If you want all that idol AND weird stuff together…
3776 [Pronounced “Minanaro”]
Yes, this is an actual album cover (序曲, 2014)
This was one group where I knew I really wanted to push them, but didn’t exactly know how to go about doing it, and so just went “screw it, let’s add them in at the end”.
The magical thing about idols is that you can literally make them sing about anything. There are idols out there who sing about cursing (as in the magical spell kind), idols who sing about all their friends dying in a train accident, to idols whose main gimmick is literally not really caring about anything. (In an ironic (or deliberate?) twist of events, that train death song was used as the promotional track for the JR Shinkansen for a while) For better or for worse, being an idol means having an unrestricted amount of creative freedom, since the people who want to listen to it will, and those who don’t will simply brush off the songs as idol pop (ex. the majority of the world, including other idol fans who aren’t fans of a particular group).
This has led to many interesting creations, including T-Palette’s absolutely fantastic Yasuharu Konishi-directed Pizzicato Five collaboration album, or AKB48’s enjo kosai song. In even more extreme versions, they lead to interesting tie-ins like idols who create noise music, or metal-pop idols.
3776 is another such group that fits into this “extreme” territory. Part punk, art-pop, and alternative rock, they somehow manage to be all and none of these things at the same time. If you’re into that weird, avant-garde stuff, this is definitely for you.
As always, this isn’t a definitive list. But hopefully, this does take you into the weird and stranger side of Japanese music (not that kind of strange) that most people aren’t really aware of when they first get into the “scene”.