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J-pop kid
J-pop kid

J-pop is an abbreviation for Japanese pop, but is also a loosely defined musical genre that entered the musical mainstream of Japan in the 1990s. Modern "J-pop" has its roots in 1960s music such as The Beatles and replaced kayōkyoku (Japanese pop music until 1980s) in the Japanese music industry.

It was coined by the Japanese media to distinguish Japanese music from foreign music and now refers to most of Japanese popular music. Today, the Japanese music industry is the second largest in the world, behind the United States.

The origin of modern "J-pop" is said to be Japanese-language rock music inspired by The Beatles. Unlike the Japanese music genre called kayōkyoku, J-pop uses a special kind of pronunciation, which is similar to English language. The notable singer to do so is Keisuke Kuwata, who pronounced the Japanese word "karada" (body) as "kyerada". Additionally, unlike Western music, the major second (sol and la) was usually not used in Japanese music except art music before rock music became popular in Japan. When Group Sounds (which was inspired by Western rock) became popular, however, Japanese pop music adopted the major second which was used in the final sounds of The Beatles' song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and The Rolling Stones' song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Although Japanese pop music became occidental in progress of time, J-pop is still influenced by Japanese pentatonic scale and distortional tetrachord.

At first, the term "J-pop" was only used for Western-style musicians in Japan such as Pizzicato Five and Flipper's Guitar just after Japanese radio broadcasting J-Wave was established. However, the term became a blanket term covering other music genres such as the majority of Japanese rock music of 1990s.

Whereas rock musicians in Japan usually hate the term "pop", Taro Kato, a member of pop punk band Beat Crusaders, pointed out that the encoded pop music was catchier than "J-pop" and he also said that "J-pop" was the pops music remembered by being aired many times in an interview when they completed their first full-length studio album under a major label, P.O.A.: Pop on Arrival, in 2005. Because the band did not want to perform the "J-pop" music, their music on the album featured the 80's Pop of MTV. According to another member Toru Hidaka, the 1990s influential music for him (such as Nirvana, Hi-Standard and Flipper's Guitar) was not listened by fans of other music in Japan at that time.

The sales in the Japanese music market continued to increase. After Globe's self titled album sold more than 4 million copies in 1996, in October 1997, Glay released album Review -The Best of Glay, which sold 4.87 million copies, breaking Globe's earlier record for best selling album. However, it was surpassed in the next year by B'z's album B'z The Best "Pleasure", which sold 5.12 million copies. Japanese musical market for physical sales reached its peak in 1998, recording the sales of 607 billion yen. In March 1999, Hikaru Utada released her first Japanese album, First Love, which sold 7.65 million copies making it the best-selling album ever in Oricon history.

The late 90s saw the popularity of rock bands, such as Glay, Luna Sea and L'Arc-en-Ciel, most of them related to the visual kei movement though they later changed their style. At this time, rock musicians in Japan were absorbing kayōkyoku music when the genre kayōkyoku had already been vanished. Glay became especially successful, with a massive exposure in the media that compared to that of the most popular pop singers produced by Tetsuya Komuro. In July 1999, Glay played a concert to a record audience of 200,000 people at the Makuhari Messe, certified by Guinness World Records as the biggest solo concert in Japan. In July 1999, L'Arc-en-Ciel released two album Arc and Ray at the same time and those sold over combined 3.02 million copies in those first week. X Japan announced their disbandment in September 1997 and its guitarist Hide died in May 1998. His musical funeral had a record attendance of 50,000 people, breaking the record of Hibari Misora, whose funeral was attended by 42,000 people. After his death, his single "Pink Spider" and album Ja, Zoo were certified million-sellers by RIAJ.

Johnny & Associates produced many boy bands: SMAP, Tokio, V6, KinKi Kids and Arashi. SMAP especially hit the J-pop scene in a major way in the 1990s through a combination of TV "Talent" shows and singles, with one of its singers, Takuya Kimura, becoming a popular actor in later years known commonly as "Kimutaku". By the late 1990s, the all-female girl group Speed was very popular until they announced their upcoming disbandment, in 1999. The group returned to the music scene in 2008. Another all-female band, Morning Musume, produced by Tsunku, former leader of band Sharam Q became very popular, with a string of releases that were sales hits before even being released. The group's popularity gave origin to the Hello! Project. Following the pattern set a decade before by the 1980s all-female Onyanko Club, Morning Musume spawned several splinter bands.

In the late 90's and early 21st century, female singers such as Hikaru Utada, Ayumi Hamasaki, Misia, Mai Kuraki and Ringo Shiina became some chart toppers in the industry who write their own songs or their own lyrics. Hikaru Utada was known as the daughter of Keiko Fuji who was an extremely popular singer in the 70s. Ayumi Hamasaki is generically considered to be Utada's contemporary rival though both women did not hate each other in real life.

J-pop is an integral part of Japanese popular culture, being found in anime, commercials, movies, TV shows, and video games and other forms of J-ENT. Some television news programs even run a J-pop song during their end credits. In anime and television shows, particularly dramas, opening and closing songs are changed up to four times per year. Because most programs have a combination of both opening and closing songs, it is possible for one show to use eight tracks for a single season.

Over the past decade, J-pop has continually gained fans worldwide through video games and anime. Many video game fans import games from Japan well before they are released in their respective countries. The theme songs and soundtracks from these games and anime can be a gateway to further interest in J-pop and other genres of Japanese music. One example of this can be found in the games Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, in which popular J-pop singer Hikaru Utada performs the main theme songs. Her single "Easy Breezy" was also used to promote the Nintendo DS. The Ouendan Series and Band Brothers for DS both feature a lot of J-Pop songs. In the case of anime, shows are normally sold in the West with their original soundtracks untouched, affording more direct exposure (however this is sometimes not the case, leaving fans outraged). Some shows aired on television in the United States, for example, have seen their themes go so far as to become commercially available as ringtones through mainstream vendors in that country.

With changing music trends in India and Bangladesh, J-pop has gained some ground. Although J-pop listeners are generally the younger generation in Asia, singles such as Hikaru Utada's "First Love" and "Flavor of Life" have managed to rise the interest of J-pop in the older generation as well. After the channel Animax was introduced, the knowledge and popularity of J-Pop further spread among youth of Asia.

Pop duo Puffy, one of the Japanese acts that have their material released on the United States market, had their own animated series on Cartoon Network, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, which premiered in 2004 and ran for three seasons. Prior to that, the duo had recorded the theme song to another cartoon of the same channel, Teen Titans. Because of the success of their show, videoclips of Puffy, who are known as Puffy AmiYumi in the United States, were shown several times during the channel's programing.

Japanese pop artists are extremely popular in Japan and some of them overseas (especially in Asia, but also in Western countries, where they have other fanbases). They are usually pop stars and influence not only music, but also fashion, and many areas of modern pop culture. Top 5 best-selling artists in the Japanese Oricon charts history are B'z, Mr. Children, Southern All Stars, Ayumi Hamasaki and Dreams Come True.

J-pop is also a loosely defined fashion st
yle, featuring flowing dresses, schoolgirl inspired outfits, pastel colors, and boots. Male j-pop kids tend to be essencially bishonen.

A subset of j-pop fans is wota, who are fans of female idol singers such as Ayumi.

Info, except from the last two paragraphs which are mine, from wikipedia. Image from deviantart.






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