Fact of the Week
Credit to Research Team: Naqiyah Ahmad Murad
Visual Kei (ヴィジュアル系)
Greetings everyone! How are your exams going? I hope it hasn’t been too tough on you! Don’t give up, you’re almost done! This week, I’ll be sharing about one of Japan’s unique musical genre. Now, I think we can all agree that music have been one of the greatest impact on our lives, well for me it is. Music itself has its own evolution. So what does Japan has to offer us? Let me introduce to you, Visual Kei.
Visual Kei is a type of movement among Japanese musicians that is mostly characterized by their appearance and loud but totally awesome good music. You may be able to recognize them by their heavy make-up, vibrant hair styles and intense yet beautiful fashion appearances. They are similar to that of Western Glam Rock. Visual Kei is not just a music genre, it is a way to express one’s self, hence the fashion and explicit lyrics for some. It’s the message in their music that’s more important than the genre that they play. What are some iconic bands that have made contributions to this movement?
X Japan: Toshi, Taiji, Yoshiki, Pata, hide
One of the pioneer and most iconic band is the one and only X Japan. They’ve sold over 30 million records worldwide and made the biggest change in music evolution in Japan. They are one of the first bands to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label, which is a big deal. They have made an impact on a lot of new generations of visual kei bands in Japan such as Dir en grey and The Gazette. You can learn more about them in their documentary “We are X”. WARNING: If you’re a huge fan of this band like I am, then prepare lots of tissues when watching the movie.
Bucktick: Hisashi Imai, Yutaka Higuchi, Atsushi Sakurai, Hidehiko Hoshino, Toll Yagami
Another iconic and founders of visual kei is Buck-Tick. Buck-Tick wasmostly strongly influenced by British post-punk bands such as The Sex Pistols. They are also famous for the erotic decadence in the lyrics and the vocalist’s, Atsushi Sakurai’s, distinctive rich baritone voice.
The musical style of visual kei bands could range from heavy metal to classic to pop. However as I’ve said earlier, they’re mainly known for metal. In recent years, most visual kei bands have changed their appearances to suit the likings of western audiences. But it’s not completely dead, thankfully. Modern visual kei bands such as Sug and Versailles still embrace the culture.
Some may argue whether Visual Kei should be placed under J-Rock. The answer is both Yes and No. It’s really up to the individual’s perspective of these two. I would say no as J-Rock is genre that focuses on musical style while visual kei focuses on the message that the bands wants to share with the audience. Do you agree?
You can check out most of the visual kei bands here:
Dir en grey: Toshiya, Kaoru, Kyo, Shinya, Die
My personal favourite visual kei band is Dir en grey, what is yours?