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Question to J-pop lovers abroad


22 Apr 2003
How much of the J-pop lyrics do you actually understand? If you don't, why do you like J-pop? If you do, same question?
Bah, who cares about lyrics. Generally they're always about the same boring subjects. Love, love, love and love. Who writes anything original these days? Japanese of non-Japanese.

No, the music speaks for itself. The Japanese are very strong producers and the melodylines they use, are a lot less depressing then some i've heard in the Western scene.

Not understanding the lyrics is actually an asset, since a well composed song won't fall apart by distracting badly written lyrics.

One bad thing about the Japanese writers is that some of them use English words in the chorus. There's nothing wrong with that, unless the artist in question can't pronounce those words properly. That could potentially crash a proper song, although i must say that i have learned to listen right through that.
And I'd have to heartfully agree to this incredible sythesis of Japanese music. I've always felt the same about Japanese mainstream music being very well adapted to Japanese language. It is one of the reasons why I cannot fathom Japanese rap, hard rock, etc., which don't seem to fit the Japanese language any more than French does (I speak from experience).

The English in Japanese lyrics, I admit, is a plague, even when the pronounciation is good because 80% of the time it's meaningless garbble. The latest BoA song is entitled "Shine we are". Good song, but can anyone tell me what "shine" is and how we can be it?
I think if the musics are soulful,they don't care about lyrics.
whenever I listen to some songs,I just hear the melodies,not lyrics.
I'm Japanese but I can't hear even it was Japanese.
it was only one of the instrumentals,only seriate syllables.
each language has own rhythm and peal,I love them.
I can't understand English(or French or other languages) lyrics but I love the sound.so I want to listen to them.
I can understand Japanese lyrics but I can't while I'm listening it.
it is little wonder a lot of non-Japanese love J-Pop.

One bad thing about the Japanese writers is that some of them use English words in the chorus.
yeah,I agree...why they don't fell ashamed to do that...?

"Shine we are"
hehe...what does it mean?I think this sentence is wrong,but I'm not sure because I'm not native speaker,I'm beginner.
Originally posted by luzie
Iyeah,I agree...why they don't fell ashamed to do that...?

Well, most Japanese artists don't consider an international audience. Using English words is a trendy thing to do and the majority of the Japanese audience don't notice the pronunciation is wrong anyway.

But i'm really baffled when i read in the credits that they use an "English Advisor", who actually has an English sounding name, and they still get it wrong. I hope they didn't pay much for that so called Advisor.
I love the sound of the Japanese language and how it flows with the music... I can sing along even though I'm not sure 100% what each word means (translations are so vague).

Also some of the songs ROCK !!! :D
i agree, i doesn't matter what the lyrics say as long as the song has a good rythem and beat. as anyone heard of the the pillows. i just downloaded a few of their songs and i thought they were pretty good

Shine we are doesn't really make since in those order. shone means something is giving off a bright light. for example, the sun is bright during the afternoon
I am very curious, so I am always on the run to find translations of my favorite J-pops.
It's funny, but the songs I like most always seem to come out with real pretty lyrics.
The more I like a song for its melody or the singers voice, the more I search to find any translations.
Unfortunately I admire Miki Imai most. Her songs seem to be quite out of date, at least you take the number of pages still translating her songs...
Originally posted by luzie
I think if the musics are soulful,they don't care about lyrics.
whenever I listen to some songs,I just hear the melodies,not lyrics.
I'm Japanese but I can't hear even it was Japanese.

I can't understand English(or French or other languages) lyrics but I love the sound.so I want to listen to them.
I can understand Japanese lyrics but I can't while I'm listening it.
your english is good for a beginner! :)

and I noticed what you said... happens to many non-Japanese people as well. I was born here in the USA, so English is my best language. Sometimes its hard for me to understand all the lyrics in a English song, and there are many lyrics websites on the internet because I'm not the only person that doesn't understand all the lyrics. So this happens on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. ^_^ And I'm sure all around the world.

Because many people (like me) dont always understand English songs, it makes no difference if I listen to Japanese or American music. Its nice to see a translation but thats not always important.
If you can put beautiful lyrics together also, you have something amazing, but even so, the music without the lyrics touches you inside. A lot of lyrics are just nonsense anyway, but they get stuck in your head because of the good music.
I mostly like the beat, love lyrics kind of make me want to reconsider what I'm listening to, of course, there are some exeptions.
yeah,I agree...why they don't fell ashamed to do that...?

I dont see why they should feel ashamed...

Alot of Japanese lyrics are much more intelligent than Western lyrics.
The reverse is also true of songs in other languages. But I don't think that was the point of the comment. The point was more along the lines "don't Japanese feel odd at using such weird English," which in most cases it is, but not always. I mean, the English in Misia and Dream Comes True songs usually makes good sense, while that in Morning Musume songs rarely does.

Yet, nobody was trying to knock off Japanese pop. When I originally opened this thread, I was curious as to why non-native speakers of Japanese found J-pop interesting if they didn't understand the lyrics...
I can understand about 1/3 of the lyrics in Japanese songs, but who cares about the lyrics if the melody and the vocals are good? That's what matters most in music anyway. Besides the mood or theme of the song can be projected in ways other than the lyrics. The lyrics are just the most obvious output.
I tend to disagree. If lyrics are so secondary , what's the point of going to all the trouble of putting lyrics to songs? Why not only write instrumental music with humming voices for vocals? Answer: Because, that'd be boring.

The relative greatness of vocals shines through the lyrics (as you so concisely pointed out, subaruyura, it's the most obvious output). There's just no other way to make vocals shine otherwise. There's just no way to make popular music interesting otherwise. That's one of the main reasons why artists today who rely little on lyrics and vocals, and more on long instrumental riffs don't usually become mainstream... We're not living in the '60s and '70s anymore...

For me, pointless lyrics just make vocals sound bad, hitherto the music sound bad. And no matter how little you understand of the language in which the songs are sung, unless your perception level is close to nil, you can't help but pick up on clunky lyrics... But that's just me...
i guess it depends upon the person... because i could understand a little japanese their songs make some sense to me, and that's probably one of the reasons why i appreciate j-pop or j-rock. but being a fan of punk rock (the only type of western music i listen to) i don't think i'm the right person to answer this question... hehe... anyway if you're having trouble appreciating japanese music just because you can't understand the lyrics, try looking for their translations. you'll find japanese songwriters are really good. even boy bands' songs have good lyrics!

I understand Japanese lyrics just fine. Which is exactly why I'm puzzled that someone who can't understand them can still enjoy Japanese music to its full measure. Hence my initial interrogation.
Because...I think it's rare that you can write a song that the lyrics are in one mood while the vocals are in another. If it's a well-put together song, the emotion is still conveyed on at least a basic level.
Yes, but a lot of songs are not, thus you end up missing most of what's going on in the song... If I take me listening to J-pop before understanding Japanese and me listening to J-pop understanding Japanese (now), I immediately notice two major differences:

a) My enjoyment level has increased a thousand-fold before/after.
b) I am more discerning in my choice of J-pop now. Some of what I used to think of as good J-pop turned out to be not so hot, while some that I used to think as not so hot turned out to have great lyrics.

I guess it really depends on what your looking for in listening to music. I know that a lot of English popular music turned me off instantly exactly because of bad lyrics (I love you, I don't want to lose you, but I know that I've lost you... bleah!). No matter how great the music is, if the lyrics suck, it's just noise. Same applies the other way around. For me, anyway.
I may not understand every word in a song
english and japanese -_-
but I can pick up enough to get a feel for what's being said

I'd really like to be fluent in japanese and this is just one more area for me to explore and learn from

the song are great, when I feel down many a j-pop artist's work can help me feel better

something about the music just flows nicely through me
it's fun to try and learn the song ^^;
I don't usually care for what the song says at first, I just listen. You're able to hear the singer's feeling in the song and kind of get the idea of what it's about. If I really want to know what it's saying I'll get the English lyrics off the net.
This is an interesting topic. I've never reall thought about how Japanese thought of Jpop and the English words in them. I guess it's really not much different from me listening to English (in terms of language) music as I cannot hear every single word clearly as if I was reading a book.

I can also pick up words in a Jpop song to sort of know what it's about. Usually when I find a good Jpop song, I also try to find translated and transliteration of the lyrics. However, lyrics aren't the first thing I found the most interest from a Jpop song because if I had listened to a song the first time, I wouldn't know what it said and mostly it would be the artist, music or the style that got my interest. I don't have much interest in American pop music because of those.
Ahh the age old question...

Well I can understand some workds, in fact listening to japanese songs helps me learn new words, and such. I also love the japanese language, nihongo can make even the uglyest of words sound so pretty, hece why hard rock and rap work for japanese (to me at least, I LOVE pretty things)

Also, as for using english in thier songs, I applaud them! I mean, I lvoe japanese, and if i were a song writer, I'd most likely use some japanese in my songs just becuse it is so beautyful and i love it so much (and also, if i mispronounce, any japanese person listening can laugh at the silly gaijin trying to use it :p) So i think sometimes people use english becuse its trendy, and other times people use it becuse well, maybe they like english as most gaijin like nihongo ;)


Another point that just popped into my head: Language is only limited by the meaning people wish to recive. What does this mean, I'll try to explain.

Language is meant to express a definat meaning, BUT for those of us who are weird and like to pick apart language, we can find thata there is no one definate meaning. Language can be distorted by translaion, mood or phrasing.

But a song isn't meant to be just a sequence of notes or rhythems, its supposed to send a message verbally or not. I think this is why people tend to like songs they don't fully understand, becuse they can formulate thier own meanings from it.

I'm not sure if I'm making sence or not: bow: but to me, english music is limeting, no matter how cryptic the lyric, you can always find a root meaning in the song. where as songs you do not understand, they have more room for interperatiation via the mood, and collaboration of sounds. When I first started learning japanese and listening to its music, that's what japanese was to me: a beautiful stream of sound, pleasent to my ears.

I hope that made sence, and this is just my opinion after all, so if you don't agree that's perfectly ok :sorry: I hope it made sence
I know very little japanese. I'll listen to a song and maybe pick out 2 words (depends on the song tho). I've actually learned a few words becuase of listening to it. (thanks to translations) I find that a lot of people listen to the music for how it sounds. Most of my friends do and they find it strange that I always look up translations. Although I like the sound of it, how do I know that it's something I want to be listening to? I like to know what is being sad, or to at least know there is nothing in there that I don't like. You can good the mood of the song just by listening, but the lyrics are a good portion of it. Is it so strange that I like to look up the translation before listening to a song?
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