My Type of J-Pop

Before K-Pop, there was J-Pop. Japanese Pop. Let me get this done with so that I can talk about other stuff.

J-Pop was the polar opposite of K-Pop. With the Koreans, you get the feeling that they work very hard to provide what they feel the international audience might love. And then they go on world tours to meet the fans.

The Japanese did no such thing. They made their own music for their own people, and they never bothered with faking stuff packaging for the international market. They never came out of Japan to meet us. We were the ones who intrude their entertainment world just because they are Japanese, and let’s face it, anything Japanese is supposed to be cool.

I was into Japanese stuff at a relatively young age, like when I was 7 or 8, specifically the cartoons and kids shows. I’m sure you all know about Doraemon, Ultraman, and Baja Hitam (Kamen Rider)? Then as I got older, I never stopped. I continued with more serious animes like Slam Dunk, Dragon Ball Z, Samurai X, Vandread, Ah My Goddess, etc etc etc, the list goes on. Strangely though, I have not watched what most kids watched, like Pikachu or Naruto.

Which is also why my tolerance towards Japanese songs are much higher compared to Korean songs. The thing is, all those years watching English subbed Japanese anime meant I can recognize words. Nowadays when I listen to Japanese songs, I could probably figure out 15 to 20% of the lyrics, as opposed to 0% of a Korean song. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit, my Japanese language proficiency is probably better than my Hokkien proficiency even after living in Penang for 6 years. Yikes…

So which are my favoritest J-Pop songs?

1. Amuro Namie – Mr USA, Aishite Masukatto

I’m not sure any of you know Amuro Namie. I suppose if I mention Utada Hikaru or Hamasaki Ayumi, many people will know. Amuro-chan predates them. I think she is the first modern Japanese female singer to achieve international super-stardom. When these songs were released, she was with a dance group called Super Monkeys. Then she went solo, which I think is better for her. She was so young back then. Nowadays she’s hotter and more seductive, of course 😀

Amuro Namie

I know, I know, those are catchy dance tunes, I’m a bloody hypocrite for claiming that I’m a sentimental type previously. Slap me then.

2. Flame – Truly

My sister introduced this song to me. Back then she was more prophetic than any of us. She still is now, I reckon. She chased after J-Pop before it was cool, then moved on to K-Pop when her peers started to chase after J-Pop. Nowadays she is no longer that enthusiastic about the Koreans anymore, since it is no longer cool because everyone else is chasing. I wonder when she will discover a new trend to chase after.

Anyway, these guys were like 14 or 15 when they made this song. I hardly watch the video though, it’s a bit unsettling to watch blonde Japanese boys sing sentimental songs. I just listen to the song.

3. Sakuraba Yuichiro – Omae ya nai to akannen

This one is the theme song of a drama series, Mukodono (Son-in-law?). Sakuraba Yuichiro is the character name in the series, his real name is Tomoya Nagase, and he’s a member of some boy band. He never released this song under his real name though, it is only released as part of the drama series.

That series was pretty awesome. Back then (it was year 2000 or 2001-ish), I would watch it with my sis, and mom would come to the living room to scold us for neglecting other stuff for the TV. She would always end up sitting there, watching with us XD .

Actually in the 2000s, there were many awesome Japanese drama series that would totally punk the generic Korean drama series nowadays. My favorite was one about ice hockey, starring Takuya Kimura. That series was pure awesomeness. Pride, if you wanna try Google for it.

4. I WISH – Futatsu Hoshi / Asu e no Tobira

While Amuro-chan is my favorite Japanese artist as a whole, this is by far my favorite Japanese singer. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Kawashima Ai, lead singer of I WISH. I usually listen to songs while doing other stuff. With her songs though, I would stop whatever I am doing and concentrate on her wonderful and sad melodies. Sometimes I would drop tears while listening. True story.

There are quite a few more of my personal favorites, but as I mentioned earlier, the Japs are so secluded that I can hardly find decent Youtube videos of their songs, so I better not be bothered…

The thing with listening to foreign language songs is that, because you do not know what they are singing, you have to try to interpret based on their tunes and melodies. You will be able to appreciate the emotional side of the songs better. It is kind of like how a blind person will have enhanced sense of hearing and touch. That’s why I do sometimes enjoy my dose of songs of different languages, to get more into the emotional side of things. Does that make sense?



    • The newer Cantopop all tak boleh pakai. I only remember Jacky Cheung and Beyond. I guess we are all only interested in the songs of our own teens and young adult years.

  1. I watched all the Japanese shows you watched when you were young because my younger brothers were watching them. They are around your age. I also watched many ghibli anime and tons and tons of other anime until I lost count.

    I listen to Angela Aki, Koda Kumi and Tokiko Kato.

    I think you should try listening to Tokiko Kato songs and see how you like them. Quite old style Japanese songs.

    • I know Angela and Kumi, but Tokiko is too old school for me hahaha! Japanese anime are awesome, I’d gladly be called otaku just to watch them 😀

  2. Uikks, almost fong-gung liao lor.. But still got time to come visit you before I pack my bags la.. Hmm, gotta be honest, not a fan of K nor J Pop.. I’m into Canto Pop, haha.. I remember one Japanese singer though, during college days – Ayumi 🙂

    • You make me feel more and more special LOL! I guess my taste is slightly off compared to you (or others). Ayumi is too commercial..
      Maybe I should do my Top 10 CantoPop next.. 😉

      • yea, long life CantoPop…hahaha…am so Cantonese, coz I m Cantonese
        Not a fan of K-Pop & J-Pop but do listen to it occasionally… I enjoyed watching K-Pop MV but I only watch the dance steps…dun bother much of the songs or lyrics.

      • Come, do your C-Pop (Canto) next! I’m really looking forward to it.. I will listen to all your songs if you do your Canto-Pop.. I wana see if we are the same, haha..
        Beyond, Grasshoppers, Jacky Cheung and Andy Lau can never go wrong (with me).. Oh wait, then there’s Chan Hiu Tung which I love so much when I was in high school, and then there’s DRY (Foong Tak Loon & Lui Chung Tak)..
        Come, do your Canto-Pop, k?

  3. I do remember a song by Utada Hikaru but don’t know the name. It was played on the radio a while back. It had a nice tune. When I listen to songs, I don’t really care for the lyrics or meaning. I just appreciate the melody or beat. There was one time when I got hooked on a Japanese serial. Can’t remember the title. The word “Ice” is in the title. Something to do with a female school teacher under investigation because all 3 of her fiancee died after naming her as a beneficiary to their insurance policy. I thought it was quite good and I liked the theme song.

    I intend to check out all the songs you put up in this post and in the K-pop post. Just curious.

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