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.
Pamelah – Kirei Ni Nanka Aisenai
Released February 21, 1996
It’s time for another female-fronted electronic rock group to join the likes of Every Little Thing, Favorite Blue and ROmantic Mode as part of this feature! Pamelah don’t really do anything different from these other acts, but I’d say they have a slightly punchier power pop sound. This is best evidenced on their third single Kirei Ni Nanka Aisenai (poorly translated to “I Can’t Love You Beautifully”).
The guitar on this track is just blazing. In fact, that was one of Pamelah’s hallmarks. Composer/guitarist Masazumi Ozawa made sure to give himself plenty of space to show off, and that instrumental prowess makes Kirei a real treat. I mean, just listen to that ferocious breakdown during the song’s climax! Add Yuki Mizuhara’s expressive vocals and insistent blasts of brassy synth, and you’ve got the kind of dance-rock attack that never lets up.
As with so much of 90’s J-pop, Kirei Ni Nanka Aisenai feels well-suited to an action-packed anime. Instead, it was the theme to a 1995 (variety?) series that Google translates to “Pafo Pafo” (ぱふぉぱふ). I have no idea what that actually is, but I’m very interested if anyone is a native speaker!