What Music Are Japanese People into in 2020?

(Written by Deku)

Japan is full of rich art & culture! And thanks to the anime culture and their OSTs, people all around the globe are now interested in Japanese music.

And not just humans, Japan has singers that don’t even exist! That’s right, we are talking about Hatsune Miku, the face of Vocaloid!

But, this is what the youngsters outside Japan enjoy! So, we had this burning question:

What do the Japanese youth listen to these days?

And what better way to find out than to ask the folks of Japan themselves!? It’s time to hit the streets for some interviews! Here’s what we found…

You can watch the entire video here or continue reading further:

Spoiler Alert: It’s a lot of K-Pop & J-Pop! 😝

1. Aimyon

Aimyon is a popular Japanese singer and songwriter, known for her soothing voice and producing hits like Marigold (マリーゴールド), from her 2018 album: Momentary Sixth Sense.

“What song are you into recently?”, we asked the fan. “Aimyon’s Hadaka no Kokoro (Naked Heart). I liked Aimyon from before, and her voice is very soothing. Her lyrics are very eccentric.”, he answered.

Her unconventional lyrics set her apart from other singers and apparently, people love her for it! “She says things like ‘die’ in her songs, and that’s what I like about her”, the fan added.

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2. BTS

BTS isn’t just a K-pop band anymore, it’s a global sensation! So it’s no surprise to see the Bulletproof Boy Scouts on the list! And BTS isn’t just about music; They have worked closely with UNICEF for the Love Myself Campaign to spread the message of self-love among the youths of the world. Their songs focus heavily on themes related to self-love, mental health, suicide, woman empowerment and more. This made them the first artist in the Republic of Korea to raise funds for a global campaign!

“I think they are so cool, even as a guy. I really like them”, the BTS fan stated.

3. YOASOBI

YOASOBI is a Japanese music duo and the interesting fact about them is that most of their work is based on novels and short stories. Their debut, Yoru ni Kakeru (Racing into the Night) is based on the novel Thanatos no Yūwaku (Temptation of Thanatos), written by Mayo Hoshino. “It’s upbeat, and the lyrics are based on a novel. It’s fun to compare the song to the actual book”, a fan commented.

Legend has it that Thanatos was the personification of death in ancient Greek folklore. And as per the book and the lyrics, the protagonist’s lover perceives him as Thanatos. Due to this delusion, she tries to commit suicide several times, so as to please the ‘dreaded entity’, aka her boyfriend, only to be saved by him after each attempt. In the end, the protagonist finally decides to jump off the cliff with her to please her, realizing that they were Thanatos for each other and can rest forever peacefully.

YOASOBI consists of Ayase (who is responsible for lyrics, composition, and production) and Ikura (the vocalist). They also have few supporting members who are responsible for guitar, drums, bass and keyboard chorus.

“The vocalist (Ikura) is cute and I like her”, the avid fan told us.

4. TWICE

TWICE is a Girls K-Pop band with 9 members, formed by JYP Entertainment. We asked one of the fans about her bias, which turned out to be Sana. “I like a member called Sana. She’s a bit airheaded, but her actions and her voice are cute”, she said. Sometimes we are attracted to our idols for being awkward and vulnerable, probably because it reminds us that they are human beings like us and makes their behaviour quite relatable!

We asked a TWICE fan about her favorite song. “It’s a new song by TWICE called Fanfare. I like the rhythm and dancing.”

5. Michael Jackson

The King of Pop: MJ, is one of the most popular singers and dancers to have ever lived! His charisma and the musical imprint he left has crossed international borders. But to our surprise, this is the only western musical thing we stumbled upon in our interview, other than Rihanna! “My guy said MJ wow did not expect that”, a user (FenerX) commented.

Even after he passed away in 2009, Michael Jackson still has a big, loyal fandom and will always be remembered for his iconic Moonwalk. Smooth Criminal, Thriller and Billie Jean are some of his popular singles. “I like his Moonwalk and Zero Gravity Dance in Smooth Criminal”, the fan stated.

6. SixTONES

It’s not just songs, boy bands and their members are also loved for their quirky trait, and SixTONES, a J-Pop boy band created by Johnny & Associates in 2015, falls under this category. “They all get along well and they are funny too”, a SixTONES fan said. “Which member do you like the most?”, we asked her. “Hokuto Matsumura. He looks cool, but he’s also funny”, she replied back.

We asked these folks about their favorite SixTONES hits, and they would recommend you to try Navigator, JAPONICA STYLE & Imitation Rain.

“They (SixTones and Snow Man) are different from other Johnny’s groups in a good way!”, a fan giggled.

7. GOT7

Despite the rumors of GOT7’s probable disbanding after their contract with JYP Entertainment came to an end this January, the boy band’s popularity continues to grow worldwide.

The band members are currently focusing on their solo projects. Also, Park Jinyoung has recently signed a contract with BigHit Entertainment, which may come as good news for multiple K-Pop fans.

RUN AWAY by GOT7 is adored by their fans:

“I like the lyrics. It goes- Run away with me”, a GOT7 fan grinned.  

BONUS: Of course, we had some non-mainstream and lesser-known recommendations! And they are worth checking out!

ZOC’s Danshari Kareshi (Throwaway Boyfriend) is an interesting song and tells the story of how a girl ends her toxic relationship and gets revenge on the boy who cheated on her. “It gets quite messy!”, the ZOC fan told us. “Their faces are cute, and their voices are very feminine and cute too”, she further added.

ATEEZ is a boy band from South Korean, known for their dancing skills and producing hits like WONDERLAND, INCEPTION and more.

Niji (Rainbow) is a popular song by the Japanese Pop group, AAA. “I get excited listening to it,

and I like the voices of all the members”, a fan commented. And not to mention, they have a catchy name: Attack All Around (AAA).

If you want to enter the less explored world of Japanese Hip-Hop, do try Shogen (Testimony) by Lamp Eye. “It’s the root of Japanese Hip-Hop. If you listen to this, you get hip-hop. It is the pinnacle of hip-hop”, a fan mentioned.

Check out Irotoridori (Multi-colored) by Yuzu! They have a whacky music video and also made another version of the song with the pop-rock band, Ikimono Gakari. The Ikimono Gakari version has some touch of the acapella style to it. “I like the voices that flow from their faces”, a Yuzu fan stated.

Groups like Arashi and Johnny’s West are admired for their funny personalities. “When they sing, they really shine, but they also have funny aspects too”, the Arashi fan remarked. “The song I’m into right now is called One Love. Also, Dear Snow. “One Love” is a mainstream love song and it makes my heart pound”, she further added. Her friend was a Johnny’s West fan and here’s what she admired about them: “They’re not ‘cool’ in a conventional way, but they’re still cool. They can also do funny things so casually”, she added. Her favorite Johnny’s West song is Shouko (Evidence). “Until now, the band only sang silly songs, but they finally made a cool one”, she laughed.

Sometimes people can also admire the agencies behind the bands. “It’s not an artist, but I like groups under Stardust agency, like Super Dragon for example. I’m into groups like that. I can tell that the members get along very well. Their songs are good, and their faces are handsome”, the above person told us.

We asked another person about her favorite songs. “I like everything by Rihanna. Recently, I’m into songs by Iri; Like Sparkle, because it’s cool!”, she said.

We found an enthusiastic fan sporting a T-Shirt of his favorite band. “I’m into a song called Baseball Bat (by SiM). There’s a lot going on in the world, but listening to this is refreshing”, he told us. “It’s by a band called SiM, and I’m wearing their shirt right now. They’re a reggae-punk band, but they incorporate many different styles and genres in their music. Their songs give off a completely new feeling and really hit you hard or pierce your heart. The lyrics are extreme too, but still good”, he added further.

We found a fan of yet another Johnny’s boy band. And it’s none other than Naniwa Danshi! Diamond Smile was her favorite song by the band. “They’re cool, cute, funny, and hard-working. I like it all!”, she giggled.

A fan chuckled and said, “I listen to a lot of K-Pop. Artists like AB6IX and Wanna One. At first, I just liked the members but their songs are good too and they are good at singing.”

TikTok is also popularizing numerous songs:

“I listen to a lot of songs that are on TikTok. For example, Kinmokusei (Osmanthus). I like songs that are easy-going.”, the above guy said.

Energy boosters or calmers, these fans got you covered with their recommendations:

Kenshi Yonezu’s Kanden (Electric Shock) is as electrifying and energetic as it’s name!

For those who want to dance off to a refreshing summer song, Kasukani Kimidatta (It Was Faintly You) by Milk is the perfect recommendation for you! Interesting choices, right? So we asked more about her favorite artists. “Official Hige Dandism, Kenshi Yonezu, and also a bit of TWICE. They’re easy to listen to and the melody enters your ears naturally”, she answered.

Do you want to talk to Japanese people directly to get their interesting opinions? Subscribe to Yuta’s FREE Practical Japanese Lessons!

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Aden Neuwirth
Aden Neuwirth
5 months ago

Hi Yuta, thanks for this post I've been getting into J-Pop like Official Hige DANdism and YOASOBI, and I also subscribed to your emails. I want to take your course, but the problem is I'm a senior in high school, and I want at least a semi-steady flow of income to take your course. I know it's inexpensive already but I just don't want to miss the registration deadline. Is there anyway I can take the course after registration as ended?

kamir bouchareb st
kamir bouchareb st
2 months ago

good topic