Recently, while exploring the depths of Spotify’s recommended playlists, I stumbled upon a whole “new” genre of music: city pop. Flourishing during the late 70s and 80s in Japan, city pop combines elements of soft rock, jazz, and funk to create a unique feel. City pop represented a movement away from traditional Japanese music; artists encapsulated Japan’s economic and cultural shift towards Western ideology in their new-age music.
One of my favorite city pop songs, 4:00A.M. by Taeko Onuki, represents the very best of what city pop has to offer. Starting off with a scintillating flute solo, the song progresses towards a grand chorus, slowly picking up steam with a commanding brass, subtle guitar, colorful keys, and a chilling choir. Moreover, the beautiful composition renders a truly universal feel for any listener; even if the song is sung primarily in Japanese, a darker, regretful mood becomes evident immediately.
While city pop slowly fell out of favor in Japan in the late 80s, it re-emerged internationally in the late 2010s. Since then, city pop has slowly picked up popularity due to the influence of Tiktok.