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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

J-Canuck's 90s Playlist

Yup, don't those 90s CD singles look cute? If I were at one of my old music store haunts such as RECOfan right now, they would probably be going for something like 50 yen a disc. Would like to peruse the bins again someday.

Good evening, folks! And in commemoration of the 7th anniversary of "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I would like to put out my 90s playlist...those go-to songs from the decade of the Komuro Boom, guitar pop/rock bands and the return of aidoru via Hello Project. I think it was about time since it was at the end of 2013 that I put out the 80s playlist and the middle of 2014 when the 70s playlist got written up. So it's been about 4.5 years between the last time and this list. Also, another reason for finally putting up the 90s list is that I was inspired by Noelle herself putting up her 60s playlist.

As with those lists, I searched the old memories for my favourite Top 10 from the 1990s, and once again, it was another lip-biting and mind-grimacing process of whittling down the list to just ten entries. So, for example, I had to sadly let go entries by Dreams Come True, Pizzicato Five and Original Love. The interesting difference between this list and the other two lists is that for a lot of the songs here, I was actually in Japan when they first saw the light of day due to my time on the JET Programme and then my early years as an inhabitant in Ichikawa.

So, without further ado...

1. Kazumasa Oda -- Love Story wa Totsuzen ni (1991): Finding the Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)original is currently impossible (as it usually is) although there are plenty of covers, so let me go with Miku Hatsune(初音ミク)here. I realize that this hit was going up against Chage & Aska's "Say Yes", but in the end, I had to go with this magnum opus by the lead singer of Off-Course(オフコース). What is it about "Love Story wa Totsuzen ni"(ラブ・ストーリーは突然にー)that still continues to thrill me right from the intro? It just seems to possess that feeling of excitement and drama of living in one of the world's biggest cities as these complicated love relationships play out on Fuji-TV.

2. Noriyuki Makihara -- Donna Toki mo (1991): From the drama of "Love Story wa Totsuzen ni" in the early months, I encountered the happy joy of Makihara's(槇原敬之)"Donna Toki mo"(どんなときも)just when I finished my time on JET and did a final trip around southwestern Japan. I was so drawn by this song that whenever I got into a department store, I made sure that I coursed through every CD shop to track the single down. I finally got it after a few tries. Yeah, my first attempts only saw it sold out.

3. trf -- Boy Meets Girl (1994): I had heard of this technopop tune even before I made my return trip to Japan at the end of 1994. Never heard of trf, never knew about Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉)creating his huge steamroller of acts and never realized that "Boy Meets Girl" was meant to sell cola. All I did know was that this song was percolating through my head for days. It ended up being one of the first CD singles that I bought during my Ichikawa life.

4. Sing Like Talking -- Mitsumeru Ai de (1994): And to think that I bought my first SLT album, "Discovery", as a pure mistake. Best mistake that I ever committed. Thus started my happy hunt to get more of their albums, and from "Discovery", I discovered the urban and urbane "Mitsumeru Ai de"(みつめる愛で)created by Chikuzen Sato(佐藤竹善)and keyboardist Satoru Shionoya(塩谷哲). To be honest, it was difficult to come up with a song by Sing Like Talking since the band has had so many scrumptious contributions but "Together" has already been put up on a couple of lists, and it was time to give some more love to this one.

5. Namie Amuro -- Chase The Chance (1995): Granted that a lot of Amuro(安室奈美恵)fans will probably go with other bigger hits by the just-retired Okinawan singer, but I've always gravitated to "Chase The Chance" for some reason. I guess that I will always be attracted to high-energy tunes that give off that sense of action although this song was used as the theme for a show about a crusading hero chef. Those were good times.

6. B'z -- Love Phantom (1995): For me, if it comes to a B'z ultimate favourite, I would have to go with either "Bad Communication" or "Love Phantom". Considering that this was a promotion song for TV Asahi's broadcast of "The X-Files" (which I did watch on my remote-less, dial-only TV every Wednesday night), this may go down as the quintessential cool J-Halloween song. I can no longer listen to this song without images of Mulder, Scully and Fluke Man forming in my head.

7. Toko Furuuchi -- Dare Yori Suki Nanoni (1996): Another beautiful ballad to remind me that some soul music still existed since the transition from kayo kyoku to J-Pop. Whenever I think of the 90s brand of popular Japanese music, "Dare Yori Suki Nanoni"(誰より好きなのに)never fails to pop up in the head. The arrangement of Furuuchi's(古内東子)representative song also has me thinking back to the 1980s. It's no surprise that it has been covered by other singers since its release.

8. Maki Ohguro -- Atsukunare (1996): As much as one of my favourite songs by Furuuchi always calms me down, Maki Ohguro's(大黒摩季)"Atsukunare"(熱くなれ)works very well in getting my blood flowing at beyond the official speed limit. In fact, I'm typing faster (and making more typos) since I'm listening to it as I get this paragraph down. NHK chose wisely in adopting this for the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and I can hope that the network can find a song that ups the ante in excitement for the 2020 Games next year.

9. Misia -- Tsutsumikomuyouni (1998): Man, did Misia make a splash. Along with Hikaru Utada(宇多田ヒカル)and bird, the three of them along with some other artists heralded a J-R&B boom, and Misia brought some good old-fashioned R&B of years past and present. "Tsutsumikomuyouni"(つつむ込むように)is still a title that has problems sticking in my head due to its length and pronunciation, but there is no doubt about the music there.

10. Morning Musume -- Love Machine (1999): At the beginning of the 1990s, I do remember aidoru acts such as Wink and CoCo, but then it seemed like the whole teenybopper thing that wound its way through the decades since the 1960s finally petered out. For a lot of my time in the final decade of the 20th century in Japan, female aidoru struck me as being extinct although Johnny's Entertainment had SMAP and other groups going on the male side of things. But then came the whole Tsunku-led Hello Project umbrella of aidoru groups and individual aidoru, and it all started with Morning Musume(モーニング娘。). Things were moving slowly but steadily in the early years of the group but then it all exploded into super fame and popularity with "Love Machine"(LOVEマシーン), and soon, the various members were showing up on their own myriad TV programs for a few years before more groups started forming. "Love Machine" became the funky choice to sing at the various karaoke boxes and year-end parties before the turn of the century, and Morning Musume took a new electrifying direction in their career.

Man, that was quite the decade, and there were so many other songs and singers that I would have loved to have included in the list, but I'm keeping it to ten. However, if any of the fellow collaborators would like to give their own 90s lists, they're more than welcome and commenters are also very welcome to provide their own contributions.

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