Back in the house I grew up in on Oahu (Honolulu), my dad always had the radio tuned into KIKI (now known as KUBT), while my grandpa on Maui had his tuned into KPOA or KAOI. I became especially fond of Hawaiian music sung in Hawaiian.
Whenever my mom would drive us to Ala Moana Center, she’d play her collection of annually released Grammy nominee compilations. Personally I preferred that soundtrack when I knew we were heading to Kahala Mall.
I spent my middle school years in Tokyo, where my school friends taught me about all the J-Pop they lived and breathed. Despite their best efforts, however, I just could not get into the Japanese idol genre.
My grandpa in Tokyo used to work in the music industry, and had a massive collection of CDs in his home in the Seijo area.
There I learned that I was really fond of old Japanese kayokyoku. The music felt nostalgic, somehow. Maybe I’m an old soul.
Whenever we’d drive to our country house in the Kiyosato Highlands for a ski or tennis trip, I’d ask to play CDs by “Sazan," “Yuming," “Yama-Tatsu," and Takeuchi Mariya.
When my older brother is at the wheel, he likes to play B’z best-of compilations. His slightly off-key renditions always make me laugh.
2.My Favorite J-Pop Compilations and Best-of Compilations
Here are some of my favorite Japanese music compilations.
Seishun Kanenkan: 50s
Tsumura Ken, Yamaguchi Yoshiko, Watanabe Hamako, Misora Hibari, Ito Hisao, Orii Shigeko, Miki Toriro, Kasagi Shizuko, Akatsuki Teruko, Ike Mariko
Seishun Kanenkan: 60s
The Spiders, The Broadside Four, Araki Ichiro, Ito Yukari, Mayuzumi Jun, Moriyama Ryoko
Seishun Kanenkan: 70s
Saijo Hideki, H. Belolo, V. Willis, J. Morali, Amagai Ryuji, Otani Kazuo, Minagawa Osamu, Fuse Akira, others
Seishun Kanenkan: 80s
C-C-B, M.AITKEN, Funayama Motoki, The Alfee, Shinkawa Hiroshi, Totsuka Osamu, Monta & Brothers, Kubota Saki, others
Seishun Kanenkan: 90s
Fujii Fumiya, Kuroyume, TRF, Shinohara Kyoko with t.komuro, Sharam Q, Okamoto Maya, LINDBERG, Tokunaga Hideaki, KAN, Makihara Noriyuki, ZOO, L’Arc~en~Ciel, others
Kore ga Hi-Res CD da! Hougaku de Kiki Kuraberu Taiken Sampler
Creation, Kamayatsu Hiroshi, Fried Egg, Lily, Prism, Sadistic Mika Band, Carmen Maki & OZ, The Folk Crusaders, Flower Travellin’ Band, Ozaki Kiyohiko, others
Best Folk 100 ~Seishun no Folk & Pops~
Yagami Junko, Miura Yoshiko, Omura Masaaki, Kai Band, Arita Akira, Kato Kazuhiko, Yoshida Takuro, Toi Et Moi, others
The Folk Best Selection: Red
Iruka, Off Course, Alice, Maruyama Keiko, Inoue Yosui, Kaguya-hime, TULIP, Happy End, Kaze, Matsuzaki Shigeru, and others
The Hit Maker –The World of Tsutsumi Kyohei–
Minami Saori, Noguchi Goro, Sakamoto Sumiko, Fei Fei Ouyang, Cherish, Go Hiromi, Asada Miyoko, Asaoka Megumi, Iwazaki Hiromi, Hirota Mieko, Yakushimaru Hiroko, Nakayama Miho, Kondo Haruhiko, Koizumi Kyoko, Shonentai, Kinki Kids, Imai Miki, The Gospellers, Moriyama Ryoko, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
Yamashita Tatsuro - OPUS 〜ALL TIME BEST 1975-2012〜
This three-disc best-of set spans Yama-Tatsu’s entire career, from before he went solo to the current era. (The initial limited run features a bonus disc of demos and outtakes.)
Takeuchi Mariya - Expressions
This three-disc best-of set was released in 2008 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Takeuchi’s debut. The compilation features the latest remastered versions of her most iconic songs, from her debut single to the 2000s, and even including a duet with Yama-Tatsu.
Southern All Stars - Umi no Yeah!!
This two-disc best-of set was released in 1998 to commemorate the band’s 20-year anniversary. 30 classic hits, including its breakthrough debut single.
Southern All Stars - Umi no Oh, Yeah!!
This two-disc set is the sequel to Umi no Yeah!!, released to commemorate the band’s 40th anniversary. The lead track, 2000’s “Tsunami”, is arguably the band’s best song, and won the 42nd Japan Record Award.
Nihon no Koi to, Yuming to: Matsutoya Yumi 40th Anniversary Best Album
This three-disc best-of was released in 2012 to commemorate Yuming’s 40th anniversary. The compilation features 45 of her greatest hits and some extras—all the latest remastered versions.
B'z The Best XXV 1988-1998
This 25th anniversary best-of features 25 era-defining hit singles (and two new songs) released between the band’s 1988-1998 heyday. All tracks are remastered.
B'z The Best XXV 1999-2012
This second 25th anniversary best-of features 26 era-defining hit singles (and two new songs) released between 1999-2012. All tracks are remastered.
3.Grammy Nominee Compilations
Grammy Nominees 2000
Marc Anthony, Lou Bega, Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, TLC, Christina Aguilera, Macy Gray
Grammy Nominees 2001
Steely Dan, Christina Aguilera, Aimee Mann, Joni Mitchell, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Beck, Radiohead, Paul Simon, U2
Grammy Nominees 2002
Craig David, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Brian McKnight, Michael Brecker featuring James Taylor, Outkast, India.Arie, Bob Dylan, Nelly Furtado, Alicia Keys, R.E.M., and others
Grammy Nominees 2003
Vanessa Carlton, Eminem, Norah Jones, Dixie Chicks, Nelly, Ashanti, Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Pink, Britney Spears, Craig David, Sting, Dave Matthews Band, ‘Nsync
Grammy Nominees 2004
Beyonce, Jay-Z, The Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Coldplay, Missy Elliott, Evanescence, Luther Vandross, 50 Cent, Sean Paul, George Harrison, Michael McDonald, Eagles, Matchbox Twenty, and others
Grammy Nominees 2005
Gretchen Wilson, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Josh Groban, John Mayer, Prince, Seal, Evanescence, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Kanye West, Usher, Green Day, Beastie Boys, and others
Grammy Nominees 2006
Gorillaz, Mariah Carey, Paul McCartney, Kelly Clarkson, Foo Fighters, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Johnson, Stevie Wonder
Grammy Nominees 2007
Christina Aguilera, Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige, James Blunt, Gnarls Barkley, Carrie Underwood, Red Hot Chili Peppers, KT Tunstall, Daniel Powter, Death Cab for Cutie, The Black Eyed Peas, and others
Grammy Nominees 2008
Amy Winehouse, Maroon 5, Bon Jovi, Feist, Herbie Hancock, Daughtry, The White Stripes, Corinne Bailey Rae, U2, Justin Timberlake, and others
Grammy Nominees 2009
Coldplay, Estelle, Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Lil Wayne, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, M.I.A., Adele, Katy Perry, Leona Lewis, Lady Antebellum, Maroon 5, others
Grammy Nominees 2010
Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews Band, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Adele, Zac Brown Band, Green Day, Coldplay, U2, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood
Grammy Nominees 2011
Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Rihanna, Arcade Fire, Adam Lambert, Michael Buble, Michael Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Sade, Train, Maroon 5
Grammy Nominees 2012
Adele, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Drake, Lady Gaga, Skrillex, Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and others
Grammy Nominees 2013
The Black Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Florence and the Machine, Pink, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ed Sheeran, Frank Ocean, Jack White, Muse, Coldplay, Adele, Bruce Springsteen and others
Grammy Nominees 2014
Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, Lorde, Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sara Bareilles, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Blake Shelton, Kacey Musgraves, Tim McGraw
Grammy Nominees 2015
Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor, Miley Cyrus, SIA, John Legend, Sam Smith, Keith Urban, Pharrell Williams, Beyonce, Jay-Z and others
Grammy Nominees 2016
Mark Ronson, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Florence and the Machine, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth, Tori Kelly, and others
Grammy Nominees 2017
Beyonce, SIA, Drake, Adele, Justin Bieber, The Chainsmokers, Anderson.Paak, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, and others
Grammy Nominees 2018
Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Logic, Alessia Cara, Khalid, Lada Gaga, The Chainsmokers, Imagine Dragons, Kesha, Thomas Rhett and others
Ultimate Grammy Collection: Classic R&B
Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, The Isley Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner, Bill Withers, The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Emotions, Donna Summer, Earth, Wind & Fire, Marvin Gaye, and others
The Ultimate Grammy Box
The Beach Boys, Paul McCartney & Wings, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Billy Joel, Bee Gees, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Toto, Roy Orbison, and others
Listening back through many of these Grammy nominee compilations and Japanese music compilations for this article, I was struck by how different American and Japanese music culture is. At the same time, I was reminded of how multicultural my upbringing was. My grandpa would often say, “All Japanese music, whether it’s pop or rock, is ultimately enka (a genre of Japanese popular music that retains many elements of traditional Japanese music)." I get what he meant now, I think.
American culture, Hawaiian culture, Japanese culture—each has played a big role in shaping who I am. I hope to explore these different cultural influences in DIG TOKYO going forward. Mahalo.