In the 1960s, Japanese rock music bands imitated Western rock musicians such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones, along with other Appalachian folk music, psychedelic rock, mod and similar genres; this was called Group Sounds (G.S.). John Lennon of The Beatles later became one of most popular Western musicians in Japan. Group Sounds is a genre of Japanese rock music that was popular in the mid to late 1960s. After the boom of Group Sounds, there were several influential singer-songwriters. Nobuyasu Okabayashi was the first who became widely recognized. Wataru Takada, inspired by Woody Guthrie, also became popular.. They both were influenced by American folk music but wrote Japanese lyrics. Takada used modern Japanese poetry as lyrics, while Kazuki Tomokawa made an album using Chuya Nakahara's poems. Tomobe Masato, inspired by Bob Dylan, wrote critically acclaimed lyrics. The Tigers was the most popular Group Sounds band in the era. Later, some of the members of The Tigers, The Tempters and The Spiders formed the first Japanese supergroup Pyg.
Homegrown Japanese folk rock had developed by the late 1960s. Artists like Happy End are considered to have virtually developed the genre. During the 1970s, it grew more popular. The Okinawan band Champloose, along with Carol (led by Eikichi Yazawa), RC Succession and Shinji Harada were especially famous and helped define the genre's sound. Sometimes also beginning in the late sixties, but mostly active in the seventies, are musicians mixing rock music with American-style folk and pop elements, usually labelled "folk" by the Japanese because of their regular use of the acoustic guitar. This includes bands like Off Course, Tulip, Alice (led by Shinji Tanimura), Kaguyahime, Banban, and Garo. Solo artists of the same movement include Yosui Inoue, Yuming, and Iruka. Later groups, like Kai Band (led by Yoshihiro Kai) and early Southern All Stars, are often attached to the same movement.
Several Japanese musicians began experimenting with electronic rock in the early 1970s. The most notable was the internationally renowned Isao Tomita, whose 1972 album Electric Samurai: Switched on Rock featured electronic synthesizer renditions of contemporary rock and pop songs. Other early examples of electronic rock records include Inoue Yousui's folk rock and pop rock album Ice World (1973) and Osamu Kitajima's progressive psychedelic rock album Benzaiten (1974), both of which involved contributions from Haruomi Hosono, who later started the electronic music group "Yellow Magic Band" (later known as Yellow Magic Orchestra) in 1977. Most influentially, the 1970s spawned the electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra, led by Haruomi Hosono.
In the 1980s, Boøwy inspired alternative rock bands like Shonen Knife, Boredoms, The Pillows and Tama & Little Creatures as well as more mainstream bands as Glay. In 1980, Huruoma and Ry Cooder, an American musician, collaborated on a rock album with Shoukichi Kina, driving force behind the aforementioned Okinawan band Champloose. They were followed by Sandii & the Sunsetz, who further mixed Japanese and Okinawan influences. Also during the 80s, Japanese metal and rock bands gave birth to the movement known as visual kei, represented during its history by bands like X Japan, Buck-Tick, Luna Sea, Malice Mizer and many others, some of which experienced national, and international success in the latest years.
In the 1990s, Japanese rock musicians such as B'z, Mr. Children, Glay, Southern All Stars, L'Arc-en-Ciel, Tube, Spitz, Wands, T-Bolan, Judy and Mary, Asian Kung–Fu Generation, Field of View, Deen, Ulfuls, Lindberg, Sharam Q, The Yellow Monkey, The Brilliant Green and Dragon Ash achieved great commercial success. B'z is the #1 best selling act in Japanese music since Oricon started to count., followed by Mr. Children. In the '90s, pop songs were often used in films, anime, television advertisement and dramatic programming, becoming some of the best-selling forms of music in Japan. The rise of disposable pop has been linked with the popularity of karaoke, leading to criticism that it is consumerist: Kazufumi Miyazawa of The Boom said "I hate that buy, listen, and throw away and sing at a karaoke bar mentality." Of the visual kei bands Luna Sea, whose members toned down their on-stage attire with on-going success, was either very successful, while Malice Mizer, La'cryma Christi, Shazna, Janne Da Arc, and Fanatic Crisis also achieved commercial success in the late '90s.
The first Fuji Rock Festival opened in 1997. Rising Sun Rock Festival opened in 1999. Summer Sonic Festival and Rock in Japan Festival opened in 2000. Though the rock scene in the 2000s is not as strong, newer bands such as Bump of Chicken, Sambomaster, Flow, Orange Range, Remioromen, Uverworld, Radwimps and Aqua Timez, which are considered rock bands, have achieved success. Orange Range also adopts hip hop. Established bands as B'z, Mr. Children, Glay, and L'Arc-en-Ciel also continue to top charts, though B'z and Mr. Children are the only bands to maintain a high standards of their sales along the years.
Japanese rock has a vibrant underground rock scene, best known internationally for noise rock bands such as Boredoms and Melt Banana, as well as stoner rock bands such as Boris and alternative acts such as Shonen Knife (who were championed in the West by Kurt Cobain), Pizzicato Five and The Pillows (who gained international attention in 1999 for the FLCL soundtrack). More conventional indie rock artists such as Eastern Youth, The Band Apart and Number Girl have found some success in Japan, but little recognition outside of their home country. Other notable international touring indie rock acts are Mono and Nisennenmondai.
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Famous quotes containing the word rock:
“All the junk that goes with being human
Drops away, hard rock wavers
Even the heavy present seems to fail
This bubble of a heart.”
—Gary Snyder (b. 1930)
“My spirit looks to God alone,
My rock and refuge is His throne,
In all my fears, in all my straits,
My soul on His salvation waits.”
—Isaac Watts (16741748)
“Never before has a generation of parents faced such awesome competition with the mass media for their childrens attention. While parents tout the virtues of premarital virginity, drug-free living, nonviolent resolution of social conflict, or character over physical appearance, their values are daily challenged by television soaps, rock music lyrics, tabloid headlines, and movie scenes extolling the importance of physical appearance and conformity.”
—Marianne E. Neifert (20th century)