The Internet is an amazing thing sometimes. Who would’ve thought that a Japanese city pop song from the 1980s would ever become popular with western audiences all these years later? I never listen to Japanese music so I’m not sure how it came up on my YouTube playlist, but something about the black and white picture had me click on it and I instantly fell in love.
I’ve listened to Plastic Love at least a few hundred times in the past month. I just can’t get it out of my head. There is something hypnotic and nostalgic about it. The lyrics don’t start until a minute and seven seconds into the song and there are a few English words throughout the song, but only the ending is fully in English. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand Japanese because it’s truly an awesome song.
I was a student of Japanese back in high school, but I forgot everything when I learned Thai in the US Army. That was 24 years ago so it’s amazing that I can still read the Hiragana and Katakana characters. I printed out the song and highlighted all the Katakana in red ink. Katakana is usually English but pronounced in a Japanese way. If you are a student of Japanese or ever visit Japan, knowing Katakana can be very useful. I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting Japan a few times but found reading Katakana to be a big help.
時間がくれば終わる don’t hurry!
はやりの disco で踊り明かすうちに
おぼえた魔術なのよ I’m sorry!
ささやく声がしても don’t worry!
There are many covers of Plastic Love in several languages too. I love how the artist captured her look in the English version above.
There is also a Korean version.
After gaining so much popularity, they made an official music video last year. I wonder how she feels about her song blowing up all these years later. There are a few YouTube videos about the song as well.
Alan Levenson, the photographer who took the black and white photo, fought to get the song taken down only to have him get credit for it later and a lot of internet hate for being greedy. Hopefully, both artists got to cash in on the song’s recent popularity. This is a good case for making everything NFT or blockchain-based. Rather than having crazy censorship AI taking everything down, there should be a 50/50 split between the cover and original artists.
In the song, she sings about a lost love she used to dance with only to see his face and think about him later in life in all the other guys’ faces. Mariya Takeuchi said she never got to enjoy the city pop scene because she was busy raising her children, but her song singlehandedly brought back the genre.