Being a frequent listener of Japanese music for years, I have come to understand that the Japanese music industry wants to keep their artists in their own country. Because of that, many labels prohibit artists from posting their music videos to YouTube making Japanese music and artists less accessible to international fans.
Japanese music is my favorite genre, but there are times when I lose track of my favorite artists because they aren’t as well advertised as other international artists I follow.
This has been a continuous issue for many years in the Japanese music industry, but I’ve noticed a change recently in the direction of the business: more Japanese artists want to head overseas and, surprisingly, their label companies are finally allowing them to do so.
Here we highlight all the Japanese groups to look out for in the U.S. who are slowly starting to collaborate with American artists and are branching out to their American fans, a practice that was very rare just a few years ago.
Frills, dancing, cuteness … and heavy metal? That’s BABYMETAL! This is a group comprised of three young girls, two of the members only 10 years old when the band started. They are a unique group because they’re cute and know how to rock out. Because of the genuine uniqueness and originality, they were able to garner the attention of none other than Lady Gaga. She had them perform as the opening act for her ARTPOP tour in the States this past August.
ONE OK ROCK:
This group is a pretty interesting artist and one of my top favorite acts from Japan. ONE OK ROCK is a band that is heavily inspired by western rock music. The lead singer, Taka, explained in an interview that they are influenced by “emo American bands.” Even though they are Japanese, they chiefly prefer to use English lyrics as a way to gain more international fans.
Taka is a former member of a popular Japanese boy band under Johnny’s Entertainment (the most popular boy band label in Japan). Since I’ve been a long-term fan of that company, I find it interesting how different his current style of music is compared to his time as a Johnny’s artist. The group has been making a name for itself here in the States, becoming the first Japanese artist to be a part of the Vans Warped Tour this year. When they get the opportunity, they also tour in the U.S. every year, something that few other Japanese bands do.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu:
Many people would consider Kyary Pamyu Pamyu the “Lady Gaga” of Japan although their musical styles are completely different. What they do have in common is their ability to stand out. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu started off as a model, then decided she wanted to become an artist. Her first single was “PONPONPON,” a song that expresses her love for Japanese fashion and culture. She has caught the attention of artists such as Katy Perry and Ariana Grande, who both consider themselves her fans.