With so many amazing new Japanese artists popping up in recent years it can be hard to keep track of who’s doing what. Whether its artists completely new to the scene like Haku, or Tina Moon dropping hit after hit or more experienced artists like Subarashika or betcover !! releasing some of their best material to date, it seems like 2022 is going to be a damn sublime year for Japanese music. Here are just a few of the artists we think will be blowing up this year. Listen to our our full playlist here on Spotify and our artist reviews below.
Subarashika – IKITERU
Formed in 2015 over a mutual love of 60s rock n roll, Subarashika have since become a mainstay in Japan’s garage rock scene. Dissatisfied with the compressed and polished sound of modern pop music, their debut album Nimaime, released in 2018, came as a refreshing blend of fuzzed out, low-fi rock and blues, taking inspiration from artists such as The Rolling Stones, early David Bowie and Oasis. Their latest track “IKITERU” further solidifies the raw energy they’ve become known for, blending elements of Iggy & The Stooges and The New York Dolls in a gritty track that culminates in a two-minute jam reminiscent of a smoky, beer-stained live house at 2 in the morning. “IKITERU” comes from the forthcoming sophomore album Subarashik”i”, due for release on January 26.
Tina Moon – Chicken Street
Tina Moon, who just launched her career last August, is set to have a huge year in 2022. After releasing four singles from August to November last year, she released her debut EP, mishmash, in December, earning domestic and international acclaim for her inventive lyrics and musical versatility, including a nod from popular Japanese producer, Yaffle, on Asahi TV earlier this month. One of the breakthrough tracks on the EP, “Chicken Street,” is a collaboration with producer Gimgigam showcasing Moon’s dynamic vocal abilities and creative wordplay in English, Korean and Japanese. A new remix of “Chicken Street” is due for release in February.
Lil soft tennis – I Feel On You
Japanese hip hop has experienced a boom in recent years and one artist contributing to that boom is Osaka-based rapper Lil Soft Tennis. Originally producing music with Nara-based hip hop crew, Heaven, Lil Soft Tennis began his solo project in 2019, releasing his independent mixtape Season in 2019, followed by his debut album Bedroom Rockstar Confused in 2021. Bedroom Rockstar Confused helped to further establish Lil Soft Tennis’ sound which borrows from alternative rock as well as 90s and 00s pop and features guest artists such as RYON4 from Heaven crew, as well as Le Makeup from Osaka’s Pure Voyage label. “I Feel on You,” a collab with Tokyo-based artist kZm, is the latest release from the young artist who you’re sure to hear much more from in 2022.
betcover !! – Kaiten・Tenshi
betcover !! is the musical project of 22-year-old artist Jiro Yanase. Playing guitar from a young age, Yanase launched betcover !! in 2016 and has released a large and diverse body of work since then, including three albums and two EPs, spanning a variety of genres and styles. The latest album, Jikan is another genre-spanning work, covering such ground as heavy rock, pop, avant-garde and folk tracks. “Kaiten・Tenshi,” a single from the recent album, is a moody art-rock track with an equally moody film clip directed by Kuya Tatsujo.
4s4ki – Kodoku no Merry Go Round
4s4ki is a rapper, singer-songwriter and alternative pop producer from Saitama. She began writing music and studying digital music production from a young age and scored a management deal in 2017 after videos of her live street performances gained popularity online. In 2018, she released her first mini album, then consistently released new material until she signed with major label Victor/Speedstar, releasing her fourth album Castle in Madness in July 2021. Since then, she’s performed at Fuji Rock Festival and conducted a successful tour in support of her latest EP Here or Heaven, released in December. In case that wasn’t enough, another EP Here or Hell is set for release in February with a show at Ebisu LIQUIDROOM on March 11.
ハク。 – Kalanchoe
Having only formed in 2019, Osaka group ハク。have quickly built a name for themselves in the Japanese indie scene. Releasing a slew of singles throughout 2021, beginning with the catchy “Blue Girl,” the band won the Judaihakusyo teen talent contest in March and went on to sell out their first major headline show in August. Their debut mini album Wakamono Nikki was released on January 19 and has already achieved high praise for its bright, upbeat indie-pop sound and youthful energy. Keep an eye out for further releases and performances from ハク。in 2022.