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.
Masataka Fujishige – I Love You More Than Words
Released June 8, 1994
I sometimes wonder how songs like this sound to someone who didn’t grow up in the 90’s. Masataka Fujishige’s I Love You More Than Words is such a product of its era – and that era is late-80’s/early-90’s AOR rock. I imagine it sounds quite schlocky to those who don’t have a frame of reference for it. But, I’m smitten by the song’s drama and unabashed drive.
I Love You More Than Words is so unknown to international ears that I can’t even find a romanization for it online. So, I’m sticking with Google translate and hoping that it’s not screwing me over! Anyways, Masataka Fujishige is a singer/actor who first broke out in the early 90’s but is most well-known for his song Keep Your Style, which was tied to the popular Prince of Tennis anime. I think his voice is just fantastic.
He’s got that old-school crooner vibe going on, with a richness that reminds me of artists like Morrissey. That kind of vocal demands a big, bombastic pop track, and I Love You More Than Words definitely fits the bill. It was his debut single, and the beginning of a run that would stretch into the 2000’s. He’s got a handful of great songs, but in my opinion this is his most engaging chorus. There’s a bluntness to the melody that hits like a ton of bricks and helps the song break free from some of its more dated influences.