Is Japanese popular music Japanese?


  • Terence Lancashire




J-Pop, Japanese popular music, musical genre


In the following article, Terry Lancashire attempts to pin down what might be specifically Japanese in J-pop – “whether a ‘J’ in fact exists in J-pop” (PAGE), and explores language, melody and subject matter in a select song corpus. The range of styles explored is quite considerable, so it is not surprising when an attempt to pin down specific musical characteristics evades generalisation, and leads to the conclusion that ultimately performer identity, performance, and shared experience is most critical to understanding that “J”. How it is created, by who, and how it is used are as valuable in extrapolating generalisations about the genre as are specific musical characteristics, and this is a theme long evident throughout Perfect Beat’s history. That said, there is a great deal of value in the detailed analysis of lyric structure, phrasing, melodic style and subject matter, showing the subtleties of expression evident in the broad range of genres represented.


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How to Cite

Lancashire, T. (2015). J-POP’S ELUSIVE “J”: Is Japanese popular music Japanese?. Perfect Beat, 9(1), 38–59. https://doi.org/10.1558/prbt.v9i1.28679




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