Haven’t posted a legit song in a while, but this **new** song from city pop icon Tatsuro Yamashita has been burning a hole in my brain for so many reasons. I unwittingly ran into it in the trailer for Mirai, the new anime film from Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children), AKA one of the most prominent filmmakers of the genre outside of Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai.
I had been getting some pretty incessant instagram ads for the film, so I decided to finally watch the trailer. Seemed cute enough, but then I started paying attention to the theme music. Usually the themes and openings to anime films and TV shows aren’t my thing, but this one definitely grabbed me thanks to a familiar voice. Sure enough, the song was performed by Tatsuro Yamashita, one of the most recognizable voices and artists in the city pop realm. His album For You has some of the most memorable art in the genre, and his married status with j-pop queen Mariya Takeuchi gains him cred too.
What floors me the most about this song, aside from the fact that it’s a lovely, bright and bubbly piano pop ballad that soars high but has its feet planted firmly on the ground, is that this man Tatsuro has not missed a beat since his retroactively labeled hey-day. His voice sounds exactly the same, and this song would not feel out of place on one of his 80s albums; complete with a killer saxophone solo, chiming glockenspiel and charming overdubbed vocals & ad-libs. It’s incredibly easy to slip into this catatonic state of thinking that you’re enjoying something nostalgic and a piece of music from a better time while listening, but the contrary is true, at least for the latter. We are truly in hell times, but this magical creation has been bestowed upon us. In 2018! What have we done to deserve this?
Has he just been on his game for the past forty years and I haven’t given him the time of day yet? Is this a constant thing? Has he been making bangers for other animated works throughout the years? Is he a go-to guy in that field? Or has the anime studio that likely commissioned Yamashita caught on to the fact that city pop is THE THING right now? Did they call upon one of the deities of the genre himself to conjure up another bonafide city pop slapper, both as a nod to fans, but also to get saps like me to buy a ticket to a limited screening here in NYC to see the song in the film on the big screen? Honestly, it’s all up in the air at this point. Too many facts pointing in different directions. What we do have right now on the ground, though, is an incredible gift to any and all city pop fans in the year 2018. The artists are still out there churning out heat – it’s just a matter of how and when it will get to you. And yes, I bought a ticket to see the movie in theaters for this upcoming Saturday. That is for sure a thing.
In the mean time, do yourself a favor and listen to Yamashita’s 1982 album For You below. It’s been in my regular rotation for the better part of two years now, so you know it’s good.