City Pop has been making a big boom lately! Although retro, in general, has been becoming a theme for many modern-day singers, City Pop has a special sound that everyone’s resonating with!
City Pop is a loose genre of pop formed in Japan from the late 1970s through to the entire 1980s. There is no solidified definition of the genre, but it was believed to have been influenced by Western music of the time and projected an “urban” and “neon” feel. Some of the pioneers of the genre were songs and artists like: “Plastic Love” by Mariya Takeuchi, “If You” by Toshiki Kadomatsu, “Stay With Me” by Miki Matsubara, “Love Space” by Tatsuro Yamashita, and more.
The genre has been influencing the world in recent years, and although it probably does count as true City Pop unless, from the ’80s, you can find the mood of the genre in many songs today. Here are just 15 to get you into what Korean City Pop is offering!
1. “Lady” by Yubin
Released in mid-2018, Yubin made a killing with her retro vibe, often reminding fans of her days in Wonder Girls. From the outfits, to the beat, to even the lighting, the song truly feels like a time capsule of the ’80s!
2. “Venus” by Rainbow Note
Debuting in 2019, this duo’s entire concept is City Pop! Although a somewhat unknown group, they’re rising in popularity with the rise of City Pop. They even pay tribute to Japan by making their album covers and music videos in an ’80s and ’90s anime style!
3. “I Feel You” by Wonder Girls
Bringing the ’80s genre in 2015, the Wonder Girls truly made everyone crazy for the retro concept with their neon lights, bodysuits, and unique dance moves. What made them even more interesting was that the idols actually played their own instruments! Making it feel even more authentic. Although it’s stretching away from City Pop, it still has enough chill vibes to keep it in the running.
4. “Soul Lady” by Yukika
As a Japanese woman promoting in South Korea in the Korean language, who better to have insight into the genre? Yukika perfectly blends the City Pop genre with a more modern twist. Debuting as a singer in 2019, Yukika’s entire discography thus far pays tribute to the 1980s!
5. “Girl Girl Girl” by TRIPLE H
Although Triple H dabbled in retro concepts, “Girl Girl Girl” is really the only song close to City Pop. The genre didn’t have to entirely have a peppy beat and be a fast dance number. In fact, many of the original City Pop tracks were slow jams, such as this song.
6. “Say Something” by TWICE
Although they haven’t done too many retro concepts, they went full City Pop with this B-Side! In fact, it’s probably the best example of a City Pop song by a widely popular K-Pop idol group thus far. The soft beat that still makes you want to dance is just what we’re looking for!
7. “Seoul City Pop” by IHYA
As said blatantly in the title, IHYA is one of the few male artists bringing City Pop to Seoul. It isn’t easy to find him, considering he is an Indie artist. However, this entire album is available on YouTube and truly makes you feel like your walking in the city at night.
8. “Ladies Night” by Red Velvet
Always experimenting with their sound, “Ladies Night” brought the girls back to the ’80s while keeping touches of their own unique sound. Although perhaps a little too peppy to be City Pop, it still evokes much of what the genre was trying to do.
9. “We Ride” by Brave Girls
Brave Girls made a huge comeback to fame with “Rollin’,” but what about their City Pop bop “We Ride” that came out last year?! Mostly showing the girls in funky colors and lighting while driving through city lights, it gives the perfect ’80s feel of chill and fun at the same time.
10. “Caffeine” by Eyedi
Although debuting back in 2016, Eyedi found more popularity in late 2018 with her dive into retro synths and R&B. Lately, she’s been experimenting with a City Pop feel while hoping to make her songs distinguishable as hers.
11. “Bubble” by Bronze (feat. SUMIN and ELO)
Although another difficult-to-find Indie producer, Bronze has worked with many recognizable singers such as SUMIN, Hoody, Yukika, and LUNA. The style is consistently retro, and often time City Pop.
12. “Juliet” by EXO-CBX
EXO’s sub-unit EXO-CBX has certainly experimented with retro over the years, but “Juliet” really has that driving through the city feel. It’s a bright and happy song but still remains very soft to the ear.
13.”Moon” by SHAUN
SHAUN has been getting quite a bit more recognition lately and has taken his own stab at City Pop! He even made the lyrics video a pixeled neon city, evoking the genre not only through the song but the visuals as well.
14. “No Big Deal” by ELRIS
ELRIS is actually an underrated girl group from all the way back in 2017! However, with a few member changes, they really became what they are today in 2020. They started 2020 strong with a retro concept and “No Big Deal” being their chill beat.
15. “lovememore.” by dosii
Dosii is an Indie duo that is quite well known by City Pop lovers, considering that’s most of what they do. This song, in particular, makes you feel almost like you’re on a cloud.
There are so many City-Pop-styled Korean songs out there and even more from the same artists listed here. We’re upset we could only fit 15! Regardless, we hope this helped begin your journey into Korean City Pop!