently, Hoshino released a digital EP called Same Thing which includes a song of the same title. In the song he collaborates with Superorganism and sings in English. Surprisingly, they filmed the music video for the song in Australia. The song talks about his fame and in its chorus it’s as if he’s saying that he still loves his fans but sometimes, f**** off to them. He is seen everywhere in Japan: from commercials for mobile phone operator DOCOMO to noodle company Nissin. During his acting career, he was on the original Japanese versions of two hit anime films—Mirai and The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl.
Favourite Gen Hoshino Songs