K-pop may be the most trending Asian music genre today but little do most people know, J-pop highly influenced what we now know as 'idol-culture' in the music scene. Attributing its popularity to the fame of animé music globally, as well as the idea of multi-hyphenate artists doubling up as actors to promote their music via their filmography's soundtracks, many J-pop artists not only amass a global following but are also record-holders for selling millions and millions of records worldwide. Plus, lightsticks and hand fans with idol's faces often seen in today's K-pop scene have also taken its roots from J-pop concerts. Did this get you curious about J-pop artists? Scroll on to see which J-pop groups are worth adding to your playlist.
Debuted in 1999, Arashi (literally translated to 'storm') had a slow start in the J-pop industry for an ensemble that was hoped to 'take the world by storm'. But with the rise in fame of the drama Hana Yori Dango, where their member Matsumoto Jun played F4's leader Domyouji Tsukasa and their singles Wish and Love So Sweet were part of the drama's soundtracks, Arashi's success became inevitable.
Selling over 54 million copies of singles, albums, and videos by 2010, as well as ranking in the top 10 every single year at the Oricon music charts, they were named one of the best selling boy bands in Asia. At present, they're one of the longest-standing J-pop groups without any member fallout, hosting a collective as well as individual variety shows among their many drama and film projects. They are also one of the most influential figures in Japanese media today, being the faces of countless tourism initiatives and were even chosen to perform at the Emperor's ascension this month.
King & Prince
Freshly debuting from last year, King & Prince (also known as Kinpuri) is also under the same agency as Arashi and is the last group debuted by Johnny Kitagawa, one of Japan's biggest talent managers who passed early this year. Mentored by Arashi's Matsumoto Jun, Kinpuri also gained their fame through Hana Yori Dango's sequel Hana Nochi Hare aired in 2018, where one of their members Hirano Sho played the protagonist Kaguragi Haruto. King & Prince's music varies from whimsical and romantic to sexy and flirty, following a similar approach to today's K-pop scene. Give their single Cinderella Girl and Koi-wazurai a listen but don't blame us for the LSS!
Moving on to non-Johnnys talents, we're sure you've heard of our next pick. Responsible for the amazing music accompanying Makoto Shinkai's works Kimi No Nawa (Your Name) and Tenki No Ko (Weathering With You), RADWIMPS has more to their lineup than these tear-jerking pieces. Since their debut in 2001, the group has released a variety of singles and albums, all following wistful storytelling and soothing arrangements. Now, they are one of the most favourite artists within the industry, even dubbed to be more successful in the coming years.
If you love folksy, straightforward, and heartfelt music, GReeeN is the band to listen to. Composed of four members who are still anonymous to the world to this day, the guys behind this group chose to keep their identities secret. The reason? Apparently, they're maintaining a career as dentists when they're not making music! Their song Kiseki (translated to 'miracle') released in 2008 was not only a chart-topper but also holds a Guinness Book of World Record for being the best selling single download in Japan with more than 2.3 million downloads at the time. In 2011, a semi-biographical movie was made to share the story of the members and their inspirations for their songs.
One OK Rock
Last but certainly not least is One OK Rock. Initially headlining for a lot of music festivals in the country, they got their mark when their song The Beginning became part of the Rurouni Kenshin live-action movie soundtrack in 2012. With the manga and animé series having such a huge following, the much-anticipated movie became a massive break for One OK Rock's music to be heard and by the second part of the film Kyoto Inferno, their song Mighty Long Fall became as much of a global hit as the movie franchise. At present, the band has not only sang yet another amazing track for historical epic Kingdom, but they're also now signed under the agency Fueled By Ramen which handles the likes of Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Paramore, and Twenty One Pilots.
Indie's more up your alley? We've got the artist recommendations here.