You don’t need to look far to see J-Pop idols across the internet or referenced in anime. Now, what if I told you J-Pop idols are a lot closer than you realized? In your own country, even.
Idols have been around for quite a few decades now. The term is mainly used for young, aspiring talent but has become mostly synonymous with pop groups and singers from Japan. The English word “idol” was adopted by Japanese talent agents to help market their signed artists. However, anyone with the ability to perform can be an idol (of course, there’s a lot of hard work and training to it, but you get the idea).
We’ve also seen the spike of K-Pop idols gaining popularity over the last couple of decades. But that’s just one part of idol culture. J-Pop idols and groups can be found across the globe! To be a J-Pop idol doesn’t require Japanese nationality, as some may think. Not to mention, J-Pop music in itself is a blanket term for a mash-up of genres with Western influences. J-Pop idols follow the stylistic choices of J-pop music.
So, let’s explore the world of J-Pop idols: Western hemisphere (the Americas) edition!
If you haven’t seen PAiDA and her music recently, have you been on the internet? Thanks to the magic of sharing, I first learned about PAiDA on Twitter and TikTok.
Singing in English and Japanese, dancing, and energetic stage presence; when it comes to artists, she is the full package. Officially debuting in 2020, she’s been hard at work living out her independent idol dreams. Getting her start by performing at Space City (Houston, TX) conventions, translating pop songs into Japanese, then singing in Japan, PAiDA has since released her first magical single, Future☆★Town as well as other songs. Her music already sounds like an anime opening — hopefully, it’s a matter of time until it’s true.
Stream PAiDA on all streaming services.
Moving up to our friends in the north, Non Sweet is a J-idol group in Vancouver, Canada. The five-member all-girl group recently celebrated its second birthday and released a new single, “By My Side”. Working with Japanese music producer, SHUN, the group has released five original songs in English. Although their name is Non Sweet, the ladies sure have a sweet sound and style. Each music video and performance is incredibly well made — their hard work and talents really shine through.
Stream Non Sweet on YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify.
Hailing from Columbia, Lulu Bitto aka the “pixel idol”, brings J-Pop music and idol culture to a wide audience of Spanish speakers. As an idol influenced by Japanese idols, she sings her original music and covers in Japanese on YouTube and TikTok. As of writing this, Lulu Bitto has three original songs, all released within the last year. Each exudes cuteness and angelic vocals. Like the other previously mentioned idols, Lulu is carving a path for more foreign idols to come. As she says, “las extranjeras si pueden ser idols”, (foreigners can be idols) we couldn’t agree more!
Stream Lulu Bitto on Spotify and YouTube.
We only scratched the surface when it comes to American idols, but across the globe, more and more talented artists are making waves in their own communities. If you want to discover even more idols, browsing the hashtags “GajinIdol”, “BlackIdol”, and “JPopIdol” on TikTok will yield great results.
*Featured image courtesy of PAiDA.