J-Pop And Idol Groups – Nippon Month 2017

Posted on March 31, 2017


Okay, so I actually had an idea that I would be discussing why I enjoy this kind of music, but then I remembered that I already did something similar back in 2015, when I was writing in Swedish.
So I thought why not translate that one into English, improve upon it and maybe see if that works out?
I was very satisfied with that post, so that’s the main reason I want to translate it in English so that more people can understand it and join the discussion.

So without further delay, here we go:

Well you all know what J-Pop is just from hearing that word, and those who don’t know usually gets reminded of it once you show it to them.
Put it simply: It’s pink, cute, happy and even more pink.
But this is of course our view of a music culture that is very big over there in East Asia, and Japan of course, that differs very much from our own.
It also seems that many of us reacts with a pedophile warning when seeing these young girls perform, so what is it that makes people either like or hate this kind of music?

To begin with, musical taste is individual and everyone’s opinions are going to be different.
I myself have always been a Metal-Rock person, but for the last 10-13 years I’ve started to open up to and devour all sorts of music genres.
Radio music and the standard generic Pop has never been my cup of tea, especially not the J-Pop genre and I’ve never gotten into idolizing someone because of their looks or some stupid shit like that.
But this has become something huge over there in Japan, with groups such as AKB48 and Momoiro Clover Z, whom basically are created to idolizing young cute girls and make easy money without having any love or creativity for their own music.
They use a simple template that kinda looks like this:

1. Pick a group of young (important) pretty girls and dress them in school uniforms or different Care Bears colors.
2. Write simple music that is catchy and easy to like.

3. Make everything pink, happy and cute.
4. Sell it for a shit load of money.

And there are a lot of groups that are solely based on this template, but there are a few of them that manage to stick in some musical experience or creativity that almost makes me forget about the hatred I have for this.
I can honestly say (if you couldn’t tell by now) that I actually like both AKB48 and Momoiro Clover Z.
I’ve reviewed albums from both of them here and they are groups I would recommend to people who like or are interested in J-Pop.
And this is music that I use to hate just a couple of years back, but both of these groups seem to actually put down some energy and love to create something if it’s either musical or for a stage show.
Momoiro Clover Z has collaborated with none other than Yngwie Malmsteen, Kiss, and Martin Friedman from fucking Megadeth!
Yes, the guitarist who played on one of, if not the most loved Trash Metal album ever, Rust In Peace!
Not to forget that Momoiro also did the theme song for the newer Sailor Moon Crystal anime.

Momoiro Clover also seem to put down a little more character into the members, unlike AKB48 on the other hand that are as flat, synthetic and idolizing as anything can be.
But both groups seems to care a little more about creating actual music, and are taking inspiration from other genres such as Rock, Metal, Electronic and even Jazz and classical music. That’s pretty cool, and one of the things that makes me interested in J-Pop, because it is one big fusion that leaves something very interesting to the listeners.

Unfortunately, AKB is clearly not doing this for the art of music, but instead the evil mastermind Yasushi Akimoto has only put out a business model in order to make as much money as possible.
And that really bugged me, how could I enjoy their music when I know that it’s only made to suck the money out of my pockets?

Well for a while I was very anti-J-Pop for that reason, but eventually I started to just think about the music and I found myself liking it a lot, so why not just start enjoying it instead?
Why should it stop me from listening and enjoying myself?
They have actually delivered a product that is to my liking so why should I feel embarrassed and hatred towards buying physical copies of their albums?

But there is where they fuck you even harder, by charging like 50 dollars for a CD!
I’m sorry but they are not THAT amazing so that their CDs are worth spending 50 dollars or more on.
And on top of that, the evil mastermind has divided up the album in different types, A, B, C and so on.. Each either containing the whole album with a bonus disc, but the bonus disc is different for every type you buy.
Or some versions doesn’t contain the full album, so it forces you to buy like 3 or 4 versions of the same fucking album just to get all the songs.

Well go to the bank and get a loan, because it’s gonna cost you.

On the subject of idolizing, I think it really comes down to cultural differences.
The most common negative react I hear is that there is some kind of pedophile/school girl fetish going on in Japan, and I have seen some documentaries about this matter too, but I have also seen documentaries that claims the opposite and shows us that the school uniform thingie actually is a huge deal over there.
But it’s all about fashion, and not only for the girls but also among the men.
So after watching those I can honestly say that I think I understand the whole situation more now, and I think the idolizing and objectifying lies in the eye of the person who is watching or listening.

I don’t listen to AKB or Momoiro because they’re suppose to be beautiful looking idols.
I listen to it simply because I enjoy the music, and I don’t see them as objects but instead artists with great singing voices.
And I do know that others see them as actual people as well, so you aren’t necessarily a pedophile or have some school girl fetish just because you listen to and enjoy this kind of music.
Or even if you happen to find the girls beautiful, that’s perfectly okay too. Kawaii is a thing there in Japan and it’s spreading across the world, and it will of course get some people to misinterpret it.
I don’t think these girls are forced to this life either, they are well aware of what it demanded of them before they went into it.

So is J-Pop actual music, or just an excuse to look at pretty, young ladies?
I think it can be both since it’s a fusion thing, it’s all up to the listener to decide what they want it to be and why they want to buy or listen/watch it.
Many seem to buy it just because they are cute girls, but I also know a lot of you out there enjoys the actual music, so I want to know what you think about all this?
Feel free to comment and discuss, while I get some coffee and put on a Garnidelia CD :)

Photo 1: Dennis Amith https://www.flickr.com/photos/kndynt2099/

Photo 2: Chris CBPhotographie http://www.chriscb.org



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