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Flag of Japan J-pop
Stylistic origins
Initially ryūkōka, rock and roll, rock music; then crossover of various music genres such as pop music
Cultural origins
Nominally early 1990s Japan; trace the roots to 1960s
Typical instruments
Mainstream popularity Mainstream in Japan since 1990s

J-pop is an abbreviation of Japanese pop, but is also a loosely defined musical genre that entered the musical mainstream of Japan in 1990s. It refers to Japanese popular musicians, and was coined by the Japanese media to distinguish Japanese musicians from foreign musicians. Today, the Japanese music industry is the second largest behind the United States in the world.[1] The origin of modern "J-pop" is said to be Japanese-language rock music inspired by The Beatles.[2] Unlike former Japanese popular music called kayōkyoku, J-pop used a special kind of pronunciation. For example, Keisuke Kuwata pronounced the word "karada" (body) as "kyerada".[3] On the other hand, Taro Kato, a member of rock band Beat Crusaders, did not like it, saying that J-pop was not the encoded pop music but the pops music remembered by being aired many times.[4]


[edit] History

Ichiro Fujiyama, influential ryūkōka singer

[edit] 1920s–1950s: Ryūkōka

Japanese popular music, called ryūkōka before being split into enka and poppusu,[5] 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.[6][7] By the Taishō period, Western musical techniques and instruments, which had been introduced to Japan in the Meiji period, were widely used.[7] 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.[6] In 1930s, Ichiro Fujiyama released popular songs with his tenor voice.[8] Fujiyama used a technique called Crooning through microphone.[9] Jazz musician Ryoichi Hattori attempted to produce Japanese native music which had a "flavor" of blues.[10] He composed Noriko Awaya's hit song "Wakare no Blues" (lit. "Farewell Blues").[11] Awaya became a famous popular singer and was called "Queen of Blues" in Japan.[12] 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").[11] Hattori later became known as the "Father of Japanese poppusu".[11] 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.[13] 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.[13] In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a genre called "kayōkyoku" became widespread.[14] Although jazz did not become the mainstream genre of music in Japan, it had a large impact on Japanese poppusu.[15]

[edit] 1960s: Origin of modern style

Kyu Sakamoto with his school band. His song "Sukiyaki" became the first Japanese song to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100.

[edit] 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 Heartbreak Hotel helped to fuel the trend. The music was called "Rokabirī" (ロカビリー literally "rockabilly"?) by Japanese media.[16] 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?).[17] 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.[18]

Kyu Sakamoto, a fan of Elvis, made his stage debut in a band called The Drifters at the Nichigeki Western Carnival in 1958.[19] His 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 Cashbox Magazine and three weeks in Billboard. It also received a "Gold Record" for selling one million copies.[20] During this period, female duo The Peanuts also became popular, singing a song in movie "Mothra".[21] Their songs such as "furimukanaide" (lit. "Don't Turn Around") were later covered by Candies on their album Candy Label.[22] Songs like Kyu Sakamoto and The Peanuts were called Wasei Pops (和製ポップス Wasei poppusu?, "Japan-made pop").[23][17]

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.[24] Eventually, The Drifters became popular in Japan, releasing "Zundoko-Bushi" (lit. Zundoko [echoic word] tune) in 1969.[24] Along with enka singer Keiko Fuji, they won "the award for mass popularity" at the 12th Japan Record Award in 1970.[25] 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 Japan's Oricon history.[26] The Drifters later became to be known as television personalities and invited idols such as Momoe Yamaguchi and Candies to their television program.[24]

Nippon Budokan, legendary place for Japanese musicians

[edit] Eleki Boom and Group Sounds

The Ventures visited Japan in 1962 and they caused the electric guitar's movement called "Eleki Boom".[27] Yūzō Kayama and Takeshi Terauchi became famous players of electric guitar.[28] In Japan, the sales of The Ventures was reportedly more than that of The Beatles, though The Beatles were overestimated in later years.[28] 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.[29] The public believed that The Beatles would cause juvenile delinquency.[2] The Japanese government deployed riot police against young rock fans at the Nippon Budokan.[30] 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.[31] They caused the movement of Group Sounds in Japan.[2]

Most Japanese musicians felt that new covers of rock songs were unparalleled by the original, so this era gradually declined.[2] 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.[32] This confrontation was called "Japanese-language rock controversy" (日本語ロック論争 Nihongo Rokku Ronsō?).[33] 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".[2] By adopting a major second (sol and la) which was used in the sounds of The Beatles's "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and The Rolling Stones's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", Japanese popular music became more occidental.[34] The Beatles also inspired Eikichi Yazawa, who grew up in an underprivileged family in which father died when he was a child.[35] Keisuke Kuwata, who grew up in a dual-income family, was influenced by them through his older sister, then an avid fan.[36] Yōsui Inoue was also a fan of The Beatles though he said that his music style was not particularly related to them.[37] After Happy End disbanded in 1973, its member Haruomi Hosono formed Yellow Magic Orchestra.[38]

[edit] 1970s: Development

Yosui Inoue. His album Kori no Sekai spent 13 consecutive (35 total) weeks on the Oricon chart's top spot and is the only album to do so.

[edit] 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 were mostly covers of original songs.[39] In the late 1960s, The Folk Crusaders became famous and the underground music around that time became called fōku.[40] Like former Soshi Enka (music genre of Meiji and Taisho period), Japanese fōku singer Wataru Takada performed for social satire.[41]

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?).[42] 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 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.[14] The highest-selling single of the year was enka song "Onna no Michi".[14] The enka song eventually sold over 3.25 million copies.[43] On December 1, 1973, Yosui Inoue released album "Kori no Sekai" (lit. "World of Ice"), which topped the Oricon charts and spent in Top 10 for 113 weeks.[44] It spent in number-one spot for 13 consecutive weeks and eventually established a still-standing record to spend at the number-one position for a total of 35 weeks on Oricon charts.[26][45] Yumi Matsutoya, formerly known by her maiden name Yumi Arai, also became notable singer/songwriter during this period by the variety of sounds she produce. In October 1975, she released single "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai" (lit. "I want to return to that day"), making it her first number-one single.[46] Miyuki Nakajima, Amii Ozaki and Junko Yagami were also popular singer-songwriter during this period. At first, only Yumi Matsutoya was commonly called a New Music artist, but the concept merged Japanese fōku music around that time.[47] In 1979, Chage and Aska made their debut and folk band Off Course, whose vocalist was Kazumasa Oda, released hit song "Sayonara" (lit. "Good-bye").

[edit] SAS and YMO

Rock music relatively remained in the underground music genre in 1970s in Japan.[42] In 1978, however, rocker Eikichi Yazawa's single "Toki yo Tomare" (lit. "Time, Stop") became a smash hit, which sold over 639,000 copies.[48] He became regarded as one of pioneers of Japanese rock.[49] In 1980, Yazawa seeking worldwide success, 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 rock band Southern All Stars, which made their debut in 1978. Southern All Stars remains very popular in the present days. 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.[50] Their 1979 album Solid State Survivor reached #1 on Oricon charts in July 1980.[51] Youths who listened their music during this period became known as "YMO Generation" (YMO世代 YMO sedai?).[52][53] Southern All Stars and Yellow Magic Orchestra ended the era of New Music.[47]

[edit] 1980s: Fusion with "kayōkyoku"

Shibuya-kei artist Cornelius (left) and Grammy Award winner Ryuichi Sakamoto (right)

[edit] City Pop

In the 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.[54] Tokyo in particular inspired many songs of this form. It was Japanese pop influenced from Album-oriented rock and Crossover.[54] Although City Pop was affected by New Music, rock band Happy End was considered as one of origins.[55] Akira Terao and Anri became famous during this period. 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.[56] In 1989, Ryuichi Sakamoto won the Grammy Award for his contribution to movie The Last Emperor.[57][58] When the Japanese asset price bubble disintegrated, the era of City Pop also ended, but those music was inherited by Shibuya-kei.[54]

Concert of pioneer of visual kei, X Japan

[edit] Japanese rock

Throughout 1980s, rock bands were popular such as Southern All Stars, Anzen Chitai, The Checkers, The Alfee, Boøwy and TM Network. Anzen Chitai was from Yosui Inoue's backup band. In 1986, The Alfee became the first artist to play a concert in front of an audience of 100,000 people in Japan.[59] Boøwy especially became a influential rock band, whose members included singer Kyosuke Himuro and guitarrist Tomoyasu Hotei. Their three albums reached number-one in 1988, making them the first male artists to do so within a year.[60] Subsequent Japanese rock bands were modeled on this band.[61] Guitarist Tak Matsumoto, who supported TM Network's concerts, formed rock duo B'z with Koshi Inaba.[62]

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 and Buck-Tick. Princess Princess became a successful all female band.

[edit] Golden age, decline and transfiguration of Idols

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".[3] In 1972, Hiromi Gō made his debut with song "Otokonoko Onnanoko" (lit. "Boy and Girl").[14] Hiromi Go originally came from Johnny & Associates.[63] 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.[64]

In 1980s, Japanese idols inherited "New Music", though the term "New Music" fell out of usage.[42] Seiko Matsuda especially adopted song producers of previous generations.[42] In 1980, her third single "Kaze wa Aki Iro" (lit. "Wind is autumn color") reached the number-one spot on Oricon charts.[64] Haruomi Hosono also joined the production of her music.[42] She eventually became the first artist to make 24 consecutive number 1 singles, breaking Pink Lady's record.[64]

In 1980s, other female idol singers achieved significant popularity such as Akina Nakamori, Kyōko Koizumi, Yōko Oginome, Miho Nakayama, Minako Honda and Chisato Moritaka. Nakamori won the grand prix awards for two consecutive years in 1985 and 1986 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.[65] Around 1985, however, people began to be disenamored with the system for creating idols.[66] 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.[67]

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 Japan Record Award 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.[68] Nakamori made a suicide attempt in 1989. Wink's song "Sabishii Nettaigyo" won the grand prix award at the Japan Record Award in 1989. CoCo also made their hit debut with the 1989 single Equal Romance for the hit anime series Ranma 1/2. Tetsuya Komuro, a member of TM Network, eventually prevented Seiko Matsuda's 25 consecutive number-ones in November 1989.[69]

Memorial photo of Izumi Sakai (Zard)

[edit] 1990s: Coining of the term "J-pop"

[edit] 1990–1997: Growing market

In the early 1990s, the term J-pop, which originally came from a word in Japanese radio broadcasting J-Wave, became the common term to describe most popular songs such as "Japanese rock" (日本のロック Nihon no Rokku?).[70] During this period, Japanese music industry sought marketing effectiveness, ingenerating mass-produced music.[71] The period between around 1990 and 1993 was dominated by the "Being" agency artists such as 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"?).[72] B'z's 1990 song "Taiyō no Komachi Angel" topped the Oricon charts. They eventually established a new record for consecutive number-one singles, surpassing Seiko's record.[73] In 1993, Zard came at the top of the Oricon yearly total sales rankings.[74] On another front, Wands, regarded as a pioneer of "J-pop Boom" of 90s, had trouble because they in fact wanted to play alternative rock/grunge.[75]

Kazumasa Oda's 1991 song "Oh! Yeah!/Love Story wa Totsuzen ni", Chage and Aska's 1991 song "Say Yes" and Kome Kome Club's 1992 song "Kimi ga Iru Dake de" sold 2.58 million copies, 2.82 million copies and 2.89 million copies respectively.[43] Chage and Aska released a string of consecutive hits throughout the early 1990s. In 1993, they released one more mega-hit song "Yah Yah Yah", which sold 2.41 million copies.[76] In 1996, they also took part in MTV Unplugged, making them the first asian to do so.[77] Dreams Come True, Mr. Children, Masaharu Fukuyama, Spitz and Every Little Thing were also big names that rose in that period. Dreams Come True's 1992 album The Swinging Star became the first album to sell over 3 million copies in Japan.[78] Mr. Children's 1994 album Atomic Heart and their 1994 song "Tomorrow Never Knows" sold 3.43 million copies and 2.76 million copies respectively.[76] In 1996, they released one more mega-hit song "Namonaki uta", which sold 2.30 million copies, managing to exceed Globe's mega-hit song "Departures", which sold 2.28 million copies.[76]

Namie Amuro (middle) performs at MTV Asia Aid in Bangkok, Thailand.

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?), like 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, Namie Amuro's 1997 song "Can You Celebrate?" sold 2,29 million copies.[76] His total sales as a song producer reached 170 million copies.[79][80] However, his boom was soon gone partly because he only attempted to sell his songs and his music didn't blossom out.[81] Namie Amuro, who was arguably the most popular singer in the period, came from the "Okinawa Actors School", which also revealed MAX and Speed. At first, while still a part of "TK 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.[82]

[edit] 1997–1999: Commercial peak

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. 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.[83] After his death, his single "Pink Spider" and album "Ja, Zoo" sold over one million copies each.[84] Japanese musical market for physical sales reached its peak in 1998, recording the sales of 607 billion yen.[85] Glay became specially successful, with a massive exposure in the media that compared to that of the most popular pop singers.[86] In October 1997, Glay released album Review -The Best of Glay, which sold 4.87 million copies.[76] 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.[87] In the same month, Glay played a concert to a record audience of 200,000 people at the Makuhari Messe.[88] Guinness World Records certified that it was a record played by only the power of one artist.[89]

Every Little Thing's 1998 album Time to Destination sold 3.52 million copies.[76] In 1998, B'z released B'z The Best "Pleasure" and B'z The Best "Treasure", which sold 5.12 million copies and 4.43 million copies respectively.[76] In November 1998, Yumi Matsutoya also released her greatest hits album titled "Neue Musik".[90] "Neue Musik" sold 3.25 million copies and had been the highest-selling double-album in Japan until Southern All Stars's 1998 double-album "Umi no Yeah!!" broke the record in 2004.[91] Zeebra introduced hip hop music to Japanese mainstream music.[92] In 1999, Zeebra was featured by Dragon Ash in their song titled "Grateful Days", which topped the Oricon charts.[93]

Johnny & Associates produced many boy band SMAP, Tokio, V6 and Kinki Kids. SMAP especially hit the J-pop scene in a major way in the 1990s through a combination of TV "Talent" 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.

Hikaru Utada, whose album First Love is the best-selling album in Oricon history

In March 1999, Hikaru Utada released her first album, First Love, which sold 7,650,000 copies making it the best-selling album ever in Oricon history.[76] She was known as a daughter of Keiko Fuji. In the late 90's and early 21st century, many other female singer/songwriters became famous. Ayumi Hamasaki, Misia, Mai Kuraki, and Shiina Ringo are some female chart toppers of the period who write their own songs or their own lyrics. In June 1999, Ryuichi Sakamoto's "soothing" musical composition titled "Energy Flow" topped the weekly charts, making it the first instrumental single to do so in Oricon history.[94]

Although the 90's produced many million seller "phenomena" it was a veteran band, Southern All Stars, that topped 2000's yearly chart with their Single CD Tsunami recorded 2,934,965 sales.[95]

[edit] 2000s: Diversification

[edit] Japanese hip hop and Urban pop

In 2000s, Contemporary R&B and Hip hop music 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.[96] Hip-hop/rock bands such as Orange Range and Ketsumeishi have been at the top of the Oricon charts. Orange Range's 'musiQ' album sold over 2.5 million copies, making it the number one album for the year 2005. Ken Hirai managed to come out on top of the yearly album chart in 2006 with the release of '10th Anniversary Complete Single Collection '95-'05 Utabaka' selling over 2,000,000 copies. The group Exile is another example of the popularity of R&B and Hip Hop, with several million seller albums. Their album 'Exile Love' topped the yearly album chart in 2008. Along with his own success, veteran rapper Dohzi-T collaborated with young singers such as Miliyah Kato and Thelma Aoyama.[97] The number of new artists recovered from early 2000s' low level.[98][99]

[edit] Johnny & Associates

Johnny & Associates produced male bands that have also become well-known. In 2001, Smap released their greatest-hits album Smap Vest, which sold over a million copies in the first week.[100] Smap's cover of the song "Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana" sold more than two million copies, being the # 1 single in the 2003 Oricon Yearly Chart. Other "Johnny's" famous acts are KinKi Kids, Arashi, Tackey & Tsubasa, News, and KAT-TUN. In 2006, KAT-TUN's debut single "Real Face", composed by Tak Matsumoto, sold over one million copies and topped the Oricon Yearly Charts.[101] In 2007, Guinness World Record honored Kinki Kids for establishing a world record that their "all" 25 singles debuted at the number-one position.[102] Smap was said to fight a lonely battle at the Kōhaku Uta Gassen if seen from the viewpoint of its audience share.[103] In 2008, male musicians established a record of four consecutive wins at the Kōhaku Uta Gassen.[104] On the 2008 yearly singles charts, the number of single, which was sung by only female singers and was ranked in Top 30, was just one partly because those boy bands enjoyed an advantage.[105]

Ayumi Hamasaki in Taiwan, March 2007. She has sold around 50 million records in Japan alone, and is a huge driving force in Japan's fashion and pop culture.

[edit] Avex group and Chaku-uta

Ayumi Hamasaki won the grand prix awards for three consecutive years between 2001 and 2003. This was the first time such a feat had occured in Japan Record Award history.[106] 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.[107] In December 2002, the digital-download market for "chaku-uta" (着うた ringtone song?) started.[108] The market for digital downloads rapidly grew up and Hikaru Utada's 2007 song "Flavor of Life" sold over 7 million digital downloads.[109] In 2007, Utada sold over 10 million digital ringtones and songs, making her the world's first artist ever to have this many digital sales in one year.[110]

Mr. Children has sold over 50 million records in Japan and their album Home became the Japanese best-selling album of 2007.

[edit] Popularity of veteran musicians

Although the sales of physical CDs declined, number of audiences to see live performances reportedly increased.[111] In 2007, Eikichi Yazawa became the first artist to have performed concerts 100 times at the Nippon Budokan.[112] 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 Japan Record Award 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 copies sold.[113] 'Home' topped the yearly album chart in 2007.

Other artists, such as Namie Amuro, also continued their long-running careers with releases in this period. 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 oldest singer to top the single charts of 2007.[114] On the other hand, Mariya Takeuchi's gratest hits album Expressions topped the Oricon album chart in 2008, being the eldest and longest-career female singer to reach the number-one position.[115]

[edit] Influence from Neo Fōku and Neo Shibuya-kei

Folk duos such as 19, Yuzu and Kobukuro became popular during the period.[116] 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.[117] In 2008, their album 5296 beat out Ayumi Hamasaki's album Guilty though she previously had eight consecutive number-one studio albums.[118]

Elctro bands such as Plus-Tech Squeeze Box and Capsule were called "Neo Shibuya-kei". Yasutaka Nakata, a member of Capsule, became a song producer for electro-pop band Perfume.[119] In 2008 for this first time in 25 years as an electro-pop band, Perfume made #1 album Game on the Oricon charts. Their single "love the world" debuted at #1, making it the first technopop song to reach #1 in Oricon history.[120]

[edit] Revival mood and others

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.[121] 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.[122]

Western poem "Do not stand at my grave and weep", which Rokusuke Ei read out when he appeared at Sakamoto's funeral in 1985, became song "Sen no Kaze ni Natte" (lit. "A Thousand Winds") in Japan.[123] Japanese tenor singer Masafumi Akikawa's 2006 single "Sen no kaze ni natte" became the first classical music single to top the Oricon charts and sold over one million copies.[124] On the 2007 Oricon Yearly Charts, the single became the best-selling physical single, scoring a victory over Utada's "Flavor of Life".[124] Oricon claimed that the song was not "J-pop".[125] However, Zen-On Music Company Ltd classified the song as "J-pop".[126]

Tommy february6 released music during this time frame. Shonen Knife had a mini-tour. One of their covers, "Top of the World", was used in the movie Tokyo Drift. Seiyū (voice actor) and anime songs added weight in Japanese music, but several people calls this genre "A-pop" (Anime pop).[127][128]

[edit] Impact on popular culture and an 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 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.

[edit] Popularity in South Asia

With changing music trends in India and Bangladesh, Jpop has gained some ground. Although japanese pop listeners are generally the younger generation in India, singers like Hikaru Utada single Colors was popular among listeners. After the anime channel Animax was introduced, Jpop has spread among indians. Most notably is the theme song for the prince of tennis.

[edit] Artists

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 idols and influence not only music, but also fashion, and many areas of modern pop culture. During the 1990´s and the 2000´s, the most popular Japanese artists have been Ayumi Hamasaki, Ken Hirai, Namie Amuro, Mr. Children, Every Little Thing, Hikaru Utada, Exile, Kumi Koda, Kobukuro, Morning Musume or B'z, Southern All Stars and Glay. For a more comprehensive list of artists, see:

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

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[edit] Bibliography

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