Cultural Expression: J-Pop

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    Jazz and Ryuukouka

    Western instruments like strings and harmonica were popular when Japanese music first emerged. Japanese composers began using the pentatonic scale to include Western jazz influences in their pieces. Jazz and blues fusions became once again an essential component of Japanese popular music after the war, and jazz kissas were established. Japanese musicians began covering popular Western songs to amuse Western soldiers while gradually incorporating their styles into traditional Japanese music.
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    The real origin of modern J-Pop is a mix of Japanese and Western musical components. It was popular in the 1960s through musicians who supported the "rockabilly" movement. The ex-Drifters member Kyu Sakamoto is the largest success story of this time period. His song "Ue wo Muite Arukou," which was renamed "Sukiyaki," peaked at #1 on the Billboard chart. Keiko Fujii also broke Oricon records around the end of the 1960s, becoming a lasting symbol of the alleged rivalry between kayoukyoku and enka.
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    New Music and City Pop

    Folk music personalization and complexity trends started to take off in Japan in the early 1970s. With the release of his album Kouri no Sekai, the singer-songwriter Yosui Inoue broke a number of records and helped "City Pop" become a well-liked trend. One of the most famous rock bands in Japan, X Japan, was founded in the late 1980s because of the "visual kei" style of rock music, which was defined by an emphasis on the band members' look and stage presence.
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    Rise of the Female Idol

    The Golden Era refers to the years following the end of the Kayoukyoku era when many senior Asian-style lyricists and composers began creating female idols. The introduction of the "idol" style, which record labels further promoted for female solo and group performances, signalled this development. Akina Nakamori attempted to challenge the concept of the "girl next door" idol by pursuing a more direct sexual approach, while Seiko Matsuda broke a historic 24 #1 single streak on the Oricon charts.
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    Being and Tetsuya Komuro

    Japanese pop music saw a boom in the 1990s, with the name "J-pop" rising to economic superpower. Records for albums and singles were consistently broken, and music sales reached previously unheard-of heights. The most successful producer during this time was Tetsuya Komuro, whose distinctive electronic sound produced massive hits for both his solo powerhouses as well as his own band Globe.
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    Women vs. Johnny's

    In the late 1990s, female solo singers from Komuro saw an idol "resurgence," with Hikaru Utada leading with a heavier R&B sound and her debut album First Love selling over 7 million copies. Another huge success was achieved by Ayumi Hamasaki, who went on to become the best-selling female artist in Japanese history. The Project, which was made up of many female groups, achieved notable success in the early 2000s but finally declined in popularity because of the graduations of its members.
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    Hip-Hop and R&B

    Hip-hop with a Japanese influence gained prominence in the 1990s owing to artists like Zeebra and DOUBLE, and again in 2005 through Namie Amuro's album Queen of Hip-Hop. Another R&B-focused performer, Kumi Koda, saw a resurgence in popularity because of the popularity of her million-selling debut album BESTFirst Things. Koda's heightened sexuality and departure from the "wholesome" idol stereotype redefined what J-pop fans expected of female solo artists.
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    AKB48 and the Hallyu Wave

    The K-Pop movement saw the success of AKB48, a female group that performs in Tokyo's Akihabara district, with their singles Sakura no Shiori and Heavy Rotation selling over 800,000 copies and becoming the most popular in Japan. BoA, Girls' Generation, and SHINee are just a few Korean artists who have successfully entered the Japanese market and released music and Japanese copies of their Korean songs, leading to the Hallyu Wave phenomenon when some artists found that Japan offered better sales.
  • Folk, Shibuya, and Seiyuu

    In Japan, a rapid rise in popularity occurred in the 2000s, with male duos like Yuzu and Kobukuro becoming the most popular performers. On the other hand, shibuya-kei producer Nakata Yasutaka put out "Love the World," the first electronic album to ever reach number one on the charts. Seiyuu, or anime voice actors, are becoming more and more well-liked, and Megumi Hayashibara's album ULTIMATE DIAMOND topped the charts. Others followed in the footsteps of these two artists.