If you love J-pop music, then you no doubt are familiar with various Japanese boy bands that are crushing the pop scene. But if not, or if you’re just seeking to learn a few more names of known Jpop boy bands, then please enjoy our list of some of our favorite groups making music today.
The Best Japanese Boy Bands
Let’s begin our list of the top Japanese boy groups by starting off with Da-ICE.
Genre-wise, this band is considered as electronic dance music and J-Pop. Members include Yudai Ohno, Toru Iwaoka, Taiki Kudo, Sota Hunamura and Hayate Wada.
Fun fact: in the Japanese dub of the hit Disney movie “Turning Red”, the band portrayed the fictional band, 4*Town! Their name is stylized with the lowercase “a” and “i” on purpose. Put together, the letters spell “ai” which translates to the word “love.”
Also, the band name is pronounced “dice”. Dice have 5 sides, and it was meant to represent the 5 guys in Da-iCE.
Hey! Say! JUMP!
This Tokyo originated J-Pop band includes members Kota Yabu, Yuya Takaki, Kei Inoo, Hikaru Yaotome, Daiki Arioka, Ryosuke Yamada, Yuto Nakajima and Yuri Chinen. The band originally had 10 members, but past members Ryutaro Morimoto and Keito Okamoto are no longer present.
Hey! Say! JUMP! was actually the youngest, male group to top the Oricon Singles Chart.
Formed in Kanagawa in 2002, this visual kei (“visual style” referring to their western influenced look) rock band includes members Ruki (vocals), Uruha (lead guitar), Aoi (second guitar), Reita (bass), and Kai (drummer).
This group is no stranger to paving their own way. They established their own independent company, “Heresy Inc.” They perform secret shows. They even made the Gizarook Festival at Fuji-Q Conifer Forest! Not only brave when it comes to being unique, the band has also made references to the political and societal crisis that Japan faces in their song “Distorted Daytime”.
Satoshi Ohno, Jun Matsumoto, Kazunari Ninomiya, Sho Sakurai and Masaki Aiba make the J-Pop band Arashi. Their name literally means “storm” in English. And this band has had a storm of success, to be sure.
In 2010, they had 6 singles in the top 10. They’ve made 17 albums. Two of their songs are the theme songs for Japanese shows (“Hana Yuri Dango 2” and “Kisarazu Cat’s Eye”), which members Matsumoto and Sakurai star in respectively.
Although a Japanese band, they formed in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1999! So don’t be surprised when you look up Arashi and see the members are into their 40’s and married. Which perhaps is at least part of the reason the band went on hiatus.
Sandaime J Soul Brothers from Exile Tribe
Formerly just J Soul Brothers, the band (or at least the name) has been together since 1991. An ex-member, Sasa (vocals), left to pursue a solo career in 2001 and thus, the band stopped any more activities. They renamed the remaining members group “Exile” and performed until 2007.
In that same year, there were auditions for a reincarnation of J Soul Brothers and the name found new members to form it. But Nidaime J Soul Brothers (the reincarnation’s name) went on hiatus just two years later in 2009. Some of the members (Naoki and Naoto) came from that particular reincarnation and joined the reformed J- Soul’s third version of the band, Sandaime J Soul Brothers in 2010.
Considered a dance, pop, R&B, electronic, synth-pop and EDM, as well as J- Pop vocal group, the Sandaime version of the band is still considered a part of the Exile Tribe, a supergroup. The 7 members are now Naoto, Naoki Kobayashi, Hiroomi Tosaka, Ryuji Imaichi, ELLY, Kenjiro Yamashida, and Takanori Iwata.
Did you know that there was a Japanese boy band in Fuller House on Netflix? And if that wasn’t odd enough, the band’s name is literally called “Sexy Zone.”
Yes, it’s all true. If you have ever watched Netflix’s “Fuller House,” then you might have seen them make an appearance. I have no doubt many fans of the “Full House” spin off pondered whether Sexy Zone was a real group or not. Well, turns out you now have your answer!
One OK Rock
Now back to rock! One OK Rock changes the direction by being inarguably Alternative/ Indie with a little emo thrown in. If they are pop, then they’re considered “pop-punk” or “power-pop”. Tokyo in 2005 saw the start of this aggressive group and it hasn’t slowed down since.
They’ve made 35 music videos, 13 video albums, 9 studio albums, two Ep’s, 28 singles and six cover versions. They’ve also won MTV’s Video Music Awards for “Best Rock Video” and “Best Video from a Film” in 2013. They were even Ed Sheeran’s opening act in 2019!
The rock group is made up of members Takahiro Moriuchi on vocals, Ryota Kohama on bass, Tomoya Kanki on drums and Toru Yamashita on guitar and as the leader. The band used to practice at 1 am on the weekends because the venue space they practiced in was cheaper to rent during that time.
THE RAMPAGE from EXILE TRIBE
Another part of the supergroup, Exile Tribe, this band formed in 2014 but debuted in 2017. Members were chosen from several competitive musical tv shows (Exile’s Vocal Battle Audition 4, Exile Performer Battle Audition and Global Japan Challenge).
There are 16 members. Members are Likiya, Riku, Zin, Kenta Kamiya, Shogo Yamamoto, Rui Yonamine, Kazuma Kawamura, Hokuto Yoshino, Shohei Urakawa, Shogo Iwaya Itsuki Fujiwara, Kaisei Takechi, Makoto Hasegawa, Ryu, Takahide Suzuki and Takuma Goto.
They are considered a big mix of different genres including J-Pop, Pop, Dance, Hip-Hop, Electronic, EDM and R&B. They have a subgroup called MA55IVE the RAMPAGE. This hip-hop focused subgroup consists of 5 of the mentioned members that did not perform any vocal work on the main group’s songs. MA55IVE’s members are Kenta as a vocalist and Yamasho, Likiya, Shohei and Takahide as rappers.
This group was formed in 2015, but did not debut until 5 years later, in 2020. If listening, the band’s genre is quite obvious. They are very J-Pop. What is NOT obvious is how to pronounce the name apparently.
The “ix” in “Six” is silent. Thus, the name is just pronounced as “Stones,” as in precious stones like diamonds. This refers to the members constantly polishing their vocals and dancing skills. And the inclusion of “Six” is to represent the members: Yugo Kochi as leader, Juri Tanaka, Taiga Kyomoto, Shintaro Morimoto, Hokuto Matusmura…and Jesse.
Exile is a super group made up of 19 members. The original members are consisting of the FIRST version of J Soul Brothers. They are Exile Hiro as leader, Exile Usa, Exile Makidai, Exile Atsushi, Toshio Matsumoto, Exile Takahiro and Exile Akira. This was until they renamed themselves “Exile”. They then added Exile Nesmith, Exile Shokichi, Exile Naoto, Exile Tetsuya, Naoki Kobayashi, Keiji Kuroki and Kenchi Tachibana.
Finally, most members of the SECOND version of J Soul Brothers were absorbed into Exile. Those members are Taiki Sato, Sekai, Mandy Sekiguchi, Alan Shirahama and Takanori Iwata. Yeah, we know. It’s a lot to follow!
Even though most of the original members of Exile have retired, they are still considered a part of the group as they made music under the name and they also help see over LDH. LDH is the Japanese management company they created in 2003. LDH oversees EXILE TRIBE.
EXILE TRIBE is the group of bands under the management of LDH. The tribe includes Exile, Exile the Second, Sandaime J Soul Brothers, Generations, The RAMPAGE (and thus, the MA55IVE RAMPAGE) and many more boy bands as well as girl bands and solo artists. There’s a good chance that if you’re listening to a boy band, they’re a part of the tribe!
We rob ourselves of great experiences when we hold onto assumptions. Admittedly, we went into this article under the preconceived notion that anything labeled “J-Pop” would be…well, pop! We expected cool dances and lots of “kawaii” (cute) pop stars and characters.
And sure—we got ‘em.
But, we definitely got a little more than we bargained for, including rock music, rap music and more. With groups like the ones on this list of Japanese boy bands, the future of J-Pop is poised to venture into some very interesting waters!
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