A great year for JRock

The JRock Roundup header

2020 was something else, right? With everything going on, it would be easy to forget that it was a fantastic year for JRock. While live music might have been on hold for a lot of the year, we still got some great music coming out of Japan all through 2020. So, I’ve gone through my backlog of JRock and come up with some of the best of the best from a year we’d all like to forget.

Here are our picks for the best of the best from JRock in 2020.

Song of the Year – Full House by Girlfriend

This one was my introduction to Girlfriend earlier this year, but it immediately opened my eyes to how talented these young ladies from Osaka are. The bass solo from Mina alone was enough to blow me away, but that shouldn’t distract you from how good the rest of the band is. The vocals are on quick and on point. The drums thump in all the right places. The guitar rides that line between funk and rock beautifully. If you didn’t catch it last year, be sure to give it a listen now. Girlfriend are one of the future faces of JRock, so you’d do well to get to know them now.

Music Video of the Year – Xpice by Scandal

What do you get when you combine the music from one of my favourite bands with the producers of one of the most visually stunning anime films of the last several years? You get this short film by XFLAG set to the sounds of Spice by Scandal. There is something magical that happens when animation transcends language barriers and manages to tell its story without needing any additional dialogue, and this music video certainly does that. It’s fun, bright and colourful, telling a JRock superhero story in under four minutes.

Live Performance of the Year – Bradio’s 10th Anniversary in NHK Hall Tokyo

JRock funk artists Bradio

I talked about this one back in May, when we were hoping the troubles of 2020 were winding down. Bradio celebrated their 10th anniversary last year and celebrated with a huge show in the NHK Hall in Tokyo. While the video of it has sadly been taken down, it was everything you might want from this Japanese funk band. Bright and colourful with big sound and big motion; never boring and certainly never predictable. It brought out a mixture of old favourites from the band as well as some new material that was just begging for a bit of attention from all of us.

Album of the Year – Kiss from the Darkness by Scandal

Scandal Kiss from the Darkness Tour Image JRock

It might be bad form to feature the same band twice on this list, but to be honest Scandal had an amazing year, even with their 14th anniversary tour to support this album being cancelled due to the pandemic. No other JRock album released in 2020 dominated my playlist in the way this one did. The fact that Scandal has somehow managed to make their ninth studio album their best is something incredible by itself.

Between the fast-paced Masterpiece, the poppy fun of Tonight, and the surprisingly angry tone of A. M. D. K. J., there is a lot to love from Kiss from the Darkness. There has never been a better time to dive in and get to know one of the biggest bands in Japan today. You can (and should!) order Kiss from the Darkness from our friends at JPU Records right now!

So those are my picks for the best of the best from JRock in 2020. Did you have a different opinion? Your favourite band not make the list? Let us know on the usual social media links below! And thanks for listening!

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