2011 has arrived marking the end of the 2000’s decade. For the past ten years, fans of Japanese pop (J-Pop) music have seen the rise and fall of many artists. They have witnessed the debuts of stars that made an impact in J-Pop today, while some of them faded after some time. In addition, a number of artists from the previous decade are still staying strong today.
J-Pop in this past decade had rivalries between its artists, particularly female solo artists for the crown of being the “Queen of J-Pop.” The emergence of more idols produced by huge entertainment agencies, such as Hello! Project and Johnny’s Entertainment also left significant marks in the industry.
Another unforgettable moment in J-Pop in the 2000’s was the infiltration of Korean artists in the Japanese market selling a lot of records, and the R&B and Hiphop genres gained more attention in the industry.
As the new decade begins, let us briefly look back on what happened in the Japanese pop music scene from the year 2000 up to 2010.
In the year 2000 J-Pop had groups/bands disbanding, such as SPEED and Luna Sea, while Aya Shiguro left Every Little Thing. As opposed to disbanding, 2000 also saw the debuts of some big artists like, Love Psychedelico, AI, Chihiro Onitsuka, Nana Mizuki, and dream. BUMP of CHICKEN had their debut under a major label.
The following year (2001) saw the close fight between the sales of Utada Hikaru’s sophomore album “Distance,” and Ayumi Hamasaki’s first BEST album “A Best.” “Distance” ended the year by topping the Oricon Album Yearly Chart, and “A BEST” came in second. Same with the Oricon Single Yearly Chart, it was Utada Hikaru who earned the top spot with “Can You Keep a Secret,” followed by Ayumi Hamasaki’s “M.”
The bands who disbanded that year were pizzicato five and JUDY & MARY. Tomoko Kawase, on the other hand, temporarily departed from her band ‘the brilliant green’ to debut as a solo singer using the pseudonym “tommy february6.” HYDE also went solo after a year of hiatus for L’Arc~en~Ciel.
Some of J-Pop’s biggest artists debuted that year, such as Mika Nakashima, CHEMISTRY, EXILE, Aya Matsuura, Kobukuro, and w-inds.
It was also on that year when Korean singer BoA debuted in the Japanese music scene.
In 2002, more news of disbandment broke out when SIAM SHADE (of the 1/3 Junjou na Kanjou fame) and FIELD OF VIEW (of the Dan Dan no Kokoro fame) called it quits. Furthermore, LISA and Maki Goto left their groups m-flo and Morning Musume, respectively.
Some of the biggest names in the J-Pop scene, on the other hand, had wedding bells ringing! 2002 saw the marriage of Utada Hikaru with director Kazuaki Kiriya, producer Tetsuya Komuro with KEIKO, and GLAY’s TERU with PUFFY’s Ami Onuki.
Johnny’s Enterainment’s Tackey&Tsubasa debuted on that year, as well as Aya Ueto, Shibasaki Kou, and Hajime Chitose.
For the Oricon Single Yearly Chart, it was Ayumi Hamasaki’s “H” that outsold Utada Hikaru’s “travelling” this time around by being the only million-selling single of 2002. However, it was Utada who topped the Oricon Album Yearly Chart with her album “Deep River,” with Ayumi Hamasaki coming in second with her album “I am…”.
2003 had more artists debuting; the familiar names are NEWS, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Nami Tamaki, Orange Range, mihimaru GT, Sukima Switch, Remioromen, Ai Otsuka, Ayaka Hirahara, Straightener, Halicalli, and Nightmare.
J-Rock stars HYDE and Gackt’s film “Moon Child” was aired.
It was also in this year when B’z occupied nine spots in the Oricon Top 10 Singles Chart for the week of April 7. And it was SMAP that topped the Oricon Single Yearly Chart with the only million-selling single of the year “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana.” This was also the last single to sell more than two million copies. CHEMISTRY, on the other hand, was the number one in the Album Yearly Ranking with “Second to No One.”
In 2004 artists such as Kato Miliyah, Kimura Kaela, BENI, Maximum the Hormone, Berryz Koubo, Miyavi, and D-51 debuted. Tokyo Jihen was also formed on that year. It was also when Utada Hikaru attempted to debut in the United States with the name UTADA.
Ken Hirai topped the Singles Yearly Chart with “Hitomi wo Tojite”, followed by Mr. Children’s “SIGN.” On the Albums Chart, Utada Hikaru emerged victorious with her first BEST album “Single Collection Vol.1”, followed by Mr. Children’s “Shifuku no Oto”.
More notable artists in J-Pop debuted the following year (2005), such as Def Tech, HIGH & MIGHTY COLOR, YUI, SEAMO, UVERworld, WaT, Angela Aki, AAA, Chatmonchy, and Yuna Ito of the NANA fame.
It was also the year when famous band Do As Infinity disbanded, and composer Nakayama Daizaburo passed away.
Koda Kumi, on the other hand, surprised the fans by releasing one single a week, which lasted up to twelve weeks.
Johnny’s Entertainment’s unit for the drama “Nobuta wo Produce” called “Shuuji to Akira,” which was composed of KAT-TUN’s Kamenashi Kazuya and NEWS’ Yamashita Tomohisa (Yamapi), topped the Oricon Singles Yearly Chart for their single “Seishun Amigo.” The single is the soundtrack of the said drama. It was followed by Ketsumeishi’s “Sakura.” NANA starring Mika Nakashima was the only female artist in the Yearly Chart with her hit “GLAMOROUS SKY” – the theme song of the live action adaptation of “NANA” and was composed by L’Arc~en~Ciel’s frontman HYDE.
For the Album’s Yearly Chart, Orange Range got the number one spot with “musiQ.”
In 2006, Johnny’s Entertainment’s KAT-TUN debuted with the single “Real Face” and that single became the best-selling single of that year, as well as the only million-selling single of 2006. It was followed by Remioromen’s “Konayuki”, the theme to the drama “One Liter of Tears.” Shuuji to Akira’s “Seishun Amigo” stayed strong even after a year of release by placing third in the Yearly Ranking. It was also in this year when NEWS’ and Shuuji to Akira’s Yamapi debuted as a solo artist. The theme song of his drama “Kurosagi” entitled “Daite Senorita” came in fourth. Erika Sawajiri was the only female artist in the Top 10 with the single “Taiyou no Uta.” She released the single under the name “Kaoru Amane,”it was the name of her role in the movie with the same title.
For the Album Ranking for the year, Ken Hirai earned the number one spot with his BEST album “Ken Hirai 10th Anniversary Complete Single Collection ’95”, followed by Koda Kumi’s “BEST ~second session~.
The artists who debuted that year were MONKEY MAJIK, FUNKY MONKEY BABYS, Ayaka, KAT-TUN, Ikimono Gakari, Hirano Aya, Aqua Timez, Teshima Aoi, Nakagawa Shoko, The Cro-magnons, abingdon boys school, JYONGRI, and Tegomass.
2007 had fans of Japanese rock (J-Rock) rejoicing because of X Japan and L’Arc~en~Ciel’s comeback, and B’z was the first Asian artist to be included in Hollywood’s Rock of Fame. It was when rock stars Yoshiki, Miyavi, Sugizo, and Gackt formed the band SKIN.
On the other hand, the fans of Ayumi Hamasaki and TOKIO’s Nagase Tomoya were saddened by the two’s break up after a 7-year relationship. Other J-Pop Queen Utada Hikaru and husband Kazuaki Kiriya also ended their four and a half years of marriage.
More tragically, ZARD’s vocalist Izumi Sakai passed away.
Some of the artists that debuted on that year were Leah Dizon, Aoyama Teruma, SoulJa, GReeeeN, Superfly, Spontania, ERIKA, Hey! Say!7 cum Hey! Say! JUMP, alan, and Aragaki Yui.
For the Singles Yearly Chart, it was classical artist Akikawa Masafumi who emerged number one with his single “Sen no Kaze ni Natte.” It was the first time when a classical artist topped the chart. It was followed by Utada Hikaru’s “Flavor of Life,” which was used as Hana Yori Dango 2’s image song.
Mr. Children’s album “HOME” and Koda Kumi’s “Black Cherry” were the top two albums that year.
By 2007, Mr. Children’s had sold 50 million records in total, making them the highest-selling artist in Japan next to B’z. Utada Hikaru also reached a milestone by having “Flavor of Life” downloaded 10 million times.
2008 began with Ayumi Hamasaki announcing that she is deaf on the left ear. This was followed by Koda Kumi’s “amniotic fluid” issue, which made her postpone the promotional activities for her “KINGDOM” album.
One of the biggest issues of that year was when hit-maker Tetsuya Komuro was arrested for fraud.
It was also on that year when Leah Dizon got married with her Japanese stylist.
Girl group SPEED and band Do As Infinity delighted their fans with their reformation, while Hawaii-born melody., said goodbye in the Thank You portion of her last studio album “Lei Aloha.”
J-Pop acts who debuted in 2008 were SCANDAL, Shimizu Shota, MiChi, Kimaguren, Girl Next Door, JAY’ED, flumpool, and Stereopony. JERO, non-Japanese enka singer, also made his debut, while L’Arc~en~Ciel’s HYDE and Oblivion Dust’s K.A.Z formed the unit VAMPS.
It was Arashi that occupied the top two spots of the Oricon Singles Yearly Chart with the songs “truth” and “One Love.” Truth was used as the theme of Satoshi Ohno’s drama “Maou”, while “One Love” was the theme of Jun Matsumoto’s film Hana Yori Dango 3.
For the album charts, EXILE occupied the top spot with “EXILE LOVE,” and Namie Amuro came in second with her BEST album “BEST FICTION.”
In 2009 Hideaki Takizawa (Tackey) of Tackey & Tsubasa and Kaori Mochida of Every Little Thing both made their solo debuts. Chage & Aska, on the other hand, went on a hiatus.
Ayaka also announced that she will go on hiatus because of her Graves’ disease. She also surprised her fans with her marriage to actor Mizushima Hiro. Another wedding was between melody. and J-Rock star Miyavi.
Versailles’ bassist Jasmine You passed away due to poor health conditions. Tetsuya Komuro, on the other hand, was bailed out of jail by AVEX President Max Matsuura.
Hilchryme debuted this year, alongside Korean act BIG BANG, Kana Nishino, and Nakayama Yuma with B.I. Shadow.
Arashi topped the top three spots in 2009 with the singles “BELIEVE/Kumorinochi,” “Ashita no Kioku/Crazy Moon ~Kimi wa Muteki~,” and “My Girl.”
For the album chart, Arashi got the number one spot with their BEST album “『All the BEST! 1999-2009』.”Mr. Children came in second with “Supermarket Fantasy.”
For 2010, it was Mika Nakashima’s turn to announce a hiatus due to her sickness. She had to postpone her 10th anniversary activities because of that. Also, Utada Hikaru announced that she, too, will go on a hiatus to try some other things not related to music for her own personal growth.
Other notable events were:
Akanishi Jin of KAT-TUN left the group to pursue a solo career in the United States.
Luna Sea had their fans jumping for joy with their reunion.
mihimaru GT’s Miyake and Hiroko went solo.
X Japan ventured to the American market.
New mommies Leah Dizon and melody. both gave birth to two baby girls. It was the second baby girl for Miyavi and melody.
Solo singer Ai Otsuka announced that she and RIP SLYME’s were wed.The two reportedly started dating when they collaborated for a single.
Various artists came together for the recording of the SIAM SHADE tribute album.
Producer AILI debuted as a singer this year with the song “MEMORIES,” which included the sample of EXILE’s “Lovers Again.”
But no matter how successful the solo artists and the bands were (ex. Ikimono Gakari), the Oricon Chart was still dominated by idol groups. Girl group AKB48 had four of their singles at the Top 10 Singles Yearly Chart, with “Beginner,” “Heavy Rotation,” “Ponytail to Shu shu,” and “Chance no Junban” occupying the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 8th spots, respectively.
Johnny’s very own Arashi, on the other hand, had all six of their singles enter the Singles Yearly Chart with the singles “Troublemaker,” “Monster,” “Hatenai Sora,” “Love Rainbow,” “Dear Snow,” and “To be free,” which occupied the spots 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10, respectively. All top 10 singles sold over 500,000 copies each.
|Top-selling albums in Japan this decade1. Hikaru Utada — “Distance” (2001)2. Ayumi Hamasaki — “A BEST” (2001)
3. Hikaru Utada — “DEEP RIVER” (2002)
4. Mai Kuraki — “delicious way” (2000)
5. Kobukuro — “ALL SINGLES BEST” (2006)
6. Ayumi Hamasaki — “Duty” (2000)
7. Southern All Stars — “Ballad 3: The album of LOVE” (2001)
8. Mongol800 — “Message” (2001)
9. Orange Range — “musiQ” (2004)
10. Glay — “Drive: Glay Complete Best” (2000)
|The past 10 years in superlativesMost confident artist: Sixties pop revivalists Love Psychedelico, who named their 2001 debut album “The Greatest Hits.”Pop instrument: Shamisen (Hiromitsu Agatsuma, Yoshida Brothers).
Biggest threat: Korean boy bands and girl idols who can actually dance, sing and rap.
Most enduring fad: Harmony vocal groups, a capella and otherwise (Gospellers, GReeeeN, etc.).
Impresario: Tsunku, the creator/producer of disposable idol collective Morning Musume and its attendant Hello Project.
Most successful ambassadors: Puffy, who made their mark in the United States as cartoon characters rather than pop singers.
Biggest mouth: Kumi Koda, who in 2008 placed herself on indefenite hiatus after saying on a radio show that women over the age of 35 shouldn’t have babies because “their amniotic fluid is dirty.”