J-Pop: It’s Not About the Music

by Claire Dranginis

Japan has the second largest music market in the world behind the United States, and 75% of the music consumed in Japan is made by Japanese artists[1].  Much of this music is J-pop.  The term J-pop was coined in the early 1990s and it now refers to most popular Japanese music, from rock acts like L’arc-en-ciel to R&B and pop acts like Namie Amuro and Perfume.  With this huge variety of groups in the second biggest music market in the world, how can I say that J-pop is not about the music?  Of course it’s about the music in many cases, but there are other factors that play a larger role in popularizing certain songs or groups.  These factors include a song’s tie-in to a popular drama, anime, or video game, and the appeal of the group members themselves, either for the cuteness, sexiness, or both.  I would argue that it is these other factors that are the reason for J-pop’s place as a part of Japan’s Gross National Cool. [Read more…]

Claire Dranginis

Me hanging out with some Japanese monkeys

Hanging out with some distant cousins in Arashiyama Monkey Park in Kyoto

Hello!  My name is Claire Dranginis and I am senior majoring in East Asian Studies with a minor in Management and Organizational Leadership.  My introduction to the Japanese language was in high school, when through the strange power of the internet I became a fan of the the “Visual Kei” band Dir En Grey.  I soon started listening to many other Japanese rock bands, and my interest in the language that all these groups were singing in grew.  I decided to give learning Japanese a shot, and started to teach myself.  My study of Japanese has led me to a greater interest in Japanese culture outside of the weird rock bands that I loved as a high schooler.

I was fortunate enough to be able to study at Keio University in Tokyo last spring semester, and my experience there both gave me greater insight into Japan and left me with more questions.  I look forward to thinking about the answers to those questions in our class this semester!