I have never discussed this subject with my friends. They know me as "that Japan-phile" or "That Japanese guy". I think everyone, in their heart, have at least one country or a place that they want to visit and experience someday. Mine was Japan.
I'm into music, it's my ultimate passion. I suspect that I have musical notes as one of my blood cells. For years, I listened to English songs (local or abroad), Malay songs, Canto-pop and Mando-pop (Chinese), Tamil and Hindi (Indian)... etc. I move from one language to another, but after a while, I get bored of all the predictability and stereotype-ness. With the exception of Indian music (which I still listen to), the others just don't appeal to me anymore. Just ask me which is my favourite on the American Top 40 charts, or which artiste do I like among the Hongkong stars, ... and I'll just answer "Err... Me like all of dem. Dem is all nice. Yes."
They're all the same, too little variety and too little musical value to my ever-growing hunger. Right up to the early nineties, I couldn't take it and began to look for alternatives.
Flashback - My first contact with anything Japanese was J-Dorama(dubbed), aired in the mornings daily. I would watch them religiously, when I was in junior school. There were two - one was about a team of volleyball girls and another about a girl who is like some sort of cosmic teenage-witch. I forget the names of the shows but it has got some cool 80's Jpop soundtrack that me and my friends dance to... in secret, of course. Then there was the Masked Riders, Ultraman, etc.
Fast forward to the early nineties, I got tired of the monotonous music that was beginning to build up. Lousy rocker bands, boybands and girl-groups are sprouting up like mushrooms after rain. Luckily for me, it was also the time where J-Dramas and animes are booming in Asia. This was when I started to really listen to JPop music, starting with anime and J-Drama soundtracks. My first ==> Slam Dunk's "Kimi ga suki da to Sakebitai" by Badd. Just playing that intro in my head gives me the nostalgic goosebumps, even till today.
Now, my list is endless - Anzen Jidai, Koji Tamaki, Chage and Aska, Fujii Fumiya, SMAP, Spitz, Le Couple, Noriko Sakai, Oda Kazumasa ( Yup, I'm old school. ^_^), ELT, Puffy, Toshinobu Kubota, Ken Hirai, Okamoto Mayo, DCT, Judy and Mary, SMAP, MAX, Speed, Kinki Kids, aiko, Yuzu, Da Pump, Gackt, Do as Infinity... current ones include Mihimaru GT, Bon Bon Blanco , High and Mighty Color, Sowelu, Orange Range, Rythem ...etc
Jpop isn't the only genre I explored, the Jrock scene was equally good. Luna Sea, X-Japan, Glay, Malice Mizer, L' Arc En Ciel, SADS, Janne De Arc, Pierrot, the Yellow Monkeys, Love Psychedelico, Kaggra, AliceNine... etc.
Of course there was the Hello! Project family. Go here to read how I got into Hello! Project in particular.
I was so crazy into Japanese music, my classmates started to ask me that question again - "What do you like so much about Japanese music? Don't you listen to anything on the Rick Dee's Top 40 charts?" and I will give that same answer again. "Oh no, I do. Me like all of dem. Dem is all nice. Yes.". Then I'll start to pretend that I like the Backstreet Boys or something. Being indifferent in high school here means you get bullied. (Sound familiar?)
Later I took Japanese classes to learn the language, because of a job in a multi-national company that I'm hunting for (They pay the employees very well). I failed to get the interviews, but I continued the classes anyway and I learn to appreciate the music a little more.
And so, I was hooked with Japanese music and never looked back. Tis' a lonely experience being the only one singing Japanese songs in karaoke sessions with my friends, but I hope to find a comrade one day.