Playlist – Ecstatic Affluence: A City Pop Odyssey

ECSTATIC AFFLUENCE: A CITY POP ODYSSEY is perhaps the thing I hold the most pride in from all my days as a “music curator”, if you can call me that. It’s a 50-song playlist of exclusively Japanese music centering around the 80s and dipping a bit into the 70s near the end. It is likely the most nerdy thing I have ever made, but also potentially the most fun and free of irony, which is something we all need nowadays.

This brand of music featured here, usually labeled as “city pop”, was usually paired with flashy urban experiences, primarily listening to fun, summer music in newly-invented car CD stereos. Sonically, it’s a mix of  jazz fusion, adult contemporary rock, R&B, maximalist synth pop, slap bass, epic horns & string sections, experiments in electronics, and a fine mist of romance and adventure. Think big, bright synth pop and cheesy, smile-inducing grooves.

The playlist starts with the bombastic and unforgettable “Les Aventures de TINTIN” by Taeko Ohnuki, a song I found through a tweet from musician and fellow city pop scholar Skylar Spence. It flies by at a million miles per minute and sets the mood for the first half of the playlist. Following that is potentially the most popular city pop song, Hiroshi Sato’s “Say Goodbye”, which I think was popularized in indie circles by Toro Y Moi? Unsure on that one, but it’s a massive banger. Haven’t found someone who doesn’t like it.

Now this playlist doesn’t just center on pop, despite its name. In the back half, I threw in some ambient/new age-leaning songs, folk-rock from the late 70s, and a few more weirdo cuts that I thought were too good to be left out. However, it’s mostly centered around the pop experience. Think of the other parts as excursions from the norm – going into places previously unexplored. It ends with Yoshiko Sai’s “Fuyu No Chikado”, an epic piano ballad I’ve posted about on here before. Very reminiscent of the last Weyes Blood record.

Over the past five years or so, city pop has exploded into a cult phenomenon, as fans, collectors and curators rush to find the hottest, buried groove. Strangely enough, many of these songs became uncovered through the YouTube Suggested Videos algorithm. This tool has led to a few records (to my knowledge) being issued for the first time internationally and bringing new attention to the genre. In addition to that, blogs like Listen To This (one of my major influences in blogging. Seriously check it out!) and other “4th World Japan” forums help dig up this stuff and bring it all to light, offering free downloads and streams on every post. The vaporwave craze too, along with the (personally much-maligned) genres of “future-funk” and “lo-fi study beats” had major hands in bringing all of this into the sphere of many internet-dwelling citizens.

I usually make Spotify playlists for everything I post on the blog, but since many of these songs’ rights are all split up everywhere / groups & labels have no interest in putting their stuff up on US Spotify, I thought it would be easiest to make a YT playlist. They’re all up there already. You can also find each individual song (except for one white whale) linked down below in the “read more” section because I didn’t think of the playlist idea until I already linked everything. I hope you enjoy! Listen to this on the move for best results.

LASTLY – I have made a download for this playlist and have sent it around to a few friends to test its “fun” potential. If you’re interested in getting a DL of this… lemme know. I can hook you up.


  1. Taeko Ohnuki“Les Aventures de TINTIN”
  2. Hiroshi Sato“Say Goodbye”
  3. Piper“Summer Breeze”
  4. Kaoru Akamoto“Dress Down”
  5. Haruomi Hosono“Sports Men”
  6. Tatsuro Yamashita“Sparkle”
  7. Akiko Yano“いつか王子様が”
  8. Cioccolata“Il cielo lontano (いつか見た青空)”
  9. Yasuaki Shimizu“Seiko 1”
  10. Miharu Koshi“Parallelisme”
  11. Seaside Lovers“Sun Bathing”
  12. Momoko Kikuchi“Mystical Composer”
  13. Tatsuro Yamashita“Music Book”
  14. Toshiki Kadomatsu“Airport Lady”
  15. Makoto Matsushita“FIRST LIGHT”
  16. Miki Matsubara“Stay With Me”
  17. Shigeru Suzuki (Pacific) – “コーラル・リーフ”
  18. Taeko Ohnuki“何もいらない”
  19. Momoko Kikuchi“Adventure”
  20. Momoko Kikuchi“もう逢えないかもしれない”
  21. Akiko Yano“春咲小紅”
  22. Junko Ohashi“Sensual Night”
  23. Nami Shimada“Sunshower”
  24. Yellow Magic Orchestra“Mad Pierrot”
  25. Akiko Yano“ただいま。”
  26. Miharu Koshi“Ryugujyo no Koibito”
  27. Hiroshi Sato“Love Is Happening”
  28. Tatsuro Yamashita“STORM”
  29. Mariya Takeuchi“もう一度”
  30. Mariya Takeuchi“プラスティック・ラブ”
  31. Taeko Ohnuki“Summer Connection”
  32. Takako Mamiya“渚でダンス”
  33. Safari“Day Dream At The Bob’s Beach”
  34. Yasuaki Shimizu“Yume Dewa”
  35. Mariah“Sora Ni Mau Maboroshi”
  36. Yoshiko Sai“ヒターノ”
  37. Takashi Toyoda“Sea”
  38. Takashi Kokubo“海底の中の夢”
  39. Hiroshi Yoshimura“Soto Wa Ame”
  40. Toshifumi Hinata“Sayoka”
  41. Yellow Magic Orchestra“Behind The Mask”
  42. Yoshiko Sai“Ouma Toki”
  43. Haruomi Hosono & The Yellow Magic Band“Shimendoka”
  44. Yoshiko Sai“青いガラス玉”
  45. Guernica“集団農場の秋”
  46. Guernica“水晶宮”
  47. Yasuaki Shimizu“Shiseido”
  48. Akiko Yano“クマ”
  49. Haruomi Hosono“Boku Wa Chotto”
  50. Yoshiko Sai“Fuyu No Chikado”

As I did with my chillwave summer playlist (which you can find in the sidebar if you’re on a computer right now!), I broke down the timeline for each of the songs’ release dates. There’s a definite center around the 80s, but I underestimated how much music from the 70s I put in there. Near the end of the set I wanted to tone things down with more folk and rock-minded songs, kind of like a calm, relaxing chaser after a long day of riding subways, shopping in lavish stores, eating at nice restaurants, and walking up and down crowded sidewalks. A return to the countryside, perhaps.

1973 – 1
1975 – 2
1976 – 1
1977 – 4
1978 – 3
1979 – 2
1980 – 1
1981 – 1
1982 – 4
1983 – 4
1984 – 5
1985 – 5
1986 – 6
1987 – 5
1988 – 2
1993 – 3
2004 – 1

About Very Warm

Usually cool dude stuff.
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1 Response to Playlist – Ecstatic Affluence: A City Pop Odyssey

  1. Pingback: Playlist: Nightlife Daydream – A City Pop Fantasy | Warm Visions

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