I had heard a lot of good things about the Teen Titans animation based on the DC comic-books but it was ages before I got the chance to see it. In the end, the show was quality but it was the theme song that impressed most. It was sparky, spikey Japanese pop. On investigation it turned out to be by Puffy who were, apparently, megastars - who eventually got their own popular animation series.
Actually, in the West they have to be called Puffy AmiYumi, adding the names of the two members - Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura - to avoid any confusion with Puff Daddy, as he was called at the time. Though to be fair, one African-American rapper bloke, two Japanese pop-rock women, you can see how people might get confused.
It's their eclectic mix of influences from the sixties onwards that make it just a bit different from the usual Top 40. Most of the lyrics are in Japanese but it sounds so good it's not a barrier.
I seem to have a lot of favourite bands but it's Puffy I look forward to turning up on shuffle the most and who I turn to if I've had a bad day to cheer me up. I recommend getting the whole discography but start with the American release of Nice. Almost every song is a pop-rock classic.
Because of Puffy I looked for more J-Pop and assumed it would all be as good. Not a bit of it. Much of it is as bland as the Top 40 in any other country, some of it was so saccharine I nearly threw up. It was with relief, therefore, that I discovered Ai Otsuka. She's a brilliant singer-songwriter. There isn't a duff track on her three albums "Love Punch", "Love Jam" and "Love Cook". A best of compilation called "AI am BEST" has just been released.