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Template:Copyedit Template:Contains Japanese text Template:Infobox Music genre J-pop (ジェイポップ?, also J-POP) is an abbreviation for Japanese pop, but is also a loosely defined musical genre that entered the musical mainstream of Japan in the 1990s. Modern "J-pop" has its roots in 1960s music such as The Beatles[1] and replaced kayōkyoku (Japanese pop music until 1980s) in the Japanese music scene.[2] It was coined by the Japanese media to distinguish Japanese music from foreign music and now refers to most of Japanese popular music. According to the data of 2006 from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the Japanese music industry is the second largest in the world, behind the United States.[3]

Form and definition


File:Minyō scale.png
One of examples of Japanese folk music (min'yō) scale

The origin of modern "J-pop" is said to be Japanese-language rock music inspired by The Beatles.[1] Unlike the Japanese music genre called kayōkyoku, J-pop uses a special kind of pronunciation, which is similar to English language.[4] The notable singer to do so is Keisuke Kuwata, who pronounced the Japanese word "karada" (body) as "kyerada".[4] Additionally, unlike Western music, the major second (sol and la) was usually not used in Japanese music except art music before rock music became popular in Japan.[5] When Group Sounds (which was inspired by Western rock) became popular, however, Japanese pop music adopted the major second which was used in the final sounds of The Beatles' song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and The Rolling Stones' song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".[5] Although Japanese pop music became occidental in progress of time, J-pop is still influenced by Japanese pentatonic scale and distortional tetrachord.[5]

At first, the term "J-pop" was only used for Western-style musicians in Japan such as Pizzicato Five and Flipper's Guitar just after Japanese radio broadcasting J-Wave was established.[2] However, the term became a blanket term covering other music genres such as the majority of Japanese rock music of 1990s.[2]

Japanese Tower Records defined J-pop as all Japanese music belonging to the Recording Industry Association of Japan except Japanese independent music (also known as "J-indie") in 1990, but they began to use more segmentalized classification such as J-club, J-punk, J-hip-hop, J-reggae, J-anime, Johnny's and Visual by 2008 after some indie musicians went on to release their works via major labels.[6]

Whereas rock musicians in Japan usually hate the term "pop", Taro Kato, a member of pop punk band Beat Crusaders, pointed out that the encoded pop music like pop art was catchier than "J-pop" and he also said that "J-pop" was the pops (ポップス poppusu?) music remembered by being aired many times in an interview when they completed their first full-length studio album under a major label, P.O.A.: Pop on Arrival, in 2005.[7] Because the band did not want to perform the "J-pop" music, their music on the album featured the 80's Pop of MTV.[7] According to another member Toru Hidaka, the 1990s influential music for him (such as Nirvana, Hi-Standard and Flipper's Guitar) was not listened by fans of other music in Japan at that time.[7]

In contrast to this, although many rock musicians of Japan until the late 1980s disrespected the kayōkyoku music, many of Japanese rock bands of 1990s such as Glay assimilated kayōkyoku into their music.[2] After the late 1980s, breakbeat and sampler also changed the Japanese music scene where expert drummers played good rhythm because Japanese traditional music did not have the rhythm based on rock or blues.[2]

However, Hide of Greeeen openly described their music genre as "J-pop". He said, "I also love rock, hip hop and breakbeats, but my field is consistently J-pop. For example, hip hop musicians learn 'the culture of hip hop' when they begin their career. We are not like those musicians and we love the music as sounds very much. Those professional people may say 'What are you doing?' but I think that our musical style is cool after all. The good thing is good."[8][fn 1]


1920s–1950s: Ryūkōka

Ryūkōka」、「Kayōkyoku」、および「Japanese jazz」も参照

Ichiro Fujiyama, influential ryūkōka singer

Japanese popular music, called ryūkōka before being split into enka and poppusu,[9] has origins in the Meiji period, but most Japanese scholars consider the Taishō period to be the actual starting point of ryūkōka, as it is the era in which the genre first gained nationwide popularity.[10][11] By the Taishō period, Western musical techniques and instruments, which had been introduced to Japan in the Meiji period, were widely used.[11] Influenced by Western genres such as jazz and blues, ryūkōka incorporated Western instruments such as the violin, harmonica, and guitar. However, the melodies were often written according to the traditional Japanese pentatonic scale.[10] In 1930s, Ichiro Fujiyama released popular songs with his tenor voice.[12] Fujiyama used a technique called Crooning through microphone.[13] Jazz musician Ryoichi Hattori attempted to produce Japanese native music which had a "flavor" of blues.[14] He composed Noriko Awaya's hit song "Wakare no Blues" (lit. "Farewell Blues").[15] Awaya became a famous popular singer and was called "Queen of Blues" in Japan.[16] Due to pressure from the Imperial Army during the war, the performance of jazz music was temporarily halted in Japan. Hattori, who stayed in Shanghai at the end of the war, produced hit songs such as Shizuko Kasagi's "Tokyo Boogie-Woogie" and Ichiro Fujiyama's "Aoi Sanmyaku" (lit. "Blue Mountain Range").[15] Hattori later became known as the "Father of Japanese poppusu".[15] The United States soldiers—who were occupying Japan at the time—and the Far East Network introduced a number of new musical styles to the country.[17] Boogie-woogie, Mambo, Blues, and Country music were performed by Japanese musicians for the American troops. Chiemi Eri's cover song "Tennessee Waltz" (1952), Hibari Misora's "Omatsuri Mambo" (1952), and Izumi Yukimura's cover song "Till I Waltz Again with You" (1953) also became popular. Foreign musicians and groups including JATP and Louis Armstrong visited Japan to perform. In mid-1950s, "Jazz Kissa" (ジャズ喫茶 Jazu Kissa, literally "Jazz cafe"?) became a popular venue for live jazz music.[17] Jazz had a large impact on Japanese poppusu, though "authentic" jazz did not become the mainstream genre of music in Japan.[18] In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Japanese pop was polarized between urban kayō and modern enka.[19]

1960s: Origin of modern style

File:Kyu horna.png
Kyu Sakamoto (left) in 1964. His song "Sukiyaki" became the first Japanese song to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Rokabirī Boom and Wasei pops

In 1956, the short-time rock and roll craze began, due to the country music group known as Kosaka Kazuya and the Wagon Masters: their rendition of Elvis Presley's song "Heartbreak Hotel" helped to fuel the trend. The music was called "Rokabirī" (ロカビリー literally "rockabilly"?) by Japanese media.[20] Performers learned to play the music and translate the lyrics of popular American songs, resulting in the birth of Cover Pops (カヴァーポップス Kavā poppusu?).[21] The rockabilly movement would reach its peak when 45,000 people saw the performances by Japanese singers at the first Nichigeki Western Carnival in one week of February 1958.[22]

Kyu Sakamoto, a fan of Elvis, made his stage debut in a band called The Drifters at the Nichigeki Western Carnival in 1958.[23] His 1961 song "Ue wo Muite Arukō" (lit. "Let's Look Up and Walk"), known in other parts of the world as "Sukiyaki", was released to the United States in 1963. It was the first Japanese song to reach the #1 position in the United States, spending four weeks in Cash Box and three weeks in Billboard. It also received a "Gold Record" for selling one million copies.[24] During this period, female duo The Peanuts also became popular, singing a song in movie "Mothra".[25] Their songs such as "Furimukanaide" (lit. "Don't Turn Around") were later covered by Candies on their album Candy Label.[26] Songs like Kyu Sakamoto and The Peanuts were called Wasei Pops (和製ポップス Wasei poppusu?, "Japan-made pop").[21][27]

After frequently changing members, Chosuke Ikariya re-formed The Drifters in 1964 under the same name. At a Beatles concert in 1966, they acted as curtain raisers, but the audience generally objected.[28] Eventually, The Drifters became popular in Japan, releasing "Zundoko-Bushi" (lit. Zundoko [echoic word] tune) in 1969.[28] Along with enka singer Keiko Fuji, they won "the award for mass popularity" at the 12th Japan Record Awards in 1970.[29] Keiko Fuji's 1970 album Shinjuku no Onna/'Enka no Hoshi' Fuji Keiko no Subete (lit. "Woman in Shinjuku/'Star of Enka' All of Keiko Fuji") established an all-time record for spending in number-one spot of 20 consecutive weeks in the Japanese Oricon chart history.[30] The Drifters later became to be known as television personalities and invited idols such as Momoe Yamaguchi and Candies to their television program.[28]

Eleki Boom and Group Sounds

Group Sounds」も参照

Nippon Budokan, legendary place for Japanese musicians

The Ventures visited Japan in 1962 and they caused the electric guitar's movement called "Eleki Boom".[31] Yūzō Kayama and Takeshi Terauchi became famous players of electric guitar.[32] In Japan, the sales of The Ventures was reportedly more than that of The Beatles, though The Beatles were overestimated in later years.[32] In 1966, The Beatles came to Japan and sang their songs at the Nippon Budokan, becoming the first rock music band to perform their concert at the Budokan.[33] The public believed that The Beatles would cause juvenile delinquency.[1] The Japanese government deployed riot police against young rock fans at the Nippon Budokan.[34] John Lennon felt that they were not well regarded in Japan, but the legend of The Beatles has remained over decades among the Japanese people.[35] They caused the movement of Group Sounds in Japan.[1]

Most Japanese musicians felt that they could not use Japanese language on new rock songs, so this era gradually declined.[1] As a result, there were debates such as "Should we sing rock music in Japanese?" and "Should we do in English?" between Happy End and Yuya Uchida about Japanese rock music.[36] This confrontation was called "Japanese-language rock controversy" (日本語ロック論争 Nihongo Rokku Ronsō?).[37] Happy End proved that rock music could be sung in Japanese and one theory holds that their music musically became an origin of modern "J-pop".[1] The Beatles also inspired Eikichi Yazawa, who grew up in an underprivileged family in which father died when he was a child.[38] Keisuke Kuwata, who grew up in a dual-income family, was influenced by them through his older sister, then an avid fan.[39] Yōsui Inoue was also a fan of The Beatles, but he said that his music style was not particularly related to them.[40] After Happy End disbanded in 1973, its member Haruomi Hosono began his solo career and later formed Yellow Magic Orchestra.[41]

1970s: Development

Fōku and New music

In the early 1960s, some Japanese music became influenced by American folk music revival; this was called "fōku" (フォーク?, literally "folk"), although the genre of music was mostly covers of original songs.[42] In the late 1960s, The Folk Crusaders became famous and the underground music around that time became called fōku.[43] Like former Soshi Enka (music genre of Meiji and Taisho period), Japanese fōku singers Wataru Takada performed social satires.[44]

In the early 1970s, the emphasis shifted from simple songs with a single guitar accompaniment (known originally as fōku) to more complex musical arrangements known as New Music (ニューミュージック nyū myūjikku?).[45] Instead of social messages, the songs focused on more personal messages, such as love. In 1972, a great change was taking place in Japanese music scene: singer-songwriter Takuro Yoshida produced a hit song "Kekkon Shiyouyo" (lit. "Let's marry") without decent television promotion, though fans of old fōku music became very angry because his music seemed to be a mersh music.[46] The highest-selling single of the year was Shiro Miya and the Pinkara Trio's enka song "Onna no Michi".[46] The enka song eventually sold over 3.25 million copies.[47] On December 1, 1973, Yōsui Inoue released the album Kōri no Sekai, which topped the Oricon charts and remained in Top 10 for 113 weeks.[48] It spent 13 consecutive weeks in the number-one spot, and eventually established a still-standing record to spend a total of 35 weeks at the number-one position on Oricon charts.[30][49] Yumi Matsutoya, formerly known by her maiden name Yumi Arai, also became a notable singer/songwriter during this period by the variety of sounds she produced. In October 1975, she released a single "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai" (lit. "I want to return to that day"), making it her first number-one single on Oricon charts.[50] Miyuki Nakajima, Amii Ozaki and Junko Yagami were also popular singer-songwriters during this period. At first, only Yumi Matsutoya was commonly called a New Music artist, but the concept of Japanese fōku music changed around that time.[51] In 1979, Chage and Aska made their debut and a folk band Off Course (with the singer Kazumasa Oda) released a hit song "Sayonara" (lit. "Good-bye").

Emergence of Japanese rock and electronic music

Rock music relatively remained in the underground music genre in 1970s in Japan.[45] In 1978, however, Eikichi Yazawa's single "Toki yo Tomare" (lit. "Time, Stop") became a smash hit, which sold over 639,000 copies.[52] He is regarded as one of the pioneers of Japanese rock.[53] He sought worldwide success, and in 1980 he signed a contract with the Warner Pioneer record company and moved to the West Coast of the United States. He recorded the albums Yazawa, It's Just Rock n' Roll, and Flash in Japan, all of which were released worldwide, but were not very commercially successful. Keisuke Kuwata formed a rock band Southern All Stars, which made their debut in 1978. Southern All Stars remains very popular today. In the same year, Yellow Magic Orchestra also made their debut. The band, whose members were Haruomi Hosono, Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto, developed electropop.[54] Their 1979 album Solid State Survivor reached #1 on Oricon charts in July 1980.[55] Young fans of their music during this period became known as "YMO Generation" (YMO世代 YMO sedai?).[56][57] Southern All Stars and Yellow Magic Orchestra symbolize the end of New Music.[51]

1980s: Fusion with "kayōkyoku"

City Pop


In the early 1980s, the term City Pop (シティーポップ Shitī Poppu?) was used to describe a type of popular music that had a big city theme when car stereo became widespread.[58] Tokyo in particular inspired many songs of this form. During this time frame, music fans and artists in Japan were influenced by album-oriented rock (especially Adult contemporary) and crossover (especially Jazz fusion).[58][59] Although City Pop was affected by New Music, rock band Happy End was considered as one of origins.[60]

Akira Terao and Anri became famous during this period. Akira Terao's 1981 album Reflections became the best selling album of 80's Japan, selling about 1.65 million copies.[61][62]

Tatsuro Yamashita and his wife Mariya Takeuchi also became popular in this period. Yamashita's 1983 song "Christmas Eve" finally reached #1 on the Oricon weekly single charts of December 25, 1989.[63] In 1989, Ryuichi Sakamoto won the "Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television" award at the Grammy Awards for his contribution to movie The Last Emperor.[64][65]

However, the popularity of City Pop declined when the Japanese asset price bubble disintegrated in 1990, and those musical characteristics except its "cultural background" were inherited by Shibuya-kei musicians such as Pizzicato Five and Flipper's Guitar.[58]

Growth of the Japanese rock industry

Visual kei」も参照

File:Xjapan hongkong.jpg
Concert of pioneer of visual kei, X Japan at Hong Kong in 2009 after their 2007 reunion

Throughout 1980s, rock bands became popular such as Southern All Stars, RC Succession, Anzen Chitai, The Checkers, The Alfee and The Blue Hearts. Anzen Chitai was from Yosui Inoue's backup band. On December 1, 1983, rock singer Yutaka Ozaki also debuted at the age of 18. In 1986, The Alfee became the first artist to play a concert in front of an audience of 100,000 people in Japan.[66] On the other hand, some Japanese musicians such as Boøwy, TM Network and Buck-Tick apparently came under the influence of the New Romanticism.[67]

Boøwy especially became an influential rock band, whose members included singer Kyosuke Himuro and guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei. Their three albums reached number-one in 1988, making them the first male artists to do so within a year.[68] Subsequent Japanese rock bands were modeled on this band.[69] Guitarist Tak Matsumoto, who supported TM Network's concerts, formed rock duo B'z with singer Koshi Inaba in 1988.[70]

In the late 1980s, all female band Princess Princess became a successful pop rock band. Their singles "Diamonds" and "Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Natsu" (lit. "World's Hottest Summer") were ranked at the number-one and number-two spots respectively on the 1989 Oricon Yearly Single Charts.[71]

In the late 1980s, a new trend also emerged in Japanese rock music: the visual kei a movement notable by male bands who wore make up and extravagant hair styles and androgynous costumes. The most well successful representants are X Japan (formerly known as "X") and Buck-Tick. After X released their first album Vanishing Vision under the indie label Extasy Records in 1988, they released their album Blue Blood under the major label CBS Sony in 1989. Blue Blood sold 712,000 copies and their 1991 album Jealousy sold over 1.11 million copies.[72] X Japan was originally influenced by heavy metal music, but its guitarist Hide came under the influence of alternative rock, releasing his first solo album Hide Your Face in 1994.[73]

Golden age, decline and transfiguration of Idols

Japanese idol」も参照

In 1970s, the popularity of female idol singers such as Mari Amachi, Saori Minami, Momoe Yamaguchi and Candies grew up. Momoe Yamaguchi was one of first kayōkyoku singers to use the special pronunciation like "J-pop".[4] In 1972, Hiromi Go made his debut with song "Otokonoko Onnanoko" (lit. "Boy and Girl").[46] Hiromi Go originally came from Johnny & Associates.[74] In 1976, female duo Pink Lady made their debut with single "Pepper Keibu". Pink Lady released nine consecutive number-one singles, establishing a record of that time.[75]

In 1980s, Japanese idols inherited "New Music", though the term "New Music" fell out of usage.[45] Seiko Matsuda especially adopted song producers of previous generations.[45] In 1980, her third single "Kaze wa Aki Iro" (lit. "Wind is autumn color") reached the number-one spot on Oricon charts.[75] Haruomi Hosono also joined the production of her music.[45] She eventually became the first artist to make 24 consecutive number 1 singles, breaking Pink Lady's record.[75]

In 1980s, other female idol singers achieved significant popularity such as Akina Nakamori, Yukiko Okada, Kyōko Koizumi, Yoko Minamino, Momoko Kikuchi, Yōko Oginome, Miho Nakayama, Minako Honda and Chisato Moritaka. Okada received the Best New Artist award from the Japan Record Award in 1984. Nakamori won the grand prix awards for two consecutive years in 1985 and 1986 also at the Japan Record Award. Japanese idol band Onyanko Club made their debut in 1985 and produced popular singer Shizuka Kudō. They were amateurish and changed the image of Japanese idols.[76] Around 1985, however, people began to be disenamored with the system for creating idols.[77] In 1986, idol singer Yukiko Okada's song "Kuchibiru Network" (lit. "Lips' Network"), written by Seiko Matsuda and composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, became a hit song, but she committed suicide immediately after that.[78]

Hikaru Genji, one of the representants of the Johnny & Associates, made their debut in 1987. They became the highly influential rollerskating boy band, with some of its members growing up to fame on their own. Their song "Paradise Ginga", written by Aska, won the grand prix award at the 30th Japan Record Awards in 1988. A part of its backing dancers later formed SMAP. The late 1980s also saw the rise of the female duo Wink. However, they didn't laugh unlike Japanese idols of former era. Wink debuted in 1988, surpassing the popularity of the then most popular female duo, BaBe. Very popular singer Hibari Misora died in 1989 and many kayōkyoku programs such as "The Best Ten" were closed.[79] Nakamori made a suicide attempt in 1989. Wink's song "Samishii Nettaigyo" won the grand prix award at the 31st Japan Record Awards in 1989. CoCo also made their hit debut with the 1989 single Equal Romance for the hit anime series Ranma ½. Tetsuya Komuro, a member of TM Network, eventually prevented Seiko Matsuda's 25 consecutive number-ones in November 1989.[80]

1990s: Coining of the term "J-pop"

1990–1997: Growing market

In 1990s, the term J-pop went on to refer to Japanese popular songs except enka.[2]

During the period, Japanese music industry sought marketing effectiveness. The notable examples of commercial music in the era were the tie-in music from the agency "Being" and the follow-on Tetsuya Komuro's disco music.[81]

The period between around 1990 and 1993 was dominated by artists from the angency "Being", which included B'z, Tube, T-Bolan, Zard, Wands, Maki Oguro, Deen, Keiko Utoku and Field of View. They were called "Being-kei" (ビーイング系 Bīingu kei, literally "Being System"?).[82] Many of those artists topped charts and established records[82][83], notably B'z, which eventually established a new record for consecutive number-one singles, surpassing Seiko Matsuda's record[84], and is, at present, the biggest selling artist of all time, according to Oricon charts. On the other hand, Wands, regarded as a pioneer of "J-pop Boom" of 1990s, had trouble because its member Show Wesugi in fact wanted to play alternative rock/grunge.[85]

Mr. Children's 1994 album Atomic Heart sold over 3.4 million copies

Many artists surpassed the mark of two million copies in the 1990s. Kazumasa Oda's 1991 single "Oh! Yeah!/Love Story wa Totsuzen ni", Chage and Aska's 1991 single "Say Yes" and 1993 single "Yah Yah Yah", Kome Kome Club's 1992 single "Kimi ga Iru Dake de", Mr. Children's 1994 single "Tomorrow Never Knows" and 1996 single "Namonaki Uta" and Globe's 1996 single "Departures" are examples of singles that sold more than 2 million copies.[47][86] Dreams Come True's 1992 album The Swinging Star became the first album to sell over 3 million copies in Japan.[87] However, Mr. Children's 1994 album Atomic Heart established a new record of the best-selling album in Japan with the sales of 3.43 million copies on Oricon charts.[86][88]

The duo Chage and Aska, which started in late 1979, became very popular during this period. They released a string of consecutive hits throughout the early 1990s and, in 1996, they also took part in MTV Unplugged, making them the first Asian to do so.[89]

File:Namie AmuroatMAA Crop.png
Namie Amuro (middle) performs at MTV Asia Aid in Bangkok, Thailand in 2005.

After TM Network once disbanded in 1994, Tetsuya Komuro became a serious song producer. The period between around 1994 and 1997 was dominated by dance/techno acts from the "Komuro family" (小室ファミリー Komuro Famirī?), such as TRF, Ryoko Shinohara, Yuki Uchida, Namie Amuro, Hitomi, Globe, Tomomi Kahala and Ami Suzuki. While Globe's 1996 album Globe sold 4,13 million copies, establishing a record at the time, Namie Amuro's 1997 song "Can You Celebrate?" sold 2,29 million copies.[86] His total sales as a song producer reached 170 million copies.[90][91] However, his boom was soon gone partly because he only attempted to sell his songs and his music didn't blossom out.[92]

Namie Amuro, who was arguably the most popular solo singer in the period, came from the "Okinawa Actors School", which also revealed MAX and Speed. At first, while still a part of the "Komuro Family", Amuro remained in the dance music genre, but she slowly changed her music style to contemporary R&B and stopped her partnership with Tetsuya Komuro.[93] On the other hand, Komuro's band Globe was turned into a trance band after their 2001 album Outernet.[94]

1997–1999: Commercial peak

The sales in the Japanese music market continued to increase. After Globe's self titled album sold more than 4 million copies in 1996, in October 1997, Glay released album Review -The Best of Glay, which sold 4.87 million copies, breaking Globe's earlier record for best selling album.[86] However, it was surpassed in the next year by B'z's album B'z The Best "Pleasure", which sold 5.12 million copies.[86] Japanese musical market for physical sales reached its peak in 1998, recording the sales of 607 billion yen.[95] In March 1999, Hikaru Utada released her first Japanese album, First Love, which sold 7.65 million copies making it the best-selling album ever in Oricon history.[86]

The late 90s saw the popularity of rock bands, such as Glay, Luna Sea and L'Arc-en-Ciel, most of them related to the visual kei movement though they later changed their style. At this time, rock musicians in Japan were absorbing kayōkyoku music when the genre kayōkyoku had already been vanished.[2] Glay became especially successful, with a massive exposure in the media that compared to that of the most popular pop singers produced by Tetsuya Komuro.[96] In July 1999, Glay played a concert to a record audience of 200,000 people at the Makuhari Messe, certified by Guinness World Records as the biggest solo concert in Japan.[97][98] In July 1999, L'Arc-en-Ciel released two album Arc and Ray at the same time and those sold over combined 3.02 million copies in those first week.[99] X Japan announced their disbandment in September 1997 and its guitarist Hide died in May 1998. His musical funeral had a record attendance of 50,000 people, breaking the record of Hibari Misora, whose funeral was attended by 42,000 people.[100] After his death, his single "Pink Spider" and album Ja, Zoo were certified million-sellers by RIAJ.[101]

Johnny & Associates produced many boy bands: SMAP, Tokio, V6, KinKi Kids and Arashi. SMAP especially hit the J-pop scene in a major way in the 1990s through a combination of TV "Tarento" shows and singles, with one of its singers, Takuya Kimura, becoming a popular actor in later years known commonly as "Kimutaku". By the late 1990s, the all-female girl group Speed was very popular until they announced their upcoming disbandment, in 1999. The group returned to the music scene in 2008. Another all-female band, Morning Musume, produced by Tsunku, former leader of band Sharam Q became very popular, with a string of releases that were sales hits before even being released. The group's popularity gave origin to the Hello! Project. Following the pattern set a decade before by the 1980s all-female Onyanko Club, Morning Musume spawned several splinter bands.

File:Utada Hikaru 2004.jpg
Hikaru Utada, whose album First Love is the best-selling album in Oricon history

In the late 90's and early 21st century, female singers such as Hikaru Utada, Ayumi Hamasaki, Misia, Mai Kuraki and Ringo Shiina became some chart toppers in the industry who write their own songs or their own lyrics. Hikaru Utada was known as the daughter of Keiko Fuji who was an extremely popular singer in the 70s. Ayumi Hamasaki is generically considered to be Utada's contemporary rival though both women did not hate each other in real life.

Zeebra introduced hip hop music to Japanese mainstream music.[102] In 1999, Zeebra was featured by Dragon Ash in their song titled "Grateful Days", which topped the Oricon charts.[103]

2000s: Diversification

File:Ayumi Hamasaki 2007.jpg
Ayumi Hamasaki in Taiwan, March 2007. She has sold around 75 million records in Asia, over 50 million of those sales are from Japan alone, and is a huge driving force in Japan's fashion and pop culture.

Avex group and Chaku-uta

Template:See Ayumi Hamasaki won the grand prix awards for three consecutive years for the first time in Japan Record Award history between 2001 and 2003.[104] Hamasaki became the highest selling Japanese female and solo artist in Oricon history.[105] Although Hamasaki became very famous, critics argued that her tactics were risky because her record label Avex Group disregarded the modern portfolio theory. However, this concern disappeared when the label's other singers (such as Ai Otsuka and Kumi Koda) also reached a certain level of popularity in the mid 2000s.[106] In December 2002, the digital-download market for "chaku-uta" (着うた ringtone song?) started from au.[107] The market for digital downloads rapidly grew up and Hikaru Utada's 2007 song "Flavor of Life" sold over 7 million digital downloads.[108] In October 2007, EMI Music Japan announced that Utada became the world's first artist ever to have 10 million digital sales in one year.[109] According to the digital music report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry in 2009, Thelma Aoyama's digital single "Soba ni Iru ne" and Greeeen's digital single "Kiseki" sold 8.2 million copies and 6.2 million copies respectively on the 2008 download rankings.[110]

Japanese hip hop and urban pop

Template:See In 2000s, hip hop music and contemporary R&B influences in Japanese music started to gain attention in popular mainstream music. In November 2001, R&B duo Chemistry's debut album The Way We Are sold over 1.14 million copies in the first week and debuted at the number-one position on the Oricon weekly album charts.[111] Hip hop bands such as Rip Slyme and Ketsumeishi were also at the top of the Oricon charts. On the other hand, rock band Orange Range featured several elements of hip hop.[112] Orange Range's album musiQ sold over 2.6 million copies, making it the number one album for the year 2005 of Oricon charts. Pop/R&B singer Ken Hirai managed to come out on top of the Oricon yearly album chart in 2006 with the release of his greatest hits album 10th Anniversary Complete Single Collection '95-'05 Utabaka selling over 2,000,000 copies. Exile, the dance-vocal group under Avex's sublabel Rhythm Zone, is another example of the popularity of R&B and Hip Hop, with several million seller albums. Their album Exile Love topped the Oricon yearly album chart in 2008. Veteran rapper Dohzi-T collaborated with popular singers such as Shota Shimizu, Hiromi Go, Miliyah Kato and Thelma Aoyama in his successful 2008 album 12 Love Stories.[113] Although there were only 132 new artists in 2001 according to RIAJ, the number was increased to 512 in 2008 in Japan.[114] In 2008, 14 new artists such as Thelma Aoyama attended the NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen for the first time.[115]

Popularity of live performances and veteran musicians

Green Stage of the Fuji Rock Festival

Fuji Rock Festival」、「Summer Sonic Festival」、「Rising Sun Rock Festival」、および「Rock in Japan Festival」も参照

Rock musicians such as Mr. Children, B'z, Southern All Stars and Glay still topped charts in 2000s. Mr. Children's song "Sign" won the grand prix award at the 46th Japan Record Awards in 2004. When Mr. Children released album Home in 2007, they passed 50 million sales in albums and singles sold, making them the second highest selling artist of all time in Japan since the origin of Oricon, just behind B'z, who holds the #1 position, with more than 75 million records sold.[105] Home topped the 2007 Oricon yearly album charts. The sales of physical CDs declined, but number of audiences to see live performances reportedly increased.[116] Eikichi Yazawa began to take part in rock festivals, and, in 2007, he became the first artist to have performed concerts 100 times at the Nippon Budokan.[117]

Other artists, such as Namie Amuro, also continued their long-running careers with successful releases in this period even after the decade that they were popular in. Her live tour Namie Amuro Best Fiction tour 2008-2009 did not only become the biggest live tour by a Japanese solo female artist attended by 450,000 fans in Japan, but was also attended by additional 50,000 fans in Taiwan and Shanghai.[118][119] While Kazumasa Oda's 2005 album Sōkana topped the Oricon weekly album charts, his 2007 single Kokoro reached the weekly single charts, breaking the record of Yujiro Ishihara and making him the then-oldest singer to top the single charts.[120] On the other hand, Mariya Takeuchi's greatest hits album Expressions topped the Oricon album chart in 2008, being the eldest and longest-career female singer to reach the number-one position.[121]

Johnny & Associates

Template:See Johnny & Associates' boy bands remained well-known. In 2001, SMAP released their greatest-hits album SMAP Vest, which sold over a million copies in the first week.[122] In November 2001, Johnny & Associates established their label J Storm for their band Arashi. SMAP's 2003 single "Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana" sold more than two million copies, being the #1 single in the Oricon yearly single charts of that year. In 2007, the Guinness World Records honored KinKi Kids for holding a world record that their "all" 25 singles debuted at the number-one position.[123] SMAP was said to fight a lonely battle at the Kōhaku Uta Gassen if seen from the viewpoint of its audience share.[124] In 2008, male musicians established a record of four consecutive wins at the Kōhaku Uta Gassen.[125] Arashi's greatest hits album All the Best! 1999–2009 topped the 2009 Oricon yearly album charts.[126]

Johnny & Associates also produced new boy bands such as Tackey & Tsubasa, NEWS, KAT-TUN and Hey! Say! JUMP. In 2006, KAT-TUN's debut single "Real Face", composed by Tak Matsumoto, sold over one million copies and topped the Oricon Yearly Charts.[127] In 2007, temporary Johnny's Jr. group Hey! Say! 7 broke a record as the youngest boy band to ever top Oricon charts, with an average age of 14.8 years. On the 2008 yearly singles charts, the number of singles which was sung by only female singers and was ranked in Top 30 was just one (Namie Amuro's single "60s 70s 80s"), partly because those boy bands enjoyed an advantage in physical single sales.[128] In 2009, Johnny's Jr. unit Yuma Nakayama w/B.I.Shadow established the youngest record as their debut single to debut at the number-one spot with an average age of 14.6 years, breaking the former record of girl group Minimoni's 14.8 years.[129]

Cover versions and classical pop

In February 2001, Ulfuls released their cover version of Kyu Sakamoto's 1963 song "Ashita Ga Arusa". Their cover version debuted at the number-five position behind Utada, Kinki Kids, Hamasaki and Hirai.[130] In March, Yoshimoto Kogyo's special band named "Re: Japan" also released their cover version of "Ashita Ga Arusa". When Ulfuls's cover version of this song remained at #8, Re: Japan's version topped the Oricon weekly single charts.[131]

In August 2007, Hideaki Tokunaga's cover album Vocalist 3 became the first cover album to top the Oricon weekly album charts by a solo male singer in 30 years since Takuro Yoshida's 1977 cover album Private.[132] It was also his first number-one album in 15 years 10 months since his 1991 album Revolution.[132]

In 2003, Man Arai released the single "Sen no Kaze ni Natte" (lit. "As A Thousand Winds") based on Western poem "Do not stand at my grave and weep." In Japan, the poem was known for Rokusuke Ei's reading out when he appeared at the funeral of Kyu Sakamoto in 1985.[133] Japanese tenor singer Masafumi Akikawa covered the song in 2006. Akikawa's cover version of the song became the first classical music single to top the Oricon charts and sold over one million copies.[134] On the 2007 Oricon Yearly Charts, the single became the best-selling physical single, scoring a victory over Utada's "Flavor of Life".[134] Oricon claimed that the song was not "J-pop".[135] On the other hand, a musical score from the Zen-On Music Company Ltd classified the song as "J-pop".[136]

Influence from Neo Fōku and Neo Shibuya-kei

Folk duos such as 19, Yuzu and Kobukuro became popular during the period.[137] Their music was called "Neo Fōku". In 2007, Kobukuro's double-album All Singles Best became the first male album to ship three million copies in the 21st century in Japan.[138] In 2008, their album 5296 beat out Ayumi Hamasaki's album Guilty though she previously had eight consecutive number-one studio albums.[139]

Electronic music bands such as Plus-Tech Squeeze Box and Capsule were called "Neo Shibuya-kei". Yasutaka Nakata, a member of Capsule, became the song producer for technopop band Perfume.[140] In 2008 for this first time in 25 years as an technopop band, they achieved a #1 album Game on the Oricon charts. Their 2008 single "Love the World" debuted at #1, making it the first technopop song to reach #1 in Oricon history.[141] This threw Nakata into the spotlight as a producer, and is now one of the most recognized producers in the Japanese technopop industry.

Anime music industry

Template:See During this time frame, the anime music industry such as seiyū (voice actor) and image songs added weight in Japanese music. Several people called this genre "A-pop" (Anime pop).[142][143] Though the anime music was formerly influenced under J-pop and Visual kei music, Japanese indie music apparently influenced the genre in the 2006 FanimeCon.[144] In 2009, Nana Mizuki's album Ultimate Diamond became the first seiyū album to reach #1 in Oricon history.[145] In the same year for the first time as anime characters, the mini-album from characters of K-On!, Hōkago Tea Time, reached #1 on the Oricon weekly album charts.[146]

Impact and international fanbase

J-pop is an integral part of Japanese popular culture, being found in anime, commercials, movies, TV shows, and video games and other forms of J-ENT. Some television news programs even run a J-pop song during their end credits. In anime and television shows, particularly dramas, opening and closing songs are changed up to four times per year. Because most programs have a combination of both opening and closing songs, it is possible for one show to use eight tracks for a single season.

Over the past decade, J-pop has continually gained fans worldwide through video games and anime. Many video game fans import games from Japan well before they are released in their respective countries. The theme songs and soundtracks from these games and anime can be a gateway to further interest in J-pop and other genres of Japanese music. One example of this can be found in the games Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, in which popular J-pop singer Hikaru Utada performs the main theme songs. Her single "Easy Breezy" was also used to promote the Nintendo DS. The Ouendan Series and Band Brothers for DS both feature a lot of J-Pop songs. In the case of anime, shows are normally sold in the West with their original soundtracks untouched, affording more direct exposure (however this is sometimes not the case, leaving fans outraged). Some shows aired on television in the United States, for example, have seen their themes go so far as to become commercially available as ringtones through mainstream vendors in that country.

With changing music trends in India and Bangladesh, J-pop has gained some ground.[citation needed] Although J-pop listeners are generally the younger generation in Asia, singles such as Hikaru Utada's "First Love" and "Flavor of Life" have managed to rise the interest of J-pop in the older generation as well.[citation needed] After the channel Animax was introduced, the knowledge and popularity of J-Pop further spread among youth of Asia.

Pop duo Puffy, one of the Japanese acts that have their material released on the United States market, had their own animated series on Cartoon Network, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, which premiered in 2004 and ran for three seasons. Prior to that, the duo had recorded the theme song to another cartoon of the same channel, Teen Titans. Because of the success of their show, videoclips of Puffy, who are known as Puffy AmiYumi in the United States, were shown several times during the channel's programing.


Japanese pop artists are extremely popular in Japan and some of them overseas (especially in Asia, but also in Western countries, where they have other fanbases). They are usually pop stars and influence not only music, but also fashion, and many areas of modern pop culture. Top 5 best-selling artists in the Japanese Oricon charts history are B'z, Mr. Children, Southern All Stars, Ayumi Hamasaki and Dreams Come True.[105] For a more comprehensive list of artists, see:

See also


  1. Original text from Greeeen biography at the Universal Music Japan: "ロックやヒップホップ、ブレイクビーツも好きだけど、あくまでフィールドはJポップです。たとえばヒップホップをやってる人って、“ヒップホップのカルチャーは”っていうところから入ったりするじゃないですか。僕らは別にそういうのでもないし、音としてすごい好きだということ。それを極めてる人にしては、お前ら何なんだ?って言われるかもしれないけど、でもこれがカッコいいと思うんだからしょうがない。いいものはいいんです"


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  86. 86.0 86.1 86.2 86.3 86.4 86.5 (Japanese) "トレンディドラマとともに訪れた90年代のミリオンセールス時代 (The million sale age of the 90s as well as trendy dramas)". Oricon. 2006-06-14. http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/confidence/24700/. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  87. (Japanese) "PLAYSTATION®3・Xbox360ソフト「ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ」の楽曲にDREAMS COME TRUE『SWEET SWEET SWEET-06 AKON MIX-』を収録!". Sega. 2006-09-15. http://sega.jp/topics/060915_2/home.shtml. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
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  97. (Japanese) "第15回 GLAY 「おれたち4人の“いま”伝えたい」 (No. 15. Glay "We want people to know the 'present' of our four members")". Mainichi Shimbun. 2007-10-26. http://mainichi.jp/enta/music/graph/otodama/15/. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  98. (Japanese) "GLAY、デビュー15周年の“特別な1年”の内容とは?". Barks. 2009-01-05. http://www.barks.jp/news/?id=1000046150. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  99. (Japanese) "Oricon Weekly Album Charts for the second week of July 1999". Oricon. http://www.oricon.co.jp/search/result.php?kbn=ja&types=rnk&year=1999&month=7&week=2&submit5.x=16&submit5.y=9. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  100. (Japanese) "坂井さんを偲び、最後は3500人が「負けないで」を大合唱". Oricon. 2007-06-28. http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/music/45901/. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
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  103. (Japanese) "King Giddra". Sony Music Online Japan. http://www.sonymusic.co.jp/Music/Arch/DF/KG/m_bio.html. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  104. (Japanese) "レコード大賞、3年連続で浜崎あゆみに 史上初". Asahi Shimbun. 2003-12-31. http://www.asahi.com/03-04/news/TKY200312310164.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  105. 105.0 105.1 105.2 (Japanese) "ミスチル、シングル&アルバム総売上枚数5,000万枚突破 (Mr. Children, single and an album break through 50,000,000 total sales!)". Oricon. 2007-03-19. http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/rankmusic/43071/. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  106. (Japanese) "“浜崎あゆみ依存”解消で「健全になった」、音楽ビジネスの特殊性". IT media: Business Media Makoto. 2006-09-14. http://bizmakoto.jp/makoto/articles/0804/21/news016.html. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  107. (Japanese) "着うたは着信メロディと何が違うの? (How Chaku-Uta is different from a ringtone melody?)". Asahi Shimbun. 2006-06-22. http://www.asahi.com/digital/column01/TKY200606220218.html. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
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  109. (Japanese) "宇多田ヒカル世界初の快挙!年間配信数が1000万件突破 (Utada Hikaru became the world's first musician! To break through 10 million download sales for a year)". Sankei Shimbun. 2007-10-04. http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/it/071004/its0710040215000-n1.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
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  112. (Japanese) "沖縄の「ORANGE RANGE」ブレークの兆し". Sankei Sports. 2003-07-24. Archived from the original on 2003-10-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20031003044755/http://www.sanspo.com/geino/top/gt200307/gt2003072407.html. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
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  119. (Japanese) "安室奈美恵4度目追加公演は台湾、上海". Nikkan Sports. 2009-03-23. http://www.nikkansports.com/entertainment/news/p-et-tp0-20090323-474217.html. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
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  122. (Japanese) "Oricon Weekly Album Charts for the first week of April 2001". Oricon. http://www.oricon.co.jp/search/result.php?kbn=ja&types=rnk&year=2001&month=4&week=1&submit5.x=16&submit5.y=9. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
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  130. (Japanese) "Oricon Weekly Single Charts for the fourth week of February 2001". Oricon. http://www.oricon.co.jp/search/result.php?kbn=js&types=rnk&year=2001&month=2&week=4&submit4.x=14&submit4.y=6. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  131. (Japanese) "Oricon Weekly Single Charts for the third week of April 2001". Oricon. http://www.oricon.co.jp/search/result.php?kbn=js&types=rnk&year=2001&month=4&week=3&submit4.x=14&submit4.y=6. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  132. 132.0 132.1 (Japanese) "徳永英明、カバー作で15年10ヶ月ぶりの1位獲得! (Hideaki Tokunaga get his first number-one in 15 years 10 months with his cover album!)". Oricon. 2007-08-21. http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/rankmusic/47344/. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  133. (Japanese) "「千の風になって」は古来普遍の教え". JANJAN. 2007-12-31. http://www.news.janjan.jp/culture/0712/0712280081/1.php. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
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  138. (Japanese) "コブクロ トリプルミリオン達成!! (Kobukuro achieved three million copies!!)". Hot Express. 2007-10-16. http://www.hotexpress.co.jp/news/071016_kobukuro/. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
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  142. (Japanese) "A-POP、夏の一大フェスが今年も開催!". Barks. 2007-04-02. http://www.barks.jp/news/?id=1000030748. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
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  146. (Japanese) "“けいおん!”の放課後ティータイム、アニメキャラとして史上初の1位 (Hōkago Tea Time of K-On! became the first anime characters to reach the number-one position)". Oricon. 2009-07-28. http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/confidence/67988/full/. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 


External links


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