Miyavi is part of a uniquely Asian/Japanese genre called "Visual Kei". Kei in Japanese just means style, and that suffix is used in many situations to refer to a particular style of thing. In this case, it refers to bands who place a lot of emphasis on the visual element of performance in addition to their music. These bands are seen as "alternative", encompassing music genres like rock, punk, alternative pop, etc. The vast majority tend to have a gothic image, but even those that aren't goth usually still sport the crazy costumes, make-up and glam hair that Visual Kei bands are famous for.
|Malice Mizer, a good example of old-school traditional Visual Kei. Just think Gothic Ziggy Stardust and you've got it.|
Miyavi started out as a guitarist for a pretty standard gothic style Visual Kei band called "Dué le Quartz". After the band broke up in 2002, he went solo and has produced 7 full albums since then. Miyavi also abandoned the goth image for a much more unique version of Visual Kei. His style is an interesting combination of retro and punk clothing, involving lots of bright colors and sometimes traditional Asian influences.
What really makes Miyavi stand out to me is his diversity as a musician. He is always experimenting with and changing the style of his music. He doesn't confine himself to only one style, which has led him to produce songs from a wide variety of genres, including: rock, pop, hip hop and blues. Despite the fluidity, his music always remains recognizable and true to his own unique style. He's also very talented as an acoustic guitarist. He has collaborated with other rock/Visual Kei artists, including forming a temporary group with Gackt, Sugizo and Yoshiki (of X Japan) called S.K.I.N.
|Miyavi with fellow S.K.I.N. members.|
For those who are new to Miyavi, I recommend getting a copy of the Fan's Best compilation album, it has all the fan-selected most popular songs. I was really happy with the selection, I think it includes a lot of his best stuff. My favorite full album is Miyaviuta -Dokusou-, because it features a lot of his best acoustic stuff and a heavy blues influence. If you like rock, go for the earlier albums Gagaku and Galyuu. For hip hop, try This Iz the Japanese Kabuki Rock.
|Did I mention Miyavi's also extremely pretty? Cause he is.|