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And now for the Back Story on …
Japanese city pop
A 37-year-old song has helped drive a comeback for a genre of music from Japan called city pop.
A YouTube video of the track, “Plastic Love” by Mariya Takeuchi, has garnered more than 56 million views since 2017. For many young fans, it served as an entry point to city pop, as Cat Zhang explains in Pitchfork. The genre is from the ’70s and ’80s and was influenced by R&B and jazz. It often pairs shimmery vocals with funky production, and the result is an effervescent sound.
City pop “promises a romantic escape across the Pacific that’s somewhat detached from reality, feeding the imaginations of young homebodies scrolling online,” Zhang writes.
The YouTube algorithm is partly behind the genre’s online resurgence. Calming, atmospheric music — which can be played in the background on repeat while users work — is popular on the platform. Many of those listeners end up discovering city pop in their video recommendations. As Rolling Stone reported, a Reddit user trying to identify the source of the genre’s sudden popularity wrote, “citypop is also known as youtuberecommendationcore.”
The songs also reach new audiences through TikTok. One trend on the platform, Zhang writes, had users of Japanese descent playing a 1979 city pop song for their mothers, who beamed and sang along in response.
That’s it for this briefing. See you tomorrow.
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news, and Sanam Yar wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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