Music

After a decade absence, Japanese city pop legend Tatsuro Yamashita is back with a new optimistic album 

After a long hiatus, Tatsuro Yamashita's 14th studio album Softly lives up to expectations and is a joy to listen to. The King of City pop, known for his smooth, melodic, and soothing songs, is back.


Tatsuro Yamashita, the king of the Japanese pop music genre known as City Pop, is back after a 10-year hiatus with a new album that is renewing interest in the J-Pop icon, with fans and critics alike praising its catchy beats and uplifting lyrics. 

Originally popular in the 1980s, City pop is known for electronic instrumentation, upbeat rhythms, and catchy melodies. It often features lyrics that express feelings of optimism and longing for a better future, some of the most notable artists of City pop are Mariya Takeuchi , Eiichi Ohtaki and Tatsuro Yamashita.

Yamashita’s 2022 release Softly, perfectly captures the energy and spirit of city life. From the opening track to the last, the album is a melodious return to the era of City Pop.

Born in 1953, Yamashita is known for his ability to blend funk, soul, and pop elements seamlessly into his music. He burst onto the scene with the release of his first album, “Add some music to your day” in 1972. The album was a huge success and spawned hit singles such as “Love Talkin” a romantic ballad that expresses a longing for love and connection, and “Ride on Time,” a song that communicates a desire to let go of worries and embrace the present moment.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, Yamashita continued to release successful albums and singles and is still ranked number six on the top 100 pop artists of Japan. He has produced and written songs for other artists, including the Japanese pop group Dreams Come True, in addition to his own.

Following a 10-year break, Tatsuro Yamashita’s new studio album marks a refreshing return to the music scene. The album is melodic, upbeat, danceable and lively, featuring a combination of jazz, funk and R&B, with a highly polished sound. 

Finding the album may be a bit of a challenge in North America. Yamashita is not widely known here, so a little bit of digging must be done in order to find his music. A small amount of his music appears on Spotify and Apple Music — only one album and a couple of songs. The only way to find his most famous albums is through YouTube and websites that specialize in Japanese music.

Nevertheless, this album is a perfect blend of Tatusuro’s iconic city pop signature sound and modern pop songs. Softly consists of 15 funky and charming songs.

The standout track on this album is “Love’s on Fire,” a powerful and emotive track that perfectly captures the feeling of being deeply in love. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of the emotions that one feels when thinking and seeing the person they love. The melody is snappy and upbeat, adding an extra layer of energy and excitement to the song.

The song describes how falling in love can feel like being consumed by a burning fire and leaving you feeling euphoric. The song’s composition, tempo and synthesizers will have you tapping your feet and singing along in no time. The lyrics are relatable and easy to understand, making it a good choice of song to dedicate to that special someone.  This song is typical of the album’s theme and style, and is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who hear it. 

“Cheer Up the Summer” was originally a single that was released back in 2017 but is now incorporated into the album. The song captures the carefree spirit of summer, with a fun and charming sound.

The lyrics of the song are light-hearted and joyful, speaking of the simple pleasures of summertime like ice cream, sunshine, and spending time with friends. 

“Softly” offers a powerful message of hope and resilience in the face of a challenging and uncertain era. With its upbeat music and positive lyrics, the album encourages listeners to embrace the present and look to the future with optimism. 

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