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Discovolante's Best of 1980 (Japan Edition)

Finally, a stand-alone year for the Japanese series lol. From the beginning of the year to the end, via the Sputnik release calendar.
Welcome Plastics

Plastics were essentially Japan's answer to The B-52's: whacky, animated post-punk with dual female and male vocals, although with a heavier focus on electronica than the latter. Even though they released another album in 1980, their debut, "Welcome Plastics", remains their most revered out of the two, and is thought to be one of the most significant releases during Japan's early post-punk/new wave era of the late 1970s/early 1980s.
2Anarchy (Punk)

Full of piss and vinegar, Japanese punk legends Anarchy made an immediate splash onto the scene with their masterpiece self-titled debut. In it, the group develop a catchy yet aggressive sound which boldly took aim at Japanese society at the time, most notably the then-Emperor Hirohito, which pissed off many, many people at the time. One of the most radical and finest punk albums in Japanese music history.

Ex were a band that relied on very simple, cheesy and catchy melodies that harked back to the 1960s, while maintaining a very 1980 vibe. Their sound was unorthodox and yet uncomplex, and as a result, the group didn't really fall into any category and faded into obscurity, only to have reignited interest by the time the new millennium started. Today, Ex's sole album is regarded as a cult hit even among some foreign new wave enthusiasts.

Chakra was a band that was odd even for the cutting edge new wave time. The group's best moment was captured in their 1980 self-titled debut EP, which is whimsically sophisticated with a sound that sounds like an unholy blend of folk and funk, while still maintaining a strong new wave core. An album that still manages to heavily divide and utterly perplex its listeners.
5The Rockers

The Rockers (or TH eROCKERS) was another early punk band from Japan. They would go on to experiment with genres like post-punk and rockabilly over the years, but their first two albums were unapologetically punk. No frills or any bullshit, The Rockers' debut "Who TH eROCKERS" is their magnum opus, containing 14 tracks of pure unabashed balls-to-the-wall punk rock that runs just over a half hour. Not only one of the best early punk albums in Japanese punk history, "Who TH eROCKERS" is one of the best Japanese punk albums ever.
6Sheena and the Rokkets
Channel Good

Sheena and the Rokkets were one of the longest running and most iconic bands to emerge from the Japanese new wave era, going on without missing a beat until frontwoman Sheena tragically passed in 2015. Formed in 1978, Sheena and the Rokkets released two albums at this point, gradually getting better and better until the release of their third album "Channel Good", which is one of the most rocking and artistically inclined records of the era. While it is not afraid to let its hair down and rock out, it is also chockful of bubblegum new wave pop tracks, with both sides being excellently done. Without a doubt one of their best albums among their vast discography.

Even though aforementioned bands like Sheena and the Rokkets and even Chakra were odd, it didn't get any odder than Hikashu, the undefeated gods of Japanese art pop. Their debut album came out of left field with a vengeance and took the underground Japanese music scene by storm, with its off the wall sound jumping from one extreme to another throughout the entire album. There's never been another album like it, and although they would come close, Hikashu would never top the puzzlingly dense brilliance of their debut.
8Southern All Stars
Tiny Bubbles

Southern All Stars were at this point, after only a few years, reeling in amazing sales, becoming one of the first Japanese rock megastar bands. However, in my opinion, it wasn't until the release of their third album, 1980's "Tiny Bubbles", that the band really found itself. Beautifully done harmless pop fluff, with frontman Keisuke Kuwata's husky vocals sounding at near their peak. One of their best efforts in their iconic catalog.
9Momoe Yamaguchi
Mobius Game

1980 was the year of Momoe Yamaguchi, as she released four albums this year alone, with each album being fantastic in their own right. With the release of her 20th album "Mobius Game", the idol of all idols constructs some of her beefiest tracks, with the album being perhaps her most rock-heavy.
10Juicy Fruits

Juicy Fruits is one of the most beloved names in Japanese new wave pop music. Undeniably catchy and fronted by the enigmatic baby-voiced Atsuko Okuno, perhaps being the first to kickstart the baby-voiced female vocal craze that has been prevalent in Japanese popular music for over three decades now, Juicy Fruits' first album, "Drink!", was a critical and commercial smash upon its release. It continues to be heralded as one of the best new wave pop albums in Japanese music history, and has influenced the likes of Perfume to underground legends like Hi-Posi
11Momoe Yamaguchi
This Is My Trial

Like I said, 1980 really was the year of Momoe Yamaguchi lol. October 21st, 1980, was the day that marked the release of her swansong "This is My Trial", which is regarded as her best effort by fans and critics alike. Being her final album, it is full of some of her most emotional tracks to date, including the final self-titled track which is particularly legendary for its performance by Yamaguchi during her final live show at the Budokan. A breathtaking closer to one of the most, if not the most, revered catalogs in Japanese idol pop history.
12Yumi Matsutoya
Surf & Snow

"Surf & Snow", while far from being her most commercially successful release, is without a doubt one of Yumi Matsutoya's greatest albums. Acquiring a more straightforward pop sound with a lesser focus on folk while still making a knack at creating pop masterpieces, "Surf & Snow" serves as a turning point in Matsutoya's career.
13Lazy (JPN)
Uchuusen Chikyuu Gou

While Lazy are indeed hard rock pioneers, it wasn't until their sixth (and, for 16 years, final) album "Uchuusen Chikyuu Gou" where they really locked in their melodious heavy sound. Without a doubt their heaviest album among the six original ones, it has a good amount of technical prowess to it as well which adds another layer of greatness to it. A phenomenal early heavy metal album which proves just how great Lazy were when they were on point. And on "Uchuusen Chikyuu Gou", they were absolutely dead-on.
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