Below is an excerpt from my post on Beneath The Tangles. See the link below to read the entire article. Hope you enjoy and find some new artists to jam to!
It’s true, isn’t it? It seems as though
we’re headed for a new century. It’s miraculous:
This is something you can only taste once.
Let’s remember one more time.
On the day we arrived on this Earth
we were somehow happy,
and somehow it hurt.
We were crying
wow yeah wow yeah wow wow yeah
Ayumi Hamasaki – Evolution Thanks to Lyrics Translate
Just as for many of us, music has been entwined with my life story. Being Cuban, my mother would play salsa, merengue, and other Spanish genres while cleaning or on the weekends. Juan Luis Guerra, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Celia Cruz (azucar!), Gloria Estefan, and others blasted through the windows every week. Michael Jackson and other pop artists of the time were mixed in for good measure. But even with these amazing musicians, my ear was more tuned to music from across the Pacific.
J-Pop (Japanese Pop music) appeared in my life as I slowly discovered it. I got a taste through anime and their catchy intro and ending songs, which is how I mainly started to hear different vocalists. Since I’m the type of person who will start digging to find out more, I searched the name of the artists, songs, and albums they released. It wasn’t easy to find these amazing vocalists as there was no Spotify, iTunes, or any other legal digital music platform at the time—I had to do Google searchs and look at websites that had mp3s to download, or software that no longer exists like Kazaam or Napster (oh yeah, I’m going way back!). One time I found and bought an Ayumi Hamasaki CD in a Virgin Records store in their foreign music section, which blew my mind. I bought it immediately and listened to it all the time, among a few other CDs I was able to find in Chinatown in New York City.
Music was beginning to get really foul with the rise of hip hop and pop music often being about drugs, sexual content, and other nonsense. J-Pop was more my style since it was like a secret nobody knew about, so I felt like the only one who was listening to it. I had all this music to myself, and when other people listened to it they were intrigued but also taken aback. How could I listen to music in another language that I didn’t understand? Yet, today K-Pop (Korean Pop) is blowing up in the USA and around the world and barely any of their fans speak Korean. I was ahead of my time!
The lyrics were also important, especially once I gave my life to Christ. I did not want to be listening to music that glorified values I don’t follow, but surprisingly most J-pop isn’t about the typical topics abounding in music today. Vocalists often sing about love, happiness, relationships, or feelings of wanting to push forward. This encouraged me to keep listening and reading the lyrics, which are often very poetic and inspiring.