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Noriko Manabe

A form of popular music that has been dominant in Japan and features catchy melodies with Japanese lyrics sung over Western-pop accompaniments. The term was coined by foreign-owned record chains such as Tower Records in the 1980s and was picked up in 1988 by the radio station J-Wave; it came into general parlance in the 1990s. The genre was partly the product of the mainstreaming of rock and the blending of that style with kayōkyoku (Japanese-language pop music in Western style). Musical tracks may draw from a number of styles, including pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, and Okinawan music, and “world music” catchy melodies that can be used as hooks for jingles or sung in a karaoke bar are highly prized. Notable artists include the female pop idols Ayumi Hamasaki, Utada Hikaru, and Koda Kumi; boy bands, such as SMAP and Arashi, from the artist management company Johnny’s; and rock bands such as the B’z....


Colette Simonot

A style of popular music in which the synthesizer dominates. The precursors to synthpop include Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, Gary Numan, and Giorgio Moroder, who experimented with synthesized sounds in the 1970s and earlier. Synthesizers soon became inexpensive enough to be widely used, and in the late 1970s and the 1980s several bands adopted the synthesizer as the basis of their musical style, which came to be known as synthpop. The style promotes artificiality, or synthetic sounds. Artists do not use synthesizers to imitate acoustic instruments, but instead exploit unique electronic sounds. Vocals may be void of emotion to complement the machine-made sounds. Rhythms tend to be mechanical and ostinato patterns are common. Synthpop was dominated by such British artists as Soft Cell, OMD, Ultravox, the Human League, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Talk Talk, the Thompson Twins, Bronski Beat, Howard Jones, and the Eurythmics. Synthpop artists are usually linked to the New wave...