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.
Masayuki Deguchi – Speed Of Life
Released May 22, 1996
Masayuki Deguchi was involved in many projects during the 80’s and 90’s. First, he was the vocalist of band Grass Valley. Next, he embarked on his own solo project under the moniker REV (which I highly recommend). And finally, he extended that REV sound for work under his own name.
From what I can tell, 1996’s album Speed Of Life was a bit of a flop commercially, and I can understand why. At this point, its synth-driven dance rock sound was ubiquitous, making it impossible for each and every artist to stand out. But, I think all three singles from this album are quite fantastic, and deserve a second look.
Of the three, Speed Of Life is probably my favorite. It’s got a great series of synth riffs, punchy guitars and a brilliant electro breakdown that precedes the opening verse and bridge. Deguchi’s vocals are dripping with texture, as usual. He’s got a rich, throaty tone that makes his music feel luxurious. Speed Of Life is buoyed by this sound. It has a stately appeal, driven by brassy stabs, explosions of electric guitar and a crooned chorus that melds new wave with the sounds already popular in 90’s J-pop. To me, it feels like a long-lost classic, waiting for its chance to be rediscovered by a new generation of listeners.