the japanese portal PresidentOnline published an article noting that City Pop, a Japanese music genre that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, is making a comeback on the world scene, thanks in large part to the spread of internet culture.
«“City Pop”, which was popular in Japan in the 1970s and 1980s with singers like Tatsuro Yamashita and Yumi Matsutoya, is now very popular all over the world. Hitoshi Kurimoto (栗本 斉), author of “The Basics of City Pop,” says, “The rise of YouTube has allowed foreign artists to discover spectacular songs unknown even to modern Japanese. In the future, Japanese City Pop could reach number one in the United States.”».
«Canadian R&B singer “The Weeknd” is one of the most popular R&B singers in the world. When he released his fifth album “Dawn FM” in January this year, he was highly talked about. No, of course he’s always in the news when he releases a new album, but in Japan the news came from a different angle. The reason is one of the songs on the album, ‘Out of Time’. In the credits of this song the names of Tomoko Aran and Tetsuro Oda appear in the composer section, where several names appear».
«The song is credited as such because it samples “Midnight Pretenders” from the singer-songwriter’s 1983 album. Tomoko Aran“Fuyü-Kükan (Floating Space)”. The album, “Dawn FM”, was a huge success, reaching number two on the US Billboard charts. It’s not every day a Japanese name gets credited on a hit album of this magnitude.».
«This Tomoko Aran ‘Midnight Pretenders’ was not at all a well-known song in 1983 when it was released. It was not successful and is only one of the best known songs on the album. To begin with, the album “Fuyü-Kükan (Floating Space)” itself did not sell well enough to break into the charts, and although Tomoko Aran has had some hits and is known as a lyricist, she is probably quite spectacular as a singer.».
«The song Midnight Pretenders is part of a musical genre known as “City Pop”, which has become fashionable in recent years. The term “City Pop” can be interpreted in so many different ways that it is very difficult to explain clearly, but a direct translation would be “urban pop”.».
«In more detail, it is a generic term for Japanese pop music that was born and developed in the 1970s and 1980s and was influenced and refined by Western music such as mature rock and soul music. For example, Tatsuro Yamashita, Yumi Matsutoya, Yoshitaka Minami, Minako Yoshida, Toshio Kadomatsu, and Junichi Inagaki are representative artists. In Japan, the term “City Pop” is often used to differentiate it from folk music and popular songs, which were mainstream.».
«However, the term “City Pop” itself is not a denomination that existed at that time, but rather a later one. Thus, music with style from the 90s is also often called that. Although the quality of the music was comparable to Western music, it was only music exclusive to Japan, except for a few titles.».
«For us Japanese, it might not be that hard to find these original songs, but overseas, unless you’re a sizeable fan, you had no way of knowing about them until now. However, the rise of YouTube and music streaming services has made it easy to access any great music from any country. Therefore, it is easy to imagine that unknown Japanese music was increasingly “discovered” by music fans abroad.».
«One of the main targets was very sophisticated pop music, influenced by Western music from the 70s and 80s, known as City Pop. It’s fair to say that enthusiasts have probably been around for a long time, but they were finally discovered with the rise of of internet culture».
«The origins are unclear, but in the early 2010s, Japanese songs were often included in illicit mixes by foreign DJs (piracy), and urban pop and idol pop were increasingly sampled into the culture. of the underground dance music known as vaporwave. Instead of being officially released, they are all discreetly posted on YouTube and other places with ambiguous rights, spreading slowly».
«When it comes to the rise of Japanese urban pop on YouTube, the story of Mariya Takeuchi’s “Plastic Love” needs no introduction. A video unofficially uploaded to YouTube around 2017 quickly spread across social media, quickly reaching over 20 million views. Given this situation, an official music video was urgently produced in 2019».
«City Pop began to be appreciated abroad at the latest in the early 2010s, by analogy with previous events. From this point of view, this City Pop boom has been going on for about ten years now. If it is transitory, will it last ten years? There are not many booms that last ten years. Also, instead of dying out, it seems to be steadily expanding.».
«It may no longer be uncommon for City Pop to be cited in global blockbusters like The Weeknd or, even more so, for artists claiming to have been influenced by Japanese City Pop to emerge and easily dominate the global charts. It’s already been proven that Asian artists, like those represented by BTS, can reach No. 1 in America, so the future of Japanese-sung City Pop in Japanese that resonates around the world isn’t crazy.».
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