Mizuki Koyama – Kareniwa Kanawanai

Originally released: 1985

What it sounds like: A raucous, playful anthem that reminds me at times of the OP for Yuyu Hakusho. With sprightly, festival-esque brass pumps and a youthful, irresistibly lively vocal from Mizuki herself – this is a real call-to-arms get up and let’s play number that’s pretty much the definition of good-time genki feels. Wonderfully energetic – and what’s more, the track features on the recent Tokyo Nights compilation too.

More info:

Discogs

Reddit

Advertisements

Kaoru Akimoto – Dress Down

Originally released: 1986

What it sounds like: If you’re looking for a slice of Japanese city pop with the real sass of a prime 80s era Madonna, Janet Jackson or Neneh Cherry, then Kaoru Akimoto’s Dress Down is the one. Riding a great percussive drum machine beat, this number screams style, a real hitting-the-town anthem packed full of feel-good factor.

More info:

Discogs

Toshiki Kadomatsu – If You Wanna Dance Tonight

Originally released: 1984

What it sounds like: Another one to file firmly next to Tatsuro Yamashita. If you fancy more male-vocal city pop, If You Wanna Dance is one of the best, with a breezy melody line that ranks up with some of Yamashita’s best. Kadomatsu’s style is sprightly and energetic, with a thrumming bass-line punctuating all the right moments. This up-tempo gem really has that ideal ‘sea breeze’ top down feel – definitely one to imagine slamming into the tape-deck on your dreamy 80s ride.

More info:

Discogs

Reddit

Wikipedia

Aru Takamura – I’m In Love

Originally released: 1985

What it sounds like: A throbbing, bass-heavy number, there’s something refreshingly earthy about I’m In Love. While the production is largely straight-up city pop fare, trading sax punches with classy electric piano, there’s a meaty delivery across both the instrumentation and Aru’s vocal that gives this number real staying power amidst a crowded market of similar material. When the trilling synth-riff kicks in at the middle-eight, it’s a dream.

More info:

Discogs

http://kayokyokuplus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/aru-takamura-im-in-love.html

Reddit

 

Mariko Tone – Broken Eyes

Originally released: 1985

What it sounds like: Boasting some of the most interesting production work I’ve heard on a city pop record, Broken Eyes’ multi-layered synth-work recalls the likes of Phil Collins’ Sussudio – all strutting jive lines and stabbing brass hones. It packs a real ‘go get em’ punch – a proper energy-rocking anthem – no surprises then that another song of hers’ – Derringer – became an OP theme for Cat’s Eye. You can practically imagine the neon-coloured leg-warmers and aerobics classes already. A prime 80s cut.

More info:

Discogs

Wikipedia

Reddit

Rie Murakami – T.N.T.

Originally released: 1984

What it sounds like: One of the more unique-sounding city pop records I’ve heard – sharp-edged, dangerous and funky, this curio has an almost punk-like energy to it. Channelling livewire synths and an untamed vocal style, this feels like real back-alley nightclub fodder, riding a Notorious-esque bounce and slamming beat. If you’re looking for the more adventurous side of J-Funk / City Pop, look no further.

More info:

Discogs

Kikuchi Momoko – Mystical Composer

Originally released: 1986

What it sounds like: Continuously recommended as one of city pop’s very finest smashes, Mystical Composer is one of those songs that feels like it tucked a year’s worth of hooks away just for itself. Just when you think you’ve heard the best the song has to offer, it pops out with an even better one – trilling around you with these beautiful tropical melodies, the perfect counterpoint to Kikuchi’s angelic softer than icecream vocals. Flirty and girly and all things so very delightful, this really is an infectious earworm if ever we’ve heard one. Bewitching.

More info:

Discogs

Reddit

http://kayokyokuplus.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/momoko-kikuchi-mystical-composer.html

http://www.godsjukebox.com/savagetea/kikuchi-momoko-mystical-composer/

http://dreamchimney.com/tracks/37977

Yumi Seino – Sky Restaurant

Originally released: 1981

What it sounds like: A real hidden gem, this deeply soulful number sneaks up on your with a surprisingly muscular vocal. Yumi’s delivery here is a class act – recalling smoky jazz bars and clinking cocktail glasses as patrons gaze out over the glistening lights of the nighttime vista. Featured on the recent Tokyo Nights compilation.

More info:

Discogs

http://kayokyokuplus.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/yumi-seinojun-shibata-sky-restaurant.html

Reddit

Takako Mamiya – Love Trip

Originally released: 1982

What it sounds like: Up there with Taeko Ohnuki’s Sunshower and Tatsuro Yamashita’s For You, Love Trip sits pretty in my all time Top 3 city pop albums ever. Takako’s vocals are all kinds of dreamy in their siren-like matter of factness, laying down an unshakeable aesthetic of 80s glamour, fashion, trendy designer apartments (and Chinese restaurants). The backing is decadently soulful, steering clearly of the more overt 80s excesses to favour a more ‘live’ sound of jazz horns and a tight rhythm section. If you’re looking for consistency, then you won’t go wrong with this album.

More info:

Discogs

http://kayokyokuplus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/takako-mamiya-love-trip.html

Reddit

https://www.talking-time.net/showthread.php?t=18923

https://everipedia.org/wiki/love-trip-album/

Maria Takeuchi – Plastic Love

Originally released: 1984

What it sounds like: Another of the top league of city pop tracks on YouTube – this number has clocked up over 9 million plays. Impressive. It’s well deserved too – this stylish mid-tempo jam struts its way around the listener with unbridled confidence, tidy piano chords propelling it on. Maria sings ‘don’t hurry’ – and we’re going nowhere, the dreamy soulfulness of the record comforts like the plushest leather sofa in a top spec condo apartment. Sit back and drape yourself in the best the 80s had to offer.

More info:

Discogs

Know Your Meme

Wikipedia

Reddit

https://lostinareverieblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/mariya-takeuchi-plastic-love/