Did you know that Japanese Music Industry is the second biggest in the world behind United States? No, I’m not Kidding. The country with weird language, pervert infested, unorthodox strict tradition.
I learn to listened to Japanese music since 1998. Like most of the starters at JPOP/JROCK world, the quartet XJapan, Luna Sea, Glay and Larc en Ciel is the one who captured my attention. Time passed by, and 12 years later, I still love them. But my fondness of Japanese music doesn’t just stand there without growing. Japanese rock scene is nothing spectacular today. Filled with a bunch of filler crap, just like their current ANIME universe. But other scene, especially Jazz in particular is still amazing to moist your attention to. No, I’m not going to blabbering again about 2011’s music, I’m just going to tell what I had in mind about 7 Mainstream Japanese Artist That Everybody Who Loves Music, especially the one who never even listened to Japanese music before, Should “Give It a Try”.
This Japanese-Korean mixed hottie is one of a kind artist. Her look is the Asian equivalent of Sophie Ellis Bextor, statue look alike. Her voice is deep and full of imagination. Why did I choose her over Misia whom more successful than her? Because many of her song is way more intriguing, complicated and mystifying than the predictable high octave Misia. Oh, and also, Mink got this in her arsenal, One of the best cover of Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry about a Thing(TRY : Secret Garden, Moonburn, One Suitcase, Omajinai, IF, Blessing You, Innocent Blue).
The Brilliant Green, Pop/Rock
If I’m going to make the list of TOP 10 Band ever, The Brilliant Green will be the only Japanese band in that list. This is not the here today, gone tomorrow group. Even the TIME magazine chose The Brilliant Green as one of the top ten contemporary acts outside the U.S in 2001. Everything about this band is good. From the Harmony between the Bassist and Guitarist(Too bad Ryo already gone from the band now), the merit of all the songs and every album in a nice balanced and good level of perfection in complimenting each track, to Tomoko voice which is so sterile, smooth and in a way a bit of Robotic, but very good in dead on-deliver (TRY the mesmerizing TSUMETAI HANA, the sweet and drumming ALWAYS and ALWAYS, the jumpy HOLIDAYS, the catchy IM JUST LOVING YOU, the Techno style THE NIGHT HAS PLEASANT TIME).
Yuko Yamaguchi, Pop
Virtually unknown even to a lot of Japanese music fans, Yuko Yamaguchi is one of the few Japanese artist that can really bring the distinctive and unique pop flavor of Japanese music Scene. Her fairly soft vocal really goes well with many of her moderately slow-paced ballad laid back paced tempo songs. Its a shame that trying to find her record is as hard as trying to find Panzer Dragoon Saga from Sega Saturn. You can’t even Wikipedia her(TRY : FUTARI NARA, AGAIN, ITS NEVER THE END OF THE WORLD, HOTEL SCANDINAVIA).
Quasimode, Instrumental Jazz/Swing
Japanese Jazz is always interesting for me. Their style is so different by itself we can even categorized it into the whole other genre. Quasimode is one of the forefront of the brilliantness of Japanese Jazz. Many of their arrangement full of free-spirited, unbiased, and beautifully choreographed Notes. I really meant that words (TRY : TAKE THE NEW FRONTIERS, ROPE A DOPE, SOUNDS OF PEACE, IN THE NAME OF LOVE).
Paris Match, Jazz/Bossa/Acid/House/Soul/Funk
Look at all the genre. Reminds you of who? Jamiroquai? Incognito? Simply Red? Well, Paris Match is the lovechild when those three making love between the Moon and New York City. Fifteen album over the last 10 years doesn’t make their music goes static and boring. In fact, over the last couple of years, their music becoming more matured and focused(TRY : their cover on Christopher cross’s ARTHUR’S THEME, THE TIME AFTER SUNRISE(Beautifully crafted heavy sitar infused jazz track), KISS, SUNSHINE DAY, PASSION 8 GROOVE, LOUNGE OF RAPTURE, THERE’S NOTHING LIKE THIS).
The Gospellers, Pop/Acapella/Doo Woop
The Gospellers is the example when 6 human with amazing synchronized harmony meet and sings together in Japanese languange. Their rival is the trio of SKOOP OF SOMEBODY. I love both of them, and will goes berserk into someone who put these two group in the same basket as other cheesy and stupid boyband like Arashi or SMAP. No, I’m not a fanboy, just a snob whose trying to put different perspective at pop music(TRY: Their most powerful single HITORI, NO MORE TEARS, CALLING, YOU’LL BE MINE, TIGER RAG, TOKYO SWEET).
Even though all the SPITZ member consider themselves as a Rock band, I don’t think that Spitz is a rock band. Their majority known success single is a conventional pop-ballad infused with soft rock and traditional Japanese style guitar rhythm and riff. Their sound is more simpler and sophisticated in a way that very hard to describe than just an ordinary pop/rock band. There’s not one band in the world with their kind of music. (TRY : SCARLET, ROBINSON, AI NO KOTOBA, KAEDE, NAKAYOSHI)
Honorable Mention : Nujabes, MFlo, Misia, Skoop on Somebody, Kyoto Massive Jazz, Orange Pekoe, Dorlis, Jill Decoy and Association.