Spotify Japan recently came out with a brand-new global playlist meant to bring Japanese music to worldwide audiences. The peculiar title of the playlist, Gacha Pop, has gathered significant attention from Japanese users and has triggered discussion about the Japanese music scene.
The Gacha Pop playlist, released on May 9, consists of 75 tracks by various Japanese artists. The name Gacha Pop is elucidated by the description that says “What pops out!? Roll the gacha and find your Neo J-Pop treasure” likening shuffling through the playlist to playing a gacha game. Gacha games are games that use the chance-based mechanic for obtaining items which comes from Japanese gacha (capsule toy vending machines). The concept of the playlist seems to be creating a way for worldwide listeners to easily engage with a variety of popular Japanese music and discover new favorites.
Perhaps also to follow the gacha concept, the playlist cannot be said to be of any particular genre, as it features an array of different styles and genres, though it’s noticeably dominated by Japanese artists popular outside of Japan such as Kenshi Yonezu, YOASOBI, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, BABY METAL etc, and even a Vocaloid song by PinocchioP.
An article by Rolling Stone Japan published in February this year which analyzed the overseas popularity and growth of Japanese artists such as Fujii Kaze, Natori, YOASOBI etc. throughout the year 2022 and highlighted how recently, for overseas fans of Japanese music, genres such as city-pop, lo-fi hip-hop and anime music are much more intertwined and enjoyed as a whole than Japanese people might think.
One example given is of the artists Nujabes, who is undeniably a hip-hop artist, but at the same time associated with anime. The article makes the point that throughout these various styles, Japanese music is becoming popular in a pop-culture sense, rather than in the sense of a particular genre. However, as the existing term J-POP does not reflect this broad sense in which Japanese music is being enjoyed overseas, a new term is needed, one which will connect the various genres such as pop, city-pop, anime music and lo-fi hip-hop in a similar way that the term K-pop encompasses the entirety of the wave of popular Korean music.
Another contributor of Rolling Stone Japan recently posted a tweet in which they made a connection between Spotify’s new Gacha Pop playlist and the sentiments of the previously mentioned article, starting off a debate between users about the potential of the term Gacha Pop.
Many other users also expressed interest in the newly coined term and hopes that it may contribute to the redefining of the concept of J-POP.