Another music genre going mainstream in North America?
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
With the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games happening this summer, Japan is showcasing their cool culture to the rest of the world. The country’s music is not just songs in anime—there is a large variety of music. They have songs that are cheerful and get everyone together. They also have music that causes the entire country to talk, like AKB48’s 2013 song called “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie,” and DA PUMP’s “U.S.A.” which was the surprise summer song in Japan in 2018 (with 196 million views at the time of writing).
The debate of J-Pop vs. K-Pop is like comparing Canadian music with US music. Both Canadian music and J-Pop sound folksy while US music and K-Pop are in line since both have high production value. To prepare us for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Japanese musicians are starting to engage international fans with streaming services, world tours, and music videos filmed outside of Japan. Here is an essential guide to J-Pop with music videos that are available on YouTube.
Nogizaka 46: “Sing Out!”
The female idol groups make songs that get anybody hyped. Some of these groups include Perfume, Baby Metal, AKB48. Those bands are some of the biggest idol groups, and Nogizaka46 is right up there with them. The music video of the group’s previous hit single with Asuka Saito as lead has that gospel sound that will make you clap along with the beat. The group can be described as classy because of their use of interpretive dance and the music video has a theatrical atmosphere that will remind you of Les Misérables.
Official HIGE DANdism: “Stand By You”
Many bands in Japan have the alternative rock sound that you could jam to at a festival on a hot summer day. An example of this is the band Official HIGE DANdism which went mainstream last year with this music video. The band entertains in this video with fashion from the 1960s and segments filmed with an 8mm camera. The song sounds like something that Fall Out Boy might make, though it is enjoyable.
Sakanaction: “Can’t Forget”
In J-Pop, there are also bands that get experimental. End of the World and Sakanaction are two good examples. Sakanaction song’s have the alternative rock sound combined with nostalgia. One of the surprise hits from this summer is this song from the band’s recent album 834.194 where the music video looks like a typical 1980s music video. It shows the clichés of the decade including magic tricks and the city night shots. If you are a big fan of synths and throwbacks, this band’s and their music video is for you.
Gen Hoshino: “Idea”
The actor turned singer’s career consists of joyful songs including, “Sun,” “Koi,” “Family Song,” and this song which is the theme song of the NHK soap opera Half, Blue. In the music video, Hoshino goes through a complex course in a studio in a multicamera one shot. As it progresses, he rides a Segway, does an acoustic guitar solo, and we see his band and backup dancers. He runs in multiple shots and scenes to finally bang a gong and the end of the song. Like in all his songs, Hoshino combines acoustic pop, pop, and electronic music. Recently, he put his entire catalogue in streaming services such as Apple Music.