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J-POP & POPULAR CULTURE
music is an integral part of Japanese popular culture. It is used
everywhere: anime, stores, commercials, movies, radio shows, TV shows, and
video games. Some television news programs even run a J-pop song during
their end credits.
J-pop songs are often played at a very rapid frantic pace, making them
difficult to enjoy for some people. In anime and television shows,
particularly dorama, opening and closing songs are changed up to four times
per year. As most programs have both opening and closing songs it is
possible for one show to use 8 tracks in a single season. In comparison the
hour-long American show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ran for a total of
seven seasons (1997-2003), has only 30 songs on its two albums released in
the United States. An anime series of the same length could have up to 56
full songs, at least one single, and it would only fill 30 minutes on TV.
The sheer number of songs that are released means the faces of J-pop are
constantly revolving. Many artists will only release one album and several
singles before fading back into anonymity. It is very difficult to stay
prominent for longer than this and artists who sustain their popularity for
a decade are considered outstanding. Groups like Dreams Come True, Chage &
Aska, B'z, Southern All Stars, the pillows, and TUBE that have been popular
for over 15 years are considered to be phenomenal successes.
The last five years have witnessed a new and strange phenomena emanating
from West Japan. Centering on Fukuoka and Oita, a surge in popularity has
been noticed amongst bands and groups featuring both foreign and Japanese
musicians. This popularity has sparked the attention of several large music
corporations, including Sony Japan. Notable band names include Bump of
Chicken, Fever, Dr. Funkinstein, Cut Flowers, The Routes, F8, and The James
Heneghan Acoustic Roadshow.
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