Japanese blogger, mimi246, on the history of pop music (1)

Here is my translation of the blog enty by mini246 – this is just a casual and rough translation, and forgive me for my gramatical errors etc. But I hope you could see what mini246 wants to introduce, based on her own experience of growing up in Japan. And she introduces us so many youtube links!


The class on Japanese culture at the University of Chicago was something! So I will try to add my personal take on the history of postwar Japanese pop music

I saw Popular Culture In/Out of Japan blog, of a class taught by Tomomi Yamaguchi at the University of Chicago, via the April 14 entry of her blog. I initially thought that the class focuses on manga and anime, because Phoenix and Genshiken were introduced as required readings. When I saw the content, however, it wasn’t limited to only manga and anime. I was surprised to see how deep the content related to music was. Rather than deep, the content was filled with love (for music), and especially, I wonder where they could research so much on Shinbuya-kei. I had so much fun reading this entry. Bravo!

At the same time, I now have desire to add what is not written here..

So, centering around Sean’s entry, “Artists from the Presentation,” I will write things that I feel “I would like to include this trend,” ” I would like to refer to this artist,” etc. (including my personal expriences.) Please keep in mind that my knowledge is far from being perfect, and my views are limited.

First, 1970s. In the “New Music” part, I would personally like to include Miyuki Nakajima and Yumi Matsutoya. Besides these two, there were so many great female sing and song writers debuted in this period, and many of them are still active musicians.

Miyuki Nakajima, “Ito” (Thread/Strings)
Yumi Matsutoya “Yasashisa ni Tsusumaretanara” (If you are wrapped with gentle-ness)

Some of the sing and song writers who debuted during this period.

Taeko Onuki, “Kin no Makiba” (Golden ranch)
Akiko Yano, “Ramen Tabetai” (I want to eat ramen.)
Douji Morita, “Bokutachi no Shippai” (Our mistake)

On the 80’s female idol singers, I have an impression that Seiko Matsuda and Akina Nakamori were the two most popular stars. In my memory as an elementary school student in the early 80s, I think Seiko was a “burikko,” (someone who tries to act cute) while Akina was a bad girl type.

Seiko Matsuda, “Sweet Memories, “Hitomi wa Diamond” (Your eyes are diamonds)
Akina Nakamori, “Kinku” (prohibited area)

Among the idols from the mid to the late 80s, “onyanko club” is important. The TV show that featured them, “Yuuyake Nyan-Nyan” was a popular show among junior-high and high school students. I was a junior-high student then, but I always watch the show in the late afternoon when I didn’t have any club activities. I think most of my classmates must have been watching the show. There were folks who imitated the choreography of “Sailor Fuku wo Nugasa Naide” (Don’t strip off my sailor-style school uniform).

Onyanko Club, “Sailor fuku wo nugasanaide” “Osaki ni Shitsurei” “Koi wa Question”

An important trend of the late 80s is the so-called band boom, such as the TV show, “Ikasu Band Tengoku (Ikaten)” (audition show for bands) etc. I was only listening to Euro-American musics then, and occasionally went to Tokyo from Shizuoka to see the live performances of bands. At the time, there were bands that were performing in “Hokoten” (“pedestrian’s paradise” – in some urban areas in Japan, some public streets prohibit cars and motorcycles and pedestrians can walk freely on weekends and holidays). I saw many girls with two-sided buns, wearing rubber-sole shoes. In my class of my highschool, there was a typical structure of “boys who play in bands, and girls who surround them.” I hated it, so I got along with “otaku” girls. But in other areas, there were girls playing in bands.

BOØWY ”Marionette
The Blue Hearts “Owaranai Uta
Princess Princess ”Diamonds
X Japan ”Blue Blood
Unicorn “Daimeiwaku”

I think the bands who received spotlights in the “band boom” tended to be punk bands in terms of genres, but there were also bands with strong influence from metal, new wave and techno, so actually I remember there were many kinds. Among the artists who appeared in this period, Tamio Okuda of Unicorn, for example, later debuted as solo, had wide range of notable activities such as collaboratively working with Yosui Inoue, and working as a producer Puffy (Ami Yumi) to have big hit songs.

Inoue Yosui Okuda Tamio “Arigatou
Puffy Ami Yumi, “Asia no Junshin

Now the 90s. I don’t think there is a need to add anything to Shibuya-kei.

Pizzicato Five, “Tokyo wa Yoru no Shichiji
Flipper’s Guitar, “Groove Tube
Cornelius, “Theme from First Question Award
Kahimi Karie, “Good Morning World
Kenji Ozawa featurig Scha Dara Parr “Konya wa Boogie Back

Just a little big on Scha Dara Parr that Ian Condry refers to in his website. I used to listen to Scha Dara Parr from the early to mid 90s, and I had a strong impression that they were “people who use daily language and rap in a relaxed manner.” They don’t try too hard, not too eager, and down to earth. At the same time, they were very sarcastic toward pretentious critics and weird people who pretend like “insiders” in the business.

Scha Dara Parr, “Game Boys
(to be cont’d…)


6 Responses to Japanese blogger, mimi246, on the history of pop music (1)

  1. tiffanysays says:

    I can’t believe we didn’t mention Puffy Ami Yumi! And I remember how popular X Japan was. Basically, if we had more time for our presentation, I’m sure we would have had a blast covering these topics/artists in-depth.

    This is pretty awesome.

  2. mimi246 says:

    Tiffany, thank you for reading my article.
    I read about your presentation and was really amazed at how you know and love pop music in Japan. Even though your time was limited, I think your presentation was excellent. I really enjoyed reading about what you (the presenters) did in class.
    I know pop music in Japan now has much influence upon other countries, but I don’t know so well about how it is listened to in what country or area. So I think it is interesting to research about interaction between J-Pop and K-Pop. And I also want to know what in music from Japan people in the United States listens to, and how it is accepted.

  3. tiffanysays says:

    I am a huge K-Pop fan, and there is this program on Korean TV called music wave. I was watching it with my mom once and the special guest for that episode was a Japanese female singer! She was really popular with the audience, and my mom even wrote her name down so she could get her CD when we were in Japan. Also, I mentioned in the presentation that there are very many Korean artists who seem to find popularity and “cross-over” to Japan. For instance, BoA is Korean but her big break came from Japan. Rain also is one of Korea’s superstars who seems to have a following not only in Korea and Japan but in all parts of Asia. One single Rain released in Japanese was called “Sad Tango” and my understanding is that it did really well in Japan. Even living in Korea, I would hear about Japanese bands such as Japan X and pop groups such as Morning Musume and SMAP.

    In the United States, it seems like there is a wide range of Japanese music that is loved by a wide range of people. I am more familiar with bands such as Blonde Redhead, Deerhoof, and Asobi Seksu who have Japanese female lead singers. I have friends who love the Boredoms, Flipper’s Guitar, and Kiiii!!! (I don’t quite remember how many I’s and how many exclamation points there are in their name… hahaha).

  4. mimi246 says:

    Tiffany, maybe you know about Japanese music much much better than I!!!
    I knew a little about BoA, and I heard pop stars like Namie Amuro and those who belong to Johnny’s are quite popular in South Korea. I also heard there are some bands influenced by Flipper’s Guitar there, but I didn’t know that Rain is so famous in all parts of Asia (not only in Korea and Japan). I don’t know very well about Korean pop culture, but Korean drama called “Dae Jang Geum” is my favorite. Japanese TV station NHK broadcasts Korean drama on Saturday nights, so now I watch “Spring Waltz.”

    By the way, It seems like more and more bands from Japan are getting popular in the U.S. I have heard of Deerhoof, but I didn’t know about Blonde Redhead.

    Anyway, thank you for answering me!!

  5. sredmond says:

    Blonde Redhead aren’t from Japan, and neither are Deerhoof. Japanese frontwoman =/= Japanese.
    Pizzicato Five were pretty big on the underground scene here in the mid-90s. I love them so.
    Today, Boris is pretty big on the metal scene. Acid Mothers Temple and the Boredoms still turn heads. I think that’s kind of the direction it’s been going in in terms of U.S. headway. The Shibuya-kei scene has (unfortunately) petered out. *tear*

  6. tiffanysays says:

    I didnt say that blonde redhead or deerhoof were from japan.. i said that the lead singers of these bands were from japan… hahaha, and i mean, i think that because these lead singers are japanese, they add aa certain “quirky” quality to the music that makes it different from bands like denali, yeah yeah yeahs, the gossip, vedera, or other bands fronted by females who aren’t japanese.

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