Around the turn of the century, J-R&B began to make its presence known in the mainstream. I was becoming familiar with the soulful sounds of Misia and bird but then came the more hip-hop voices from folks like Orange Range, SOUL'd Out and m-flo.
As for that first example, Orange Range, I didn't listen to much of their stuff but the group consisting of Yamato, Hiroki, Ryo, Naoto, Yoh and Katchan (who left the band in 2005) had their moment in the sun via mass media. I couldn't precisely pin down their form of music although J-Wiki has them categorized in a number of genres: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, Power Pop and even something called Mixture Rock. That last genre is a new one for me and it's a Made-in-Japan category in which rock music is combined with all sorts of music so I gather that those first two genres in my last statement would be a couple of examples. For me, I saw Orange Range weaving back and forth between hip-hop and rock.
One of Orange Range's catchier earworms was their 6th single from June 2004, "Locolotion" which was faintly inspired by the 1962 "The Loco-Motion" by Little Eva. If you enjoy that sexy and sultry and summery beat while ogling young women slathering on their Coppertone...well, this is your lucky day, isn't it? Those first two adjectives are given extra weight with that female patter that comes on in the intro and later on.
"Locolotion" hit No. 1 in a long series of top-ranking hits starting with their 5th single "Michishirube" (ミチシルベ) which was released earlier in February and going down to their 13th single from May 2006, "Champione" (チャンピオーネ). Incidentally, that is their final No. 1 to date although their succeeding singles until recently have been reaching No. 2 and No. 3.
As I remarked above, "Locolotion" was faintly inspired by "The Loco-Motion". However, the original songwriters for the Little Eva song, Gerry Goffin and the legendary Carole King and/or their representatives felt that even a little inspiration without their names being placed in the credits was enough to raise a red card on the soccer pitch (I guess Kylie Minogue asked politely). Initially, it was Orange Range who was listed as the writer and composer but after the complaint came in, that was changed to Goffin and King. Still, I think the song is sufficiently different that the credits could have been shared between the two parties although I'm not sure if Orange Range had asked for permission beforehand. Well, anyways hopefully a lesson was learned.
Still, the song was a roaring success as it did go Double Platinum becoming the 7th-ranked single for 2004. Orange Range even got to perform the song live from Okinawa at that year's Kohaku Utagassen. And ultimately, it has probably become the theme song for ogling on the beach in Japan.