Hey guys! It’s been a really long time…I’m sure you’ve all been anxiously awaiting my next post. /notreally. So this time I’ll be talking about Japanese music! Except first I need to address something I got wrong in my last post.
Remember I went on this tangent about all these idol groups being owned by SM Entertainment? Um. Well. I was kinda going like “>_> Wait this is a lot of idol groups, this can’t be right.” And I was right. One Day (2PM and 2AM) is not owned by SM Entertainment, they’re owned by JYP Entertainment. Other bands from JYPE are things like Wonder Girls, and I THINK 4minute and BEAST. Don’t quote me on that, but for some reason Wikipedia is telling me that Cube Entertainment is owned by JYPE. And some groups from YG Entertainment are 2NE1, Big Bang, Se7en, and 1TYM. Those are the three top entertainment companies in S. Korea, btw. ; 3
Oh, and since the universe is bent on proving me wrong in any way possible, a new group debuted soon after I posted, called C.N.Blue. They are actually the only kpop group I have seen that I can actually call a band. Yes…they play instruments on stage. Constantly. They have a very american rock feel in most of their songs, which is interesting.
ANYWAY! Japanese music! So there are many things I could say about it, but I think the thing that stands out the most to me in Japanese music is…the music videos. I dunno if it’s just because I watch interesting music videos, but some of the ones I’ve seen are very…yeah. This style is actually called visual kei, and I don’t know what it means, but it’s distinctive to say the least. Generally it has huge flamboyant hairstyles, sometimes androgenous looks and white makeup and such, and…yeah. Gothic lolita appears a lot here, and if you look at oshare kei, a subunit of visual kei…it’s so colorful. Like it’s really really colorful. If anyone was at Animazement last year, do you remember Uchu Sentai NOIZ? (homg they’re so cool and coming back~!) I think they would fall under oshare kei, or at least visual kei.
Oh, here we go. Kei means “style” in this context. Here is another style I’ve found: Shibuya kei, which is like a mix between jazz, pop, and electropop. It doesn’t have this heavy reliance on appearance though, as far as I can tell.
Oh, and there are totally exceptions to all the things I talk about. Always. Like one of my first Japanese groups, AAA (Attack All Around). They are a mixed gender group. Also their song Blood on Fire is still one of my favorites to this day ❤ And Perfume has dance routines like I’ve described most Korean groups to have. (Hng. Omg. Dream Fighter is such a gooood song.) Actually, it’s not uncommon for there to be a dance in the music videos of songs in Japan, the performance of such dances don’t seem to occur as often as it does in Korea. Nor does it seem to be targeted as much as a marketing strategy. Whereas kpop has constant weekly performances (Inkigayo, Music Core, Music Bank, etc.) of dances and songs during promotion periods, it’s very hard going on impossible for me to find as many live performances of things like Happy Birthday by NewS, and things like Dream Fighter.
But back to the main topic. There are two other prevalent little niches in Japanese music I just want to cover. Another I want to mention is Vocaloid. What is a Vocaloid? It’s a voice synthesizing application software thing. In other words…it’s a software that you can make sing songs. Of course it’s meant to sing Japanese songs so making it do any semblance of good english is kind of hard, and it takes absolute ages to make it sing anything, so I hear. You have to have good knowledge of the program to get it right. But the Vocaloids take several manifestations for the different voices that come with different versions of the software. Essentially, these different voices are manifested into a character known as a Vocaloid. Those Vocaloids are characters like Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin and Len, Kaito, etc. It’s a very popular little fandom. Fans can buy the software and make it cover other songs, since their own songs, etc, and there are legitimate songs and albums released by the company. The Vocaloids also have infinite range, which bugs me to no end. I’ll be singing a Miku song and then suddenly she’ll hit a ridiculously high note that leaves me like ;A; WHAT.
A popular thing to do here is Nico Nico Choruses, basically where people cover songs by Vocaloids and someone lays the tracks over each other to create a chorus. It’s common for avatars of the singers to fade in and out, usually creatively, to demonstrate when the singer’s voice also fades in and out of the track to create an interesting effect as different voices are layered and put together. For instance, if you listened to the song I put up up there (Dear by Hatsune Miku) then you should listen to the Nico Chorus of it. My favorite is this one.
There are also image songs, which are an aspect of anime. It’s not unusual for seiyuus to be asked to sing songs from the character point of view, written strictly for the character. It’s like a theme song, in a way. I listened to all the Reborn image songs, and they’re all really cute and funny. Reborn actually has concerts where the seiyuus appear to perform the songs (in their character’s voice) live; Rebocon! These are used as marketing and generally as just a treat for the fans.
Overall, Japanese music is something I really enjoy. It’s usually more pop-ish than other music I find, and it’s unique in itself. There’s also the interesting music videos, which I always enjoy watching. I don’t usually understand a thing of it, but that’s fine. Of all of the genres I see, Japanese music usually has the music videos I really understand the least (regardless of my ability to understand the language), but that makes it fun for me because I try to guess at the meaning. Or if there is one. If you have any suggestions, corrections, etc. leave a comment down there! 😀