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 it’s completely new artists on the scene like Haku, or Tina Moon dropping hit after hit or more experienced artists like Subarashika or betcover!! releasing some of their best tracks to date, it looks like 2022 will be one hell of a sublime year for Japanese music. Here are some of the artists we think will explode this year. Listen to our full playlist here on Spotify and our artist reviews below.
Subarashika – IKITERU
Formed in 2015 out of a mutual love of 60s rock n roll, Subarashika has since become a mainstay of the Japanese garage rock scene. Dissatisfied with the compressed and polished sound of modern pop music, their first album Nimaime, released in 2018, was a refreshing blend of fuzzy, low-fi rock and blues, drawing inspiration from artists such as The Rolling Stones, early David Bowie and Oasis. Their latest track “IKITERU” further bolsters the raw energy they’ve become known for, blending elements of Iggy & The Stooges and The New York Dolls into a gritty track that culminates in a two-minute jam reminiscent of a smoky, tinged of beer. dwelling house at 2 o’clock in the morning. “IKITERU” is from the upcoming second album Subarashik “i,” which is slated 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, hodgepodge, in December, earning national and international praise for its inventive lyrics and musical versatility, including a nod from popular Japanese producer, Yaffle, on Asahi TV earlier this month. One of the EP’s breakthrough tracks, “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 slated for release in February.
Lil soft tennis – I feel on you
Japanese hip-hop has seen a boom in recent years and one artist who has contributed to this boom is Osaka-based rapper Lil Soft Tennis. Originally producing music with Nara-based hip-hop team Heaven, Lil Soft Tennis began his solo project in 2019, releasing his indie mixtape Season in 2019, followed by his first album confused rockstar bedroom in 2021. confused rockstar bedroom helped further establish the sound of Lil Soft Tennis which borrows from alternative rock as well as 90s and 00s pop and features guest artists such as Team Heaven’s RYON4, as well as Pure Voyage’s Le Makeup label. ‘Osaka. “I Feel on You,” a collaboration with Tokyo-based artist kZm, is the young artist’s latest release that you’re sure to hear a lot more of in 2022.
betcover!! – Kaiten・Tenshi
betcover!! is the musical project of 22-year-old artist Jiro Yanase. Playing the guitar from an early age, Yanase started 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 last album, Jikan is another genre-spanning work, covering tracks such as heavy rock, pop, avant-garde, and folk. “Kaiten・Tenshi,” a single from the recent album, is a moody art-rock track with an equally moody movie clip directed by Kuya Tatsujo.
4s4ki – Kodoku no ride
4s4ki is an alternative pop rapper, singer-songwriter and producer from Saitama. She started writing music and studying digital music production at a young age and landed a management deal in 2017 after videos of her live street performances gained popularity online. In 2018, she released her first mini album, then constantly released new material until she signed with major label Victor/Speedstar, releasing her fourth album. madness castle in July 2021. Since then, she has performed at Fuji Rock Festival and conducted a successful tour in support of her latest EP Here or in paradise, released in December. In case that’s not enough, another EP Here or in hell is slated for a February release with a show at Ebisu LIQUIDROOM on March 11.
ハク。 – Kalanchoe
Having only formed in 2019, Osaka band ハク。 quickly made a name for themselves in the Japanese indie scene. Releasing a slew of singles throughout 2021, starting with the catchy “Blue Girl,” the group won the Judaihakusyo teen talent contest in March and went on to sell out their first major single in August. Their first mini album Nikki Wakamono was released on January 19 and has already received praise for its bright, upbeat indie-pop sound and youthful energy. Keep an eye out for ハク。’s upcoming releases and performances in 2022.