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Lipstick & Ramen: The Top 10 All-Girl Bands of J-Rock

How cool are bands fronted by girls? ESG, Elastica, the Pretenders, Sleigh Bells, Shilpa Ray, Blondie… um, the Shaggs. Obviously bands fronted by women are infinitely superior to bands fronted by dudes, because of math:

Women > Men

What if that band, in addition to being fronted by a female, was fronted by a female JAPANESE PERSON. What then, math?

Japanese Women > Everyone else

Crap-talk all you want about stereotypes, but everyone knows that Japanese girls are basically crazy, fashionable, and fun, like, always. There are tons of bands out there, many of which have an ass-kicking Japanese chick at the head of the table. Today we’re going to go through our favorite 10 out of a list of hundreds.

10. Cibo Matto
If you have never walked down a grocery store aisle alone, unconsciously murmuring “I know a chicken, you got to know your chicken” to yourself, you haven’t lived. Or at the very least, you don’t know about this song.

9. Shonen Knife
Of course we had to talk about Shonen Knife. If we didn’t that would be like talking about the evolution of mankind without mentioning that at some point a wheel and fire were made. This punk trio has been around forever, and even today have not lost sight of their DIY, stripped down and rocking good time philosophy. Take a gander at this exclusive performance of “BBQ Party” they did for us:

8. The 5.6.7.8′s
The 5.6.7.8′s are amazing in their own right for many reasons. How about they’re fronted by sisters Sachiko and Ronnie Fujiyama, so there’s not one but TWO amazing and insane girls from the same family in a band? How about they’ve been doing this since 1991? Or that they pay homage to American forms of music without sacrificing their individuality? Or that they play the background music during one of the most ambitious one-take shots in film?

7. Noodles
We saw Noodles play live at the J-Pop Festival and ate them up (sorry)! We love Noodles. We also love noodles, but that’s another story.

6. Pizzicato Five
P5 has always been iconoclastic, recording 60s mod hipster throwback groovy tracks for tastemaking indie rock label Matador. Despite having broken up almost a decade ago, and also not really being “rock” per se, P5 still make this list. THAT’S HOW ICONOCLASTIC THEY ARE. Seriously. During the awful awful 90s when every band was hunching over with their poorly kempt hair covering their malnourished faces, plunking away about meaningless non sequiturs, P5 were basically a fully realized art movement that embraced the dance music scene with an endless stream of quality remixes, presented their music in artful and coy packaging, and never pretended to be anything they weren’t. Here is an example of their purity of vision.

5. Red Bacteria Vacuum
Red Bacteria have also been around more than a decade, and despite having a Spinal Tap rotation of drummers, still manage to rock out while achieving extremely high leg kicks. Doubt us?

Red Bacteria Vacuum Live at the J-Pop Festival

They have rad music videos, but we thought we’d let you get to know them a little better with this interview we shot with them at the J-Pop Festival.

4. Go! Go! 7188
How can you watch this video and NOT love Yuu, Akko, and Turkey?

3. Scandal
Scandal gets placement for many reasons, but most importantly the school outfits. COME ON. Compare this relatively austere and smile-heavy music video to their grungy and dirty live show, which is reminiscent of early performances by the Runaways.

2. Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re
We like Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re so much we interviewed them at the J-Pop festival, where they talked about their views of cutesy girl-rock bands and their early fan base. Sample bite:

When we started, we had a lot more creepy nerds in our audience. And non-creepy nerds would tell us they liked us, but that our audience was weird so they didn’t feel comfortable at our shows.

Photo Courtesy of Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re

1. Chatmonchy
We’ve frothed at the mouth before about how much we love Chatmonchy, so we won’t repeat any of that mindless idol-praising here. Instead, let us merely remind you that our reviewer almost started hallucinating from lack of food, sugar high, pounding Chatmonchy jams, and a stellar light show.

Honorable Mentions
Who says fictional bands don’t count? Here are a few that SHOULD exist outside of comics and movies:

Black Stones from the Nana series by Ai Yazawa. Read here!

Misa Misa from Death Note. Sure she’s not a band, and isn’t a musician. Sure she hosts a cooking show. But she is sugary sweet on the outside and an evil murderer on the inside, and that’s pretty rock n roll.

Noodle from the Gorillaz. She came from the same brain that made up Tank Girl so DUH she rules.

The prepubescent girl drummer from Crash And The Boys. If you aren’t addicted to Scott Pilgrim, we feel nothing but pity for you. Pity and generosity, as we educate you slightly with this interview with SP creator Bryan Lee O’Malley.

*Did we miss YOUR favorite J-Rock girl band? Almost definitely. Educate everyone with your impeccable tastes in the comments!

Featured Photo Credit: MTV Iggy

Tags: HOTJapan
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