K-pop has made Asian music popular around the globe. However, other countries have brilliant music artists under their belt too. One of them is Japan. While Japan is popular for its anime, the music industry in the country has been booming too. There are some amazing producers, singers, songwriters, and dancers in Japan.
What Are the Most Popular Music Artists From Japan?
Hikaru was born on the 19th of January 1998, to Japanese parents in America. Her love for music developed from the fact that both her parents were associated with the industry. Her father was record producer Utada Teruzane, and her mother, Keiko Fuji, was a singer. They spent their early life in America and were well acquainted with Japan due to their father’s job.
The music career started for the young girl when they signed a contract with Toshiba-EMI, and in 1998, Hikaru released an English debut album, called “Precious”. This album was released by her stage name Cubic U, however, the album turned out to be a commercial failure. In 1999, Hikaru released another album, this time in Japanese, called “First Love”, which was influenced heavily by R&B, and dance-pop. The album was an instant hit, and this popularity went on to shape her entire career and make them the biggest music artist in Japan.
“First Love” sold 2 million copies in the first week, and topped the Oricon charts for six weeks, back to back. The album sold another 6 million copies throughout the year. “First Love” was also Japan’s best-selling album of the year. Utada released another album called “Distance” at the start of 2001, which included her hit songs “Addicted to You”, “Wait & See (Risk)” and “Can You Keep a Secret?” The album won the title of the fastest-selling album.
By 2009, Utada was a name popular in every Japanese household and was called “the most influential artist of the decade” by The Japan Times.
Arashi is a five-member boy band from Japan. It was first formed under “Johnny and Associates” and comprises members namely Satoshi Ohno, Sho Sakurai, Masaki Aiba, Kazunari Ninomiya, and Jun Matsumoto. The group was officially formed on September 15, 1995, and released its first album on 3rd November 1999. Their album sold half a million copies but the sales were slow.
By 2006, Arashi had a fan following outside of Japan too. Their studio album “Arashic” was released in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. The album sold 10,000 copies in South Korea. Their boost of popularity came when their song “Love So Sweet” was featured as the soundtrack of the drama Hana Yori Dango 2. Jun Matsumoto played the protagonist for the series. The song was a hit and became one of the five top-selling albums in Japan for the year 2007. Since its debut, over two decades, the group has sold 58.8 million copies.
It is one of the growing boy bands of Japan as we see further success from them in the future with many new albums underway.
Namie Amuro was born on the 20th of September 1977, in Okinawa, Japan. She is a producer, singer, songwriter, actress, model, and entrepreneur. Namie is very popular in Japan because she helped shape J-pop itself. Her long career, and experimentation with music, earned her the title of “The Japanese Madonna” and “Queen of Japanese Pop.”
Namie Amuro started her music career at the age of 14 as a member of a group called “Super Monkeys.” However, the group’s song couldn’t sell which is why her start was actually not too good. Nami
e Amuro went on to acquire contracts, as a model and acting. In 1995, she signed a contract with Avex Trax and released the single “Body Feels Exit” for her solo debut. In 1996, her studio album “Sweet 19 Blues” sold 3 million copies and won a lot of accolades. It was the most sold album by a female artist in Japan and the most selling debut album in the world. She truly was the biggest female musician in Japan in her era.
Ever since then, Namie has been in partnerships with multiple artists. She has done various advertisements, has released 12 different albums, and sold almost 40 million records. In the J-Pop music industry, we can see her as an emerging star who would become one of the most recognized artists someday.
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Bump Of Chicken
Bump of chicken is a four-member, alternate rock band from Chiba, Japan. The members of the group are Motoo Fujiwara, the lead singer, Hiroaki Masukawa, the guitarist, Yoshifumi Naoi, the bassist of the group, and Hideo Masu who is the drummer.
The group was formed in 1994 and performed for the first time at a school cultural festival. Ever since then, they have gone on to release 29 singles and 9 albums. Their first album was published in 1999, called “Flame Vein.” In the year 2000, they held their first live tour, in March and April. The group’s popularity skyrocketed when their third single “Tentai Kansoku” was featured on the Oricon Weekly Charts, in 2001.
The group’s latest single is “Acacia”, which was released to celebrate the release of “Crown Tundra DLC” in Pokémon. There is yet more to come from the group because of its global tours.
Alt tag – The famous Japanese boy band, Bump of Chicken.
AKB48 is a girl group from Japan. The A.K.B is an abbreviation of the Akihabara area in Japan, where the group is from. 48, is the number of members in the group. The concept was by Yasushi Akimoto, who wanted a girl group that would perform in a theater daily, where people could see them live.
The group was divided into teams to manage to perform every day, and this unique concept was a big hit. This is proven by the fact that AKB48 is the fifth best-selling girl group worldwide, and has sold more than 60 million records. Their single “Teacher Teacher”, was the biggest selling single and sold 3 million copies. This makes them more influential than hundreds of other music artists in Japan.
After the immense success of AKB48, the concept of live theater performances is being implemented in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and even India. The liveliness of their acts is giving them even more popularity.
Koda was born in Kyoto, Japan, on 13 November 1982. She debuted with the song “Take Back”, in December of 2000. Her rise to fame came in March 2003, when her songs from “Real Emotion/1000 no Kotoba” were used in the game “Final Fantasy X-2” which led to her mass-scale popularity in the music industry.
Koda Kumi started with a shy and conservative image. Over the years, she has become a big fashion icon among young women. She has also written a biographical book, called “Koda Style”. Koda is the seventh female to perform at The Tokyo Dome, in a concert that is said to have 45,000 people.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, with the actual name Kiriko Takemura, was born on the 29th of January, 1993. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a stage name she has been using to support her singing, and modeling career. Her entire stage persona is based on Japan’s decora and Kawaii culture. Kawaii in Japan is something that looks or acts cute. Decora culture consists of flamboyant hairstyles, makeup, and over-the-top dresses. She is one of the most famous music artists in Japan who follows this style.
Kyary’s music is produced by Yasutaka Nakata who is very popular all over the country. She has released four albums to date, which are “Pamyu Pamyu Revolution (2012)”, “Nanda Collection (2013)”, “Pika Pika Fantajin (2014)”, and “Japamyu (2018)”.
Her music has always been quite admired by the local fans. However, she is also gaining an audience overseas due to viral videos. Kyary has a loyal fan base as many of her songs go hit by the same numbers. According to Oricon, she has sold 970’000 physical copies of her albums to date.
The J-pop industry is gaining popularity outside of the country real fast. The biggest reason for Japanese artists getting famous overseas is the original soundtracks of internationally famous anime. The J-pop industry has some real gems to offer, and you should listen to them. If you don’t want to listen to Japanese songs, a lot of J-pop artists have songs, and even entire albums in English. While J-pop means Japanese pop, the category includes R&B and other genres too. This means you’re sure to find something you love.