With rock band Tokyo Jihen announcing a comeback on the first day of the year and popular pop groups Arashi and E-girls going into hiatus and disbanding respectively, 2020 is probably going to be a big year for the Japanese entertainment scene.
Amid the shifts with the familiar names, many up-and-coming musicians have been gaining momentum and are set to take over the charts this year. Keep reading to get to know these rising Japanese musicians in 2020.
Active since 2015 as Srv.Vinci, this up-and-coming Japanese band underwent a name change in 2017. Now known as King Gnu, their hits include the very popular "Hakujitsu." This song was used as the theme for a J-drama show Innocence: Enzai Bengoshi. As of now, the music video of this song has accumulated over 140 million views on YouTube. The band even managed to make an appearance in one of the most widely watched year-end programmes in Japan — Kouhaku Uta Gassen — last December.
But this sudden spurt in popularity is not just because of their tie-up with a popular drama. Each year, there are several tie-ups between brands and dramas, but King Gnu's success with "Hakujitsu" was unlike any other in 2019. The band's unique style called "Tokyo New Mix Culture" also garnered interest and attention because it's basically genreless — having elements of rock, jazz, pop, electro and more. This music style that no other band can replicate, along with the unique blend of vocalist Satoru Iguchi’s soft and high vocals with guitarist Daiki Tsuneta’s raw and deep backing vocals, could be the formula that’s propelling them to popularity.
You may be wondering about the quirky name of this Japanese band. What does Macaroni Enpitsu even mean? The band explains that their choice of the word "Macaroni" is inspired by how emptiness — resembled by the tubular macaroni hole — can actually be crucial in a person's experience (such as when they devour the pasta). Meanwhile, they wax poetic about "Enpitsu" (the Japanese word for pencil), an unassuming, rather mundane implement that allows people to immortalise beautiful experiences on paper. Put together, the two words describe the band's philosophy: to find meaning in emptiness and immortalise it through music.
Most of their songs speak of youth and dreams like "Seishun to Isshu" (A Moment With Youth). For those nursing a heartbreak, you may be interested in their hit song "Mr. Blue Sky." The way Macaroni Enpitsu is able to represent chapters of life in their music so perfectly is probably why they’re garnering a strong following in Japan.