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.
T.M.Revolution – Hot Limit
Released June 24, 1998
Throughout his career, T.M.Revolution has worn his fair share of head-turning costumes. But, none has become as iconic as the bondage outfit featured in the music video for 1998’s Hot Limit. In fact, sometimes I think the novelty of the image overshadows just how great the actual song is.
Personally, I put this just below High Pressure when it comes to T.M.Revolution classics. Like that track, Hot Limit is high-octane, totally over the top and ridiculously catchy. Nishikawa’s vocal growl is in fine form, attacking the track without fatigue. And, the production matches his intensity. The synth keys spiral in a maelstrom of razor-sharp fragments. Blasts of brassy textures give the track a triumphant energy. And that buzzsaw guitar riff anchors everything with a powerful rock edge.
This is pop music that attacks the listener. It never pauses or flags. It doesn’t give you warning or reprieve. You’re either in it, or you’re left behind. I admire songs like this. Hot Limit is tightly structured and conforms to the expectations we have of pop singles, yet it also feels as if it’s playing by its own rules. This push-and-pull gives it a strong sense of character, made even more compelling by its one-of-a-kind performer. Wrap that up in a meme-worthy bondage get-up and you have the makings of a legend.