Top 5 Instrumental Anime OPs

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They may be vastly outnumbered by the number of vocal OPs, but instrumental anime openings have plenty to recommend them. For those viewers who aren’t the biggest fans of J-pop, instrumentals can be far preferable. Their lack of lyrics also means that for viewers without a working knowledge of Japanese, there’s no need to peer at subtitles (assuming they’re there in the first place) while also trying to concentrate on sometimes fast-paced or frenetic visuals. And of course, for any anime viewer, the very fact that the vocal-to-instrumental OP ratio is so unbalanced makes the latter stand out purely by default.

That said, there are still a good number of instrumental anime OPs around, some of them better or more attention-grabbing than others. Based on a combination of the music itself as well as the visuals, I’ve managed to narrow that number down to my top five (plus an honourable mention) – a couple of which will hopefully be new to at least a few readers. Continue reading

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Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2018

It’s been a fairly underwhelming year for Japanese music for me, at least as far as full studio albums are concerned. While plenty of my favourite artists released compilation or best of albums during 2018, far fewer released studio albums; as a result, I listened to only 11 of them total, while just 3 of these made the cut. As always, the following list is arranged in order of release date and comprises only full and original studio albums by a single artist or band – no cover, compilation, EP, or live albums have been included. Continue reading

Top 5 English OPs by Western Artists

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Previously on Otaku Lounge, I wrote a post about my anime Top 5 Foreign Language Anime OPs. However, in order to try and keep the list as diverse as possible, I ended up discounting OPs that were performed in English by English native speakers. This is a companion piece to that post. (Admittedly, the title is something of a misnomer. It should really read something more along the lines of ‘Top 5 English-Language OPs Written and Performed by English Native Speakers’, but I quickly decided that was too much of a mouthful and went for the slightly less accurate version instead.) Continue reading

Top 5 Foreign Language OPs

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For whatever reason, there have been a ton of Favourite Anime OP posts out lately. These are always pretty fun to read, and I had thought of doing my own for quite a while now (in fact, I’ve been putting that off for the last couple of years, if not longer). And while I do intend to get there eventually, I thought it might be good to first write up a few different articles on the topic, each with their own specific theme. First up: my top 5 foreign language OPs. Continue reading

Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2017

This year’s list is a little lighter than in 2016, when I listened to 18 Japanese studio albums total (in comparison to 13 this time around). However, I think that’s more of a reflection on my own time constraints as opposed to any particular dip in the Japanese music industry, and I managed to find a handful of albums that really stood out to me regardless. As always, the following list, arranged in order of release date, is comprised solely of full and original studio albums by a single artist or band – no covers, compilations, collaborations, EPs, or live albums. Continue reading

Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2016

It’s been a whirlwind year in the Japanese music industry. Influential singer/songwriter Utada Hikaru released her first album in eight years; Boom Boom Satellites released their final (gorgeous) record before the passing away of vocalist Kawashima Michiyuki; iconic boy band SMAP disbanded after a run of nearly three decades; and BABYMETAL took one step closer to world domination when they opened for Red Hot Chili Peppers on their UK tour. To nobody’s surprise, fan-favourite idol groups such as Arashi and AKB48 continued to top many of the charts, but they were far from the only fare on offer in 2016. Continue reading

5 First J-Pop and J-Pop Acts

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Japanese music can be potentially quite difficult for English-speaking listeners to get into, and not just because of the language barrier. With the record charts saturated by saccharine-sweet idol units such as AKB48 and their numerous sister groups, and bishounen-heavy boy bands like Arashi and Kis-My-Ft2, the industry might seem off-putting to those wanting something with a little more depth. However, even lovers of mainstream pop might find the comparatively high-pitched and sometimes rather nasal vocal style of many J-pop singers overly harsh on the eardrums – and besides all that, it can simply be tricky to know where exactly to begin. Continue reading

Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2014

So many new albums, so little time. Each year I seem to listen to more than I did the previous one, and whether this year has been a poorer one for Japanese music or whether I’m simply continuing to become pickier, there’s a lot more in my discard pile this time around. Still, that doesn’t mean 2014 has been bereft of good music; as with the last two years, six albums managed to stand out from the rest – albeit every single one of them from a female artist or band. Continue reading

Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2013

It’s been an interesting year for Japanese music. At the beginning of drafting this article I was actually feeling rather daunted, finding myself with a far larger number of titles on my potential top albums list than this time last year – many of which I hadn’t yet had the chance to listen to in full. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), I quickly ended up crossing a lot of these off said list when considering my top choices. Plenty of variety there may have been, but comparatively very few of these albums were anywhere near as good as I had gone in expecting. As a result, there are exactly the same number of titles listed here as last year’s selections. Continue reading