Visual kei (aka visual rock) refers to the huge musical movement among Japanese musicians since the late '80s. They were mostly influenced by glam rock of the Western music market, in a sense that they use striking fashion and theatrical performance to highlight their music.
Early visual kei bands were strongly influenced by glam rock and heavy metal. Over years, visual rock music has gone under considerable changes to meet the consumers' taste for music. Today, visual rock music encompasses goth, industrial, J-pop, and hip hop. With this revitalization, visual kei has earned more public awareness and the new title, "neo-visual kei".
While visual kei is rather an obscure theme as a music genre, it is credited as a major spur to the Goth lolita fashion trend. Visual kei bands are generally perceived as rock artists with flaboyant dress, androgynous looks, jewelry, hair dyed and sprayed, and thick make-up. Most Goth lolita dressers cite that they are inspired by their favorite visual kei bands.
X Japan, a legendary Japanese rock band, is widely recognized as the pioneer of visual kei. Other renowned bands that contributed to boost visual kei's popularity include Malice Mizer, Luna Sea, and Dir en grey.