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Visual Kei

What is Visual Kei?
There are various literal translation for "Visual Kei", but "Visual Style" seems too be most suitable to decribe Visual Kei as most resources used Visual Style to define Visual Kei.
It is a term usually related to Japanese Rock music. Often refers to bands whose primary point of interest for their fans is their costume and appearance. It can be said that Visual Kei is a sub-genre or sub-culture of Japanese Rock, much like how emotional music developed the "emo culture".

History
During 1980s, combining the growing influence of City Pop and Glam Rock from the United States. Bands like X Japan, D’erlanger and Color pioneered the use of fashion and colorful appearances to define the genre and develop a new style and subculture.


X Japan

During 1990s, Visual Kei became incredibly successful in Japan, with the album sales reaching record levels and often competing with major J-pop artists. Bands like Glay, Luna Sea, and L’Arc-en-Ciel grew out of the 1990s boom of Visual Kei and became incredibly successful.

At the end of 1990s, Visual Kei declined sharply due to the disbanding of Luna SEA and the death of Hideto Matsumoto of X Japan, who hung himself to death.

However, during 2006 & 2007, a new wave of Visual Kei bands have been arriving, driven by reunion tours from Luna Sea and X Japan as well as multiple tribute bands. Until today the culture of Visual Kei is still growing and continues its influence over the world.

Characteristics


Artists that fall under this category place great importance on their images, perhaps even more than their music. The image presented by Visual Kei artists normally elaborate and extreme with striking make up, bizarre hairstyle and flamboyant clothing leading to girly look. Cross-dressing is also a common occurence.



Many people who first exposed to Visual Kei artists mistake a male member as being female. (Most Visual Kei bands are all male members, some with one or two female members.) But why they would come out with this kind of image? Back to the history, when Visual Kei genre was first introduced, it was not accepted by the society, not even in Japan itself because the music were too odd for the local. Therefore instead of using music, Visual Kei artists used image to draw people's attention and to arouse their curiosity.

Their image often changing from album to album to create something new and interesting. Each band has a specific look that separates them from other VK bands. But within this, each member has their own style that still more is different to other members but does not compromise the bands overall trademark look and feel.


Some bands have a vibrant and colorful look with vividly highlighted hair and brightly coloured nail polish.


While some are more gothic, with dark make-up and heavy chains.


Cross-dressing.

Genres


Visual Kei encompasses a large variety of genres from heavy metal to punk rock to electronic pop. The band most often play J-rock and vocal based pop or light rock as these genres are much lighter and more acceptance than heavy metal. However, there are also bands who are playing or influenced by Anime theme music and Industrial.



Other than that, artists often, but not always, fuse different types of genres to create something that is new and unique. With little to no warning, songs can also easily jump from one genre to another with a rapid change of tempo, vocal style and rhythm.



Many genres are explored but most likely you will find that a band will have a characteristic sound or two that carries through a song no matter what genre. Taking genres as a wide sense, it would be said that Visual Kei bands are playing some kind of "rock music".

Conclusion


Visual Kei is a rich and exciting world with the outrageous looks presented by bands and the unique sounds produced, it truly is a feast for the senses as you can enjoy both sound and image at the same time.

It may seem as if these artists pulled off this crazy combination effortlessly, in fact a fair amount of work is put into both image and sound. As for sound, normally Visual Kei bands compose songs and lyrics on themselves. Sound is paid special attention to and if musicians have the necessary means, will even travel to other countries for the mastering of an album or single.



Concerning image, small things such as jewellery, accessories and even coloured contacts are often used and while as single items go generally go unnoticed, they add to the overall look. Sometimes they may even design their own accessories like rings, earrings, necklaces or bracelets.

━★Video example★━


I hope by now you have a better understanding about Visual Kei. Thanks for reading. =)
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