StreeXB Global Talent SearchCity pop brings urban to the indie world

Pop, hip-hop, R&B, and country are to name a few.

These are just some of many genres in the music industry.

Though we may not be aware of them, they are all out there.

Japan is not excluded from this. The music scene of Japan is expanding, with the term ‘city pop’ being added to the musical vocabulary of fans and artists. Though ‘city pop’ has been around as a genre for a very long time, its revival has become a trend in the Japanese indie music industry.

Read on to learn more about what city pop is exactly.


City pop is the latest trend to hit Japan’s indie-music scene. Well, not the musical style, just the words.

The term was originally used to describe an offshoot of the emerging Western-influenced “new music” of the 1970s and ’80s. “City pop” referred to the likes of Sugar Babe and Eiichi Ohtaki, artists who scrubbed out the Japanese influences of their predecessors and introduced the sounds of jazz and R&B — genres said to have an “urban” feel — to their music.

Music journalist Yutaka Kimura, who has published a number of books on City Pop and its associated artists, defines the genre as “urban pop music for those with urban lifestyles,” in his book “Disc Collection: Japanese City Pop,” citing the band Happy End as “ground zero” for the movement.



The term has drifted in and out of the musical lexicon ever since. According to a feature that focused on “New City Pop” in the June 2015 issue of Music Magazine, the term was considered outdated after the late ’90s, but then goes on to position Cero as the band who is chiefly responsible for reviving the term (but not the genre) in recent years.

Rental chain Tsutaya published an article in March 2015, highlighting city pop as the “next movement” on its entertainment news site. Its piece only went back as far as the early 2000s, though, and cited artists such as experimental trio Nisennenmondai and singer-songwriter Shugo Tokumaru as the genre’s forerunners, and present-day examples being synth-guitar pop band The Fin., indie rockers Ykiki Beat and electro-pop unit Suiyobi No Campanella. (It’s also worth noting that Tsutaya positions its recently purchased Shibuya-O venues as city pop’s historical focal point.) Music Magazine’s city pop issue focused on pop group Awesome City Club, the jazz and prog-rock collective Yoshida Yohei Group and the bubbly electronic pop of Sugar’s Campaign instead.

With a term as vague and broad as city pop, it’s natural that no one seems to be agreeing on what the label actually means anymore.


We’d like to thank The Japan Times for this intriguing article. Click here to read the original article.

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