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  • Writer's picturePhillip Radcliffe

Fashion and Music Revival

By Yuna Uemura

(Japanese translation coming soon.)

In recent years, 90's fashion and 70's and 80's music are being rediscovered by young people. However, this phenomenon has always been with us. For example, Hitomi Shimatani's "The Girl with Flaxen Hair," which was a hit in the 2000s, was originally a song by Village Singers. Also, Kiyoshi Hikawa's "Kiyoshi's Zundoko Bushi," which was also a hit in the 2000s and is a standard of Bon Odori, is sung by The Drifters and Akira Kobayashi. Another example is EXILE's cover of ZOO's "Choo Choo Train."

This is the trend for older songs, but what kind of music and fashion are being revived again? At first, the revival of analog records started in Europe and the United States. It was a nostalgic return to the original way of listening to records, but now it is no longer transient. The distribution volume of analog records in Europe and the United States is already at the same level as in the latter half of the 1980s, and half of the purchasers are young people who were not born in the age of analog records. In response to this, in 2018, Sony, a major record company, resumed its own production of analog records for the first time in 29 years.

The reason for its popularity is that high resolution has high sound quality that allows you to hear breathing and the sound of each instrument clearly, and analog records have the bonus of a mass of sound.

There is another music genre that has been revived. It is a form of City Pop that was popular in the 70's and 80's. This music shows the elements of American popular music of the 70's and 80's based on soul, disco, and contemporary black music. There are no musical rules, and no rules for songwriting, but the lyrics, songs, and arrangements are vaguely sophisticated and it has a mellow groove and atmosphere.

However, it was limited to singer-songwriters. It is represented by the work made by Eiichi Otaki (generally called "Niagara Sound" because the label that presides over it is Niagara). Other examples include Akira Terao's album "Reflections," which sold 1.8 million copies, Tatsuro Yamashita's "Ride On Time,” and Akiko Yano's songs. City Pop, which has been revived since the 2010s, is more flexible in incorporating the essence of various genres such as jazz, rock, R&B, hip hop, Latin and club music.

By the way, the roots of City Pop are said to be new music, a popular Japanese music genre. In the 1960s, music in genres such as folk and group sounds gained the support of many young people in Japan, but that genre became popular from the 1970s to the 1980s. On the surface, elements such as rock were added to folk songs, and the sound is elaborate so that the whole song can be heard comfortably. But in terms of lyrics, the politics and life feeling that were the characteristics of folk songs until then was excluded.

There are various theories about the origin of new music, but it seems that Takuro Yoshida's "Let's Get Married" and Shinichi Mori's "Erimo Misaki'' are symbolic songs. Musicians Yosui Inoue and Yumi Matsutoya also made their debut. There are two groups that are popular in City Pop bands. First, let's take a look at groups in Japan. One of them is RAMMELLS.

It's a four-member band consisting of Akiko Kuroda, Toru Sanada, Tsutomu Murayama, and Gen Hikosaka, and actor Yutaka Matsushige, who also appears in the Promotion Video of "Red Sun." City Pop is also extremely popular in Europe. Another group is "PREP," a four-member band based in London with unique backgrounds. Members include a hip-hop producer, a classical composer, a house DJ, and a singer-songwriter. Their music mixes various elements, such as electric R&B, soul, jazz, funk, and AOR (Adult-Oriented Rock), with emotional and piercing high-pitched vocals.

The fashion of the 90's when "kawaii" began to take root in Harajuku is also beginning to be revived. The idea that "fashion is determined by one's own coordination" has permeated, and as a result, casual fashion such as street fashion and American casual fashion has become popular.

It was in the 90's, which is called the golden age of fashion, when young people created this culture first. Because of this new trend, the bubble burst from the 1980s designer brand boom of Junko Shimada, Ingeborg, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. However, it was also an era when the point was how to fashionably dress in Indie brands and used clothing that are less expensive than the former designer brand fashions. From then, the 90s designer brand fashion split into two styles.

In the first half of the 90s, the resort casual style, which was modeled after Los Angeles in the United States as a pioneer of women's clothing, and the French casual style became popular among people who admired the lifestyle of Paris. On the other hand, the latter half of the 90s changed to rough fashion and Ura-Harajuku fashion. Wearing Converse sneakers and oversized T-shirts became very popular in Harajuku, and punk fashion wearing Dr. Martens boots became Lolita punk. New styles were born one after another.

There are two styles that represent women's fashion in the 90's. One of them is grunge fashion. It's a fashion derived from grunge rock born in Seattle, USA in the 90's. Grange means dirty and dingy, and is a style that incorporates vintage items. Classic items include core Indie band T-shirts, torn denim jeans, check shirts and flannel shirts. The second is skater fashion. It's something that Harajuku skaters liked to wear, and now ordinary girls are also wearing it. Supreme is said to be the representative of the brand. Wearing big tops and high-tech sneakers is a staple.

In addition, the Ura-Harajuku system is characterized by male-like fashion. Along with Nike's Air Max, this street fashion features unique colors, French casual with only items that do not have the characteristic elements such as border tops, plain T-shirts, trench coats and denim.

These are some of the ways that things have been revived in recent years in music and fashion. Of course, it is important to emphasize the present, but you should not disregard history. On the contrary, you should take an interest and actively listen and incorporate these new fashions into your life.


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