Miss Early 2000s Rock/Pop? Listen to J-pop Singer, LiSA.

Scratch the music itch you’ve had the last decade.

LiSA promotion picture for her 2021 Mini-Album LADYBUG (Source: Fandom)

What is there to listen to nowadays?

Being an early 2000s music fan in the last 10 years has been super depressing for almost all of us. There’s always new bands popping up, but they never seem to capture the same energy and lyrical themes from music we used to listen to. Pop is always technically “alive”, but you roll your eyes when you hear another song that’s basically about the singer breaking up with someone or the singer becoming their own person. Some lyrics in pop songs these days really don’t mean anything…

Up until around 2016, I had always listened to the same music I liked from 2000 to 2013. They had cool lyrics and were the kind of songs I could jam out to while driving, at the gym, or even just chilling in my room. But sometimes I got sick of listening to Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory”. Sometimes I got sick of listening to Avril Lavigne’s “The Best Damn Thing”. Sometimes I got sick of Fall Out Boy’s “Under the Cork Tree”. I wanted something different, but had a similar vibe that wasn’t present in most music these days.

It was time to look for hidden gems in rock/pop music in the last decade, right? They existed, but not in the English language I was looking for. I didn’t think I’d enjoy music in a language I couldn’t speak, but Japanese Pop music has been my go-to.

To anyone who saw this article headline and thought, “This person is probably a big anime nerd.” And you know what? You’re right! Anime definitely was my gateway into J-pop and some of my favorite artists have performed opening and ending songs for a lot of anime shows. LiSA is a popular one.

Who is LiSA?

You probably don’t care that much about her background and more about why I think you might like her music. But, as a short answer: she’s a J-pop and pop-punk artist who does both songs for anime shows and releases her own studio albums as well. She’s capable of taking on a large variety of genres and has done quite a few collaborations with other Japanese artists such as Uru and Sawano Hiroyuki.

Why do I think you should listen to LiSA?

Well, I love a lot of her songs and want others to check her out obviously. But also, she has a lot of that fun energy in her music that was reminiscent of the kind of music early 2000s fans adored. I’d describe her as the Avril Lavigne of Japan (which is funny because Avril Lavigne is also one of her major influences).

LiSA’s 2011 single, “Oath Sign”

LiSA is capable of taking on chill, relaxing style to a super, high energy upbeat song to anything in between. “Oath Sign”, is a song I would say falls right in the middle. If you watch anime or know someone who talks about anime a lot, you might recognize this as the first opening theme song to the show, Fate/Zero. “Oath Sign” isn’t actually one of my top 5 LiSA songs, but if I was recommending a song of hers to someone on the internet whom I’ve never interacted with before (AKA you, the person reading this) then this would be the one. It’s fairly simple instrumentally, it’s both relaxing and energetic, and it showcases LiSA’s vocal capabilities.

Part of why I wrote this article is because I wanted more native English speakers people to check out one of my favorite artists. I wrote this article with native English speakers in mind, so to anyone who else who might across this they might laugh at the idea of an English speaker exploring music in other languages when they’ve done the same thing way longer. It’s pretty normal for tons of people on the eastern parts of the world attending concerts of US or UK artists/bands despite not really knowing how to say any of the lyrics to their songs.

But honestly, not a ton of people in English speaking countries like the United States give any attention to non-English music despite there being great artists like LiSA who you don’t even need to know Japanese in order to appreciate her music. Some people find it difficult to enjoy singing in another language if you can’t understand what they’re saying, but I think a lot of people can learn to really like that. Their singing kind of acts as another instrument to the song, it can sound good or it can sound bad with the rest of the musical instruments. Of course, I try to look up translations for lyrics whenever I can because there’s a lot of really interesting and thought provoking poetry in non-English lyrics. A lot of which, is more meaningful than most of the English pop music I’ve heard the last couple years.

The point is, you don’t need to immediately be able to understand what the lyrics mean as you’re listening to them as long as they sound beautiful or powerful. Look up the lyrics after to learn more!

I rarely listen to all the old bands and artists I loved years ago. LiSA was one of the first J-pop artists I really got interested in and since then I’ve branched onto a ton of others as well as some K-pop here and there. There’s a ton of good music out there in the world being released that will suit your music itches that contemporary English bands and artists don’t cover as much anymore. If you love that kind of stuff, that’s awesome. But if you’re like me and want something similar to what you used to love, I really recommend checking out some J-pop as a starting point.

Thank You.

Thanks for taking the time to read or skim (I won’t judge you!) through my little LiSA shill as well as my first Medium blog. I’ll leave you with one of LiSA’s more energetic songs, “Rising Hope”.

LiSA’s 2014 single, “Rising Hope”

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