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Does J-pop really suck?

191 Comments
By Dan Grunebaum

Coming second only to teeth sucking, J-pop is the one aspect of Japanese culture that Westerners love to hate. And let’s be honest, there are plenty of good reasons to loathe it: the talentless "tarento," the excruciating English, and the indentured servitude of artists and gangland connections that characterize the industry, to name just a few.

But does the music itself really suck? I’ve long felt there was something else going on. In fact, a better question might be: why does J-pop grate so much on Western ears?

I suspect one reason J-pop irritates people is that, superficially, it resembles Western pop. It’s got the sampled beats and synth lines we’re accustomed to, as well as familiar production values.

And yet it’s all somehow wrong. J-pop relentlessly confounds our expectations. Melodies seem to start off in the same spot as in Western pop, but invariably end somewhere we didn’t expect, making us feel that a promise to speak our musical language has been betrayed. The contours are different: they’re based not on the major or minor but on pentatonic scales, and there’s no blue note. What’s more, the thin vocal timbres that seem so pleasing to the locals prove insufferable to Westerners raised on the full-throated likes of Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé.

Recent research detailed in books like Philip Ball’s "The Music Instinct" suggests that, as with language, people acquire a sense of musical “syntax” at a very young age, creating neural pathways that soon become entrenched. This can make it as difficult for adults to “get” foreign music as it is to learn a foreign language.

Since the frame of reference for J-pop is its Western trappings, we’re predisposed to judge it by Western standards. But maybe that’s a mistake: rather than a poor imitation of “our” pop music, J-pop may well be different at a more basic musical level.

One clue is that East Asians, who share a common musical heritage with Japan, appear predisposed to like it. Ayumi Hamasaki can fill stadiums in China but registers not even a blip in the Americas or Europe. J-pop stars like Hikaru Utada who have tried to make it in the West fall flat even with English-language albums.

On the other hand, the bands that succeed in the West are often exotic or seemingly so, be it the Kodo drummers or Boredoms. The “problem” with J-pop is that it’s too close to Western music to be exoticized, making the differences grate all the more.

While “Cool Japan” continues to sell well in Western countries, its successes have mainly been in the visual realm: anime, cosplay, art, butoh, and so on. Visual “language” appears to be far more universally accessible, and a musical equivalent to the overseas success of Takashi Murakami and Hayao Miyazaki, or even a reprise of Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 U.S. number one “Sukiyaki,” may be some time coming.

The further away a nation is culturally, the more difficult it is to learn its language or enjoy its music. The West’s encounter with Asian music is recent, and like Asian tongues, it’s difficult to get to grips with. I’ve been here long enough to learn a fair bit of Japanese, and even come to enjoy a smattering of J-pop (note: there’s a lot of other Japanese music I like), but I’ll probably never “get” either like the natives do.

All of which brings me back to that original question: does J-pop actually suck? Well, the Japanese music industry might, but whether the actual music does is a more problematic issue. Your answer may say more about you, where you come from and whether you believe objective standards can be applied to culture, than the quality of the music itself.

This commentary originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

191 Comments
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pop in general sucks, so when you start with something sucky, and try to copy it , you get really sucky

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

First I have to object to the writer putting Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé in the same category that is like grouping an F1 race car with a Honda Accord, one is a unique finely tuned machine and the other a massed produced vehicle pushed on the masses by large corporations.

The real question is does all "pop" music suck and not just J-pop and I define "pop" as corporate controlled garbage that is pumped out so quickly that it becomes hard to tell the difference from one group, singer, song from the other.

If an ACDC, Link Park, the Stones, etc.. song played you can tell who is who but as I have noticed over the past years in the "pop" world even those who claim to be fans of "pop" and J-pop unless a song is clearly already popular half the time they argue as to what group or singer is singing, they all just sound alike.

As for J-pop I don't know just what the writer is calling J-pop, my daughter (15 years old) listens to Japanese groups but is in no way a fan of what any of her peers listen to, with very few exceptions you will not see any of the groups or singer she and her friends listen to on any TV show (VK, Goth rock) but you will see sold out concerts and a good following not to mention some excellent musicians and vocalist, one group she is always playing sing in Japanese, French and Italian and aprently have quite the following outside Japan.

So again if we are talking J-pop a la SMAP then yes it suck!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

... I love j-pop. My explanation: I like a catchy tunes? Some people like it, some people don't. Just as in the West, some people like "pop" and some people don't. I think it's natural.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Those who can't appreciate jpop are the ones who suck! ;) Even Marty Friedman (ex-guitarist of Megadeth) is a self proclaimed jpop lover. I reckon that jpop was better in the 90s with bands like Globe. But even now there are good ones like Perfume wich I like a lot (I listen to death metal too btw).

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"Those who can't appreciate jpop are the ones who suck! ;) Even Marty Friedman (ex-guitarist of Megadeth) is a self proclaimed jpop lover."

Wow... with an admonition and testimonial this strong, I mean "Megadeath!" Who can argue with that? :)

I am sorry, but the plastic production line crap that most J-pop labels spew out every year could be done by robots and samples and no one would notice the difference. Very few artists write their own material. If you listen to most j-pop you can hear the vocal correction units sorting out the off pitch. And listen more carefully and you can hear how it is cut and pasted together.

Not that current American or European mainstream music is anything to write home about, but let's be honest, at least some of those artists can actually sing without the help of pitch correction. And a few can actually write music.

Japanese pop is about appearance and marketing. That water isn't any deeper than that. Ask the guys who write most of this crap at home on their PC at the behest of the likes of Avex if they even like the junk they churn out. I know a few of them, and they say they just produce what the producers want e.g. cute, pop song for 14yr old starlet, nothing complicated she's cute but can't sing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yes. We all can have our opinions. For me J-Pop sucks(and western pop too). What is to like? The bad singing? The bad lyrics? The inability to play an instrument?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

yes. it sucks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The thing is this. I am from Seattle and it is a city with a lot of very talented people in a dozen or more genres of pop. When you go see these people perform, there are no racks of BMG music, no pitch correction and no hired musicians playing for them. These people write and play their own music. They can sing. The lyrics mean something most of the time. And there is often priority given to originality.

I could pick any cute girl off the streets in Harajuku today, put her in whatever fashion is the hottest in her age group today, write some jingle song and put it out on a banner truck by 5pm and have a new J-pop starlet ready to go. Doesn't matter if the girl can sing or even has any interest in music. She's a package.

So tell me this... which would you rather spend your evening listening to live?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"On the other hand, the bands that succeed in the West are often exotic or seemingly so, be it the Kodo drummers or Boredoms."

Ah yes gone are the days of real musicians like YMO but lately we have seen a bit of light with groups like the Yoshida Brothers bringing their Japanese style Jazz/Rock fusion to the world to critical acclaim and with the admiration and appreciation of real music lovers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I find it very interesting (and bothering) that most people judge the quality of a music by how it was crafted and by who crafted it. I don't care if a music is computer generated or artificially altered. What counts is the result. If you don't like it, don't shoot at the creator. It's only a problem with YOUR taste.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some of us actually LIKE the music though. I'm not talking about the music industry-- you can say what you want about the tarento and their lack of ability, and most likely I will agree. Yes, it's a package. But just because YOU don't like the music and think it's meaningless doesn't mean it's the same for other people. And you know, meaning or not, it could just be for fun-- why does it matter? It doesn't mean it sucks. Music has never been just one way, and that's what makes it great.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it's no more a packaged product to make money than pop music in other countries. thus as music it is crap. comparing instant noodles to a bowl of lovingly handmade udon...of course it's crap

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not any more than the rest of the world's music and the drones that listen to it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tkoind2, do your friends play pop music? Because if they do, they suck by definition. I'm guessing not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I suspect one reason J-pop irritates people is that, superficially, it resembles Western pop. It’s got the sampled beats and synth lines we’re accustomed to, as well as familiar production values.

Same production values, no, hell no. I've worked in the Japanese music industry for over 10 years, the production value in Japan is 10 times lower than other countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's just way too predictable. The moment you hear the first few notes you where it's going.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love J-pop, I know alot of Westerners that enjoy the music as well. From Hikaru Utada to even Yui or SID, JPOP has been a very entertaining and alternative type of music to invest your time in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes it sucks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JPop is easy to listen to and I would take it over rubbish like trance music, but it rarely changes. JPop 10 years ago is barely different to what we hear now.

Boy/girl bands were popular in the UK during the mid/late-90s, but people grew out of it, and now you see actual musicians at no.1 in the charts. Japan has some awesome bands, but barely have any success because of the relentless JPop machine. It's annoying to see utter garbage like SMAP singing out of tune, dancing like drunk morons on TV all the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

J-POP often copies melodies and song structures from Western music. So if you listen to J-Pop, you have heard it all before. Look at traditional Japanese Enka. Common chord changes from the circle of fifths, just the lyrics are changed to make a "new" song. Basically for most Japanese music there is a lack of originality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I find it very interesting (and bothering) that most people judge the quality of a music by how it was crafted and by who crafted it. I don't care if a music is computer generated or artificially altered."

Good for you. This is the same logic that has elevated DJs to the rank of gods while leaving real musicians in the unfinished basement. If you want to have add agency generated music, go ahead. I don't think anyone is saying that J-pop and its legions of shallow stars should be erradiated or put in camps. On the contrary, live and let live.

But when the music industry world wide is faltering, legions of truly talented people (electronic and otherwise) are unable to make a living in music, you are only hurting yourselves.

See if music is about appearance and fluff, then it is all about marketing and appearance. But if you look at the music that is enduring and definitive of its age and time, those artist are truly talented. The fluff of the 80's didn't survive. Nor from any other period in time. Only the really talented artists endure and remain on the airwaves and ipods of today.

Take Janis Joplin. Not kawaii, not beautiful (in add agency terms)and not fashionable (again in marketing terms.) But she was profoundly talented and unique and so she endures today. Having even had movies made of her life.

If you like fluff, buy it. The add agencies like Avex will love you for it. But the fact remains, you are buying a manufactured mass produced product and not the music of a true talent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BoratLikeBarry "Japan has some awesome bands, but barely have any success because of the relentless JPop machine."

The best statement of the day. Go to events in Tokyo and you will see some very talented young people here. But because they don't fit into the marketing schemes you will never see them at the top of the industry. J-pop would rather have talentless bands like Exile and SMAP to flog at you.

So sad that truly talented young Japanese artists are buried under J-pop crap.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, it sucks. But I am curious about other J-genres. Anyone know of a Japanese equivalent to Pitchfork in the US?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Writer is too generous. He should ask why the likes of SMAP sing in unison, while overseas counterparts Backstreet Boys, etc., sing in multiple harmonies. The answer: an utter lack of musical ability. There are exceptions, like Utada, mind you. But about 90% of J-Pop deserves to not exist. And that is a perfectly good reason to despise it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have listened to music from all over the World and some of my favourite artists are Japanese.I watched Perfume's concert from the Tokyo Dome,and they were awesome.I also like Yui,who has that magical ability to convey deep emotion in her lyrics and song.I like AKB48 too,2010 has been a great year for them.

Music is something personal,and if you like it,you like it.Living in the West and being force fed chart music,and being told this is the only music in the World is a joke.The World is bigger than the USA,Europe and Australia! So get on You Tube,You Ku and Nico Nico D,and enjoy what's out there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But the fact remains, you are buying a manufactured mass produced product and not the music of a true talent.

How can anyone take this kind of comment seriously? It just sounds extremely egotistical. Who are you to define talent? No one is saying all jpop is God's gift to the music world, but good grief, the self righteousness in this thread is mind boggling. It's no better than the kids I knew in high school who criticized anyone for not listening to music without enough screaming and wailing guitars in it, because that was REAL music to them and it had people with REAL talent and everything else was "manufactured fluff". And you're still talking about the artists and companies. I keep hearing SMAP and Exile, because suddenly those are the only two jpop bands in existance.

Bottom line, music is what you make of it, it becomes something else for the listener, it's never JUST where it comes from. If someone else gets something out of it, why belittle them and call it crap?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some J-bands and singers are really good. Take Shinichi Osawa for example, I never get tired listening to his albums.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agree with supercross1985:

"Music is something personal,and if you like it,you like it."

"The World is bigger than the USA,Europe and Australia!"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't even have to read the article to know YES IT DOES.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

J-pop stars like Hikaru Utada who have tried to make it in the West fall flat even with English-language albums.

That's because she's dreadful in English. She may have lived in New York a long time and is fluent in everyday English, but I don't regard her a true native English speaker in that she clearly can't play with English words and syntax in the same way your average educated native English speaker can. Seriously, her English lyrics sound as if they were written by a 7 year old.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, in my opinion it's mostly crap.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My only problem is that I like singers who can actually sing, I guess because I grew up listening to artists like Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, the great jazz singers of the 50s, and--much later--Japanese singers like Chiaki Naomi and Tamaki Koji and Yellow Monkey. So whether it's J-Pop or some other genre, Japanese or otherwise, the quality of the singer's voice and lyrics are more important to me than the style of performance.

Which means, of course, the vast majority of J-Pop as seen on TV these days is pretty much nails on a chalkboard to me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with tkoind2, pretty much everything you wrote. Sorry kokorocloud, but I don't feel his/her comments are egotistical at all. He/She is probably a musician and cares about the origin of music, wants great musicians to be recognized, and doesn't appreciate the overproduced and market-saturated CRAP everywhere, in every country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

shempa-- I've got no doubt he's a musician and cares about music, I am as well. But musicians should know, more than anybody that music speaks in different ways to everyone. No matter how much work and talent you put in to producing something, if it's not someone's cup of tea or they don't like it, that's normal. No one should call it crap. Perhaps egotistical wasn't the right word. It just sounded borderline arrogant to me, as if anyone here can be the authority on GOOD music.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What's weird is how there are so many great j-musicians but so little great j-pop.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Like every genre, be it television, books, or cuisine, some is good, some is bad, depending on your personal tastes.

Smap and Exile suck to my ears, but if millions of Japanese people get their kicks out of listening to that sort of music, then good for them. I don't think their taste in music is misguided, it is merely different to my own.

Now do major Japanese labels care more about the quality of music they produce or how much money they can make off the people they sign up? Of course as a business, their prime concern is about what makes them money - and I guess revenue from CD sales is only a small part of what they can milk from an artist. As a business decision it is probably the right one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Les Rallizes DeNudes- cited as seminal influence by Sonic Youth, Julian Cope, etc

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nessie; they are tons of outstanding musicians but a lack of originality compared to the west. Also looks come first these days, and that comes before talent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Problems with J-Pop music?

No killer tunes. Personally I love a good catchy tune be it pop, rock, whatever but nothing I hear here ever grabs me enough to make me want to go look up who the artist is. The melodies are formulaic, not my thing.

Singing voices. For the men, they try to put this over-to-top fake vibrato that just grates my ears, then for female singers there seems to be clause in the contracts that in every song they must randomly lift their voice an octave for no real reason. And their voices usually lack power - the Japanese diva voice just doesn't work for me, they're more suited to soft jazz. Actually the female pop singers I like are those that don't try to sing in an unnatural voice, like Tomiko Van (ex-Do As Infinity) and Puffy.

Inserting crap English phrases into the chorus.

As others have said there's rubbish plastic pop music everywhere but usually there are quite a few 'guilty pleasure' exceptions that are really good (lost count of the number of times I listened to Katy Perry's debut album) but I don't find it too much in J-Pop. Anyway I'm going to see Ginger Wildheart tonight so for me all is well in the music world for now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kokorocloud -- Yes, it's all a matter of opinion. Here's my arrogant opinion: SMAP music is absolutely awful crap. I'm the authority on what I think, and I can call any music whatever I want, as anyone else can.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Boa I can dig, then again she is Korean.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As I type this, I’m listening to a mix of Southern All Stars, Dreams Come True and Kome Kome Club. I listen to them at work almost every day.

Funny thing is that I liked these bands even when I was a basher...

It’s great to watch some of their videos on YouTube too. Pacific Hotel by Sazan is a classic!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yes

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

To ditto so many others, much of it is crap. But there are people with real talent. Hikaru Utada has already been mentioned for example. Would say Shota Shimizu is among Japan's only world class r&b vocalists. Like Hirai Ken OK as well, but Shota is far more natural. The kid just has it. Kyosuke Himuro is an awesome rock vocalist. Amuro Namie (butchered eigo and all) and Perfume are quite catchy (as embarrassing as that is to admit from a fan of Black Label Society...)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shempa-- Fair enough, but don't be surprised when people call you out for it. It's opinion, not fact. You can say, "I think such and such music is crap", I don't really care if people think j-pop sucks, but phrasing it like it's an unwritten rule and everyone else must be ridiculous for buying "fluff" is what bothered me, that's all.

That said, I'm not a fan of SMAP's music either. ...Because there is more to jpop than five guys who sing out of tune more often than not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with the writer's opinion, especially as stated in the last paragraph. It all comes down to perspective. And, as someone who spent much of his late-teenage years listening to Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen play in clubs in New York and Asbury Heights (Yes, I'm that old.) as well as Chicago and The Who's first U.S. concert, I don't have an "appreciation" for J-Pop. However, I will not say it sucks, since I am clearly not the target. My music ear is just tuned to different styles.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does J-pop really suck?

I think it was said best in an old Bruce Willis movie,

Milo: ...well just once, I would like to hear you scream, in pain. Joe Hallenbeck: Play some rap music.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Singing voices. For the men, they try to put this over-to-top fake vibrato that just grates my ears, then for female singers there seems to be clause in the contracts that in every song they must randomly lift their voice an octave for no real reason.

For the J-ladies, it's to get power when you're singing through your nose, particularly when it's a button nose.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

By definition, industrial music (whether J-pop or western pop) is not designed to convey an artist view, but merely to make quick bucks. Both are not incompatible (there is nothing wrong in commercially promoting an artist and make money out of it), but in the case of industrial music, you cannot consider it as anything else than a manufactured product. It can be pleasing, entertaining, whatever you like, but it is difficult to consider it as an artistic product.

In addition, J-pop is usually even more stereotypical and formatted than its western counterparts.

There are great artists everywhere in the world, in every genre (classical, jazz, electronic music, rock, experimental, "world music", etc...). If you take a look at internet and concert venues, it is not hard to find them. I would not count on TV for this, especially in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

pop is not a musical form

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A lot of thing about how SMAP music sucks, but let me remember you guys that SMAP are a group of dancers, not singers. Same goes for EXILE, Kat-Tun & the rest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having sat through kohaku, I was amazed at how many j-pop stars can't sing live. Let's see: can't play instruments, can't write music, can't sing without electronic assistance... Are these musicians at all?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It doesn't suck, it blows...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not sure how "Sukiyaki" and "Каникулы любви" (VACANCE DE L'AMOUR) end as Americans and Russians expect, making them feel that a promise to speak their musical language has not been betrayed. (Russians seem to have something more akin to Japanese taste than Americans though.) But music is no accounting for tastes, still less a promise, so who cares if I enjoy listening to the covered version of Wakareuta or the Parting Song by Nakajima Miyuki sung by Hirai Ken and Kusano Masamune?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Amuro Namie (butchered eigo and all) and Perfume are quite catchy

I kind of agree. I listen to both (but try not to tell my friends)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am a proud lover of jPop, but not the jPop on the boob tube, such as SMAP and many others. They are usually tone deaf, sing off key, and do stupid Johnny Dance moves. Chicks are hot though.

I listen to regular radio out of Yokohama and there is a lot of good stuff on, but the disc jockeys should just shut up and play the music instead of talking like as if they are an MC at a Japanese Wedding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

goddog, I agree, radio djs talk way too much!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A lot of the recent mainstream jpop does suck but it just feels like now because it feels like it has become stale over the years. I enjoyed Jpop earlier on but after 5 years of it...it's become the same routine of sounds almost. The music hasn't reinvented itself...it's on this endless loop of similar tunes. I'm definitely liking more of the J-indie artists but I do appreciate the Jpop singers that do have talent like JASMINE's vocals and YUI's self-written melodies. They're definitely good and delivering what the audiences likes and very consistently. Now with Kpop breaking into the industry (i'm kinda seeing it as a good and bad thing) it'll hopefully stimulate some breakthrough in the japanese music sphere ...but I hope kpop doesn't take over and make jpop into another kpop-dom land either. I can only stand so much...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just like in every country you have to dig for good music. There are lots of dope musicians running around in Japan. As far as J-pop that you see on TV and here on the radio it's no more packaged and churned out than anything from the west. I studied music for many many years have been in tons of bands and worked with lots of fantastic musicians. From all of my experience I've learned to appreciate many types of music. There is a lot of work that goes into all types. Talent is very subjective. If you are talking about technique and the ability to play an instrument there are tons of musicians in J-pop that are masters of their craft. Just because it's packaged and sold like a Happy Meal doesn't change that fact. That might rub you the wrong way but that's the way it is. Technicality has never been important in music anyway. Look at 80's hair metal. When Nirvana came along with those 3 chord songs they devastated! The same thing could be said about the punk movement.

If you're talking about originality you have to be kidding me. There hasn't been an original music act this century. These days music is just the bastardization of several genres. Dubstep is the big thing in electronic music right now and it's the bastard child of many other electronic genres.

People are so into talking poop about others music views that people forget why we listen to music. Because. We. Like. It. Everyone has a guilty pleasure whether it's listening to Perfume / AKB48 or going to Uniqlo / IKEA / McDonald's. It's all packaged and dressed up to make us buy it. If you don't like it than do something 'bout it sheesh.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The vast majority of musicians, and artists in general, in developed countries are sucky, narcissistic poseurs. Their main goals are becoming famous, and getting people to approve of their "art," which often entails being considered "cool," "shocking," or "cute."

Whenever I hear some musician say his/her music comes from the heart, i feel my lunch coming back for a visit. Can't anyone be honest? Just once I'd like to hear one of these turkeys say "I wrote it for the audience, because I figured that's what would sell the most. Furthermore, this getup I'm wearing is purely for the effect it will have on my financial livelihood."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, it does. And not just "pop" either.

Rubbish like Yuzu, Mr. Children and B'z (who have been making the same song only slightly changing the words from the start).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My only problem is that I like singers who can actually sing,

That's not a problem :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

iceshoecream:"Agree with supercross1985: "Music is something personal,and if you like it,you like it." "The World is bigger than the USA,Europe and Australia!"

And this remark: "J-pop stars like Hikaru Utada who have tried to make it in the West fall flat even with English language albums."

Well here is a bit of a surprise for many out there some of the worlds most respected and biggest musical starts don't come from EU or NA or even sing in English or for that fact even in any European language, Youssou N'Dour may on the occasion sign in French and English but he signs mostly in Seereer and Wolof but has sold millions and in Europe and Africa and can sell out concerts wherever he goes, in the late 80's early 90's there was a group called Kashtin from Canada that sang almost exclusively in Innu (Montagnais) their albums went double platinum in Canada and France and were very popular in large parts of Europe, there are many more like these but the big difference between these people and groups and the J-Pop is that they have real talent real music and language doesn't make much difference.

This is painfully obvious when so many Spanish and Italian signers have massive following outside the countries that speak these 2 languages, Eros ramazzotti almost never sang in English but sold million of albums throughout Europe including Germany, France, and the northern non-Latin country as well as South America.

Kitaro is virtually the founder of new age music and has sold more albums outside Japan than inside and is actually more famous outside Japan no he does not sign but he is a real musician and for that reason he is respected and sells.

English is not the problem with perhaps the exception of the USA, but musical content, Europe, Asia, South America and even the middle East and Africa have accepted and made stars of people and groups that do not sign in their languages but all these people or groups had one thing in common "THEY HAD REAL TALENT"!

J-pop is non-talent and that hurts the real talent in Japan the masse industry is so busy turning out this garbage that they overlook the world market by not promoting those Japanese that could break into it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No matter what scale they play in, it's still Disco

0 ( +0 / -0 )

limboinjapan, to complete you, there was a great band called Dead Can Dance who gave up conventional language altogether, and created their own idiosyncratic language to convey the feeling of the songs

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Puffy are very much "J-pop", but their songs are actually well-written and quite old-fashioned, with clear influences from 60s music - Beatles, Kinks etc. However, their song writer is not Japanese, but American!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

making us feel that a promise to speak our musical language has been betrayed

whose language? NOT MINE! JPOP is worse than superficial. Its so shallow you could bathe your toddler in it without there being any repercussions.

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Actually we need to make a difference between J-pop and J-rock.

J-pop are groups and singers that are manufactured by corporations and rarely if ever write music or play and instrument as for J-rock, VK-Rock and other forms of Japanese music there are some extremely talented people out there, just look at Gackt (Malice Mizer), Begin, janne da arc and even X-Japan (though some may argue about the singers voice) all these groups and singers write their own music and play their own instruments and at the same level if not in some cases better than any international musicians, some are even more respected within the industry outside Japan than inside (X-Japan's Yoshiki moved his studio to LA because that is where he is more appreciated and has a thriving career writing, producing, mixing and even playing on some of the world top groups and singers albums).

This is what the J-pop industry is doing chasing the real talent away form Japan or relegating it to the fringes.

Japan has talent and great talent to boot but the almost complete control of the industry by a handful of agencies has killed a lot of the best!

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Over the past decade Shiina Ringo (Tokyo Jihen) and the brilliant green have been my favorite J artists. I'd even rate them higher than many, if not most western bands.

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Above posts in summary:

My English speaking world tastes >>>>>>> Japanese mainstream bubblegum pop audience tastes.

Certainly, that catchy American song that goes something like "California bitches uh-oh-uh-oh-uh-oh" never made a noticeable presence on the Oricon charts despite all the hype about it in the Anglo-American world. What's there to explain other than to recall that the Japanese market is not the same?

Comparing different products tailored for different markets in terms of subjective tastes is nothing short of outright pretentious behavior.

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Certainly, that catchy American song that goes something like "California bitches uh-oh-uh-oh-uh-oh" never made a noticeable presence on the Oricon charts despite all the hype about it in the Anglo-American world. What's there to explain other than to recall that the Japanese market is not the same?

I reckon the song would've attracted attention in Japan had it not been performed by an obasan and a shady man known for undergoing drug rehab. But who am I to judge that the song was crap because it failed to break into the Japanese market that's currently affixated on SKE and SDN?

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@limboinjapan

I have to admit your analysis of how Japan's music industry kills real talent is spot on. Good job with that. It's basically a huge bully behemoth which attempts to smother and indimidate everything in its path, with no scruples to speak of. Funnily enough, we can observe this very same behavior elsewhere...

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I have to admit your analysis of how Japan's music industry kills real talent is spot on. Good job with that. It's basically a huge bully behemoth which attempts to smother and indimidate everything in its path, with no scruples to speak of. Funnily enough, we can observe this very same behavior elsewhere...

Powerful enough to prevent Americans from selling in Japan? if so I will develop a new found respect for labels like Being Giza even if they turned post-Juice B'z into a boyband

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Why blame the industry, what about the idiots who buy it and feed the machine?

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After hearing a song in Southpark called "Lets fighting love" i cant help but laugh everytime i hear a J-Pop song with some bad english included into the lyrics.the pronunciation is usually atrocious also.its hard to tell alot of these groups apart ttoo..there seems to be a generic look for both male/females

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But why are people buying it so much if it's so obvious that a lot of it is no-talent garbage? How is it that so many people can be so interested in it?

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Judderman:" i cant help but laugh everytime i hear a J-Pop song with some bad english included into the lyrics.the pronunciation is usually atrocious"

And I can't help think of that stinker of a song by STIX "Mr, Roboto" with the atrocious pronunciation of "domo Arigato" just 2 words in Japanese and they couldn't even get it right!

So going by the pronunciation of the Japanese is a bit of a wild goose chase plenty of Spanish singers (Julio Iglesias comes to mind) had terrible English but great voices, songs and talent as to negate their English deficiencies and I am sure with a little industry backing here in Japan there are some real talents out there that can do the same.

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"By definition, industrial music (whether J-pop or western pop) is not designed to convey an artist view, but merely to make quick bucks."

Methinks someone needs to re-check the definition of industrial music; I don't think Einsturzende Neubauten are in it for some quick bucks.

J-pop or any pop: pretty sure even the fans know its crap (and the people who make it). It's secret to success is the formula of demanding very little of the listener whose musical tastes are dictated by the disposable, fast-food, generic and comfortably predictable herd-mentality lifestyle they've willfully or unwillfully chosen.

I like me some Cornelius now and again though. Is he Jpop?

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Writer is too generous. He should ask why the likes of SMAP sing in unison, while overseas counterparts Backstreet Boys, etc., sing in multiple harmonies. The answer: an utter lack of musical ability. There are exceptions, like Utada, mind you. But about 90% of J-Pop deserves to not exist. And that is a perfectly good reason to despise it.

In general J-pop sucks, that's why I listen to L'Arc, because even though them can sing some pop tunes, their style is not exactly "pop", when you listen to Tetsuya's songs in his solo career, you can notice the pop-ish style, the guy can write music, but his voice is not good for that kind of stuff, and it gets waaay too commercial. Gackt can sing a little more, but he is way over produced, so it lacks the music and his talent is wasted. SMAP, Ive never wasted my time with them. Utada Hikaru is to me a real artist for the pop genre. But the real fireproof if the group can sing live or even in a music program... Once, in NHK, there was a special with oreskaband, the songs were not that bad, but when they sang it was awful! in a studio set!, there were more than once girl going off tune and I only watched until the end because I was hoping that after that awful noise there would be something that it would make up for that (and I was sadly disappointed)

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I have listened to a wide range of music from all over the world and I am generally picky with what I listen to. In my opinion in regards to pop music, Japan has by far created the most quality material in that genre during the last 15 years compared to other countries. Sure, there is bound to be crap, but there is also a lot of quality stuff out there.

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osuka; Surely you jest. Japan has the worts modern music from any nation i have been to.

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Hmm, I'm not much of a pop music listener, but I think there might have been a few j-pop songs I enjoyed and others that I really thought stunk to high heaven. A long time ago I had some Hikaru Utada songs, some were pretty good, and others made me think "what is this mess? They broke the music is all over the place!". J-pop in general does not suck by nature, but by the musicians and the producers. There were also a few musicians in Hong Kong I got to listen to that were quite fun, but when you can't understand the lyrics its kind of detracts from the value of making a good judgement. Most of the Japanese lyrics range from good to really ridiculous repetitive garbage.

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To quote Bart Simpson "I didn;t think it was physically possible, but it both sucks and blows"!

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@Stevecpfc: No, and don't call me Shirley. (RIP: Leslie Neilsen)

Does the music in "Touhou - Bad Apple" count as J-Pop? I like the song even though I can't follow the lyrics. It's kind of scary when a song can make a 50-year-old jump around like one of those old iPod commercials. O_o

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There was a band in the '90s who really impressed me: Love Psychedelico. Pop, but with a '60s influence (as their name would indicate). They titled their first album "Greatest Hits"!

The lyrics are a mish-mash of English and Japanese, enough that I have to read to follow along, but not the "throw a stupid English word in at the end of a line" way that most J-pop does it. Kumi's pronuniciation sounds native in both, for the most part.

Sadly, they seem to have fallen off the radar recently.

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stevecpfc; What is so bad about it? What makes other pop music of the last 15 years better?

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I enjoy a wide variety of music and I like SMAP, too (they're fun)!

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yes

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J-Pop is worse than American pop. Even Korean pop is better. The good stuff in Japan is all underground.

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I have little tolerance for the "musicians" that sound like they could be with Alvin and the Chipmunks. This is why I usually listen to J-Rock...but even some of that gets iffy.

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What first sticks out as unwieldy and awkward about J-pop is the way words are sung. J-pop singers faithfully enunciate every words clearly and crisply, as if grade schoolers are reading the text in front of the class. One, than, is forced to follow the words rather than the music. In American pop music, the words are almost secondary, or even tertiary; words/voice are just another musical instrument, music making is the primary event. J-pop singers are so focused on form that MUSIC MAKING gets the short shrift. In Art good students make bad artists.

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Does J-pop really suck?

Yup it SUCKS cant stand it

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It's all packaged and dressed up to make us buy it. If you don't like it than do something 'bout it sheesh.

I agree. What I do about it is not buy any crappy Jpop. My favourite musicians are Japanese but you won't hear any of them in Mini Stop.

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J-pop does suck. It's a cheap imitation of everything coming from the United States and Europe; overly forced and ridiculous sounding.

Kind of like the forced, nervous, loud laughter you hear from someone trying too hard to fit in.

Problem is, Japanese just can't make good music naturally. They look and sound too robotic.

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I like me some Cornelius now and again though. Is he Jpop?

Point is still my favourite Japanese album - I definitely wouldn't call him Jpop or describe his music as any one genre. He almost has a musical style of his own. He's another singer who sticks to his natural voice, and while he isn't a great technical vocalist I find him easier on the ears than most J-Pop singers.

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Since we're on the topic, does anyone know the name of the Japanese band that sound just like the Scottish band The Proclaimers? Having heard a couple of songs I've been wanting to check out their albums for ages.

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I'm another one who was surprised at Aretha and Beyonce in the same sentence!

J-pop may be easier to like if you knew Japanese better, but in the end you have to look at the consumers. J-pop is probably liked by teenagers and early 20's, while many of the posters here are getting a little old. Personally, I hate seeing a group of cute males or females dance and all sing harmony to a forgettable song, but that would be the case in English or any other language. So, the success of smap bewilders me. My theory is that lots of the appeal is that the average kid can think "wow, I could do that, I wish I could be there like them. Maybe if I get a few friends and we practice some moves in Yoyogi Park, put on some makeup, we could be the next stars". And they very well could be.

I prefer watching musicians that make me think, "Wow that's incredible. I could never play, or sing like that". You don't get that feeling with smap or akb48 or whoever they are.

Southern All Stars are great fun to watch but they aren't Jpop I suppose.

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There's a very short answer to the question which doesn't even require to read all the text ... YES!

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Longer answer: Yes the music does really suck! It's a bad copy of US pop music which is already awful by itself. There's also the delegation which produces J-RnB, or J-Hip Hop, nasty copies of US westcoast BS RnB and Hip Hop. All just commercial crap without any creative value!

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Something else to consider - UK/US pop is largely rooted in soul and RnB, J-Pop is more rooted in jazz. Personally I'm not into much jazz music so it's understandable Japanese pop acts would appeal less.

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J-Pop doesn't suck any more or any less than pop music in other countries. Pop music is considered popular because it has to achieve the difficult task of appealing to as many people as possible (hence, the term "popular").

Considering the diversity of individual tastes, rather than create music aimed solely at a specific demographic -- e.g., young, old, women, men, people who like hard rock, country music, classical, or techno -- pop music by definition has to address themes that are fundamental and universal enough to appeal to a broad audience.

If you want something more to your tastes, then those options are plentiful. But why rain on the parade of someone who doesn’t revel in Indie bands with the same fervor and abandon as you? I never understood this silliness. If J-pop or ANY pop music, for that matter, isn’t your particular cup of tea, so be it.

But it’s lost on few people the self-importance and pretentiousness of those who criticize pop music and offer up as an alternative their favorite never-been-heard-of-outside-of-a-college-town-live-venue band or singer as the paragon of what’s good and right about music.

There was a time when U2 was THE off-the-grid alternative rock band that all college kids should listen to, while parents held scarcely a clue. But the moment U2 started becoming filling entire arenas for live concerts, we started seeing the same people who were responsible for their success 30 years ago revile them in public for no other reason than having the audacity to succeed financially, thus dispelling the notion that only by being poor and unappreciated can a musician possess value and worth.

So who’s really being shallow here?

Music is a universal construct that appeals to people across all borders and cultures for as many reasons as there are borders and cultures. It’s patently ridiculous for anyone with half a brain try to seriously argue how and why pop music sucks, it being an impossible endeavor. The harder one tries, the more obvious it becomes that the people doing the rationalizing are seeking only to convince others -- and themselves -- that they are somehow more intellectually and socially sophisticated than the rest of us plebeians -- despite being cut from largely the same cloth.

Can there be any greater conceit than to presume to dictate to others what they should and shouldn’t like? I don’t think so, and I can think of no better place than on this thread to issue a general *“Get over yourself” to those who would presume to dictate the rules of individual taste to the rest of us.

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Yes

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this doesn't explain why there are some excellent non-pop japanese musicians. i blame the industry

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One can't really say yes or no, it's not gonna appeal to everybody, some will love it, some will hate it. Personally I listen to whatever sounds good whether it pop, R&B, rap or rock.

But this line here 'Problem is, Japanese just can't make good music naturally. They look and sound too robotic.' is just a load of BS! There are lots of Japanese bands and artists out there that make great music.

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It does noes appeal to me a late 30 year old male living in Japan for a little over 10 years. I do like Lady Gaga....

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Yes Virginia, J-pop REALLY SUCKS.

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No & Yes. i got into some in 01-06 But latelty haven't been into it. theres plenty of Good J-pop ongs out there & especially 80's J-pop. do we did replicas of USpop? NO WAY. alot of newbies want j-pop to be Big in the states UH? NO!! Most people who know how music industry works it would completely Ruin them. keep it (not Popular). alot of it is just dance music wich rotts. But Hey so does Most US/European/Japanese dance music. im more into Rock & Metal. so Newbies Must remember theres alot of Good Bands from BOTH US & JP. but many are also Lame.

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Yes, it really, truly, absolutley, completely, without any doubt, no more discussions, does in fact suck.

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It sucks because they are trying to imitate western pop music which sucks to begin with.

There are great music everywhere but you just have to spend time and dig deeper to find it.

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Every now and then, there are some cool Japanese songs...

youtube com/watch?v=sk6o4GWFIV8

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JPOP is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!! JPOP has more meaning and sense than western pop. American and Eurpean pop only talk about SEX like that of lady gaga. JPOP is different it has substance and it inspires the listener. People who only care about pop music about sex cant really appreciate the beautiful and meaningful music like that of JPOP.

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Have you tried listening to BENI? JASMINE? YUNA ITO? KODA KUMI? etc.if no your a LOSER! for saying JPOP sucks.

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It sucks... to the ears of people that are used to western pop music. Not even "western", used to american english pop music.

Lets face it. Everyday you complain about Japan not being multicultural. But, back home, you only listen to your own music.

And Japan Pop? French Pop? Spanish Pop? Italian Pop? Swedish Pop? "Sorry, not for us!".

You don't even watch foreign films with subtitles! :D

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You people seem to be judging the music by how the words are pronounced - and even then you judge by the worst representatives of the genre. J-pop is more than AKB48 and SMAP - I don't listen to them at all yet I'm a great fan of J-pop. I am going to be honest, I believe that J-pop and similar Japanese music (in their best forms) are miles ahead most Western counterparts since it still has some sense of originality and quality (talent) in it (again - not talking about AKB48 or such).

It might not always be the singers who write the lyrics, they may not pronounce the English words correctly, the lyrics may be simple but it's doesn't matter since it's all about the final result and how it sounds that matters. I think many of you should rethink what music truly is.

For the record it's ridicoulous how often you hear 'digitally altered voices' in Western music compared to Japanese. In the Japanese music I listen to (partly J-pop) - I hardly ever encounter it.

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No music really "sucks." It's all a matter of personal taste.

Taka

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Japanese hearing has a more limited range of tones it can identify. That is why their music tends to sound flat and ratatat-tatty (staying within 1 or 2 octaves) and less sonorous. J-pop just sounds like people talking loudly, not singing.

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It sucks because they are trying to imitate western pop music which sucks to begin with. There are great music everywhere but you just have to spend time and dig deeper to find it.

This is true. While music is subjective, generally J-pop is NOT the most pleasing music on the ears. They try to hard, most of the time, lyrically, very shallow.

For the record it's ridicoulous how often you hear 'digitally altered voices' in Western music compared to Japanese. In the Japanese music I listen to (partly J-pop) - I hardly ever encounter it.

Japanese J-pop artists don't need to digitally alter their voice, it is automatically altered when when they shriek like a banshee, which makes it that much more agonizing on the ears. In fairness, most pop of any sort or language sucks, English not being exempt or exceptional in any way. But it does seem that J-pop is a bit more excruciating on the ear and soul overall.

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coconutz; J-Pop is dreadful. It is OBJECTIVELY bad, irradiated, a-tonal vomit. Western music is, and always will be, FAR FAR FAR superior to anything Japan can even dream of producing. Don't make me start listing artists that Japan has aped in a bid to do something artistic due to a total and utter lack of soul.

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@DuraAce for a person whose ears are stucked only on his own sound, of course you can say its far far far superior. You know what? Go ahead show your list and pick up all the artist you can search on Google. who cares? West are so much insecured on ASIA. Korean pop and Chinese pop is on the rise which is so similar to JPOP. . We Dont aks YOU western people to listen to our music. If you dont like it just DONT listen to it its just so plain simple. you dont have to CRY like a baby

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all music sucks when it becomes primarily a way of making money and less a way of making music. Musicians who make music for artistic expression will always be better. Musicians shouldn't have a boss telling them what to wear and what to play. For this reason yes Jpop sucks

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One band I like is "Crazy Ken Band". Granted not exactly J-Pop but he been around for some time.

Japanese alternate music scene is good(ditto for british, etc), as are many bands that play the local life-houses.

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Most J-pop is crap. You want a Japanese singer with talent, originality, and one who can sing? Yoshida Miwa of Dreams Come True. I saw her in a concert (though I sorely contested the notion of going to a J-pop concert) and I was amazed. That lady can sing. And some of her best songs are ones she wrote when she was a teenager.

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@coconutz; oh, you are very welcome to your awful music. The fact that there is even a market for this crap speaks volumes about you guys.

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@DuraAce: Just because you're not of fan of Japanese music doesn't mean it's crap. Who made you the judge of what's good and what's not?

You don't like it? Good that's fine, it doesn't mean it's terrible, it means it's not for you.

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@DuraAce Ok I got your point already congratulations! your the best JPOP hater already. dont forget to buy all Justin Beiber merchandise.

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dont forget to buy all Justin Beiber merchandise

LOL! Seriously though, every country has the good, the bad, and the ugly. I must say j-pop in general is quite bad, especially the idol groups (both guys and girls). You still can't overgeneralize. There's a lot of decent j-pop out there. Recently I like Superfly and of course Shiina Ringo is good. I also like listening to Spitz sometimes.

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Go ahead show your list and pick up all the artist you can search on Google. who cares? West are so much insecured on ASIA. Korean pop and Chinese pop is on the rise which is so similar to JPOP. . We Dont aks YOU western people to listen to our music. If you dont like it just DONT listen to it its just so plain simple. you dont have to CRY like a baby

I don't think it has anything to do with "insecurity" at all, in fact, it's the other way around, if you really want to get technical. Yes, K-pop and Chinese pop are on the rise and mimicking J-pop which is the scary part! Yes, I am definitely one of those people who doesn't want to be near the crap, as you said, it's that simple for me. You guys can keep it, hold it to your bosoms like mothers milk, but as a professional musician working in the business and while it is all subjective. I have a pretty good sense as an audio engineer what is really good or unique. So far, haven't seen it yet. I have seen a lot of good talent and a whole lot of bad talent. There are a few J-artists that I do like, but they are ALL in the Jazz genre. When J-pops rise to the level of reaching a sell out crowd of a world wide audience and or an artist enter the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" I will shut my mouth, until then, I'll keep avoiding the airwaves and J-MTV....ugh, another once fine channel that is totally ruined, but I'll save that for another thread.

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JPOP is an awesome genre. I listen alot to Anna Tsuchiya and Ai damn they're so good power POP balladeers.The thing what makes it suck is the choice of artist. I personally hate AKB48 and ARASHI etc. Japan is not a pop only country. There are more to love about Japan when it comes to music. JROCK is awesome too, Miyavi,Gackt,HOney L days and Flumpool theyre great rockers. You really cant please anyone. Ive been listening to japanese music of different genres for 16 years, I found some JPOP artist great I found some lousy. It all matters on the artist your listening at.

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@coconutz Western people dont hate JPOP. If you search on youtube and search on JPOP music. You can see alot of American,Spanish and English people doing JPOP covers. Its a surprise to see them singing JPOP.

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FIRST LOVE-utada hikaru its so epic The best JPOP song ever. Ive sang and listened to it a thousand times already. I love JPOP :P

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Whoa... there's Denki Groove, Pizzicato Five, Yellow Monkey, The Southern All Stars... and a lot more to discover in the J world, as someone already wrote, it is when it is managed to make money that it becomes aural vomit in ANY culture.

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It's just a very efficient cash generating machine. You get a bunch of pretty looking girls or boys just out of elementary school, put them in short skirts whatever, produce the standard tune for them and the programmed kids will buy their stuff. Hail the cash makers!

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@WMD

Exactly my point. Now if you want to talk about cuteness, there are a lot of J-pop female artists that look great! So in that regard (minus the plastic surgery) they get my vote. If you can't sing, at least, you can look good.

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Western people dont hate JPOP. If you search on youtube and search on JPOP music. You can see alot of American,Spanish and English people doing JPOP covers. Its a surprise to see them singing JPOP.

And they will be doing covers for a very loooooong time too. Have you ever noticed how the next generation of young American, Spanish and English upcoming musicians are pumping out low quality crap these days? And why is that? Maybe they should hate J-pop or listen to less of it.

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OK, I get that a lot of you guys hang out the butt of anything Japanese for some reason, but JPOP is OBJECTIVELY bad.

It is all just crappy copies of whatever is in vogue in the west at any one time, with all the soul stripped out of it, the bass high-passed at 200hz, and any sense of emotion removed. If that is your cup of tea, then by all means listen to it.

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@DuraAce Have some life dude. staying on the internet all day long ranting about something you truly hate wont do anything good. get some friends you can talk with your grudge on JPOP. That will release the burden.

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On the internet all day long? I am sat on a train to Shinjuku, sending this message from my HTC Desire, killing time while my Gyaru girlfriend does her make-up.

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The only exposure I have to J-pop is the Japan Record of the Year ceremony which I have to sit through and endure with extreme disinterest and indifference each year.

Thankfully, I will be abroad this year in a deliberate effort to avoid such television shows.

That said, some of the melodies can be quite interesting and are certainly different to pop music in the West. I often go to live houses, a lot of Japanese bands can be quite talented - it's a shame that none of them seem to progress to the larger market.

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any group with a number 48,38n or any numeral is annoying.

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There's a lot of J-Pop I like. But I was really disappointed last time I was in Japan. There was a show on late at night where all the top bands in the country were playing single songs in front of a live crowd along with band member intros. Every band had some named, "Hide" Or a guitar player named, "Hide" with bright red hair. Why everyone has to copy one man's success is beyond me. It would be like every girl group in the US having a "Madonna" or "Lady Gaga". It wouldn't fly here, so I can't figure out why everyone is doing it over there. I think the bands should just be themselves. There's some really talented people out there. I don't think I can handle yet another J-Pop Hyde.

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J-pop used to be good, its all going downhill now. Maybe the lyrics are getting more crap and crap. Altho I have to admit I like parapapapa papapapapra no idea who sings it, but funny song. But lyrics like come to me, yes LETS GO bam bam something like that S*CKS. Give me utada, salyuu, remioromen, or the likes.

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The majority of people have an uneducated sense of music; most people are happy to buy music that feels good to them irregardless of how well the musicians can play, how original their expressions are, or how passionate the musicians are about the MUSIC. That's OK, everyone can do what they want. But that's why pop music tends to be worse musically than many talented musicians in other genres. If people wanted to try to understand how music is made, what it's like to be behind the instruments (not just karaoke), how the music industry works, then people more deserving of popularity will fill our concert halls.

It sounds like everyone on this post doesn't like SMAP or AKB48, but the fact is they make obscene amounts of money. Why? Because a majority of people have that taste in music, they have legions of fans. It's really, really depressing to me.

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tried printing off this article but why does Japantoday bother offering you the option of printing "Only the article" when you press it and it prints all the comments as well anyway even though the majority of the comments were interesting i don't really care what 143 people think.

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I'm thinking too much about this, but here's an analogy:

Many people love MacDonald's food. It's made for the masses. But most people who eat it don't think about or care what the food really is, how it's not good for you, etc. They feel hungry, down a Big Mac, and that's it.

Pop music is the same, produced for the masses, and often lacking in real ingredients. So go ahead and eat it if you want to, but you might lose your appetite if you know what it truly is, franchised, overproduced, packaged, disguised, over-hyped and over-marketed fluff in most cases.

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Does J-pop really suck?

Answer? yes, like a tornado.

Good article. Nama-bangumi TV and J-pop... things I can not and will not ever fathom.

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I don't care what they think of me Asonderu hima wa nai kara show me now You don't know how to get my heart -kana nishino

I really love Kana Nishino shes my latest JPOP obsession. Artist like her makes the Genre EPIC! Talentless artists is what makes JPOP sucks like AKB48. But there are dozens that are great. Dont judge JPOP by just one or some artist.

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To each its own.

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BoratLikeBarry

JPop is easy to listen to and I would take it over rubbish like trance music.

You obviously have no idea what real trance music is.

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Does J-pop really suck?

Well, those SMA*P guys certainly do - in more ways than one...

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chotto - Trance, dance, house, whatever you want to call it; its all Disco for the 2000's. The only people who pretend to like it are club poseurs who need to take a few Ectasy pills to stomach it. Id rather listen to an Oyaji suck his teeth for 2 hrs than that mindless, soulless drivel. Hell, maybe even Jpop..

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Not sure that a guy who has only learned a "fair bit of Japanese" is the best person to write a commentary on J-pop. IMO, today's stuff isn't as good as the stuff that predominated in the 90's. Then, the lyrics were often like poetry, and the typical sound was closer to US-UK pop.

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Hoserfella, Amen brother.

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Horsefella, and Carcharodon, the fact that you choose to lump trance, dance and house all in the same category shows that you have aboslutely no hope of being able to comprehend a genre that is way beyond your understanding. And no. *dun, dun, dun, dun dun dun" is not funny or orignial. I suggest you listen to Chicane from 1997, 2000 to start you off. And before you call me uneducated in music, I play the violin and piano etc. Sigh, I wsih I could talk to you about this topic in person. From your comments, you appear ignorant.

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@Chotto

What are you talking about? horserfella and Carcharodon are 110% correct. I worked the club circuit for more than 15 years. There is no other music (perhaps with the exception of J-pop) that is more agonizing and more torturous than water-boarding than the club music that has been mind numbing than Trance, House, Dance. How can you stand it without taking ANY kind or some sort of hallucinogenic to stand that kind of mental abuse. Jumping up and down, throwing light sticks around, no beat or rhythm whatsoever. In that case, I might as sadly as I hate to admit it, I probably have to choose J-pop over that mess. Even though, it's repetitive and highly pentatonic.

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Doesn't suck, just really bad music.

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long before Lady Gaga existed. there were already the names BOA,NAMIE AMURO, KODA KUMI, UTADA HIKARU, AYUMI HAMASAKI etc. JPOP is already written in history books.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Who have seen Ayumi Hamasaki's music video titled SPARKLE. Lady Gaga copied that style to make her poker face video.

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*日本、中国、台湾、韓国

アジアがんばれ~! -a youtube comment on KPOP kara-lupin pv*

still nothing new on the west, Ok a new PV from asia. music placed on ipod.

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A lot of thing about how SMAP music sucks, but let me remember you guys that SMAP are a group of dancers, not singers. Same goes for EXILE, Kat-Tun & the rest.

SMAP can't dance; they just sort of shuffle around. They can't sing or act, either. But I wouldn't consider them representative of Japanese musicians.

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@MissingJapan Not sure that a guy who has only learned a "fair bit of Japanese" is the best person to write a commentary on J-pop.

That is so true, I dont know anything about Dan Grunebaum. I just hope he did alot of research.

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@coconutz Who have seen Ayumi Hamasaki's music video titled SPARKLE. Lady Gaga copied that style to make her poker face video

Strange cause Ayumi Hamasaki has a song entitle POKER FACE too. very very interesting LOL

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Allow me to help: It Sucks.

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J-Pop, like any other popular music ranges from really good to absolute suckage. In the case of J-Pop the crap/good ratio is a bit high. I do not listen to J-Pop like I did when I first came to Japan, but I will not make a blanket statement that it all sucks. There is/was good stuff out there. Mid 90s J-Pop is especially nostalgic to me as I first came to Japan in 1994. Another thing about J-Pop is that it helped motivate me to learn the language.

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AKB48, NMB48? Yup! It sucks!

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@RustyShackleforJ-Pop, like any other popular music ranges from really good to absolute suckage. In the case of J-Pop the crap/good ratio is a bit high. I do not listen to J-Pop like I did when I first came to Japan, but I will not make a blanket statement that it all sucks. There is/was good stuff out there. Mid 90s J-Pop is especially nostalgic to me as I first came to Japan in 1994. Another thing about J-Pop is that it helped motivate me to learn the language B_I_N_G_O!!! lovely nostalgic JPOP from the 90s.

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long before Lady Gaga existed. there were already the names BOA,NAMIE AMURO, KODA KUMI, UTADA HIKARU, AYUMI HAMASAKI etc. JPOP is already written in history books.

And what is your point? Yeah, they are big names in Japan, but NOT one has anything remotely that I would call talent or memorable when it comes to song writing. BTW, how many of the artists you mentioned have a "worldwide stadium sold out packed crowd?" There is a reason why Lady Gaga is one of the biggest selling artists. The woman can write, not to mention produce her own videos. She is not one of my favorites, but she DOES have some talent, check billboard and record sales worldwide.

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**BINGO!!! lovely nostalgic JPOP from the 90s.

TRF!!! and Maki Ohguro.

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And what is your point? Yeah, they are big ..

her point is clear! JPOP is unique and one of a kind!

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bass4funk at 09:40 AM JST - 7th December

@Chotto

What are you talking about? Read my post above incase you were unclear the first time round

horserfella and Carcharodon are 110% correct. I worked the club circuit for more than 15 years. LOL. What internationally renouned and repsectable clubs are we talking here? Amnesia, Avalon, Gatecrasher, Arches, The Gallery, Turnmills, Roseland Ballroom, Space? Do enlighten me! Your local town/area does not count! Don't make yourself sound more clued up than you actually are, you make yourself sound stupid.

There is no other music (perhaps with the exception of J-pop) that is more agonizing and more torturous than water-boarding than the club music that has been mind numbing than Trance, House, Dance. That's because you have ZERO clue about what real EDM acutally is. Do some research.

How can you stand it without taking ANY kind or some sort of hallucinogenic to stand that kind of mental abuse. Jumping up and down, throwing light sticks around, So by that logic, the only way to enjoy rock is by being stoned out of your head, you can only enjoy rap by carrying out drive-by shootings, and classical music you can only enjoy it by carrying a glass of champagne and wearing a monacle. What uttlerly, utterly ludcirous stereo-types. Surely your extensive experience on "on the club circuit" (haha), would have told you otherwise.

no beat or rhythm whatsoever. Do you actually know what a time signature is? Most trance, house progressive is at least based on 4/4 beats. You really proving yourself to be utterly clueless.

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@bass4funk

BTW, how many of the artists you mentioned have a "worldwide stadium sold out packed crowd?"

Thats what suck its the"poor marketing skill of the industry" not the JPOP genre and those artist.

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@Coconutz

JPOP is unique and one of a kind!

And so was 1970's Disco too. But at least with Disco you had classic hits that like a Christmas Stollen keeps on giving and giving. Can't say the same for J-crap. As for the poor marketing, we don't even need to jump on that band wagon that is a totally different topic all together. And yes, it does fall on the artist. I will submit to you that most of the women in J-pop are quite attractive, but that's where it ends, if most of these women (and many men) were outside of Japan and were looking to get signed, I guarantee you in most likely hood, that just wouldn't happen. Japan can't be famous for everything. For food, music, culture, yes! TV, films and music, absolutely Hell NO!

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@bass4funk

For food, music, culture, yes! TV, films and music, absolutely Hell NO!

that is your OWN point of view dude. only yours.well at least you hate and love J-music at the same time.

Japan has so many colors other than JPOP. well you can act blind and deaf if you want but theyre everywhere. Youre not also a fan of TV and FILMS? Thats so sad to know. Great japanese films like Spirited Away ,No? Miyazaki will be very sad. He thought every haters in the world will have a peace in mind with his films. Maybe The RINGU and JU-ON try consider one of them.you will get a peace of mind for sure.

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Does J-pop really suck?

Yes I'm afraid so. Uh huh

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J-pop is the biggest thing in Japan since Green tea and it will always be big, fine, no problem, but coming across the pond and taking over real deep, heart-wrenching, well written, well-thought out, lyrical, all-inspiring, thought provoking, political and social changing, that will never happen. Another thing. How is it that a J-artist can come out with an album 5X a year and a western artist about every year or every 2 years. What does that tell you? The Japanese market focuses on volume and overall sales-period. Nothing wrong with that, if you are in the business as a producer and song writer (which believe me, many are NOT) then you prefer to have a cash cow. But if you are a great band that never compromises on quality like U2 for example, you have an artist or group, that really take their time to produce high quality music that withstood the test of time. From 1978 until the present U2 have really proved to the world how music should be done. There is a reason as to why they are one of THE biggest bands in the world, they have enough cash, but you can tell, they are seriously deep when it comes to writing, which J-pop seriously lacks. If people like it, that is their forte, but I prefer serious adult music.

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But if you are a great band that never compromises on quality like U2 for example

Err, what about Rattle and Hum? A lapse in judgement from the boys? And their last album was mediocre at best. Even tired old B'z are sounding fresher than U2 these days. At least that's what I think, and that's where this whole argument falls apart - It's all about personal preference.

The Beatles managed an album or two a year and their music has somehow withstood the test of time, no?

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yeah im agree because some elements and sound in j-pop more usage of western style. so if im want to enjoy the music, there is no clear trademark or boundaries how is j-pop is all about...but im realize that j-pop already invent the elements and sound to their own style and sounds. like indonesian, they have dangdut, malaysian with dikir barat, inang, zapin and many more. like indian, they have their own also..but nowadays we can see also that some hindi movies also got western sounds and style. for me, if j-pop consist this method but still conclude their originality of japan's sounds are already worthy for me. it is also because they are selling to what people wants and needs not what they are wants so the way they use either maybe good for me but not good for you or good for you but not okay for me..

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Perfume is the worst pop group in 2010. What?

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Err, what about Rattle and Hum? A lapse in judgement from the boys? And their last album was mediocre at best. Even tired old B'z are sounding fresher than U2 these days. At least that's what I think, and that's where this whole argument falls apart - It's all about personal preference.

I thought Rattle and Hum was a great album and one of their biggest sellers, but it does boil down to preference. But that still doesn't change the fact that MOST J-pop is garbage, whether you like it or even if it's not your cup of tea. Maybe and I hope that one day, J-pop will morph into something worth listening to, but until then, I'll keep listening to real classics, like the Beatles among others...

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bassfunk as the article suggests you are telling us more about yourself than Japanese music, or even other media such as tv; which does well enough in Japan and there is quite a market for outside Japan.

Reminds me the old fuds complaining about dance music ( which by comparison is also popular - but popular doesn't mean universal)

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@888naff

I never said anything about myself, if you read my previous posts, I exclusively talk about J-pop. If you perceived it otherwise, I can't help it. Btw, nothing wrong with quality dance music, as long as it ain't J-pop.

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I love jpop. I think it is unique and different. I really love the japanese artists! I also love the language. I beleive that jpop is better than western music and that's comin from a US resident! You don't get your annoying artists like justin bieber or jonas brothers. Almost all jpop is likeable. It's fun and catchy. It's really hard to find good musicians in the US. But if you look in Japan you are sure to find someone you love and want to follow.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What's wrong with Jpop? Sure, a lot of them suck, but seriously, there are some good ones somewhere. You just need to dig for them. I say I love Jpop, but that doesn't mean I love ALL Jpop. I only like a handfull of Japanese artists. But just because some Jpop artists aren't that good, that doesn't mean that people should just bash on ALL of them. That's just my honest opinion. XD

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I found the j-pop music of many girls bands r very catchy, too''sweet' like honeybee. The TONE of voices sound too nice to me ears. The only thing don't like is they vocal range is limited, they cant reach to the higher notes(sound flat)

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I just can't believe people are insulting Japanese music in this comment section. When you have artists like Boris, LITE, Te, Toe, Sgt., Ling Tosite Sigure, Boredoms, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Midori, Hiromi, Mono, etc. These are outstanding MUSICIANS since some of you are whining about that. I'm not THAT familiar with J-Pop, but I do know that the J-Pop I listen to is infinitely better than American Pop like LMFAO and Kesha. I happen to think Yasutaka Nakata is a marvelous producer, and while it is obvious that he is somewhat dictated by record labels to write something that will sell, he takes this form of pop music and takes it to a new place. You won't hear anything like Polyrhythm by Perfume on American radio. You won't even hear polyrhythms on American radio, let alone different time signatures. I personally think Japanese Pop music is far more interesting than South Korean or American. South Korean pop music takes far more cues from American pop music. The better quality music, or at least less formulaic and innovative music, will always be typically found underground. This was the case even back in the day, although radio classic rock fan will never admit it. There is good music in every genre and most people generalize because they hear a popular sampling and write off everything. A handful of acts is not indicative of an entire genre, period. If you don't take the time to actually listen to, study, and understand a genre, then you shouldn't speak about it. This doesn't mean you have to like it, just be educated about it if you are going to talk about it.

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A little late but heres my two cents. It doesnt suck at all. Although**** in not at all in the western pop culture the best view can come from the outside. I happen to be a giant fan of Eureka Seven and am a fan of Supercar (for the obvious reason) but back on topic the reason its hated becuase sex appeal is overly used and wanted ( I hate it and believe it can ruin something) it's the same reason Westerners like Naruto, DD,s and violence and it's the same reason westerners like pop music. Becuase of DD,s and other crap. Now

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This article is simply wrong. I have been playing jpns music for 12+ yrs, and it is difficult to understand for the Western ear and takes some getting used to as the scales and esthetic framework are very different. But I am talking about jpns traditional music (koto, shamisen, shakuhachi, biwa etc). Oh, and interestingly, it is full of blue notes.

jPop, is a whole nother story. It does NOT sound similar to western music and then "go to an unexpected place, confounding us". That would, or could, be INTERESTING music. What it does is generally go no where at all. It is canned, aping either Western pop or its own previous jpop incarnations, has no spirit or soul and is made to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and half the time sung by models who have no musical ability or training, or even don' t seem to like music. They just like posing, or getting their paycheck or whatever. (That said, if someone likes it, good for them. Just don't call it revolutionary or unique, cuz it isn't, except for the occasional artist).

The person who wrote this sounds like he doesn't really know much about music and certainly about jpns music, and just tried to make an interesting theory to play devils advocate for the jpop haters. But his ideas are about as uninteresting and believable as jpop.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

For all you SCANDAL FANS out there, there's an upcoming J-Pop Concert on the 1st of December 2012 at the KL Live - Concert Hall.

The Concert is in line with the 30th Anniversary of Look East Policy between Japan & Malaysia which is part of a yearlong celebration being held and the concert showcases Japan’s current Top Female All Girl Band – “SCANDAL” in their SCANDAL SPECIAL LIVE IN MALAYSIA 2012 CONCERT.

The concert which starts off at 8.00pm will also feature one local opening act under the same music label.

This is first time, the artiste known as SCANDAL will be performing in Malaysia and it will be a great opportunity for all their Malaysian Fans to catch them performing LIVE here. The Concert will be part of their promotions tour for the Album “Queens are trumps - Kirifuda wa Queen” which will be launched by SONY Music Malaysia on the 1st week of November 2012.

Tickets can be purchased online or at stores via: www.ticketpro.com.my.

For more details on the band, please visit their Official websites at:

SCANDAL Official Webpage: http://www.scandal-4.com/

SCANDAL Official YouTube page. http://www.youtube.com/SCANDAL4VEVO

SCANDAL SPECIAL LIVE IN MALAYSIA 2012 - FB Event Page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/408193585901226/.

SCANDAL SPECIAL LIVE IN MALAYSIA 2012 - Official Events Website: http://www.pipiluv.com/index_files/scandalspecial.htm.

Hope to see you all there!

Take care and help keep supporting SCANDAL!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think there are some fine J-pop artists fortunately. However,overall it dosn't seem as good as K-pop for some simple reasons. 1)Population- it is about 3 times of S. Korea and has self-sufficient fans to support the idols whereas K-pop idols have to work harder overseas by being more catchy, more international with more promotions. 2)Culture- It is neither western or eastern in Japan. It has been overinfluenced by wester cultures with its its unique strong "Japanese appearance" which is totally altered due to the melting pot period. Thus, most Asians feel closer to Korean movies and music than those of Japan which might be very closer to western culture than the eastern one. 3) nationalism or laziness?- unlike American and Korean pop stars, Jpop idols are not so much interested in oversea promotions and concerts. Most fans have to go to Japan to attend their live concerts instead. Perhaps, they are not interested in making more money since they got enough or simply don't want to sing English songs.

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Perfume is the best and you will deal! Sorry AKB48

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This article and the comments section are just a pissing ground for old 30-50 year olds to gloat about how their "obscure no name underground band" is 10x better than AKB or SMAP. Its pathetic. If you are going to compare them to anyone compare them to Justin Beiber or Britney Spears or Kesha / Lady GaGa. People here constantly rafting on the lyrics when they're much more in depth than "I'm gonna write a song about how my gf / bf dumped me". If you learned the language you would see that. Yes AKB and SMAP are very popular because it is the thing that Westerners focus on the most when it comes to the music. Since they are based in the most populated areas, areas that most Westerners live that is what you hear about. You don't hear about other groups like everyone has been saying. Its like how in Japan the most known Western pop singers are terrible and some of them aren't even pop stars but they see them that way because that's all they can listen to when these foreigners come here.

Just like Britney Spears and Lady GaGa gets alot of flak so do alot of pop stars in Japan, its no different. To Ben Kim, you sound like you just wanted an excuse to say Japan is culturally lacking, based only on the statistics of a few pop groups? How transparent can you be? The reason Kpop does not have the same amount of success as Jpop is where Japan embraces the cute culture that Jpop exploits, most of Korea outside of teenagers do not like Kpop. That is the way it is, music popularity has nothing to do with how good the music is, only how many people hear and how many times they hear it. Annoying high pitched vocals are so common here the only choice you have is to get used to it. Korean pop is not cultural, you can clearly see how western music influences it. If you go all the back to the early 90s you can see they were influenced by western boy band culture, that is why they are where they are. Japan was influenced by Japanese jazz and traditional enka, so it may not be appealing to most but it is definitely still cultural for them. Korean dramas have more success because they have more dramas in circulation and their production values are top notch. The most successful Japanese dramas were those with high production values because that is what catches the eye. All in all, this article and comments are so shallow its sad. If you like or don't like jpop then that is your personal taste. Instead you have all these people trying to act like music theory gurus.

My favorite : Perfume, perfect blend of cute and modern synths and arrangements.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CHOCOLA ITO DISU KO DISU KO...

compares really well with

IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING

... am fan of both, seen them thrice in concert. Imagine that...!!

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