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So far this year, most of the media attention paid to the music industry has focused on scandal rather than songwriting.

The biggest news stories so far have been Gesu No Kiwami Otome. vocalist Enon Kawatani having an affair with TV personality Becky, along with the will-they-won’t-they drama surrounding a rumored SMAP breakup. Tabloid-friendly narrative rising above musical criticism isn’t a trend exclusive to Japan, but it still feels like we’ve been missing out on a major musical moment as 2016 hits its halfway point. What follows is a list of some artists worth checking out.

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