I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, May 7, 2018

More Than Paradise -- Natsu Monogatari(夏物語)

Came across this one while browsing through YouTube and then encountering one of those City Pop/J-AOR compilations.

More Than Paradise is one of the many projects that singer-songwriter Yudai Suzuki (鈴木雄大...I think he's been called one of the princes of City Pop) participated in. With this unit, he worked with Eiko Kamata(鎌田英子)and Jun Kageie(景家淳), and through the J-Wiki article about Suzuki, I found out that More Than Paradise released 2 singles and 2 albums in the early 1990s.

Their first single was "Natsu Monogatari" (Summer Story) from June 1991, a fun and sprightly tune that brings out all of the flowers and sun. Written by MITSUYO and composed by Yasuhiro Abe(安部恭弘), I never came across any recorded hint that it was part of the genre, but that arrangement sounded so much like pop stuff from the 1960s that I kinda went ahead and decided that it was a Shibuya-kei song. I also love those synth steel drums in the instrumental as well.

Nice ditty to start off the week. There is also a brief article on this Japanese-language 90s City Pop site which I found and wanted to let you know about not just for More Than Paradise but also for the fact that the site actually exists. Why not give that place an exploration as well?


  1. The site you linked is great. I've never seen a whole lot of 90s city pop being talked about, but that blog does seem to take a little more liberties with the term. I wonder if the English speaking internet might have a more firm stereotype on what city pop is.

    1. Hi, Kai. Good to hear from you again.

      Yeah, City Pop can be surprisingly amorphous depending on who you speak to since I think the original intent was to showcase music with that "Big City" sound, but that can be quite vague. For me, it's about the thumping bass and Fender Rhodes with some Steely Dan chords. Plus, although I initially saw it as the Japanese equivalent to American AOR, it's actually a whole mix of fusion, disco, AOR and R&B and perhaps a few more genres that I can't think of.

      There is that fellow on YouTube, Van Paugam, who came up with his own video on what he thinks makes City Pop tick and I actually wrote an article about it here:

  2. Glad to see this blog still going. First time i've heard the term "city pop", sounds like my kind of thing.

    What do you think about the western trend of adopting artists like Tatsuro Yamashita and Mariya Takeuchi into things like "Vaporwave" and "Future Funk" mixes? I think it's great that the music is being introduced to an unexpected audience, but the fact they often go uncredited irritates me.

    1. Hi, Ryan! Good to hear from you again.

      Yep, I can't believe it that I'm approaching 6.5 years with the blog. Every time I feel that I'm coming to an end, I find out that I'm not. By all means, feel free to explore out there. You just have to punch in Japanese City Pop into the YouTube search engine and you'll get a number of like-minded tunes.

      I'm also happy that folks have been able to discover the original music through the Vaporwave/Future Funk that has been coursing through that one corner of YouTube for the past couple of years. I've also read about commenters stating that the original is indeed the better version (but, of course:)).

      I'm not particularly miffed that the original artists such as Yamashita and Takeuchi have not been fully credited although I think the uploaders should mention them right in the description; I mean, the Future Funk guys are using their music...would it hurt to spend a few more seconds putting the original artists' names up in the description? I think some of those remixers have mentioned them in the comments but only when asked by others.

      As I've noted to Kai above, there is Van Paugam's video to find out some samples of City Pop. I've been talking about the genre for over half-a-decade now and there are still many singers for the genre that I haven't even approached yet.

    2. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. I agree, it can't be hard to add some kudos in the description at least. Although Youtube's autoplay has led a lot of people in the right direction. "Plastic Love" is breaking 10million views.

      I will definitely be on the lookout for more City Pop!

    3. Hi again, Ryan.

      Yes, I've been coming across comments under a number of those City Pop videos such as those for Takeuchi and Taeko Ohnuki who have been pleasantly surprised by getting these recommendations out of the blue.

      "Plastic Love" is just doing incredibly, isn't it? It hasn't even been a year but it has hit a very happy and sympathetic nerve on this side of the Pacific. I've been a big fan of Mariya and the song for years but I've scratching my head at what the key has been. Is it the velvet voice? The Steely Dan-like arrangement? I would love to dissect it.

      If you are looking out for more City Pop, definitely check out Tatsuro Yamashita, Makoto Matsushita, Takako Mamiya and some early Minako Yoshida.

    4. Plastic Love is an amazing song, but weirdly I think a significant part of its growing popularity has to do with the picture in that one Youtube upload?

      I've noticed if you search the song on twitter or tumblr, it all comes back to that picture, even though it's a cover for the Sweetest Music single -- not Plastic Love. That video seems to be the original place the picture and song were put together. Maybe I'm reading backwards, but that specific picture has definitely become synonymous with the song on English-speaking social media, to the point that it's recognizable even in memey formats.

      She does look nice in the picture, though.

  3. Hi, Kai.

    Yep, it certainly helps the enjoyment of the song with Mariya's gorgeous visage as the image. She is very photogenic so fans need not obsess over that one photo by itself.

    It's incredible how "Plastic Love", this 1984 song has touched a pleasant nerve among some of the YouTube viewing public in 2017-2018. Not sure if the song or even Takeuchi deserve meme status, but she has gotten mentioned on a meme site recently:


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