Edited: I edited this post to include embedded videos, now that I learned how painfully easy it is. I’ve also written a post about songs for beginners to listen to and a post about one of the newer bands I’ve found (and fell in love with).
Today I went to karaoke for the first time in awhile, so I thought I’d introduce some Japanese music I like. I used to dislike going to karaoke – mainly because of self confidence issues. Singing somehow feels really vulnerable to me. BUT whether it’s because I’m getting older and caring less, or if it’s because I had to drive a lot this past year and so sang to myself a lot in the car, I’m starting to get over it. Another source of embarrassment for me was that I couldn’t sing in Japanese – I had tried and failed a few times. However, now that I’m home alone so much, I had plenty of time to practice.
Anyway, I’m really picky when it comes to music. It’s been really hard for me to find Japanese music I like, and almost impossible to find artists that I consistently enjoy. Some of techniques Japanese singers commonly annoy me – the men (especially in Visual K) using vibrato, and the women making their voice really high. So if you have any suggestions for me, I’d be happy to hear them!
My cousin is teaching English in Korea right now, and she made a similar post about K-Pop, so go check it out!
If you want to check out a song, simply copy and paste the title into YouTube or Google, and I’m sure you’ll find it. In case you’re not very familiar with Japanese music, if you want to find the music video, instead of typing MV try PV (short for Promotional Video). They tend to use that more often. I also have a link to a playlist of most of them at the end.
雅 Miyavi – Miyavi’s been my favorite for a long time. What’s slightly weird about that is, I don’t like a lot of his music! However, he reinvents himself with every album, and crosses the border of nearly every genre. Acoustic, visual kei, pop, rock, rap…So, even if I may not like the last album, I can look forward to his next one. Also, his guitar slapping skills are amazing! A lot of Japanese people don’t really seem to like him very much, and he can be a bit arrogant as well as hard to understand. But I still love him.
Here are some of my favorite songs:
Girls, Be Ambitious (Samurai Sessions version – not a big fan of the original)
サカナクション/Sakanaction – A more recent favorite, I am becoming a bigger fan of them the more I listen to them. One of my best friends introduced them to me, and they are one of those bands I can’t see anyone disliking. They also speak more clearly than Miyavi does in their songs, so they’re much easier to learn for karaoke. I also love the lyrics, from what I understand of them. Especially ミュージック.
Do As Infinity – I mainly know them from InuYasha (as you will be able to tell from my song choice). She has a great voice!
Utada Hikaru – I know, as a foreigner studying Japanese, liking Utada is probably a cliche, but I don’t care. I still love her voice, and surprisingly I even like some of her English songs.
光/Simple and Clean
You Make Me Want to be a Man
Greeeen – A very well-known band! I like listening to them, but to be honest a lot of their songs sound very similar to me. So I’ll just put my favorite one. This song means a lot to me, brings back a lot of memories with friends in karaoke (this song used to practically be mandatory). So even though the lyrics are romantic in nature, it really makes me miss my buddies. Their music videos are usually pretty good though, and often tell a touching story, and focus on that more than the music.
Yui – Another one I found pretty much through anime. She has a beautiful voice! I especially enjoy Again – we sang it today at karaoke and Yuuki said it nearly made him cry from all the nostalgia.
平沢進 Susumu Hirasawa – He has a very unique sound! It’s hard for me to describe. Pop/industrial/techno? Maybe. You might recognize the first one if you’ve seen Paprika.
白虎野のむすめ/The Girl in Byakkoya
Midicronica – Some more upbeat music. I used to jog to blue velvet! Really like that song. You’ll recognize San Francisco if you’ve seen Samurai Champloo.
オレンジレンジ Orange Range – A 懐かしい classic.
鬼塚ちひろ Chihiro Onitsuka – A lot of her music sounds the same (I’ve heard her described as a Japanese Jewel and I think that’s fair for the most part), but her voice is so unique, I can’t help but enjoy listening to her sing. Beautiful Fighter is also about the closest I’ve ever got to country, and I still really like it (it’s not even really country – it has a twang to it though). Also she is beautiful, and I have kind of a girl crush on her.
安室 奈美恵 Namie Amuro – To be honest, I haven’t listened to her much at all. But I really like this song. However, it’s notoriously hard to find, even on YouTube (other than remixes that I’m not such a big fan of). I think it’s because it’s used in a Coca-Cola ad, so they seem to hunt any video using it down and remove it. Unfortunately. The music video’s pretty cool too, so it’s really a shame.
ゴールデンボンバー Golden Bomber – I’ve only really listened to two of their songs, and while I really dislike their other one, I love this one! I was probably especially influenced by the music video (though I enjoy what I understand of the lyrics too). I love the self-deprecating tone that is at the same time celebratory, and that the female they’re all after is an older woman. Really fun song.
Dance My Generation
Vocaloid – Computerized voices, so it definitely takes a certain ear to like them. Personally I don’t like many of them, but since basically anyone can make songs using there voices, there is an incredible amount of songs by them out there and you’re bound to like a few of them. Personally these are a couple of the ones I like.
I have a playlist for Japanese music I find on YouTube. I added a lot of these songs in case anyone who reads this has trouble finding them, simply wants to browse through them, or just wash dishes with the list on shuffle and get your daily listening practice in. There’s also some songs I’ve only listened to once or twice so I can’t really vouch for them yet! Here ye be: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLR76HU9Fwj9DiWf6jpWNwlmaBurCgAHt&feature=edit_ok