Review

The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap: KinKi Kids – Jetcoaster Romance

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


KinKi Kids – Jetcoaster Romance

Released April 22, 1998

KinKi Kids’ name may sound provocative to Western ears, but the “Kinki” actually refers to the region in Japan that these two performers hail from. The duo made their official debut in 1997, and have since gone on to hold the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive number one singles since debut. Perched between V6 and Arashi in the Johnny’s Entertainment timeline, the guys have always occupied a space and sound of their own.

I’m not a fan of every KinKi Kids song, but I’ve always loved Koichi and Tsuyoshi’s voices and admire how steadfastly they’ve clung to their own musical identity over the years. With that said, many of my favorite KinKi Kids songs come from their first few albums. And for me, that era is best encapsulated by Jetcoaster Romance – a perfect pop song.

We’re taking a bit of a break from the 90’s techno sounds today. Jetcoaster Romance has a warmer, more nostalgic appeal. It boasts an old-school sunshine pop sound rooted in the 60’s, though a song like this could have been recorded and released anytime since then without feeling out of place. The ebullient instrumental, with its nudges of brass and insistent strings section, is pure bliss. Its general style was popular before I was even born, yet conjures such a sense of wistful comfort. I can close my eyes and just get lost in it.

This gorgeous production offers the perfect springboard for the duo’s equally-warm vocals. Their performance feels like an aural embrace, rich and compelling and smooth as butter. The melody glides with an effortless tug, hitting all the right beats as it surges to a flourishing finale. I just adore this.

 Hooks 10
 Production 10
 Longevity 10
 Bias 10
 RATING 10

3 thoughts on “The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap: KinKi Kids – Jetcoaster Romance

  1. Yeas!!! The whistle sound at the beginning is such an iconic cue intro. This is one of my fav. Songs of theirs. I also recently watched their streamed concert and the singing quality is by far the best in Johnny’s.

    If I were to pick the sounds that formed my musical DNA, I would also have to say it’s mostly 90s jpop. In fact, it’s the triumvirate of v6, kinki kids and speed. Have you listened to speed? I always found it a pity and odd that their career was so short lived.

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    • I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t listened to much Speed. To be completely honest, I’m just not sure their vocals are for me. I can’t remember which songs I’ve already heard. Which would you recommend?

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      • I think they are the quintessential straight pop sound of the 90s. Their main vocal, hiro, was just 15 when they kinda disbanded in 2000, so they sounded kinda nasally, although both hiro and eriko had a lot of potential in terms of range. But they got back together and released a repackaged album of their best hits. You might want to check that out for better, more stable vocals.

        I think that their most iconic single is White Love. This was a karaoke favorite of girls in Japan, I think. But most other things they released when they were still very active are good like: my graduation, alive, precious time, breakin out to the morning, wake me up, steady, long way home, nettaiya and their debut single body & soul. They repackaged all of these in 2009 and even filmed new MVs. Those are really worth checking out.

        Hiroko Shimabukuro’s first few solo singles are also very speed-like and great. Things like treasure and confession. And as a tribute to our love for techno, maybe you can also check out takako uehara’s kiss you jounetsu.

        I am ashamed to say that I used to bring takako’s photo to the salon and asked for her haircut all the time. Lol 🤣.

        -Rina

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