Thursday, October 14, 2010
Outside the USA, Japan has the next largest music industry in the world. It’s no wonder then, that the Japanese music business is a colorful array of genres and characters. Rock, pop, hip-hop, visual-rock and Enka are just a few of the many musical styles that thrive in Japan. Perhaps the most successful, or rather the best-selling artists in Japan though are the boy’s and girl’s bands.
At any given time it seems as though there are always two or three incredibly popular boy and girl bands in Japan. Right now the most popular boy’s band appears to be “Arashi.” You can’t go anywhere in Japan without seeing all or one of their members promoting a product or starring in an upcoming TV show. The female equivalent of Arashi would have to be “AKB48.” AKB48 is no ordinary girl’s band though. They are more of a team of 48 teenage girls who regularly compete to be the leading representatives on the group’s music singles, music-videos and TV appearances. Between them, Arashi and AKB48 dominate the TV, radio and TV commercial air time. They are almost industries in themselves.
The idea of cult-like boy’s and girl’s bands is nothing new in Japan. Years ago “Morning Musume” were the female super group that dominated the charts and media of Japan. Though not as large in numbers as AKB48, the band held regularly auditions for new talent. Many former Morning Musume stars have furthered their careers in the entertainment industry. On the other hand popular boy bands of the past probably never became bigger than SMAP. SMAP was formed by the music industry giant “Johnny’s Entertainment” (the same agency that manage Arashi) in the early 1990’s, and have been one of the most succesful bands in the history of Japan’s music industry. Musically they are somewhat quiet these days, but on TV and film, the members of SMAP are still going very strong. Turn on the TV and you’ll still see a SMAP member promoting a product or acting in a drama.
Who knows who the next big band will be? For now the teeny-boppers of Japan seem to be engrossed in the movements of Arashi and AKB48. It seems as though they’ll be around for at least another year or two at least. If SMAP is anything to go by, they could continue well into the future.