I'll be honest. My JPOP knowledge is nowhere near as extensive as my KPOP knowledge. But that doesn't mean I don't know a good song or artist when I hear one.
Crystal Kay is a bit of an anomaly in the JPOP music market because she's birracial. Born to an African-American father and a Korean mother, Crystal grew up in Japan and made her Japanese musical debut in 2000 at age 14. Her young age and tireless work ethic is comparable to a KPOPstar I know and love -- BoA, whom Crystal is close friends with (they even recorded a duet together called "Universe"). Her current style is also considerably more urban (read: less nausatingly cutesy) than the "typical" JPOP that seems to do so well in Japan (I'm looking at you, AKB48 -- I tried, I really did). In the 12 years since her debut(!), the now 26 year-old Crystal is about to release tenth Japanese studio album, VIVID, this week on the back of a stellar summer single called "Forever".
The player is in Japanese, so press the blinking red play arrow and wait for the commercial to finish to watch the video.
The video gives me serious Janet Jackson vibes and that is never, ever a bad thing. And she can really sing. I'm loving the summer feel of the video as well -- it's something Japan does so well.
For those of you who are looking for something bit more American-familiar, Crystal is also fluent in English and recently was featured on Far East Movement's lastest disc, Dirty Bass, via the club thumper "Where the Wild Things Are".