In the decade of 2010, there has been a noticeable “girls band boom” where Japanese female musicians have stepped onto the international stage to rock as hard as the boys do. This fascinating phenomenon of music from so many talented women deserves a moment in the spotlight. As there are many amazing female artists to talk about, featured below are the ones that achieved a significant level of notoriety in the competitive, male-dominated rock scene. Also, while it would be overly extensive to include the many successful female-fronted bands, this list is solely on the groups where each member contributes to the process of making music by writing, singing, or playing their own instruments. Separately, the Kawaii Metal bands related to this boom are highlighted here. Now, listed in no particular order are the most intriguing Jrock girl bands of the decade.
This quartet from Osaka started playing together in 2006 while still in high school. Taking their name from a bar near their rehearsal studio, it was not long before their talent was discovered. Their early songs Shojo S (少女S), Shunkan Sentimental (瞬間センチメンタル), and Harukaze (春風) were all bonafide hits, as well as themes for popular anime. Plus, they have sold tens of thousands of records and all their studio albums have been top ten bestsellers. Even before being commercially successful, they were nominated for best new artist at the Japan Record Awards. This outstanding success led to a concert at the legendary Nippon Budokan. Their worldwide fame would later take them on several tours abroad. Now, with SCANDAL’s established label “her”, they have a new single, an upcoming album, and world tour set for 2020. Yet, for all the entertaining videos they have made so far, let’s go back to that high school spirit found on a sunny and, simultaneously rainy day in Shojo S.
What happens when the ingredients of a maid café are cooked up with the spice of heavy metal? No doubt it becomes one big serving of delicious rock with this darling rock band. When the five ladies formed in Tokyo around 2013, it was the idea of guitarist and vocalist, Miku Kobato, to combine the experience of a maid café with a hard rock concert. In 2016 at the Classic Rock Awards they won the Japan Next Generation award. These maids are on a mission for world domination and with continued success from their new album, CONQUEROR, as well as selling out concerts in Japan and overseas, it seems to be working. Their popularity even allowed them to hit the number one spot on our top 15 rock bands category. Get a “thrill” from their first viral hit song.
It may seem unusual for a pop band to be on a rock list. Yet, underneath the surface, these fashion models turned rock stars have a hard rock soul. Known by their fans as “Sai Sai”, they started in 2010 and have been able to ride a fine line between pop and rock. They have hit songs like Lucky Girl (ラッキーガール), Alarm, and Just Meet (ジャストミート) and even created a dance challenge with KOI NO ESPER (恋のエスパー). Earlier this year we were lucky enough to speak with these four talented girls to learn more about the latest album 31313 and also what band music and ramen have in common. Now, let’s swing to some Fujiyama Disco (フジヤマディスコ).
These ladies amp up crowds with their style of power metal. Getting together in 2008, from Osaka they set out to rock Japan and their first album Deep Exceed made the top 15 on the Oricon chart in 2010. But it has not been an easy road for them with a few changes in members, such as original vocalist Rami leaving the band in 2012 for health reasons. Later, pop singer Re:NO would lead them until the end of 2018 when she had to step down due to a medical condition. Now with singer R!n chosen as lead vocalist, they are preparing to tour again in 2020 and release new music. Let’s hope they can stay healthy. For now, check out when Re:NO was still on vocals for the popular We Are.
Formed in 2011, this hard-rocking band who in 2013 had the honor of serving as the backing band for South Korean pop group Kara at the Tokyo Dome. Their songs, Senko Strings was featured in popular anime Saint Seiya Omega, and the song Kiss Kiss Kiss in the comedy TV drama Itazura Kiss 2 ~Love in TOKYO~. Yet in 2017, sadly announced a suspension of activities. But hang in there with their uplifting The Endless World.
An honorable mention for this band of women on the metal front during the late 2000s. At first, they performed metal cover songs as Destroya and then, bandleader and guitarist, Mina had their name changed as they began making original music. Later on, some members left to form Mary’s Blood in 2009. Undeterred, new musicians were recruited and they managed to get their 2013 release to number seven on Oricon’s indie albums chart. While they finally went separate ways in 2015, it is the spin-off bands that have found as much or more success. As vocalist Marina formed Mardelas, Mina founded steampunk-themed FATE GEAR, and bassist Miho, and drummer Haruna formed award-winning LOVEBITES. Check out this 2013 hit that was their biggest indie smash, -Rin- (霖).
Founding members of Gacharic Spin, bassist F Chopper Koga and drummer Hana, met in high school while learning how to play their own respective instruments. In 2009 they recruited guitarist Tomo-zo, and in no time were recording songs and appearing on Japanese TV. Then in 2012, keyboardist Oreo Reona joined and they defined their sound further with influence from heavy metal and dance-pop. In 2014 they signed to a major record deal and have made appearances at American festivals in 2015 and 2019. They recently celebrated 10 years with a live anniversary special too. If you’re an anime fan, you probably heard the popular single Don’t Let Me Down which was selected as the ending theme for Dragon Ball Kai.
While curating this list, it brought to mind the metaphor “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Certainly, these bands are standing on the shoulders of predecessors from previous decades like all-female heavy metal Show-Ya and visual kei exist†trace. As a new decade begins, these bands will be the new giants for the next generation of female musicians. Nevertheless, these talented ladies are here to remind us that rock music can be fun and beautiful.