This is an necessary but flawed intro to Japanese popular music, from a writer who in BILLBOARD magazine introduced me to such jpop stars as UA and COSA NOSTRA. Coverages runs the gamut from old school (e.g., Pink Lady), through the likes of Seiko Matsuda and Shonen Knife, and all the way up to Pizzicato Five and Namie Amuro. McClure offers some history and quite a few capsule overviews of artists in this colorful, photo-heavy book.
Yet there are a few problems to be aware of. For one, the book has dated quickly. A number of major stars surfaced soon after this book’s publication date (i.e., Misia, Hikaru Utada, and Ayumi Hamasaki). Secondly, not to plug my favorites, but I was disappointed that the vital Japanese acid jazz scene–Monday Michiru, Mondo Grosso, etc.–is nowhere to be found. And thirdly, some of the artist overviews are too brief (for example, UA gets several photos, but only one short paragraph of coverage–not sufficient to tell the reader WHY her music is acclaimed).
Although I like the graphics, I wonder if a more informative set-up would be to organize the material in an alphabetical, encyclopedia-like format, with more consistently substantive biographical and discographical information. Also, maybe having several writers participate would ease the burden on McClure and allow coverage of a wider variety of jpop artists. Still, thanks are due to the author for getting the ball rolling with NIPPON POP.
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