Koji Tamaki, the Music Legend

Koji Tamaki was a popular singer during the 1980s and was then known as one of the most popular pop idols in Japan. Though Jpop has not yet been fully established as it is today, they are the earlier equivalents of the popular Japanese singers and pop idols of their time. Even though he is a Japanese singer, he also is a songwriter where he writes ballads and songs for himself and other artists. On top of that, he also works as an actor when he is not on the stage or his recording studio performing.

He was not originally a solo artist, and he was the vocalist of the band Anzen Chitai which has debuted in 1982. He worked tirelessly as the main vocals and songwriter of their band. Despite working with a band, it was in 1987 when he released his first solo single entitled “All I Do”. When his band suspended their performances in 1993, he continued his solo career and was able to release a great deal of studio albums and singles. While working as a singer and songwriter, he used his spare time to appear in films and television dramas. Just when his singing career was at its peak, he also debuted as an actor in 1986 when he played a role in the Prussian Blue No Shozo film.

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Other than his music career and acting gigs, his personal life was also a source of awe and enjoyment for the fans. During his entire career he was married a total of three times, marrying an actress named Hiroko Yakushimaru and his keyboardist Satoko Ando. The most interesting aspect about his love life that truly intrigued many was his affair with Actress Mariko Ishihara when he was married to his first wife. There were many speculations during the time in the 80s but the affair was only confirmed when Ishihara wrote about their affair in her autobiography published in 2006.  However, when Tamaki retired from his music career due to deteriorating health he and Ishihara met once again and made sure that they would not separate anymore. Just a year after reuniting with each other, they have registered their marriage in Tokyo in 2009.

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Take the World by Storm, Arashi

Over the past decade, Asian boy bands have been bouncing back to popularity since the time of Backstreet Boys.  These men belong to Japanese Pop idol groups who perform a wide range of music genres. Interestingly enough, the Japanese boy band Arashi landed the first spot in the Top 10 Asian Boy Bands. Who are they and what made them so popular? The name Arashi directly translates to Storm and it is very appropriate because they took the Japanese fans by storm! The targeted marketing thrust of Johnny’s Entertainment was to “Create a storm throughout the world” with the use of their breath taking talents.

This idol group was formed under Johnny’s Entertainment Talent Agency in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1999. They are consisted of five members namely: Aiba Masaki, Matsumoto Jun, Ninomiya Kazunari, Ohno Satoshi and Sakurai Sho. Their debut single of the same name gained the top spot in the Oricon Weekly chart and sold over half a million copy. Their next single, which was released in 2000 again debuted in the number one spot. In only their first official year in the industry they already made two number one singles and even had their first official concert Typhoon Generation.

Sadly, from 2002 to about 2005, the group suffered declining sales. Starting from the top of the charts, they dropped numbers to lower rankings. It was a dry spell that continued for almost three years. The good thing was that in the brink of their break up, they started looking for opportunities to increase the sales of their album. They did so by daringly captivating the international scene. It was in 2006 when they started releasing their music outside of Japan. Soon fans from Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand were listening to their album. This move proved to be a promising success when the first 10,000 copies of their album were sold out just on the first day in South Korea.

Seizing the opportunity, they started holding concerts all over Asia with their first in Taipei, Taiwan. The most impressive thing about their international fame was that because of the more than one thousand Korean fans who gathered at the Incheon International Airport during their Jet Storm tour, more concerts were immediately decided. Their concert tickets were amazingly sold out within an hour. Out of these, there are about 150,000 who booked tickets online. Now that they have been in the industry for almost 15 years, they continue to touch the hearts and souls of their fans through their music.

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The Gazette

The Gazette is a Japanese idol group with an interesting flare. Unlike other idol groups which are mostly pop artists, The Gazette has something else to offer. They are actually a visual kei rock band which was formed in 2002. Visual Kei is not a familiar genre in the west but in Japan it is very trendy and very popular. It is a movement where musicians are characterized by the use of extreme make up, elaborate hair styles and impressive costumes. Some bands and visual kei artists even have androgynous aesthetics. Perhaps an American band which we can consider as “visual kei” is the band Kiss. Just like their costumes, their spikey boots, the leather costumes and big, big hair, Japanese visual kei artists run along the ground of looks. Visual Kei artists can actually be classified into glam rock, punk rock and heavy metal. For them, it is more than just a music genre, it is a sense of fashion and style. It is even a lifestyle. For many Japanese musicians, the Visual Kei is a subculture.

This band was formed from Kanagawa and now they are currently signed to Sony Music Japan’s VVV records. The band originally has three members – Ruki in Vocals, Reita in Bass and Uruha in the lead guitar. They also included Aoi in rhythm guitar and Yune in drums. Their first year was actually very hectic and busy. They were originally formed January 2002. A few months after they were formed they immediately released their first singe AND their first music video for the song entitled Wakaremichi. This was all but a teaser for they were only able to release their next few songs by June and September of the same year. By October they sang their first live performance and by Christmas they were able to release newer songs.

Time flew by so fast that they were already able to celebrate their 10 year anniversary in 2012. This was again another unforgettable year. By 2011, they started a tour called Venomous Cell. At the last performance for this tour, they announced that they would be holding their 10th year anniversary concert called Standing Live 2012 10th Anniversary – The Decade. At the same time, they also released a new album called Division. They were so thankful to their fans that they even embarked on a fan club-only tour, titled Standing Live tour 12 – Heresy Presents – Heterodoxy. Today, they have on-going tours and they continuously promote their latest releases and albums.

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The Life of Aska

Shigeaki Miyazaki, more popularly known as Aska, was born on February 24, 1958 in Ono. This Japanese singer-songwriter is known for his numerous contributions in the Music industry. He was actually best known for his involvement in the very popular music duo Chage and Aska. Being a composer, he was simply idolized by many. He made songs hit the top of the charts. Some of these principal hit songs are “Morning Moon”, “Love Song”, “Say Yes”, and “Meguriai”. His talent in composing was inevitable and this skill was simply, we may say, a big plus to his career. Not to mention, his released singles were written by him, well half of the number. Indeed, he was a singer but we can say that he is more successful as a writer. More to his great works were evident in the late 1980s when he wrote songs for Hikaru Genji.

When 1987 came, he started to begin his solo career. Indeed, he was successful. Let’s set aside his writing/composing career and talk about his, nevertheless, successful singing career. He was known for his song “Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame” or in English, “The Start is Always Rain”. This song, in fact, reached no.2 on Oricon and reached over 1,160,000 sold copies; surely, the support given to this song and to him were undeniable and overwhelming.

More to his singles are My Mr. Lonely Heart in 1987, Midnight 2 Call in 1988, Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame in 1991, Seiten o Homerunara Yugure o Mate in 1995, Every Day of Your Life and ID in 1997, Hana wa Saitaka in 1998, and Anataga Nakukotowanai in 2009. Some of his studio albums are Scene in 1988, Scene II in 1991, Never End in 1995, Scene III in 2005, and Kimi no Shiranai Kimi no Uta in 2010. He as well has carious compilation albums which include Aska the Best in 1999, Scene I & II in 2005, and Scene of Scene: Selected 6 Songs from Scene I,II,III in 2006.

Unfortunately though, his fame didn’t end well. Aska was arrested for possessing illegal stimulant drugs in his apartment, though Aska denied the news and charges. We can say that Aska denied that he is a drug addict but still there are those that hoped that such news didn’t come out; his popularity was in no doubt affected. Nothing changes; his contributions in the Music industry, especially his contributions to the career of other artists, will always be remembered.

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Daigo Stardust

Daigo Naito, formerly known as Daigo Stardust, was born on April 8, 1978 in Tokyo, Japan. This singer-songwriter, actor, completely versatile artist is known for his fun and flashy attitude. His performances are never boring as his outfits alone are something that watchers look forward to. Why is this? He is simply one artist known for performing with his unique faux fur coats and even sequined cowboy outfits; we all know that it requires much confidence to be able to wear outfits like those.

We can say that stardom isn’t at all new to this great talented man. His family members are known for specific fields also in the entertainment industry, more specifically, his older sister Eiko Naito or Eiki Eiki, is a known manga artist. In line with this, Noboru Takeshita, his maternal grandmother, is in fact the former prime minister of Japan.

Focusing on his acting career, Daigo is known for his several appearances in Films, Drama, and Anime. Some of his film roles were Nozomu Taiga/Ultraman Zero of the film Ultraman Saga in March 2012 and Stand Up! Vanguard where was given the role of Daigo. Some of his drama shows include Love Shuffle and Stand Up! where he was Yukichi Oishi and Shin, respectively. In April 2009, he was part of the Anime film Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser and in 2012, the Cardfight!! Vanguard.

We can say that his acting career is nothing to what he has achieved in the world of Music. If you are simply a fan of J-pop, then every Japanese fan would probably never forget putting Daigo on their list. He is in no doubt one of the best Japanese male singers around. Some of his singles are SUMMER PARTY and Sekai wa Odoru in 2008, Everlasting Luv and Hikari in 2009, Tsukuyo no Itazura no Mahou and Last Pray in 2011. For his albums, there is Go that reached top 3 in charts, Fighterz which reach # 7, Big Bang! which is #8, and one of his mini albums, B.R.Z Acoustic, which reached #9.

Daigo remains to be idolized by many. We can say that his fame will go on for years and nonetheless, be aspired by many. He is a representation of the many talented people in Japan and if you happen to look for quality entertainment, then this country will sure provide you with your every need. Surely, you will hope to be even one of Japan’s famous people!

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The Japanese Popstars

Have you ever heard of “The Japanese Popstars”? Originating from Northern Ireland, this Northern Irish electronic act has Gary Curran and Gareth Donoghue as its two original members. Past members, on the other hand, includes Declan McLaughlin. What’s so unique about the members of this act is that every member has its alias, making it even more interesting and catchy for the viewers. The success of this act was undeniable. They have been nominated and awarded in several Music Awards. In 2006, they were nominated for “Best House DJs”. In 2007, the act won the “Best Live Act” at the Northern Ireland Music Awards and this continued since then. In 2008, they were voted as “Best Breakthrough Producers” at the British Awards.

From singles to studio albums, to live albums and extended plays, there is no doubt that The Japanese Popstars has reached the top. More to their achievement would be numerous singles and albums released. In 2007, they decided to sign an indie label to Gung-Ho Recordings and Beatink, located in UK and Japan, respectively. In 2010, they decided to move to Virgin Records. Later that year, they became known as The Jappy Pops, Jap Pops, or The Japstars. In the following year, they had the opportunity of releasing their second studio album entitled Controlling Your Allegiance. Aside from this, they are as well known for their various made remix.

The band was successful in getting not only the country’s attention and trust but also of other locations, such as Ireland, UK, Scotland, Spain, Belgium, New York, and even France. Now if you are left curious with this band, then you can probably grab a copy of some of their made singles and albums and appreciate their talent even more.

The following are just some of the singles, studio albums, live albums, and extended plays that The Japanese Popstars have made possible:

Singles: Rodney Trotter and Dirty Popstars On Your Radio, both on Dozer Records; Rise Of Ulysses, Face Melter, and We Just Are, all on Gung-Ho! Recordings

Studio Albums: We Just Are in 2008, Controlling Your Allegiance in 2011, and Disconnect/Reconnect in 2013

Live Albums: We Just Are: Live in 2009

Extended Plays: Controlling Your Allegiance in 2011

Listening to even just one of their creations will surely make you appreciate the very idea of forming this versatile band. No doubt, this will remain to be Japan’s best entertainers.

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