Underground Modern Japanese Music

  • Japanese artists and bands seem to be featured more and more in the media outside of Japan which is great to see! Some people are only familiar with idol bands and think this is all Japan has to offer, however, there is a lot more to hear and see from Japan. I will show some popular and alternative artists from Japan. Whatever style of music you are into, you will find something to love that comes from Japan!

    Maximum The Hormone

    Describing this band is very difficult, almost every album they release has a different feel and musical influence. If you like TOOL, Opeth or ska then you will probably like Maximum The Hormone. They have played in the UK on two separate tours and have more recently played across Europe and also in the US. MTH is made up of a brother a sister team on lead guitar and drums alongside a hectic bassist and dedicated vocalist. The lyrics! they are difficult to understand (apparently even for Japanese) but are catchy. Give them a listen, you may even recognise some of the songs as they were featured as the opening and closing theme for Death Note.


    Unless you have hidden under a rock and ignored all music news you would have heard of BABYMETAL, an idol group playing heavy metal! With sugar sweet lyrics, BABYMETAL seems like a usual idol band until the band arrives and starts blasting out heavy riffs and hectic solo’s. BABYMETAL are now on their third world tour, all off the back of their single debut album, and are playing the iconic Reading Festival in the UK this summer. Check them out, even for a hardcore metal fan they are amazing. BABYMETAL became famous outside of Japan thanks to their music video “Gimme Chocolate” going viral on youtube and spreading across the globe!

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

    In contrast, Japan has also produced the hit that is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (Kyary for short). Again thanks to the internet Kyary was able to gain popularity, and now has a deal in the US! Kyary is often termed as the Harajuku Princess due to the fashion style and her own autobiography. Kyary has performed across the world and is well known for her catchy lyrics and kawaii dance moves, she has even been featured on the international show The Simpsons!


    No description of Japanese music would be complete without mentioning X Japan, the truly enigmatic band that conquered the world. X Japan originally formed in 1982 and are still touring and writing now after a 10-year break from 1997 to 2007. X Japan is often thanked with the creation of the Visual Kei style of dress with their alternative punk-inspired looks. Although there has been a tragedy in X Japan with the death of hide they are still going and have an enormous Japanese and international following.

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