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Japanese Pop Music

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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 kayokyoku ("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.

Another important subgenre is City Pop, which dominated the charts in Japan in the 80s, but fell out of the radar afterwards (But not permanently).

As noted by Marty Friedman, ex-Megadeth lead guitarist who moved to Japan in 2003, is how often there's Genre-Busting. Many of the examples listed below would not be thought of as a traditional Top 40 pop act by western standards and even standard idol pop groups have been known to sometimes throw in a twist. Marty himself has played support guitar for Momoiro Clover Z.

Modern J-pop has several sub-genres and niches, several popular forms including:

  • Idol Genre: popularized in the 1970s, it gained steam in the late '90s and '00s from the success of Morning Musume, with many indie groups popping up to fill a niche interest. This led to what was known as the "Warring Idols 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.
  • City Pop: A genre of Japanese pop music that is influenced by Western Jazz and Funk. It was popular in the late 70s and 80s but faded into obscurity after the economic bubble of the 1990s. City Pop saw a resurgence online thanks to references to it in Vaporwave and Future Funk.

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:

Alternative Title(s): J Pop