With J-rock group ONE OK ROCK appearing at Soundwave this year, then again as support act for the Smashing Pumpkins, don’t be surprised if your friends suddenly decide they want to know all about J-pop!
26 Feb 2015 - 3:46 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2015 - 7:12 PM

Sure, you know about Momoiro Clover Z and AKB48, you’d have to be living under a rock to at least not know that BABYMETAL exist. But there’s so much more to J-pop/rock than just those groups and with ONE OK ROCK, coldrain and Crossfaith performing at Soundwave, expect more people to discover the awesome that is Japanese music.

In preparation for the avalanche of interest in J-pop/rock, I’ve compiled a list of groups and solo artists you may not know about and NEED TO (if you do already know about these groups, congratulations, you just earned 10 more street cred points).

1. Gackt

He began as a vocalist in a few different bands, including visual kei band Malice Mizer, but made his solo debut 15 years ago.

Not only has he been consistently touring and putting out music in that time, he’s also found time to be an actor and voice actor!

Recommended song: Redemption

(With over 15 years in the industry, I recommend you listen to a whole range of his work because you know what they say about the old stuff...)


2. The VAMPS

This rock group have been highly successful in Japan since 2008. They’ve also put on a number of International concerts. Each year, for Halloween, they hold a huge concert over a number of weeks that features some of the biggest names in J-pop!

And if you think they look a bit familiar, that’s because they’re Hyde from L’Arc-en-ciel and K.A.Z from Oblivion Dust.

Recommended Song: Ahead

3. Ling Tosite Sigure

Oh, T.K. … I want to marry your voice.

While Ling Tosite Sigure may have gained more recognition recently when vocalist T.K sang “Unravel” which was the opening theme for the first series of Tokyo Ghoul, they’ve actually been around for a while.

As a side note, the Opening of Tokyo Ghoul got me like…

The group has been around since 2002 and released a best of album earlier this year!

Recommended songs:
Ling Tosite Sigure: Monster
T.K (as a solo artist): Unravel

4. L’arc-en-ciel

Remember me mentioning them when talking about VAMPS?

This is the band that Hyde fronts. You would probably best know their work from Fullmetal Alchemist’s opening theme.

They also have an 'alter ego' band called P’unk-en-ciel, where they all swap roles (for example, Hyde plays guitar while Tetsuya sings).

Recommended song: Flower

5. LiSA

I know, who HASN’T heard of LiSA? Why have you been wasting your life not listening to her?!

If you don’t know who she is, there’s still a good chance that you’ve heard her voice as she’s sung on a number of anime opening theme songs, with the most recent including animes The Irregular at Magic High and the Sword Art Online series.

(Extra bit of information, she and I are best friends. We haven't met yet... but we're best friends)

Recommended Song: Crossing Field


5. Broken Doll


Perhaps better known since their tour of Australia last year, Broken Doll are a pop-punk band that find their inspiration from 80's punk!

You can actually listen to what Kensuke from Broken Doll had to say about the group here.

Recommended Song: I Miss You

6. Shonen Knife

How have you NOT heard of Shonen Knife?

These ladies have been tearing it up for a number of years and don't show any sign of slowing down! They've toured with Nirvana and even came out to Australia earlier this year. Of course, I got to hang out with Naoko and now I've decided we're best friends!

7. Fudanjuku


Veering away from the heavier stuff, let's say you want to recommend a group with more of a 'pop' sound. But you want it to be a group that maybe isn't as well known as AKB48 or Arashi because you need that J-pop street cred.

Fudanjuku is your answer. Not only do they have an amazing sound, Fudanjuku are an otaku idol group.

Also they’re actually girls cosplaying as boys!

Their alter-ego idol girl group are Nakano Fujo Sisters.


Recommended songs:
Fudanjuku- Be Hero

8. dempagumi.inc

This group specialises in dempu music.

What is dempu music? Well, that’s a good question that I’m never quite sure how to answer. The best I can come up with, is that it’s like if a sugar rush was music and that music was in your ears.

What is easier to describe is the group themselves, which consists of brightly coloured, full of energy ladies who sing fast paced lyrics with equally fast-paced dance moves.

Recommended song: Vandalism


9. Salyu

If you like alternative chill music then Salyu is your artist! She makes music with her voice, quite literally.

You might have even caught it when we talked to her on JPop Nation, but if you didn't check out the full interview here.

Recommended Song: Mirror Neurotic

There are so many other groups out there though, so let us know about them in the comments! And request them on J-Pop Nation!