Itching for new Japanese groups to listen to!
September 20, 2012 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Give me some Japanese artists/songs (based on my musical preferences) that would help me learn Japanese/impress people at karaoke!

Hi all!

I am really itching to discover some new Japanese music; I feel that I learn the most Japanese from listening to songs, and I have been listening to the same songs on my playlist a bit too often as of late.

Some of the Japanese groups I enjoy most are: Mr. Children (probably my favorite), Kobukuro, B'z, Superfly, Radwimps, Bump of Chicken, Tsukiko Amano, Utada Hikaru, Remioremon, X Japan. I really enjoy dramatic ballads, rock, and also poppy songs with good lyrics that inspire emotion (On the opposite side, I don't particularly like groups like AKB48).

If there is a song or group that you feel is a must-listen but does not sound like any of the bands I listen to, please lay it on me - I'd love to learn classics as well. Also, any of the groups I listed already are free game - I certainly haven't heard all of their songs, so tell me your favorites!

Looking forward to some recommendations!
posted by Kamelot123 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh my goodness, Mr.Children is possibly my favourite band in the world, ever. I also enjoy Kobukuro, B'z, Radwimps, BUMP, Remioromen, and Utada, and despise most of the mindless manufactured pop like AKB/Morning musume etc so hopefully my tastes would match yours. I'll MeMail you my profile to see what songs/artists I listen to; perhaps there's a few that'll inspire?

My favourite songs from those artists are "Hadashi no megami", "Mouichido kiss shitakatta", "Love Phantom" (B'z); "Yushinron" (Radwimps), "Tentai kansoku", "Guild", "Sharin no uta" "Namida no furusato" (BUMP), "First Love", "Automatic", "Flavour of Life" (Utada), "Konayuki", "3gatu 6nichi" (Remio), "Kimi to iu na no tsubasa" (Kobukuro). For Mr.Children there's a bit too many to name, but: "Owari naki tabi", "Hanabi", "innocent world", "Na mo naki uta", "Sign", "Tomorrow never knows", "Not Found", "Yasashi uta", "Tenohira", "Any", "HERO", "CANDY", "Over".

The common thing with a lot of these above bands is that they all have quite a lyric-heavy component, compared with, say, L'arc~en~Ciel where there is more emphasis on the music. Others I would recommend in that category:

Spitz - pop/rock. 4-man group. Famous are "Robinson", "Cherry", "Sora mo toberu hazu". Lyrics are a bit mystical (rather than literal), so may be a bit hard to comprehend, but they are part of the golden 90s J-Pop.

ZARD - pop. 1 vocalist, 3 others. She passed away a few years ago but has an incredibly pure voice and straightforwardly ringing lyrics. Recommend "Makenaide", "Kitto wasurenai", "My friend", "Kokoro wo hiraite"

flumpool - pop/rock. A newish band that is said to be very similar to Mr.Children. They feel a bit green to me but I think would mature over the years. Have a listen to "Hoshi ni negai wo", "Hana ni nare", "Harukaze".

Aqua Timez - pop/rock. Their sound/music style is very similar to the bands above, though not quite matching in depth; perhaps "Sen no yoru wo koete", "Ketsui no asa".

Janne da Arc - rock. They had a lot of influence from L'arc~en~Ciel, but (personally) I find their lyrics much more meaningful, and I think they have much more musicality as well. I like "Lunatic Gate", "EDEN", "Maria no tsumeato", "DOLLS".

FIELD OF VIEW - pop. Really old band from the early 90's, no longer in action. Listen to "Totsuzen", "Dan dan kokoro hikareteku", "Sepia".

JUDY AND MARY - rock/pop. 2 person girls' band from the 80-90s. Distinctive voice so may not be to your taste but was pretty famous in the day. "Sobakasu", "Overdrive".

YUI - rock/pop. Female singer-song writer on the guitar, uptempo. "My Generation", "Merry-go-round", "Rolling star"

Kazumasa Oda - oldish pop. Broke off from a band in the 60s and now going solo, singer-song writer of emotionally-charging ballads with an angelic voice and lyrics that'll move you to tears. "Love story wa totsuzen ni", "Kimi sumu machi", "Kaze no sakamichi", "Kotoba ni dekinai".

Sukima switch - pop. 2-man band. Feels similar to kobukuro but I prefer them. "Kanade", "Ai", "Fuyu no kuchibue"

Porno graffiti - pop/rock. 2-man band. Similar to spitz in that the lyrics can be quite mystical (non-understandable). "Saudade", "Ageha chou".

Would be happy to go on and on - let me know how you enjoy those!
posted by pikeandshield at 11:36 PM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Some of my favorite Japanese-language songs for karaoke:
  • "Linda Linda" - Definitely a classic! The Japanese is easy to master and easy to translate to explain to people, plus it's fun and upbeat, and the refrain is EASY (title repeated a lot) which makes it fun for non-speakers to join you. That last part is the most fun, in my opinion.
  • Do NOT forget 島唄 by The Boom (accept no others). This ode to Okinawa has to be the "Bohemian Rhapsody" of Japan. To me it fits in the category of rock ballads but I really, really suck at genres.
  • For rock songs, listen to ガガガSP and see if it works for you; my favorite is 神戸駅 but that track is not on all of the karaoke boxes.
  • Another rock group, GRAPEVINE, for which I'd recommend 君が嫌い or 白日 as favorites but heck listen to the others on youtube and see what you like!

    All of these songs will be on Youtube, plus on googling the title plus the word lyrics you will find references to help with the kanji and translation.

  • posted by whatzit at 1:01 AM on September 21, 2012

    If you're also a fan of less poppy, more signer/songwriter type stuff, I recommend Masayoshi Yamazaki and Ohashi Trio. I can't stand the hyper-processed sound of most Japanese popular music, but I can listen to these guys for hours at a time.
    posted by Kevtaro at 1:55 AM on September 21, 2012

    Shiina (often romanized as Shena) Ringo (椎名 林檎), and also her band, Tokyo Jihen (東京事変). I cannot recommend her enough!
    posted by Maya Cecile at 2:10 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

    I'm a shibuya-kei fan. And mostly jpop-illiterate.

    La Règle Du Jeu - Pizzicato Five
    plus-tech squeezebox
    Tsuji Ayano

    These are all pieces that I've listed to a few dozen times.
    posted by sebastienbailard at 2:11 AM on September 21, 2012

    Hideki Kaji is awesome and his lyrics tend to be slow enough that you can actually make out what he is saying (Shiina Ringo/Tokyo Jihen are also great and her lyrics are insane and she runs lots of syllables together so maybe not a good starter but definitely good for vocabulary-building).

    Amai Koibito (Hideki Kaji)
    Kingyo Hanabi (Ai Otsuka)
    Suddenly Sibylla (Hideki Kaji)
    My Love, My Milk (Hideki Kaji)

    But um, yeah. Find Hideki Kaji stuff.
    posted by agress at 5:35 AM on September 21, 2012

    I really love The Pillows, who are not particularly well known.

    The Yellow Monkey, a popular 90s rock band with big hair, are my favourite for karaoke because I can actually keep up to a lot of the kanji.
    posted by snorkmaiden at 6:37 AM on September 21, 2012

    Go old school and check out Southern All Stars! Great '70s pop rock, influenced by the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan. Their late '90s stuff is pretty cool, too, like "01MESSENGER ~電子狂の詩~." Their lead singer, Kuwata Keisuke, has a unique vocal style that he's modeled after Anglophone rockers.

    Of course, my musical tastes also trend towards the naff and irony-free, so I also like Sakamoto Kyū-chan. Learn some of his material if you want to impress old folks.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 6:37 AM on September 21, 2012

    Check out
    Cocco, the Emerald album and others
    Bonnie Pink (she's just great)
    Nakashima Mika (again, a variety of things)
    Anna Tsuchiya (her style changes around a lot, so try several -- I love her version of "True Colors, though there are only live versions on Youtube)
    Hirahara Ayaka's Jupiter (Japanese version) is great for karaoke
    Halcali (quirky, maybe not good for karaoke though!)
    Ulfuls -- "Ashita ga Aru Sa" is great for karaoke
    Beat Crusaders (energetic covers and other rock stuff -- their version of "I Can See Clearly now" de-cheesed it for me)
    Polysics (infamous cover + video of "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto")
    I love Kokia and Kalafina, but a) people may think they're geeky and b) they're probably not great for karaoke. However, do check them out.
    Natsukawa Rimi (Okinawan folk music influences, definitely classic sing-along stuff)
    Seconding Tokyo Jihen.

    If you want to try some different stuff, check out the dancehall-influenced sound of Lecca. Her voice is kind of like Christina Aguilera, but not her style.

    Sorry for lack of links!
    posted by wintersweet at 12:41 PM on September 21, 2012

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