The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap: Pool Bit Boys – Sunshine

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

Pool Bit Boys – Sunshine

Released January 28th, 1998

You’ll see the name Daisuke Asakura A LOT as part of this feature, and Pool Bit Boys rode his techno-rock wave from 1997-2000 with seven singles across two studio albums. In the grand scheme of things, their career may have been short, but they burned bright (apart from the lyrically problematic What’s Life?… which is probably better off forgotten). Comprised of Japanese vocalist Kinji Ito and Hawaiian-born guitarist/rapper DAN, Pool Bit Boys was formed via variety audition series Asayan, which also fed into the longstanding Hello Project umbrella of girl groups.

Sunshine is Pool Bit Boys’ second single, released mere weeks after their debut. And though I adore all of their music, this feels like their defining moment. It’s such a ball of infectious, upbeat energy, galloping along a rollicking, keys-laden techno beat with surges of electric guitar egging it on. Like so many of the best pop songs, it’s well aware of how great its chorus is, and wastes no time getting to it. But I think I might even prefer that chanted post-chorus hook, embattled with blistering guitar.

Yet as knock-you-out amazing as this all is, Sunshine’s verses and pre-chorus have always been my favorite aspects of the song. I just love the melody here. It’s got such verve, pulsing forward as if embarking on some grand adventure. The stadium-rock power chords give me goosebumps, and add great drive to an already propulsive arrangement. Kinji’s vocals have an unadorned warmth – not perfect in all places but approachable and almost conversational in their delivery. And then we’ve got that rapid-fire rap bridge from DAN, which brings the perfect level of cheesy fun to the bombastic climax. The words “techno music” don’t always conjure images of charismatic frontmen, but these guys are incredibly charming performers.

And that guitar solo that caps off the track? Whew! This is one of my absolute favorite J-pop songs – 90’s or not.

 Hooks 10
 Production 10
 Longevity 10
 Bias 10

9 thoughts on “The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap: Pool Bit Boys – Sunshine

  1. YES! I saw this song on one of your other blog posts and instantly fell in love. It’s great to read how you put my feelings about this track into words, and I’m so glad I get a chance to express my love for it in long form.

    This song is pretty much my musical soulmate. It has everything I love: an unrelenting dance beat, starts off strong, there’s layered vocals, a shout- along hook, ROCK GUITAR!, and importantly- all of it is drenched in a hefty dose of optimism.

    The warmth in the vocals that you mention stood out to me too. Forgive the comparison (I make sense of the world through comparing) but that warm vocal tone reminds me a lot of how I feel listening to Onew’s voice. I’m really fond of that warmth and it works so well with the bright nature of the track.

    Since I’m comparing- when I first heard it this song brought me back to my love for One Piece’s anime openings sung by Hiroshi Kitadani (His amazing “We Go” performance: “ “).Those have a similar unbridled optimism and warmth (and guitar!) that can cheer me up and bring me comfort every time I listen to them.

    I stopped halfway through typing to rap along with that rap breakdown – that’s tells you all you need to know. The lyrics are so cheesy yet cool- and that guitar riff underneath just blows me away every time. And the guitar solo at the end? Fantastic. The song just soars off into the distance. I can not find anything I dislike here.

    Tl;dr – This is one of my favourite songs in any genre, ever. Please recommend me songs like this if you know any.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I saw this post, I was like “If this does not get a 10, I am throwing a fit in the comments!!!”. Thankfully, it did.

    To me, this is the quintessential 90s J-Pop song. It feels like a breath of fresh air, and a wave of calm. A perfect drive or beach song. That guitar solo is amazing. A true modern classic.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m obsessed with all kinds of Jpop between the late ’70s to late ’00s, but I’d never heard of this one before. This is definitely my scene, and I kind of got a TK vibe from the composition.

    A quick Wiki check shows he was actually associated with TM Network and “his talent was discovered by Tetsuya Komuro and Asakura work[ed] under Komuro as his protégé.”

    Looking forward to more of the series for artists I already love like ELT and Aikawa Nanase, and for ones I haven’t heard before like these guys!


  4. This is really just a rollicking good time! I love when a song grabs me from the collar, and Sunshine is possibly one of my favorite J-pop song of the 90’s. It’s a bright, beat sing-along blast to listen through.

    This certainly shows that bright songs CAN deliver undisputed power!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I belonged to their fan club back in the day… I was listening to their best 18 album and wondered if I could find anything Kinji or Dan were up to as of late and I found myself here. Sunshine is a great song, just exactly what it says on the tin. ^_^


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