Artists from the Presentation

Here is a list of the artists we mentioned/played from our presentation. The list isn’t quite complete – but it’s close (Julian, Alex, or Tiffany can fill in the gaps if they so desire). If anyone was interested in any particular artist/style, feel free to inquire.


50s: jazz and the beginnings of rock ‘n roll
Key artists: jazz musicians (see Blue Nippon); Kosaka Kazuya & the Wagon Masters cover Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel, heralding in the rock age for Japan; Sakamoto Kyu scores an international smash with a song known in America as “Sukiyaki”, which translates to something like “beef soup.”

60s: cover pop and karaoke; the rise of Western pop and English-sung lyrics

70s: rock & pop continued; rise of “New Music,” a singer-songwriter type of approach that emphasizes personal expression over social messages
Key artists: Happy End, a rock band noted for singing in Japanese; Toshiko Akiyoshi, internationally-acclaimed jazz musician; Yellow Magic Orchestra (which includes one of Happy End’s original members) bring Kraftwerk-ian influence to their electropop offerings; Yosui Inoue and Takruo Yoshida are some of the more prominent “New Music” artists.

80s: citypop/wasei pop – the beginnings of J-Pop as we know it today
Key artists: Ryuichi Sakamoto, former member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, pioneers Japanese electronica; Eikichi Yazawa is one of the decade’s most prominent rock stars; female pop stars like Yoko Oginome, Seiko Matsuda, and Moritaka Chisato tackle the charts; Chage and Aska are considered “Asia’s most popular rock group;” meanwhile, Shibuya-kei godfathers Flipper’s Guitar (Keigo Oyamada and Kenji Ozawa) hit the scene in the late 80s, taking liberally from the English twee-pop scene, and later the British Madchester rave scene, as well as combining sounds of 60s French pop, and other international (primarily European) sonic styles.

90s: Shibuya-kei! – Translated to “Shibuya-style,” in reference to where it originally took off (thanks in large part to the well-stocked record stores of the Shibuya area), Shibuya-kei artists combine the best of 60s French pop, bossanova, lounge, hip-hop, rock ‘n roll, electronica, and most every other major musical movement of the past 20 years to create a swirling, kaleidoscopic pop sound both immediately familiar and distinctly Japanese. Most Shibuya-kei artists would receive huge success in Japan; many found success outside of Japan as well, inspiring Western artists like Momus and Bearsuit to imitate the Shibuya-kei sound.
Key artists: Pizzicato Five, the icons of the Shibuya-kei scene, received widespread international acclaim and success-I have a ton of their stuff, so if anyone is interested, let me know; other Shibuya-kei artists include Cornelius (ex-Flipper’s Guitar’s Keigo Oyamada), who’s lately gone on to more experimental/”rock” electronica (to use Kiku’s terminology) – he’s playing Park West in Chicago on May 7 if anyone’s interested; also see Takako Minekawa, Kahimi Karie, and others. Meanwhile, Japan becomes known for its burgeoning noise-rock scene as well, consisting of bands like Acid Mothers Temple (sprawling pysch), Melt-Banana (hyperspeed metal with helium vocals), the Boredoms (noise-chaos, but their later stuff is surprisingly organic and coherent), and the mother of all noise artists, Merzbow (layers upon layers of chaos listened to at unreasonably loud volume). Bands like Peatmos represent the lighthearted, lo-fi pop side of things. Basically, if it’s a genre in the West, you can find it represented somewhere in the highly diverse Japanese music scene.

00s: More J-Pop, hip-hop, and doom/sludge
Key artists: Utada Hikaru and Hamasaki Ayumi, the two behemoths of the J-Pop scene. Bands like L’Arc en Ciel and the Pillows take the sheen of J-Pop and add guitars, continuing in the J-Rock tradition. Hip-hop, after years of underground struggling, finally begins to crack the mainstream; continuing the 90s split between “real” rap and “party” rap are artists like Zeebra (real, “street cred” rap) and Scha Dara Parr (party rap; their breakthrough hit was actually produced in tandem with the other member of Flipper’s Guitar, Kenji Ozawa in the mid-90s). Also, Japanese band Boris revitalizes the international metal scene with their breakthrough album Pink, shedding light in the process on the doom/sludge movement that has risen in prominence as of late.

Phew! Most information taken from the books we read,,, and our own personal stores of music knowledge (WHPK represent, w00t!)


5 Responses to Artists from the Presentation

  1. memorygongs says:

    I’m not in your class but I’m a music student and I appreciate this post!

  2. […] responded to this blog! A Japanese blogger, mimi246, wrote an entry in response to the entry in this blog posted by Sean. […]

  3. […] centering around Sean’s entry, “Artists from the Presentation,” I will write things that I feel “I would like to include this trend,” ” I would […]

  4. […] centering around Sean’s entry, “Artists from the Presentation,” I will write things that I feel “I would like to include this trend,” ” I would […]

  5. […] A Japanese blogger, mimi246, wrote an entry in response to the entry in this blog posted by Sean. […]

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