Japanese pop music, or "J-pop", is an umbrella term for pop music originating from Japan, which was coined by Japanese media to differentiate itself from Western pop music. J-pop began in the 1970s, but it didn't become mainstream until the 1990s.
Before J-pop, the most popular genre of Japanese popular music was kakokyoku
("lyric singing music"), which was influenced by Western jazz and rock 'n roll. A notable movement in kayokyoku in the late 1960s into the early 1970s is the "Group Sounds" movement. Influenced heavily by groups such as The Beatles
, The Byrds
, and other such groups, group sounds bands were characterized by their reliance on Psychedelic Rock
and Baroque Pop
influenced instrumentation and featured Bishonen lead singers usually, such as Kenji "Julie" Sawada from The Tigers
. It didn't include Gratuitous English
and was popular until the end of the 1980s.
Modern J-pop has several sub-genres and niches, several popular forms including:
- Idol Singer: popularized in the 1970s, it gained steam over the 2000s from the success of Morning Musume with many indie groups popping up to fill a niche interest, leading to what was known as the "Idol Warring Period."
- Anison ("anime song"): Many such songs are often featured in Anime openings and endings due to alliances between certain animation studios and record companies (i.e. lots of Sony artists have tie-ins with anime produced by Sony). Many voice actors have singing careers as well, with a significant overlap with the Idol Singer genre. Some voice actors may be an Idol Singer as well due to the boom of interest in idol music in the mid-2000s. This also includes Vocaloid.
The process of releasing singles and albums is usually the opposite of the way it works in the West: instead of artists releasing albums, then singles from those albums, labels tend to release a steady stream of singles, then compile those (along with other tracks) into albums—sometimes many months after the original singles. This sometimes gives labels/artists the opportunity to create a separate "album mix" of those singles.
Notable Japanese Pop artists: