Julian, Alex, Sean and I did a presentation on Japanese music on Wednesday, April 11, 2007. We also had a great guest speaker, Kiku. His “stage name” is Oto and he produces post-techno music. It was interesting to learn about the difference between techno and post-techno, and it was also great to hear about Kiku’s interest in this kind of music.
It was very difficult to keep the presentation “short and sweet.” When we met to discuss what we were going to talk about, I remember that we had a lot of ideas and a lot of bands and a lot of facets of Japanese music that we wanted to discuss.
We ended up presenting a brief history of Japanese music. We went over the huge popularity of Jazz music from the 1950s to the incorporation of Rock and Roll (think Elvis!) and Folk music through the 1980s. Japanese music was largely influenced by American bands at this time, and the change from a sort of “imitation music” to J-Pop occured from the late 1980s to the 1990s.
We played various songs from bands like Pizzicato 5, Cornelius, Utada Hikaru, Zeebra, and Scha Dara Parr. Sean talked a lot about Shibuya Kei, which is a sub-genre underneath the greater picture of Japanese music. Julian liked the sounds of the hip-hop artist Zeebra (and he was also interested in the history of Japanese music in general) and we compared “party rap” to the “serious rap” of Zeebra. Alex played some songs by Bearsuit, which isn’t a Japanese band, but has songs that are Japanese “influenced” and he also discussed “cutesy” Japanese music. I myself am a huge K-Pop fan, so I covered K-Po/J-Pop crossover artists, like BoA and Rain.
I think from our presentation, we learned that Japanese music is just more than “J-Pop.” Japanese music is everything from J Hip-Hop to Jazz to Techno to Rock. Not only does Japanese music have a huge impact in Japan, it has fans from all over the world and not just from East Asian countries. Japanese music is creative and fun as well as inventive. We definitely had fun with our presentation and wish we had more time to discuss every aspect of Japanese music!
Here are some links:
a site for J-Pop fans
this goes hand-in-hand with the discussion of “genbas” in Ian Condry’s book, “Hip-Hop Japan”
Utada Hikaru’s website