In our latest Fun Friday Podcast, Ami and I talked about our favourite Japanese bands and other recent news that has been happening in our lives.
Welcome to Learn Japanese Pod and the Fun Friday episode where we temporarily put down our Japanese textbooks and talk about Japanese culture and anything else to do with Japan that floats into our heads. In this episode, Ami sensei and I talked about our favorite Japanese bands. I kinda showed my age with some of my selection with some old classic Japanese bands most older people know. But Ami Sensei also likes some of those old classics too so we have a lot of music in common that we like.
So here is a break down of some of the music we talked about.
1. Utada Hikaru – Fantome
If you don’t know who Utada Hikaru is, you must have been living in a cave. She is a diva megastar of Japanese pop and has a long career spanning all the way back to the late 90s. Her latest album is Fantome and features quite an eclectic range of styles on the album. It’s definitely worth a listen and for me Utada is one of those go-to classic J-Pop stars you should have in your Japanese music collection.
2. Kick The Can Crew – Super original
I hadn’t heard of Kick the Can Crew until Ami introduced them to me on the podcast. And on the first listen I really liked them. Japanese are masters of importing foreign culture and recreating it with their own unique interpretation. And rap is no exception. Japanese rap has come into its own and is considered to be a unique and innovative genre. If you like Kick the Can Crew and want to check out more great Japanese rap bands then you won’t go wrong with Rip Slyme and Dragon Ash.
3. Super Fly – Ai O Komete Hanataba O
Super Fly is often called the Janis Joplin of J-Pop. She sings a mix of J-pop and rock and has a wide range and present vocal stle which is a refreshing break from your typical female Japanese singer. She has some pretty solid albums and songs out there and one of my favorites is 愛をこめて花束を Ai o komete hanataba – a song that really showcases some great song writing and powerful singing. That’ll definitely get your toes tapping.
4. Wednesday Campanella – Diablo
Wednesday Campanella is a Japanese pop group headed by the super talented KOM_I, a singer and rapper with an hilarious sense of humour and a very original and creative style. In terms of genre it mixes rap, hop hop, electronic music and J-pop. Their videos are also pretty funny and worth a listen.
5. Okuda Tamio – Marshmallow
Okuda Tamio is a singer song writer, guitarist and producer. He was formerly in a band called Unicorn which was pretty famous in Japan. He later quit to follow his own career. If you ask most Japanese people they will have heard of him and is also known for producing the hit band Puffy. The reason I like him is simple. In a word: guitar. As a nerdy guitarist I love the way he produces rock and gets an incredibly fat guitar sounds. Worth a listen!
6. Dry and Heavy – New Creation
Back in the 90s, reggae hit Japan in a big way and the Japanese reggae scene was born. Today you have some really big reggae music events in Japan including the Reggae Sun Splash festival. One really solid Japanese reggae band I love is “Dry and heavy” which has an incredibly well produced and tight sound. One thing I have found is their albums age really well so they are always a good go to band of summer parties and something to listen to on the beach.
7. Urufuruzu – Osaka Strut
ウルフルズ Urufuruzu are a rock band from Osaka and “Osaka Strut” is one of their big hits. The band is headed by the charismatic Tortoise Matsumoto who has also tried his hand at acting. They enjoyed their biggest initial success with the song “Guts Da Ze”, a song you should attempt only when you have achieved your black belt in Karaoke.
8. Southern All stars
Southern All Stars are perhaps one of the most, if not, the most famous band in Japan. They have a long career stretching back to the late 70s and are still active now performing live and having their music featured in adverts and on TV. They have over 15 number one hits and, in short, are a legendary band. Go check them out, there’s a lot of music to choose from!
Begin are one of my favorite bands for their great song writing and singing. Their music is influenced by the culture and history of Okinawa. You can hear the traditional San Shin in a lot of their music. It’s a 3 stringed guitar unique to Okinawa. Their most well known songs are “San shin no hana” and “Shimanchu nu takara”.
10. Mr Children
Mr. Children (ミスターチルドレン Misutā Chirudoren)is rock group from Japan who are another mega group with a career going back to the early 90s. Known more commonly as “Misu-Chiru” (ミスチル), they are a band just about everyone has heard of in Japan. They have a large discography and an impressive share of number one hits. All I can say is, do a google search and see where that takes you as they have a fair bit of music out there.