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Foorin Wins Song of the Year Honor at 61st Japan Record Awards
Five-member children’s group Foorin captured the Grand Prix award for Song of the Year for their hit number “Paprika” at the 61st Japan Record Awards show, considered by many to be the most prestigious music award show in the country.
“Paprika,” written by the singer-songwriter Kenshi Yonezu and performed by Foorin which consists of kids ranging in age from early elementary school to first year in junior high school, beat out songs by popular acts such as AKB48 and Daichi Miura to capture the celebrated award.
The Grand Prix award is given out to a song every year that is both respected artistically but also achieving commercial success. In the past, winners have included Namie Amuro, Ayumi Hamasaki, EXILE and AKB48 among other J-pop acts.
Yonezu wrote “Paprika” for Japan’s national broadcaster NHK as a 2020 “Support Song.” It soon stretched further than just one channel, as it has become one of the most popular J-pop songs in recent times and the most inescapable in daily life. The official video for “Paprika,” which finds Foorin performing a dance in a meadow, currently boasts over 159 million views on YouTube.
Countless other artists have covered “Paprika,” including Yonezu himself, whose own version has amassed over 70 million views on YouTube. In late 2019, an English-language version of “Paprika” debuted with a new group called Foorin team E, consisting of English-speaking children.
Last year, that outfit joined the original Foorin to perform “Paprika” at NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen, one of the most viewed music shows in Japan annually.
Alongside the Grand Prix win, it was just another accomplishment for kids who have made something historic.
A Look Back at J-Pop in the 2010s
Japanese pop music in the 2010s was a mix of older artists saying farewell to the entertainment industry and new ones making a name for themselves. It was also a period where J-pop slowly embraced the internet after years of being behind global trends in how people listen to music.
No J-pop act was bigger in the 2010s than AKB48. The group, which at one point featured over 100 members, scored an impressive run of chart-topping singles and albums, and also could count several songs that sold over a million copies. Songs such as “Heavy Rotation” and “Koisuru Fortune Cookie” became smash hits you could hear almost everywhere, and numerous sister groups — including some overseas — sprung up in their wake.
Critics, though, pointed out that their popularity was inflated by sales strategies that encouraged fans to buy multiple copies of the same CD. They argue that this doesn’t offer an accurate reflection of how many people were supporting them.
One type of J-pop artist people could count on were older stars. Some of the best-selling releases of the decade came from artists such as Hikaru Utada, DREAMS COME TRUE, Southern All Stars, ARASHI and more. Groups and performers who called it quits, meanwhile, also got lots of attention. The pop group SMAP attracted nationwide attention after they broke up, as did singer Namie Amuro in the lead up to her retirement from performing.
Still, many young artists made a name for themselves during the 2010s. Musical acts such as Kana Nishino, Gen Hoshino, Kenshi Yonezu, AIMYON and more emerged, becoming big names in the country by offering new takes on familiar musical styles. Others, such as BABYMETAL and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, surprised many by going viral outside of Japan thanks to attention-grabbing music videos.
Part of their success came by embracing digital platforms that the J-pop industry has long ignored. Many artists and companies in the 2010s stuck to selling CDs, and avoided sites such as YouTube or services such as Spotify — which in the rest of the world have become commonplace. Yet younger artists have started flocking to these places, and they are changing the way J-pop is consumed heading into the 2020s.
Reading Comprehension Test
- Who wrote the song “Paprika?”
a. Kenshi Yonezu.
c. Foorin team E.
- Which of the following isn’t true about Foorin?
a. All of the members are in school.
b. They performed a dance in a meadow for the “Paprika” video.
c. The group showed up on NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen 2019.
d. They didn’t show “Paprika” video on YouTube.
- Why is winning the Japan Record Awards Grand Prix award so celebrated?
a. The award comes with a huge cash prize.
b. It is seen by many as the most prestigious music award in the country.
c. The winner gets to make a proper debut in the next year.
d. The winner gets to appear on NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen.
- Why are some people critical of AKB48?
a. The group has too many sister groups and they are hard to keep track of.
b. They use sales strategies that inflate the number of CDs people buy.
c. They use YouTube to boost their number of views higher than they actually
d. They use Spotify to make themselves look more important than others.
- What trend will we see in J-pop music of the 2020s?
a. More artists and companies will use sites such as YouTube and Spotify.
b. Namie Amuro is going to be one of the biggest acts of the 2020s.
c. All J-pop artists will try to get big outside of Japan via YouTube.
d. CDs will still be the most popular way to listen to music in the 2020s.