Summer J-Pop: B'z, Perfume, Capsule and more

Nocchi, Kashiyuka and A-Chan from Japanese electropop trio, Perfume

Want to travel to Japan but can't afford it this summer? Tune into some songs and let the music take you on a journey to the Far East. 

Japanese pop, or J-Pop, is often condemned as "unlistenable" by many music critics. You can't really blame them: the country's charts are routinely crowded by cheesy idol groups (some bearing cynical names like "Naked Boyz") and generic rock/folk groups singing clichéd songs about school romance and cherry blossoms.

As adventurous music fans have discovered, however, there are many hidden gems in J-Pop, in every genre from R&B to punk rock. Here's a list of some of the coolest J-Pop music groups (from the 1980s to present) to listen to this summer:

Perfume

With their smash hit "Polyrhythm" picked up for the soundtrack for Pixar Studios movie Cars 2, the electropop trio from Hiroshima is once again the hottest commodity in J-Pop. Known for their super-synchronized, robotic dances that have to be seen to be believed, they brought back electronic music in a big way in Japan and have legions of fans abroad, including three Mexican guys who make videos based on their hits (at the end of the piece). Top summer songs include "Love the World," "Natural ni koi shite""Laser Beam" and the unmissable "Perfume no Okite"

Photo sourced from official site

Orange Range

Rock group Orange Range is known for its laid-back, hip hop-influenced songs and quirky music videos. Despite their slacker image, the group from Okinawa has genuine talent, churning out some of the catchiest melodies in recent J-Pop history that has been used to market everything from Anime to Pocky (those chocolate-covered sticks you may have seen in Asian supermarkets). Best listens: "Locolotion", "Oshare Bancho"

Photo sourced from official site

Judy and Mary

The now-disbanded group is older than Super Nintendo, but they continue to be cited as one of the greatest Japanese rock groups ever formed. Fronted by the adorable Yuki (below), Judy and Mary had a winning combination of aggressively upbeat guitar solos and soaring, high-pitched female vocals. Yuki's DIY fashion and bizarre self-penned lyrics launched a template for "cute" rock that was widely copied during the 1990s, but never truly duplicated. Best songs: "Kujira 12" "Brand New Wave Upper Ground"

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