KPop Take a Seat, These Japanese Grannies are Going Viral With Their Pop Music

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There’s really no shortage of quirky music acts from the far East. Even as today’s K-Pop craze touches millions of fans around the globe, it’s not too hard to remember when viral hits like PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ took over the internet – the former breaking YouTube’s world record with an incredible 3.3 billion views at the time of writing this article. 

Japan and Korea have been unusually quiet in recent years, though. The last major hit was PIKOTARO’s ‘PPAP (Pen Pineapple Apple Pen)’, which had its brief claim to fame with close to 300 million views.

This year, however, you’re gonna have to give it up to the seniors.


Meet Obachaaan – the world’s oldest pop idol group, based out of Osaka. Japan has had a long history with pop idols – as the country went through a technological revolution in the 70s, TV sets and exposure to European pop acts made millions of Japanese tune into dance and music shows highlighting beautiful young starlets – a controversial industry where several performers have no privacy from their managers and everything, from their dating lives to diets are heavily controlled.

Obachaaan, however, is a lot more lighthearted. Formed in 2011, the group consists of seven regular members – with the average age between them being 66. The word ‘Obachan’ itself is a Japanese term for an older woman, and in their latest video ‘Oba Funk Osaka’, they sing praise for Osaka, this year’s G20 summit venue.

‘Obachan’ is the Japanese word for an older woman and Osaka obachan are noted for being loud, witty, talkative and friendly. In the video they play on this stereotype, down to offering confectionery that they always carry with them.

In it’s near-3 minute runtime, the video goes from cute to funny to downright weird – not straying far from the long-running stereotypes surrounding Japanese TV. As they dance and march through the streets of Osaka, Obachaaan shout out lyrics like “Let’s talk! Let’s dance! Here is Osaka wonderful city!” and “Let’s conversation! Hard communication! Come on!”

“Up to now, we moved like we were undergoing rehab. But this time we nailed it,” said Eiko Funai, a 71-year-old who along with other members of the group performed in the kind of tiger-patterned outfit favored by Osaka’s older women.

These stories mark an interesting departure from how we’ve seen popular figures – not just in Japan, but across the world. After decades of media pushing only the young and attractive in front of us, groups like Obachaaan help normalise the way we see the world around us, showing that older women (one of the most underrepresented groups throughout human history) can be the face of a nation during even a world leader summit – and perhaps help us take our obsession with age and appearances a little less seriously. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Photo: © Facebook/Obachaaan (Main Image)

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