What is City Pop?
City Pop music flourished in Japan from the late 1970’s to 80’s, presenting two distinct styles: songs that give off an urban feeling and resort-type tunes. All songs shared an influence from Western pop music which resulted in a sophisticated sound. Recently, the global music scene has started to pay more attention as City Pop music has begun to appear on YouTube. Core music fans from overseas have been visiting Japan just to obtain City Pop records and CDs. Currently it may be difficult to do so due to the pandemic, but you can still find them on Tower Records’ Japanese site.
A Boom Ignited by Mariya Takeuchi’s Plastic Love
The song Plastic Love from Mariya Takeuchi was originally released in 1984, and has seen a resurgence since the song was uploaded to YouTube in 2017. This received significant international attention and quickly collected more than 24 million views. It gained more notice from music sampling and its popularity coinciding with the rise of vaporwave genre artists.
Popular City Pop Artists and Listening Platforms
The top City Pop figures are Tatsuro Yamashita, Mariya Takeuchi, Taeko Ohnuki, Takako Mamiya and Yoshitaka Minami. Non-Japanese speaking foreigners tend to connect with their music through YouTube videos. Some of these artists have begun to appear on music streaming services like Spotify in recent years, but it may still be some time before they are all available.
Best 3 Recommendations from Tower Records Japan
Various Artists SUMMER BREEZE -CITY POP- ULTIMATE JAPANESE GROOVE
The world is now taking increasing notice of the urban and sophisticated City Pop music scene, long after its popularity in Japan in the 1970~80s. This compilation album comprises the essence of City Pop.
Takako Mamiya – Love Trip
This album symbolizes today’s newly acquired appreciation of City Pop music. It did not reach a wide audience upon its release in 1982, and ended being Takako Mamiya’s only completed work.
Taeko Ohnuki – SUNSHOWER
This is the second solo album by the talented singer from the band Sugar Babe, who is constantly receiving enthusiastic calls from international record dealers and cratediggers. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s deep fusion sound and arrangements still resonate after many years.
3 Other Recommended City Pop Albums
With the CDs featured in this article, you can start your Japanese City Pop album collection off with the best artists around! There is plenty more City Pop-related merchandise available on Tower Records Japan, which you can check out via the link below.