If you were to map my musical DNA, a sizable portion would be indebted to 90’s J-pop. To me, this is a truly magical time in music, but it’s rarely discussed or shared outside of Japan.
Being an aficionado of certain sounds within this era, I’ve tracked down hundreds of highlights over the years. And I think it’s time to share my carefully curated playlists with the world.
With this in mind, we have a new ongoing Bias List feature – The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap.
I’ll be writing about (and rating!) a number of singles from Japan’s 90’s pop boom, constructing a timeline of the era piece-by-piece.
Whether you’re familiar with these artists or not, I invite you to go on this journey with me and discover new classics you may have never heard before.
The roadmap in full
Released May 13, 1998
Why, yes! I would like to “rage” my dream! I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sure sounds cathartic, doesn’t it?
m.o.v.e were a genre-blending J-pop trio (and eventually duo), known for their OST efforts tied to street-racing anime series Initial D. And, much of their music feels well-suited to the soundtrack of high-octane, speed-racing action. Though m.o.v.e fits very well within the specific 90’s oeuvre I’ve been spotlighting, their music takes elements of many genres and makes them all work together. The female vocalist/male rapper configuration may have you thinking of western groups like Aqua, but their work is more varied than that.
Of all their singles, I think Rage Your Dream has the best hook. And really, the entire song is built around that refrain. It’s introduced right off the bat, via dramatic piano. Then, the refrain repeats – emboldened by a beefier arrangement that incorporates guitar. So, when the actual chorus rolls around, it’s not so much a surprise as it is the fulfillment of a promise. Luckily, this hook is too catchy to ever wear out its welcome. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the constant riffing of this melody is too much for some listeners.