Recommendations for japanese music

Hello everyone!

This is my first post and I know there are tons of threads like this, but it’s all so overwhelming and I really don’t have time to listen to all of the recommendations not knowing if it’s my taste. So please bear with me!

So basically, I have no experience with Japanese modern music. I like City Pop and that’s about it. I would really appreciate some recommendations for a beginner like me. I love harmonious western 70s and 80s music, artists like Depeche Mode, Dead or Alive, Modern Talking, Queen (70s) etc. Is there something like that from Japan as well?

Also, I’ve been obsessed with SHINee, a k-pop group, does anyone know them? I love Taemin’s solo music especially, so if anyone has some recommendations in that field, I would really appreciate it. So something similar to concepts of k-pop would be fine too, especially because I want a group that I can get invested in and watch shows and interviews from like those in Korea to practice my listening skills.
Korean entertainment shows based around idols are superb but since Japanese is my target language I want to listen to more Japanese.

I’m very sorry to create another of those recommendations thread (I don’t even know if I’m in the right category), hope you have a great day and a wonderful start into the new year!

Thank you in advance!


Here’s one of my favorites: Spotify


Hmm, a foreigner accessible “idol” group that has lots of content you can listen to? Paging @yamitenshi for the sales pitch I can’t pull off.

I can’t give any serious recommendations, but as far as artists kind of riding that modern/korean wave pop sound there was Reol who unfortunately already broke up as a unit after a single album (the “lead”, still doing her thing under the same name). That said, my concept of k-pop is also like a decade out of date lol.


The best thing I can suggest for you is to follow my Spotify Playlist.
I created a Playlist that only contains Japanese songs and I update it frequently. Enjoy.

When it comes to artists my all time favorites are:

  • ずっと真夜中でいいのに。
  • yama
  • 稲葉曇
  • たかやん
  • Ado
  • Daoko

If you like SHINee, give NCT, Day6, Ateez and The Boyz a listen, they’re all pretty good K-pop groups.

In terms of Japanese music, I like Larc en Ciel (try ‘Jojoushi’, ‘Stay Away’) AKB48 (Tsubasa wa Iranai, River), Babymetal (Megitsune, Headbanger) One OK Rock… I can’t think of any more off the top of my head but there’s tons of good stuff out there! :notes:

I also like listening to kids’ songs as they can be easy (and fun!) to learn with :slightly_smiling_face:


1 like for recommending Babymetal :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


These artists are on my regular rotation, and based on the references you mentioned I think you might like of them:

  • Mime
  • モノンクル
  • Tendre
  • E.scene
  • Ovall
  • Shin Sakiura (I know this webpage is for kanji nerds and all, but I’ve never seen his name in kanji)
  • the band apart

Most or all of them should be on your favourite streaming platform.
A few samples of the above:


I will never stop spreading the good word of Oomori Seiko. She fuses Punk, Folk, and Idol J-Pop into a wonderful bizarre mess. Most of her albums are distinct from one another, but my favorite is Tokarefu as its basically a grunge album. Her lyrics are intense and dense. My understanding is extremely rough but I’d say they’re often about womanhood and femininity, and how to carve out her own version of femininity of her own, while being extremely aware of the crushing weight of society’s expectations and demands. I love her with all my heart. May be some sort of cult leader for idol-models???

Otoboke Beaver is a wonderful punk band who named themselves after a love hotel near their school. Short, fun, energetic songs. Also (rightfully) angry about women’s issues.

Wednesday Campanella, or Suiyōbi no Kampanera, is an eclectic . . . hip hop? EDM? J-Pop? group. They have a super unique sound. They recently got a different vocalist and I feel like their sound has shifted more towards being “normal”, but is still good. KOM_I is the on most of the tracks. Check out their music videos, they’re really fun and creative.

Kinoco Hotel is another all-girl rockband who has a sound, feel, and style of a 70s b-grade exploitation film, but not in a gross or upsetting way.

Perfume is a j-pop group that is never ending GOAT. Absolutely unbeatable. They’re produced by Yasutaka Nakata, the man who produces pretty much everyone else in J-pop, notably including Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Yasutaka Nakata is also one half of the long-lasting duo CAPSULE, whose sound has changed many times in its history. Started as sorta jazzy loungish sound, turned to EDM, and apparently is on an 80s kick right now.

DEMPA Gumi Inc. is likely the most well known dempa j-pop and has super high energy, fun, songs. Beware: here we enter the land of the mega-otaku. I really like them but will not admit it to most normie Japanese. Otaku might be a generally positive term on the internet in the west but it still, as far as I can tell, is generally not a good thing to be in Japan. Think of how nerds were viewed in the early 2000s, before consumer-capitalism realized that nerds bought anything you put in front of them and made it the default position and superhero movies became the biggest thing of all time, and you’ll get the idea.

CY8ER is a j-pop group that was founded by long time idol Ichigo Rinahamu but was recently disbanded, but I absolutely absolutely love them. I remember her describing a version of kawaii that was “Kawaii with a drop of poison”, which I thought was “yume-kawaii” but I may be mistaken. Moe, pastels, soft, but also with hint of danger and sickness and despair. Also good music videos. Some of their songs represent the event-horizon of moe, beyond which I cannot stomach anything more.

Tricot is a good math rock group. Not much to say about them, but I do like them.

Shisamo is another light rock group. Again, not much to say, but they’re worth checking out.

Polysics is a wonderful new wave group that have been around forever. Absolutely frantic energy, nearly feral in concert. Often reductively called Japanese Devo

I don’t know what I would describe Mass of Fermenting Dregs as (shoegaze?), I think they’re the type that changes sound frequently, but I really like their EP World Is Yours.

Seconding Daoko. She’s great J-pop.

Sheena Ringo is incredible, an absolute power house that will cave your skull in. GOAT. Her nurse outfit in an early music video inspired Haruko from FLCL’s nurse outfit. Again, hard to describe her sound. I believe shes well known and respected in Japan, and her influence is all over the place.

Yunomi is another yume-kawaii moe producer / group / singer / something. Dunno. I believe its a guy making tracks and getting various moe vocalists to sing the lyrics, but it could be a whole group. Good EDM.

Ningen Isu is a heavy metal band formed in 1987 that does classic style heavy metal. They’re still active and are now just three old dude metal heads absolutely shredding, singing songs about like, mystical gods in heaven above and the colors from space. From wikipedia: " The band often writes about Japanese classical literature . . . They often take up topics such as hell, Buddhism, the universe, samurai and gambling. Cool old dudes, something to aspire to.

Band Ja Nai Mon! is another ultra kawaii dempa group (i’d say) who are a bit much for my taste, but they have a song called Sakepparadaishu about loving booze and getting wasted and it speaks deeply to my heart and life in Tokyo.

I think Moe Shop is a western producer but he often works with Japanese groups and makes good music. The EP Moe Moe is one of my favorites, always feel good listening to it.

The original V-Tuber, Kizuna AI, has a music career and has some fun songs.

I know nothing about it other than the existence of an album called Yume no Kissaten, but I think theres a music composer named Mitsukiyo that seems like they’re doing some fun things. Yume no Kissaten is like the soundtrack to a cheerful Anime Coffee shop. Its on spotify, and makes for nice background music.

Also, the Yuru Camp OST is absolutely beautiful, and has a wonderful feeling of peace and serenity to it.

Tofu Beats is a producer who has been around a lot and worked with lots of people. Mostly EDM, worth checking out.

Oh, also Dexied The Emons. Don’t know a lot about them but if you want a 70s feel they have it in spades, although I believe they’re from the 90s.


may not be harmonious for all but this thread has otherwise hard to stumble upon gems

lots from the 70’s japanese prog/exp rock is pretty amazing :slight_smile:

welcome @Wrr to the community. what a post to start things off!
one letter away from wry as well. i like you already :wink:


Excellent tastes, and I’m probably going to check out a few things from your post I didn’t already know. I came here to mention Sheena Ringo and Tricot, but you already beat me to it! Stuff like Otoboke Beaver and Polysics are great too.

Well, I don’t think anyone has mentioned Fishmans yet:


和楽器バンド is all sorts of awesome.

新しい学校 has really fun videos.

浜崎あゆみ is kinda the Madonna, or maybe Taylor Swift (writing, producing all her own music), of classic jpop.

A good introduction to 和楽器バンド is the collaboration they did with Amy Lee from Evanescence.

Edited to add video links.

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Now why would you page me? I don’t know of any idol groups! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

On a more serious note, Vocaloid covers might be right up your alley. The Vocaloids themselves tend to be robotic and weird IMO, but the covers are plenty… and they are good. Ado is worth checking out, as are まふまふ and くろくも.

And with that general introduction to Vocaloid covers out of the way… it’s time to kick you down the rabbit hole @ccookf was referring to :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

VTubers do a lot of Vocaloid covers, and original music to boot. And one group in particular, Hololive, is full of incredible musical talent - they’re technically (but only very technically) an idol agency… but in reality they’re just a bunch of dorks who sing, chat and play video games.

Of particular interest to you, probably (the links are to specific songs, but they’re all on their own respective YT channels):

Hoshimachi Suisei - has incredible vocal control and a really powerful voice. Probably the best singer in all of Hololive from a technical perspective. Also makes a lot of original songs (more than most others - they all do to some extent), and I don’t think I’ve heard a single one I didn’t like.

Tokoyami Towa - another very powerful voice, and my personal favourite. She speaks like an adorable dork and sings like a goddess. She works particularly well with niki (the composer/producer for ERROR, among others) from a musical perspective, as evidenced by her original song, Palette. Get tissues ready if you’re watching her live performances - she puts a lot of emotion into her singing and teared up both during her live performance of ERROR and then once again a year later during Palette, and as stoic as I usually am I find it hard not to get a lil’ misty-eyed when watching :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Nekomata Okayu - also one of my favourites in Hololive, super velvety speaking voice if you want to look beyond music for listening practice, and super impressive singing, as well as fairly varied musical styles (that’s five links, not one :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:)

Tokino Sora - probably the only actual idol in all of Hololive. Does a fairly broad range of styles as well and has incredible range.

Houshou Marine - crazy good at singing, and makes some very catchy songs. Also knows how to flex her vocal range.

Honestly I could list just about everyone in Hololive, but I think this might be a good starting point. Also worth checking out:
Shiranui Flare and her cover of 怪物,
Ayunda Risu casually doing a duet with herself
Amane Kanata and her absolutely unbelievable range (no single song does it justice - whatever you think her range is, it’s probably wider than that :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:)
La+ Darkness, one of the newest additions to Hololive, and her cover of 神っぽいな
Murasaki Shion letting out all of her Kusogaki energy
Sakura Miko and her lesson in Japanese onomatopoeia (with a shout-out to GYARI who makes some absolutely hilarious stuff)

and just the rest of Hololive in general, but I think I mentioned that before :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

There’s also a lot of good stuff outside Hololive - Ryugasaki Rene for instance is really good and fairly music-focused. Inui Toko has a particularly impressive voice within Nijisanji - which is the other big VTuber agency, but I’m overall a lot less familiar with them, especially on the musical front. I’d recommend just letting the YouTube algorithm take over and recommend stuff, it’s fairly good at that.

And one of the best parts IMO is, if you want to move out of music, all of these VTubers (and just about every JP VTuber I didn’t mention) make for excellent listening practice in their other activities as well. Just be a bit wary of mimicking their speech - some of them sound more natural than others.

Also I will never not second BABYMETAL as a suggestion. They’re great :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


If you like City Pop, maybe check out Especia they are no long around but they were really fun:

Some of their former members are also doing great solo stuff now,

Wakita Monari:



Wow thank you all very much for the replies, I didn’t expect my question to get so much attention!
I will definitly check them out, I’m excited!!

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Sheena Ringo (椎名林檎) for life!!! I have been addicted to her (and her band, Tokyo Jihen (東京事変)) for years, and haven’t found anything else like her in Japan. Here are some favourites:





Rookie mistake. :slight_smile:
The community is one of the best things about WK. Welcome aboard!


カネコアヤノis an amazing folk/rock singer-songwriter. Her lyrics are great to study - poetic and very smart. She has a lot of non-Japanese fans, so you can usually find English translations of her songs in the YouTube comments to her videos or elsewhere online. Here’s her most famous song:

Here’s a playlist of other artists for you to check out, as well:

Hope you find something you like!


I was just listening to her! Ayano and never young beach/Yuma Abe are probably my most listened to Japanese artists so far (I’m only just starting to listen to more Japanese music, will definitely use this thread to finde more artists to add to my list)

My Top 5
  1. Kenshi Yonezu
  3. Aimyon
  4. Mrs. Green Apple
  5. Vaundy Reol Vocaloid Deco etc
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Always good to run into another Kaneko Ayano fan! I’m hoping her recent show at Budokan will
be released soon as some kind of live album. Her music has definitely been helping me get through the pandemic.

You might like Mono No Aware: