It wouldn’t be a blog about Japan without talking about Japanese music. I thought I’d share some of the bands we’ve been listening to while we get ready for our trip, some you might know, others I’m 99% sure you won’t have (unless you’re already into this kind of stuff of course).
If you’re here as a jpop / jrock fan, this isn’t in any order and it’s not intended to be a “top ten greatest bands ever” or anything like that, so feel free to comment if you want to recommend something but please avoid things like “OMG I can’t believe you picked Laruku over AKB LOL KTHXBAI” – there are forums for that
If you love any of the bands so much you feel the urge to buy a CD, clicking the link below will take you to a great website, and help keep this blog going
First Up, Base Ball Bear (AKA BeBoBe)
One of the things I love about a lot of Japanese bands like this is the talent and technicality invested in every member. Base Ball Bear are a recent discovery we made via NHK World’s J-Melo and they have an extensive back catalogue on Spotify; they have catchy bass riffs, complimentary backing vocals, interesting guitar melodies and tight drum patterns, but all gelled together in a digestible summer pop sound, with the occasional disco vibe thrown in for good measure. Their songs are the perfect accompaniment to the DIY we’ve been finishing around the house.
Number 2, Momoiro Clover Z (AKA MoMoClo)
To me, Momoclo are the epitome of J-Pop. They’re not particularly great singers, but what they lack in vocals they make up for with energy. The music is fun, the videos are imaginative and they have ex Megadeath guitarist Marty Friedman backing them up. They have a backstory, they’re Power Rangers style super heros on the weekend, they’re super-cheesy and they don’t care who knows it.
But then recently they flipped a switch. Single ‘Neo Stargate’ is fantastic; not in a ‘I love this it’s fun and cheesy’ way but in a ‘I want to put this on a commuting playlist and give it my full attention’ way. They’re fun, they’re catchy, that’s about it.
Moving on with CrossFaith
Recently these guys have been moving around the UK touring and playing festivals, so they’re probably the most well known on the list so far. When I first heard them I thought they were OK but dismissed them as another synth-metal band to put on the pile for later. Catching them live at this year’s Leeds festival was an instant 180. This live video gives an idea of why.
Finally for this post is one of Diana’s favourites. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu burst onto the Harajuku scene last year (or was it the year before…?) with the oh so typical ‘look at this kooky Japanese music video’ for Pon Pon Pon. She quickly became popular and released an album with one or two catchy tunes and a tonne of filler. Fast Forward a year and her 2nd release ‘Nanda Collection’ is completely different. The lyrics still make no sense, and the videos are still crazy. She makes me think of The Mighty Boosh with all of the strange characters that appear in the video, in particular getting drunk with…I’m not sure what it is… or in one of the more normal scenes gunning down the onion king while wearing a pink flower dress.
There are plenty more great bands in the playlist and I’ll be talking more about them in the future, but for now, just have a listen to some of the music and let me know what you think in the comments.
Some recommendations from other people