There is a special kind of magic needed to stay relevant in the music industry beyond a few years. It is mixture of luck, skill, and a willingness to adapt and try new things.
For Osaka-based band Scandal, it has taken all these things in equal measure. In an industry and genre that are not generally kind to either young people or women, these four young ladies have managed to not only survive but thrive.
What makes Scandal stand out from the rest of the JRock scene? With nine albums and numerous singles to dive through, it can be tough to know where to start. So today we’re going to do a deep dive — and by the end of it you should understand why they’re one of my all-time favourite bands.
Scandal formed in Osaka when the four members met in 2006 at the vocal and dance school they all attended. With most of their members around the age of fifteen at the time, they started performing together and refining both their performances and their distinctive sound.
By 2008, they signed on with indie label Kitty Records. And in less than a year, they produced three singles and a mini-album, and they performed at anime conventions in the US, France, and Hong Kong.
By 2009, Scandal were picked up by a major label and put out their first full length album, known as Best Scandal. This began a string of five years in a row, each with an album released by the band, all while they touring and performing both in Japan and abroad.
Since 2016, Scandal has still averaged to release an album every two years — and they don’t show any sign of slowing down now that they are fifteen years into their career.
Scandal’s sound has varied over the course of their career. From pop to rock to funk-infused sounds, they have shown a willingness to adapt and change based on where their current taste in music takes them. It helps that all of the four members of the band take on both singing and songwriting duties, giving each song a slightly different sound and feel to it.
Anime fans will instantly recognise some of the songs produced during Scandal’s career. Shows like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Bleach, and GeGeGe no Kitaro have all featured songs by the band as their ending themes, as have several video games and TV shows in Japan.
In 2018, the band formed their own record label. Over the next two years, they would record and release singles that would eventually come together as their ninth studio album, Kiss from the Darkness, in 2020. This album was by far the most personal in Scandal’s history, exploring the feelings of the band both as a whole and through each member individually. It was also, in my opinion, their best offering to date, likely due to the increase in creative control that Scandal had over the creation and recording process.
While the world tour that was meant to accompany Kiss from the Darkness has been delayed until 2022 for obvious reasons, Scandal did livestream their intended set last year. The performance showcased what makes this band so special and has kept them going strong more than fifteen years into their career. There is a sense of fun to the way they interact with each other that feels genuine.
Despite working together for so long, they are clearly still friends at heart, and as long as that remains true I think they will continue to capture something special both on stage and in the recording booth.
Our friends at JPU Records handle a lot of the localisations of Scandal’s music, so if you’re looking for physical releases you can grab them from their website. Be warned, though: they go fast and once they’re gone, they’re gone!
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