Over the years, the meaning of kawaii and cute culture has expanded to a global lifestyle and a phenomenon that connects our social and cultural differences. For instance, kawaii has taken over multiple subcultures like animation, film, and even music.
In the music industry, we might often see Western artists taking the lead in music charts and awards. Some of these artists include Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus, to mention some. This may be due to the bigger population attached to the concept of American-centered lifestyle and colonial superiority in general.
However, one Japanese artist remains unfazed despite the intimidating popularity of her co-musicians. KyaryPamyuPamyu, also known as the queen of Kawaii takes J-pop to a whole new level and is one of the youngest J-pop stars to become a global phenomenon.
The big question is how did she make this possible?
GET TO KNOW THE QUEEN!
Behind all the attention the J-pop singer has been receiving, she is just like any dreamer that began singing and was nudged further by destiny. KirikoTakemura, which is KyaryPamyuPamyu’s real name, was born in Tokyo in 1993.
Despite growing up from a fairly wealthy family, she grew up far from her current flamboyant and elaborate lifestyle. In an interview she had with Culture Trip, Kyary mentioned that she had a normal childhood. Her parents would give her limited phone access and has a strict curfew of 7 pm.
To top these things, her mother was not in favor of her kawaii fashion sense which made styling much difficult for her. She added that she even had to change in public toilets before heading to one of Tokyo’s most fashionable district, Harajuku.
This influenced Kyary in her current success as an artist. Growing up, she adapted the iconic Harajuku as part of her brand and music. This is characterized by her attention to color and details especially candy shades that made her the de facto queen of kawaii.
This actually led to her friends dropping the nickname “Kyary”, which is a Japanese phonetic spelling of the name “Carrie” since her style was almost always associated with Western Fashion with an East Asia twist.
Before her attempt in the music industry, KyaryPamyuPamyu was a fashion blogger around 2009. Her style was all things kawaii-from her love of colorful wigs to her Lolita dresses and even to the smallest accessories.
In a Vogue feature, Kyary’s style was described as a playful mix of kawaii and grotesque. In her first appearance in 2011 with “PonPonPon”, her style was definitely eye-catching with her pigtails, colorful ribbons and a wide variation of Lolita dresses.
With her passion for clothing, it is no doubt that she became the talk of the town of fashion magazines. This also paved way for her to become an official fashion writer. Truly, she has affected Japanese fashion then and is still making an impact on global fashion now.
HER MUSIC JOURNEY
Aside from her dedication and natural kawaii vibe that’s simply admirable, one of the people behind her success is Yasutaka Nakata, a well-known DJ, record producer and composer.
Nakata works with artists who venture into electronic music, but also works with Japanese pop artists like Perfume, Kyary’s personal band favorite and inspiration. Kyary and Yasutaka met in 2010 during a club event in Tokyo. Because of their shared interest for Japanese fashion and pop music, the two agreed to collaborate and make a record.
Apparently, this was also the day when Kyary gained the “PamyuPamyu” part of her name, since it sounded cute and people would be more curious of her style as a J-pop icon. What came to be a simple trial and error, became an unexpected turn of events, making her officially a global sensation.
Her first single “PonPonPon” was released in July 2011 and the kawaii features of her music video immediately captured the heart of J-pop fans and kawaii enthusiasts. In fact, it became viral and has had more than 100 million views on Youtube and counting.
PonPonPon is an electro-pop and kawaii mix, which made it more bizarre than other J-pop artists. After this release, Kyary was able to establish her career one record at a time and soon enough, her fans loved the way she always comes up with unexpected and unique style to her songs.
This single was so popular that she was able to perform in countries outside her own with a non-stop wave of commercials, advertisements and endorsements. Moreover, her collaboration with Charlie XCX on a solo track by Nakata became a direct inspiration for the prolific fighting game series King of Fighters where players can hear her in-game battle cry of “Ponponpon!”
With over 5 million followers on Twitter and countless advertisements from multi-national brands, she definitely was responsible for raising the flag of J-pop to the next level. This led to her being the cultural ambassador for Japan and is one of the Asian artists that has achieved great heights in her career.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR KYARY?
According to Warner Music Group, PamyuPamyu is one of their major sellers booming from one country to another. She ranks with some of the most popular Western artists like Coldplay and Ed Sheeran.
In her latest release, “Japamyu”, Kyary remains amusing and interesting in her expertise. Though the shape of kawaii culture has changed over the years and she took a 4-year break from her release in 2014 “PikaPikaFantajin”, her global fans remain accepting of her music.
But like any artist, she yearns to do more than just kawaii. In a recent feature with Vogue Magazine, she mentions that she’s still into kawaii and a little grotesque vibe, but she wants to expand her talent into something more classic and worth-remembering.