If the past two years have taught the world anything, it’s the precariousness of predictions. January 2022 has arrived, but with the spread of omicron causing fresh concern, all I can do is stare at my recently purchased calendar and throw up my hands. Maybe leaving the dates blank would be a better move than making plans.

J-pop demonstrated this unpredictability perfectly over the past 24 months. Less than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic started and with most people unable to attend live events or pop out to music stores, the industry long mocked for its reliance on CD sales and reluctance toward all things digital began adapting to the internet. Major Japanese artists started uploading their entire catalogs to streaming services, while a new generation of young artists were vaulted into the spotlight thanks to YouTube and TikTok.

There’s no doubt 2022 will bring even more changes. Yet there are enough developments and signs from last year to make some educated guesses as to what’s to come. And hey, even if these predictions are off ... that’s just a reflection of the times, right?