Feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted about J-Pop! It’s probably because I’ve never been all that into it. Now that I’m getting back into studying consistently, I’ve also begun to recognize what a great study aid music can be when learning new vocabulary and grammar points. Concepts that I’ve found difficult to grasp stick a lot better when I have a line in a song I can’t get out of my head. So I’ve been on the hunt for new-to-me songs! The twitter account TasteJPop has been one of my main resources for finding great songs, new and old! So as a bit of an oldie, I’m sticking to what I know. Here are some songs I’ve discovered and am currently loving from the years 1995-2010! Warning: This list is pretty Pop/R&B centric.
スピッツ – ロビンソン (Spitz – Robinson) 1995
Originally fell in love with the amazing cover of this song by Ayaka when searching her videos on YouTube and this song came up on a playlist of similar songs. I feel embarrassed admitting this, but I had no idea this was the original until after about 5 listens when it clicked. Ayaka is one of those talented artists that can make a cover sound just her own. Love the original by Japanese pop/rock band Spitz just as much!
宇多田ヒカル – Automatic (Utada Hikaru – Automatic) 1998
Hikki-Chan was one of the first artists that appealed to me when I discovered Japanese pop culture. Her OST for Hana Yori Dango was what did me in! I knew she had an extensive discography, but honestly I really never dug through the treasure trove and stuck with her recent hits. Seeing that she won’t be coming out of hiatus anytime soon, it’s time for digging! I’m a huge fan of R&B and this song has the perfect 90s R&B sound.
モーニング娘 – ふるさと (Morning Musume – Furusato) 1999
I actually liked this before my renewed interest in studying Japanese, but I’ve rediscovered it! I am really not a fan of Japanese idols and it’s very rare that I like any of their songs, but I thought this song sounded special and I liked the meaning behind it. “ふるさと” means hometown, and the song is culturally significant as the lyrics discuss missing one’s hometown when living alone in Tokyo, as many Tokyo residents experience.
Crystal Kay – Candy 2003
This song is a total throwback to my middle school days and sounds like something that would have been released in the US around that time. Crystal Kay is beautiful and has a great voice.
絢香 – 三日月 (Ayaka – Mikazuki) 2006
Am absolutely enamored with this woman’s voice. This is a great song. STOP SCROLLING AND CLICK PLAY!
倖田來未 – TABOO (Koda Kumi – Taboo) 2008
From the very little I know about J-Pop, Koda Kumi seems to be one of the most popular (and controversial) Japanese songstresses. This song is fun to jam to.
安室奈美恵 – WHAT A FEELING (Namie Amuro – What a Feeling) 2009
Whenever I ask for J-Pop recommendations, Namie’s name is always one of the first that comes up. She’s had quite an impressive career. At age 38, she still looks amazing and is incredibly popular. I’ve had this song on constant repeat lately and hope to find more songs of hers that I like.
BoA – 永遠 (BoA – Eien) 2009
I am quite acquainted with BoA from her Korean material and have even seen her live! She is one of the Korean singers that has found the most success in Japan and has released many great Japanese songs during her long career. Eien is a great R&B track with awesome choreography to boot.
Quite a random list, I know! I’m still on the hunt for more great J-Pop songs. If you have any recommendations from this era, let me know! I hope to make another post soon with newer music and am looking for recommendations for those as well.