Five Japanese artists who shake things up with music



Image: CHAI | Official site

Are you looking for new music? Start with these stellar female artists from Japan, defying the standards and stunning every time.

As a music industry, Japan has never left us short of variety. From classic bubble-gum pop to the more specialized, electronic expanses of subgenres like vocaloid and hyper-pop, to city-pop nostalgia, the Japanese musical landscape is vast and experiencing its own renaissance. In 2019-2020, the internet saw an influx of Japanese actors making their music available on streaming platforms, giving space for rising stars and newcomers to evolve and find their own niche, and make others into real celebrities.

While women have always claimed a place in music, recent years have seen the emergence of artists who have presented an alternative to the sanitized versions of the usual pop in their grainy, angry and wacky stances.

If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the following Japanese women in music who have created waves with their work.


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Looking for a fun, nuanced, and educated lesson in self-love? All you need is the Japanese punk rock band Chai. In their goal to make the Japanese concept of ‘kawaii’ more inclusive – where all women, not just those with skinny legs, slim waists and small faces are considered ‘cute’, Chai has created a healthy space. and sure in his music. , where women can be themselves and turn their complexes into cuteness.

As they write love letters to gyozas and dreams of being different from societal norms, Chai made us realize that creating your own definition of beauty is as easy as being yourself.

Haru Nemuri

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Anger becomes a creative outlet through the musical power that is Haru Nemuri – who was everywhere this year thanks to his virtual performance at SXSW – famous for the style of enunciation of spoken poetry on his songs. Often dressed in meadow dresses and pigtails, Nemuri has a deceptive and unpretentious figure.

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When she opens her mouth to sing about the seemingly eternal sadness of a youth that seems doomed to oblivion, then reality is shattered. With completely homemade sound, rich instrumentism and deep lyricism, Nemuri is a rock star who has taken us all by surprise and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come.


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If “pandemic” and “burnout” were the words of 2020, Ado’s “Usseewa” was the sound of the year. Seriously, the song was all over in Japan, with its explosion of pop culture creating polarized opinions across generations. It worried parents everywhere, but the young people felt a sad and angry resonance in the repeated cries of “Usseewa”, which in the official translations came as “Shut up.” “

Ado hit a nerve, however – in some ways, “Usseewa” can be seen as a prelude to global conversations about the impact of overwork on our mental and physical health. The song describes the overwhelming, soulless monotony of corporate culture – where we’re all reduced to pawns – contrasting it perfectly with the anger our helplessness inspires within. Teen literally said what we had in mind during all of those Zoom calls, and we can’t wait for more.


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Since their debut in 2015, this powerful duo of Mamiko Suzuki and Rachel Watashiga have reinvented the resurgence of hip-hop in Japan, an eclectic take at a time. The charm of Chelmico is how well they blend fantasy with reality. Their lyricism is deeply rooted in mundane topics like having a good day at the beach or not having enough money. Their fantastic sonic experimentation, which mixes their basic rap with funk, jazz and often dreamy pop, takes the subject to the next level.

Not seeing themselves as “idols,” they have emerged as outliers in the Japanese music industry, but it is only a matter of time before their music takes one under its fold and envelops it in the air. a warm cocoon.


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If you’ve been engaged in Asian music in any form in recent years, chances are you’ve heard of this four-piece group that became a part of 88rising earlier this year. The magnetic charm of this quartet has layers – first, you’ll be drawn to the distant visuals and performances, resembling something straight out of a manga (at the risk of generalizing). It is in fact the Kumitaisou – a form of dance fusing acrobatics, teamwork and balance – which occupies an important place in their work.

Dive deeper, and ATARASHI GAKKO! soon emerge as representatives of playful youth and ambition that we trace on our journey to adulthood. From the restless urge to create your own niche to the fear of facing a dull tomorrow, there is nothing in youth than ATARASHI GAKKO! don’t get it, which maybe is what makes them so endearing.

Interested in more? Check out our list of five K-pop women who refused to play by the rules.

You can read more about this on the Asia Pop Observer.



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