We’ve curated a shortlist of the most influential Jrockers and bands of 2017 to celebrate the work they have done in in this year. It was incredibly difficult to condense it into a small list, but we believe the following artists have made a huge difference for Jrock this year. Some artists made a difference to how the world viewed Japanese rock, some showed us how music can reach out to those in need, but every artist has pushed boundaries. See their achievements:
MIYAVI – Artist, father, humanitarian
We know him as the guitar samurai who set the world alight, travelling from country to country for the Firebird tour, but we want to acknowledge his breathtaking humanitarian work with UNHCR. After four years of volunteering at UNHCR, which involved visiting refugee camps around the globe, he became the first official goodwill ambassador for Japan.
During his interview with us, we were thoroughly impressed by his genuine attitude, especially his hands-on approach to support and promote the importance education is for kids in impoverished countries. His songs tell the stories and include the refugees in his tracks, incorporating his humanitarian work in his music career which is incredibly special for the community.
On top of being a father who often posts adorable photos of his children and wife, he somehow found the time and played a cameo part in the Hollywood film, Kong: Skull Island. It will be his 15th year as a solo artist next year. This hardworking man definitely deserves to be on our most influential Jrocker list.
Yoshiki – King of activity
One of the founding fathers and pioneers of the Japanese rock and visual kei we know today performed at London’s famous Wembley Arena on March 4, 2017. Releasing a documentary and soundtrack under the name We Are X, this project chronicling the birth of the band and slumber of the band over time. Yoshiki flew across the globe, attended the majority of the screenings at theatres. It’s not surprising to hear that La Venus was shortlisted for Best Original Song for the 89th Academy Awards. Take a look at the interview he had with us this year. He gave us a brief look at his life through a diary packed in back-to-back meetings, interviews, shows and tiny windows of breaks. Even dinners were reserved for meetings.
Undergoing spinal and neck surgery on May 16, Yoshiki pushed on with band activities and switched to an acoustic set for the Osaka-Jo Hall and Yokohama show so that he did not have to drum as he recovered. We’re still sitting on the new album egg to hatch. As well as all his music activities, in October 2017, after the hurricanes that devastated America, Yoshiki donated $100,000.00 to help displaced victims. It’s a huge amount of work for one man in just one year. He’s an extreme workaholic and we look up to him as an incredible motivator.
RADWIMPS – The awards powerhouse
Although the animated romance film, Your Name (Kimi no na wa), was released in 2016, we continued to see the popularity of this film spill over into 2017. RADWIMPS, who created the soundtrack and song for the film, helped boost this to become the highest-grossing anime and Japanese film of all time. If you have seen Your Name, you’ll understand why the songs of the soundtrack Your Name, Zenzenzense, and Nandemonaiya won them three Japan Gold Disc Award 2017 and Japan Academy Prize 2016 for Outstanding Achievement in Music. Zenzenzense on YouTube is currently at just over 166 million views.
Not slowing down towards the end of the year, they swooped up two more awards this December at the Space Shower Music Awards 2017 for Best Rock Artist and Artist of the Year. Last but not least, Yojiro Noda (野田洋次郎) the lead singer of RADWIMPS was listed as a GQ Man Of The Year 2017, giving us an opportunity to see him posing in a suave suit.
The two global wall-breakers
We’ve had to combine two bands in this category as we have seen an insane amount of impact from both ONE OK ROCK and BABYMETAL on the western front. Performing alongside some of the world’s biggest rock and pop bands, these two Japanese bands have continued to dig deep to show us a glimpse what is possible. As Jrock bands, they’ve made us immensely proud and we hope they will continue to break down walls for future bands. See their achievements this year below:
ONE OK ROCK
ONE OK ROCK certainly has rocked the west as one of the fastest moving Jrock bands we’ve followed playing across America, Europe and Asia non-stop. They were announced to open for LINKIN PARK, which was then cancelled following the death of frontman Chester Benningtonon July 20, 2017. ONE OK ROCK then won Best International Band at The Rock Sound Awards at the end of this year. They revealed that they were played on Spotify in 61 countries, by 4 million fans, which totaled 6 million hours of non-stop playing. The Japanese version of We Are has a total of 20 million views on YouTube at the time of writing.
This year, BABYMETAL has supported and played alongside Metallica, Guns N’ Roses’, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Korn. If you asked us ten years ago, we could not have imagined this happening. This heavy metal idol band were not going to rest after they became viral with MEGITSUNE and Gimme chocolate!! a couple of years ago and continued to snowball into 2017. Don’t be alarmed, but Su-Metal turned 20 this year and had her coming of age celebration by performing their first show in her hometown, Hiroshima. Winning six of the Loudwire 6th Annual Music Awards; two of which are for Most Devoted Fans, they also won MTV EMA 2017 – Best Japan Act, you can see how they have captured hearts across the land.
Other notable artists
We’d like to mention some other notable submissions from fans including Ryo (ex-Girugamesh) for this producing work with Deviloof and Lynch, VAMPS for their international efforts, grimoire for experimental sounds, punk band Wanima who has pushed boundaries with style, sound and attitude. On top of this, we want to congratulate the bands who made major milestones this year, so in the order of the longest lasting bands:
BUCK-TICK (30th anniversary)
LUNA SEA (25th anniversary)
DIR EN GREY (20th anniversary)
ACIDMAN (20th anniversary)
MUCC (20th anniversary)
SUGIZO (20th anniversary)
MO’SOME TONEBENDER (20th anniversary)
10-FEET (20th anniversary)
Dragon Ash (20th anniversary)
RIZE (20th anniversary)
the GazettE (15th anniversary)
Kiryu (10th anniversary)
Vistlip (10th anniversary)
Matenrou Opera (10th anniversary)
SuG (10th anniversary – Disbanded)
For long-term Jrock and visual kei fans, we understand it is very rare to see bands stay together for a long time. The bands mentioned above, certainly have made a mark both in music history and in our own lives.
What did you think of our list? Is there anyone else you believe should have made the top list this year? Let us know in the comments below.