It is the time of the year where we once again take a look at all the great music contributions. This time around we have done it slightly differently. Instead of solely using sales numbers to determine the order of our list, we asked you—the readers—on Facebook and Twitter to influence our top picks by offering your candidates! We accumulated the votes to use as a reference, then brought in the JROCK NEWS team and determined the order of this year’s top acts.

Jump down to see our two top 15 lists, one covering visual kei artists, and the other where we include general Japanese acts.


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TOP 15 VISUAL KEI BANDS
1. the GazettE
VK

After not releasing a true full album in years, the GazettE has returned to their throne! It is without a doubt that the five-man band put out one of their most anticipated, beloved, and solid album with NINTH this year. By the hype and fans’ reaction to this album, the GazettE has once again hit the top spot!

Before the release of the album, JROCK NEWS asked the fans of the band to name their favorite songs, take a look at the top 20 the GazettE songs picked by our readers here!

NINTH
Buy at CDJapan or JPU Records
Preview
2. DIR EN GREY
VK

The members of DIR EN GREY have been on journeys of their own lately with their respective solo-projects, but finally, the band united to create The Insulated World with its reminiscing sound which undoubtedly resonated with longtime devotees! In the visual aspect, DIR EN GREY brought back a more traditional visual kei look that many have been longing to see the band revisit.

DIR EN GREY has also been actively touring outside Japan this year, covering eight cities across Europe. Check out the amazing photos we got when covering the London show!

The Insulated World
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Preview
3. lynch.
VK

Even after early controversial events, lynch. kept itself steady as a rock and ultimately created their most solid work to date! The album XIII showed off the best side of the band, not only within heavy rock songs but also with the softer ballads that the band truly excels in.

XIII
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Preview
4. HYDE
VK

HYDE earns a top spot on our visual kei list with his activities stretching beyond his solo project and into the collaborative side of things. He wrote the song Kiss of Death for Mika Nakashima, featured as the opening song in the well-received anime Darling in the FranXX. HYDE even collaborated with Yoshiki for the song Red Swan which also ended up as an opening theme song, for the praised anime Attack on Titan.

His solo work After Light entered top 11 in Japan’s Oricon chart, and did even better with the recent single Fake Divine, peaking at top 7.

After Light
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5. Yoshiki
VK

Yoshiki is a man who needs no introduction. His fans have been craving for new material, and surprisingly, we end up seeing his latest song being released as the opening theme song for the praised anime, Attack on Titan. The single Red Swan featuring HYDE has been a top seller worldwide, becoming the best selling anime song within the iTunes rock chart category. Yoshiki is also actively doing his part to make mother earth a better place for everyone by aiding victims of natural disaster and more.

JROCK NEWS interviewed Yoshiki during his world tour to promote his documentary We Are X. Definitely have a look if you want to know more about Yoshiki and his charity work!

Red Swan feat. HYDE
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See the rest of the visual kei top 15 list below!

6.
KAMIJO

Sang
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7.
DIMLIM

CHEDOARA
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8.
A9

Planet Nine
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Preview

9.
DADAROMA

dadaism#4
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10.
Kizu

Steroid
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11.
NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST

Whiteout
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12.
JUPITER

Theory of Evolution
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Preview

13.
BUCK-TICK

No.0
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14.
RAZOR

KNOT INVISIBLE
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15.
DEVILOOF

Devil’s Proof
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Preview


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TOP 15 JAPANESE ACTS

Reol’s two major releases this year consisted of mini-album Kyoko Shu and the full album Jijitsu Jo. These releases showcased Reol’s vulnerable side and the new punchy attitude we come to expect and love! We see the new sound drift more towards rock while still keeping the electronic vibes intact, a unique balance we have yet seen any other artist pull off this well.

On the social media side, Reol has been very attentive on Instagram and interacts a lot with her followers through live streams where she speaks her mind, sometimes singing while playing her acoustic guitar.

To learn more about Reol and how she went from being a hobby musician to making it a professional career, have a look at our interview we conducted a while ago.

Jijitsu Jo
Buy at CDJapan
Preview

Although BAND-MAID didn’t hit our number one spot this year, they’re still a band that keeps breaking borders with their catchy rock and lovely outfits. The album WORLD DOMINATION released earlier this year, and the world tour which they just finished, attests their determination to not stop until they’ve broken every border and conquered the world!

All this talk about world domination however did not make BAND-MAID forget about their home country. During April Fool’s day, the band showed off a comedic fan-service where the members were donning kimonos instead of maid dresses for the music video secret MAIKO lips, while also changing their name to BAND-MAIKO specifically for this.

Start Over
Buy at CDJapan or JPU Records
Preview

There is no other band like UVERworld! Their catchy music, amazing performances, and the unusual inclusion of a saxophonist. It’s a band which sound cannot be replicated and has won the hearts of Jrock and anime fans alike. The single ODD FUTURE, featured in popular anime My Hero Academia, peaked at number 3 in Japan’s Oricon chart, and latest single GOOD and EVIL / EDEN e did even better, reaching top 2! Despite being active since the year 2000, each new release still feels vivid and fresh.

ODD FUTURE
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Fresh to the heavy metal scene, LOVEBITES have already achieved a bunch of goals this year and amassed high popularity in the European metal scene. They have done this by collaborating with Finnish engineers Mikko Karmila, and Mika Jussila in their second mini-album Battle Against Damnation which saw the light via JPU records. The energetic performances in Europe helped the band gain a bigger audience through big festivals such as Wacken Open Air, and Bloodstock Open Air, as well as the European tour which took the band to the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the U.K.

We don’t see this band stopping anytime soon as they continued their activities until the very end of the year, witnessing the release of the second full album Clockwork Immortality earlier this month.

Battle Against Damnation
Buy at CDJapan or JPU Records
Preview

SCANDAL can be considered veterans by now as they have been around for 12 years! This year, we saw them release their eighth studio album, Honey, reaching the third spot on Japan’s Oricon charts. The album received positive reviews as the band returned to their early rock sound, mixed with the matured sound the band developed over their extensive career.

Tour-wise, the band has been frequently showing love to the fans by visiting Japan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou, Manila, and Taipei in the Asian leg, and finally, held a handful of performances in the U.S. during September.

Honey
Buy at CDJapan or JPU Records
Preview

See the rest of the top 15 Japanese acts list below!

6.
BABYMETAL

LEGEND – S – BAPTISM XX – (Live at Hiroshima Green Arena)
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7.
Aimer

Black Bird
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8.
BRIDEAR

Helix
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9.
Kenshi Yonezu

Lemon
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10.
BRATS

BRATS
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11.
CRYSTAL LAKE

HELIX
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12.
UNLUCKY MORPHEUS

Change Of Generation
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13.
Wagakki Band

Otonoe
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14.
Survive Said The Prophet

s p a c e [ s ]
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15.
LADYBABY

Hoshi no nai sora
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Preview


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We hope you enjoyed this year’s pick! If you think there are artists which definitely should be on the list, make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to influence the outcome next year!

See more top lists:

Top 15 visual kei and Japanese acts of 2017

Most influential Jrockers of 2017

Top 20 anime opening and ending songs 2017

Give us your opinion!