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Songs of Japan

As an avid listener of music, I could never imagine having a day without listening to my favourite tunes while doing work, playing games or just lazing about. Of course, with how much I listen to music, there is no surprise that I listen to many different genres of the music world. However, I always find myself attracted to Japanese music more often than not. To me, Japanese music has a certain attraction to me that can't be replicated by others. From J-Pop to Anison, I always feel satisfied and entertained while listening to them. With that said, I'd like to share my passion for Japanese music with you all!


Yonezu Kenshi

As previously mentioned, I am a broad listener of all music genres, and I usually pick the genre depending on my current mood. Using my experience, I will introduce some of the genres as well as their relative hit songs to let you familiarize and if possible, capture your attention. I will also be listing my personal opinions on the good and bad of that genre. I will also list some artists known in that genre so that it'll be easier for you to find their music. Let us start with what I think is the broadest genre of Japanese music, J-Pop.


1) J-Pop

As my favourite overall genre, I have most of my time listening to music in this genre. As a newcomer to Japanese, you would definitely not want to miss this genre as there are many gems hidden under this mine, waiting to be uncovered. These songs tend to be a hit most of the time, whether in Japan or overseas. The songs in this genre tend to be upbeat and fast, though there are many popular slow songs as well. Regardless, they never cease to uplift my spirits whenever I choose to listen to this genre. As many new artists with aspiring dreams and amazing songs to boot appear, I think that you'll at least find a new favourite song or artist. 


Yonezu Kenshi - Lemon

One artist that's renowned in this genre and one that I am also a huge fan of is Yonezu Kenshi. In particular, I'll be referring to his hit song, Lemon. Written as the theme song of a drama released in Japan, it quickly gained traction in popularity. When I first heard the song and saw its lyrics, I couldn't help but tear up. The song was to depict the pain and sorrow of losing a loved one. I could definitely feel the emotions put into the work when the lyrics were sung. It was like multiple punches to my stomach as I quickly thought of someone I lost. The song was definitely a masterpiece.


Yonezu Kenshi - Lemon

Another artist, or in this case, artists, that's also renowned in this genre is King Gnu. What's amazing about this band is that they only recently debuted under their new alias and managed to make a mark unlike any other in the J-Pop world with their hit song, Hakujitsu. While I couldn't find any sources in regards to the meaning and message of the song, I definitely wouldn't miss one of the biggest clues, the lyrics. From what I can infer, King Gnu wanted to portray the regret of one's mistakes and the thought of getting stuck in the past. While listening, there was a verse that resonated within me. You cannot go back to old days anymore, even if you envy. You must start walking for tomorrow, even if it snows hard". 


King Gnu - Hakujitsu

2) Visual Kei

At first, I was not familiar with the term at all. However, after doing some research, I realized that I do listen to some songs of this genre, albeit infrequently. Visual Kei is one of the more reclusive genres in Japanese music. In fact, some see it as heavy metal, electronic or sometimes even pop. To the artists themselves, they find themselves saying that Visual Kei is not a music genre in itself, but instead freedom of expression and fashion. This can be seen in the actions of the artists known in this genre. They tend to have flamboyant fashion as well as singing styles. Furthermore, expressive gestures are used by artists to express themselves.


the gazettE

One such band is the GazettE. Currently in the music industry for 18 years, the band is still going strong with many fans all around the world. While I myself am not familiar with the band itself, their songs do interest me a little. One song that led me to listen to them was "Filth in the Beauty". The instrumentals and rough voice of the lead singer caught me by surprise as I did not realize that Japanese rock could be as catchy and entertaining as it was. For those interested in glam rock, the GazettE and many others such as Dir En Grey waiting to be uncovered.



the gazettE - Filth in the Beauty


3) City Pop

Originally termed as an offshoot of Japan and Western music called "new music", City Pop reached its peak popularity in the 1980s before losing their appeal. To explain more about it, the term was introduced for artists that projected an "urban" feel different from others. These artists generally shied away from Japanese influence while making music. In fact, some examples of overseas influence include American soft rock, boogie and funk. To be honest, I don't really listen to this genre that much as I am more of a modern person. I only found this genre by pure chance when I was browsing through the Japanese section in Spotify and gave it a try, While it was not bad, I also was not impressed by it. Maybe it was because there weren't many songs that I could listen to.




If you're keen to try out City Pop, I did some research and one of the notable artist I could find is Toshiki Kadomatsu.


4) Japanese Hip Hop

If there's music, there will definitely be hip hop. As can be seen everywhere in the world, hip hop is an integral part of music in every country's music. Directly influenced by old school hip hop of catchy beats and dance culture, Japanese Hip Hop has grown and diversified since the 2000s. As a fan of hip hop or rap in general, I find myself listening to this genre a lot whenever I want to relax and "chill out" to the music. With their catchy beats as well as the fast yet distinct vocals, I can't help but nod my head to the beat every time I listen to Japanese Hip Hop. I also listen to this genre whenever I am playing games as it gets me in the mood.


KOHH

An artist or rapper in this case that caught my attention was KOHH. Having just released a new album, KOHH is one of my favourite Japanese rappers with his catchy rap songs. He reminds me of old school hip hop with his singing style as well as beats. Of course, every time I listen to him, my head nods to the beat. I especially like his song from the album 'worst', 'I think I'm Falling'. 


KOHH - I think I'm falling

Another rapper from this genre that is well-known is DAOKO. Most would know her from her collaboration with Yonezu Kenshi for the song, 'Fireworks'. Accompanying Yonezu, her vocals were superb in the song. You might know her for her singing in 'Fireworks', but her rapping is just as wonderful as her singing. 


DAOKO & Yonezu Kenshi - Fireworks


5) Japanese Rock

Also known as J-rock, Japanese rock has gained worldwide recognition, especially in Asia. I definitely can see why too! After listening to J-rock, I can confidently say that J-rock is one of the best rock out there. In fact, it is so popular in Japan that there has been the need to organize a new type of festival called the Fuji Rock Festival in the past. While it has been unfortunately cancelled this year, many J-rock fans still anticipate the day they can see their favourite rock band perform live. 


ONE OK ROCK

J-rock is one of my favourite genres of Japanese music just because of one band, ONE OK ROCK. If you are also a fan of J-rock but have not heard of ONE OK ROCK, I urge you sincerely to give their songs a try! Not only that their songs are really good and entertaining, but they also relate to me and every other teenager really well. Their songs are full of inspiration and strive to give light at the end of the tunnel for anyone who is lost can't find the way. One such song of theirs, 'We are', made me have a lump in my throat while fighting back emotions when I was listening to it for the first time. ONE OK ROCK is one of the artists that I will always look up to for a long time.


ONE OK ROCK - We are

Another J-rock band that is only second to ONE OK ROCK in my humble opinion is Kana-Boon. You might recognize the name, seeing as it wrote the critically acclaimed 'Silhouette' for the Naruto series. Their songs have been used for many openings and endings for many animes, and rightfully so. With catchy songs and fitting lyrics, I can see they are always contracted to write songs for animes.


Kana-Boon - Silhouette


6) Anison

Of course, how are we going to end without including this genre in? After all, Anison, the abbreviation of anime songs, was what got me into Japanese music in the first place. More about Anison, this genre focuses on the opening and ending songs of animes. In addition to that, they can also be from anime-styled video games or visual novels. Anison crosses all Japanese music genres but tends to feature upbeat J-pop and J-rock prominently. Lots of artists and groups have come to fame from making songs for animes, especially since there are much more audience in that area. 


Aimer

Speaking of artists, LiSA is definitely one of the best in this genre. From SAO's Crossing Field to Demon Slayer's Gurenge, she has made her mark in Anison's history as one of the best. Her vocals are really powerful and unique. Whenever I listen to one of her songs, I tend to be filled with adrenaline and can't help but to sing along with her.


LiSA - Gurenge

Another renowned artist is Aimer. Aimer has been one of my favourite singer of all time because of her songs. She manages to evoke my emotions whenever I listen to her songs. BRAVE SHINE, especially. Whenever that song starts playing in my ear, I get reminded of my teenager years and reminisce on the times I dearly miss. Aimer was the first Japanese singer I started following and it was thanks to her that I manage to find myself engrossed in animes, mangas and light novels.


Aimer - BRAVE SHINE

With that said, I do hope that this has helped you in some way by introducing the music genres with their artist and respective songs. By helping opening up your world of music, I do hope that you find a new favourite artist or group as well as support them!

Also, I'll list my favourite artists currently as well as some notable mentions if some of you are interested!


  1. Yonezu Kenshi
  2. Official Hige DANdism
  3. My First Story
  4. Kobasolo
  5. Yorushika


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