Japanese Pop Music

I've been interested in and listening to Japanese Pop Music (J-Pop) ever since I first visited Japan in the summer of 1998. I can't understand most of it since my Japanese is so poor, but like many things for me here in Japan, understanding isn't a requirement for enjoyment.

Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: One of Japan's biggest pop music acts arrives in America, not with a massive stadium tour but as a cartoon. Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, set to debut in December 2004, follows the adventures of two very cool, but very different, pop stars as they travel from gig to gig or just hang out in their hometown of Tokyo. Ami is the peppy, positive and resourceful one. Yumi is the hard-rocking, no-nonsense cynic with an absolutely infallible sense of cool. Together, they take the world by storm, despite occasional misjudgments from their well-meaning but tragically square manager, Kaz. Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi also will feature live-action segments starring the real life Puffy AmiYumi (pictured below) as well as the group's catchy J-pop hits.

The band that started it all for me was PUFFY (Yumi & Ami). They have some really crazy videos and super happy music. Both of them are pretty funny and put on a good show. Speaking of "a good show" they even have their own TV program which is on every Wednesday here in Japan around midnight. These two are the best (and as far as I'm concerned always will be). I went to my first PUFFY concert on April 12th, 2002 at Zepp's Osaka. It was... well... fantastic of course.

Sidenote: Yumi was a student at Neyagawa NOVA (where I teach) when she was in high school [long before I started teaching there].

There were a lot of other bands I became interested in during or after my trip to Japan in 1998. Aside from PUFFY I became a fan of Judy & Mary, Shiina Ringo, and a bunch of other artists on a song by song basis. I wont go into detail here about all of them since there are plenty of other pages on the web dedicated to that sort of thing. Instead I will simply give a brief list of what J-Pop I'm listening to circa February 2002.

Speaking of February, I recently bought a single (shown on the left) by Tommy February [formerly a member of The Brilliant Green]. She's not one of my favorites, but she's just so damn poppy and catchy I have to listen to her anyway [just like when Hanson released "Mmm Bop". Or maybe that was just me]. I went to see her at a local club here in Osaka in the month of, you got it, February (2002). She's a terrible live performer and she just lipsynced and danced like a drunken parapalegic the whole time, but her album is still good.

Another recent purchase (although the CD came out a while ago) is this Snail Ramp CD. They're a sort of Ska/Punk band. Although I'm not usually listening to either of those genres all that much I have really been enjoying this CD as of late. It's extremely high energy. I went to their concert in Osaka on April 17th at On Air Osaka. It was packed and full of energy the whole time. A lot of jumping, screaming, and fun.

Perhaps my favorite new J-Pop group is Love Psychedelico. Their music is in both English and Japanese (often in the same song) and has a king of Pop Rock feel to it. I've been enjoying their first CD since I came back to Japan and recently bought their new CD when it came out this year. Both of them are full of good stuff.

I'm enjoying a lot of other artists here in Japan as well, song by song, but these are the main groups (along with Buddha Brand which is my favorite Japanese Hip Hop group) that I'm listening to at the moment. If you're interested in learning more about these bands then check out the following links:

[Puffy's official English site. Really good site]

[A cool Puffy fan page, also in English]

[Tommy February's homepage. Japanese only and not very good]

[Snail Ramp's homepage. Japanese only and not that great either]

[Love Psychedelico's homepage. Japanese only. Decent page]


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