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.
Iceman – What’s Wrong?
Released July 29, 1996
A couple weeks ago I wrote about Iceman’s Dark Half and mentioned that, while it wasn’t my absolute favorite song from the group, it was a great entry point. My actual favorite Iceman song is What’s Wrong. And technically, this isn’t even a real single. It’s the b-side to Dark Half! But the fact that it’s accompanied by a music video makes it eligible for this feature.
To me, What’s Wrong feels like the direct precursor to T.M.Revolution’s Hot Limit, which would arrive two years later. They’re both composed by Daisuke Asakura, and feature the same relentless techno-meets-rock energy. I don’t find Iceman’s Michihiro Kuroda to be nearly as charismatic a vocalist as T.M.Revolution, but he still commands this track.
Longtime Bias List readers know how much I adore Infinite’s The Chaser, and there’s quite a bit of connective tissue here. When it comes to the instrumental, those brassy synth accents and unyielding dance beat feel like The Chaser’s long-lost ancestor. Iceman incorporate a heavy dose of electric guitar, influenced by stadium rock. But, the song itself is incredibly light on its feet, charging forward with a rhythmic structure and repetitive, hypnotic hook.