Haruomi Hosono, Japan’s pop pioneer


OUTSIDE Japan, Haruomi Hosono is not a household name. Last month’s release of “Vu Ja De”, his 21st solo album, was not met with much fanfare. But for those who know the 70-year-old’s work, his impact can be felt in everything from pop, electronic music and hip-hop to film soundtracks and department store muzak. At this late stage of his career, he is returning to his early influences.

Japanese pop music may conjure up images of squeaky clean, auto-tuned groups embodying the kawaii ideal–cute, youthful and incongruously sexy. J-pop’s fusion of Western styles with Japanese tastes can trace its roots back to Mr Hosono’s band Happy End, which broke away from the Beatles clones popular in 1960s Japan by being the first rock band to sing in their native Japanese. As a teenager growing up in Tokyo, Mr Hosono felt isolated from traditional Japanese culture, listening instead to the American military radio stations serving US forces. Happy End bears little resemblance to the synthesised, bubble-gum pop coming out of…Continue reading

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