Source: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's Instagram
I have a confession to make.
I am into Japanese culture—I have always been. I grew up like the standard Spanish nerdy kid, playing Japanese video games and watching the anime that was becoming so popular in the 90s; think Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya or Sailor Moon. Because of this, I developed an appreciation of the outlandish and outrageous Japanese art; I think nothing illustrates this point better than their TV commercials.
Needless to say, I am a big fan of J-Pop, too—that is, Japanese pop music. Some of the artists I listened to growing up were Megumi Hayashibara, Ayumi Hamazaki, L’arc-en-ciel, and a big, big list of such names. One of my all-time favourite music videos is Stereopony’s “Hanbunko”.
As I said, I grew up watching these baroque-esquely epic, ridiculously exaggerated, delightfully lighthearted shows and videos.
None of that could have prepared me for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (whose real name, though widely known, I won’t say because she requested in an interview that it remain hidden) is a singer, model and performer from Harajuku, Tokyo. She represents the kawaise and decora aesthetics—don’t feel bad if you don’t know what that means, I don’t either.
She was rebellious from a very early age, since her parents didn’t approve of her fashion sense (I wonder why…). Her fashion sense, however, would eventually lead her to become first a blogger, then a model for some Harajuku magazines. She was by then very interested in singing—RocketNews24 found these shocking videos of her singing before she made it as a big icon.
It wasn’t until she met Yasutaka Nakata that she jumped into a singing career. He would from that moment on provide the music to her songs, and she would sing and perform in their music videos. Her psychedelic first video, “PonPonPon”, became a viral hit and launched her to worldwide fame, making it also into Japan’s Top 100 at number 9.
She has released five albums and featured in 14 music videos since her debut in 2011—if that’s not productive, I don’t know what is! They are all characterised by being equal parts weird, funny, happy, and incredibly catchy. If you are not particularly into Japanese media, be prepared for some serious cultural shock! While not being terribly musically talented (I don’t think either she or Yasutaka Nakata are aiming for that), she has a special allure that catches and refuses to let go.
Her fashion sense is so strange and controversial, in fact, that she has been compared to Lady Gaga, who, along with Katy Perry, has been a big influence on Kyary. Her next big plan is to go worldwide and conquer the hearts of the west. For my part, I do hope she succeeds—that would make watching MTV so much more entertaining!