This list is a compilation of some of my favorite J-Pop from the ’80s. I first got into this music through first hearing J-Pop like Perfume and Capsule thanks to my friend Garrett, AKA Meishi Smile, who also runs the label Zoom Lens that I’m a member of. I think he and I started listening to this kind of J-Pop around the same time. We’ve bonded over it on numerous occasions and it’s very special to both of us. All of these songs have a certain sound in them that I really connect to and seek out.
Miyuki Hara - ゆでたまごと僕 (1989)
Miyuki Hara has a very pastel purple color vibe kind of voice. Inspiring music.
1986 Omega Tribe - Super Chance (1987)
At the time of this album’s release, Omega Tribe 1986’s singer was Carlos Toshiki, who came after their previous singer, Kiyotaka Sugiyama. Omega Tribe 1986 would eventually change their name to Carlos Toshiki & Omega Tribe after their guitarist, Teruka Kurokawa left the group. This is romantic beach music that makes me feel nostalgic.
Piper - Shine On (1983)
This song changed my life and was one of my first introductions into City Pop. I don’t know what any of the members of Piper are up to, but I hope they are all living easily.
Iyo Matsumoto - 短大終わると短い大人の夢を見る (1989)
Whoever produced and composed this song is amazing. This song has multiple sections that could be looped over and over for hours on end and never get old. It’s got a nighttime-convertible-with-the-wind-blowing-in-your-hair kind of sound.
Tomoyo Harada - カトレア・ホテルは雨でした (1985)
Another song that has sections that I could loop forever and ever. (Listen to that intro!) Trivia: This album was released on Tomoyo Harada’s birthday.
Sonoko Kawai - 青いスタスィオン (1986)
Sonoko Kawai was in Onyanko Club and has a unique and angelic sounding voice. This video is super and unique in terms of ’80s J-Pop idol music videos. (There are lots of double exposure effects, for example.) Props to whoever directed this one.
Sayuri Kokushou - 大きい猫 (1987)
Like Sonoko Kawai, Sayuri Kokushou was also a member of Onyanko Club. This song is super smooth and luxurious. Very appropriate music for a lounge without being lounge music at all.
Kanako Wada - SUNDAY BRUNCH (1987)
The title is apt. It’s got a fat and funky bassline with pretty guitar and synth melodies.
Keiko Kimura - 電話しないで (1988)
Keiko Kimura has a very smooth, spherical sounding voice and the production and arrangement on this song is A+.
Tatsuro Yamashita - Ride on Time (1980)
Tatsuro Yamashita is a God. My friends and I karaoked this song once and it was practically life-changing.