Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Instances

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A 37-year-old song helped make a comeback for a Japanese music genre called city pop.

A YouTube video titled “Plastic Love” by Mariya Takeuchi has received more than 56 million views since 2017. For many young fans it was an entry point into city pop, as Cat Zhang explains in Pitchfork. The genre dates back to the 70s and 80s and was influenced by R&B and jazz. It often combines shimmering vocals with funky production and the result is a bubbly sound.

City Pop “promises a romantic escape across the Pacific that is somewhat detached from reality and stimulates the imagination of young homebodies who scroll online,” writes Zhang.

The YouTube algorithm is in part behind the genre’s online resurgence. Soothing, atmospheric music is popular on the platform and can be played repeatedly in the background while users work. Many of these listeners end up discovering City Pop in their video recommendations. As Rolling Stone reported, trying to identify the source of the genre’s sudden popularity, a Reddit user wrote, “citypop is also known as you cleancommendationcore.”

The songs also reach new audiences through TikTok. One trend on the platform, writes Zhang, was for Japanese users to play a city pop song for their mothers in 1979 that shone and sang along in response.

That’s it for this briefing. Until tomorrow.

– Natasha

Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh took the break from the news, and Sanam Yar wrote today’s backstory. You can reach the team at [email protected]

PS
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest installment is about Bill Gates’ efforts to ensure the Covid-19 vaccine reaches poorer countries.
• Here’s our mini crossword puzzle and a clue: Creative in a slightly presumptuous way (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Lisa Lerer was promoted to national political correspondent after two and a half years as lead author and moderator of the On Politics newsletter.

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