Mariya Takeuchi
Variety


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jeffery J. Bigglestein USER (29 Reviews)
July 31st, 2020 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mariya Takeuchi: More Than Just a Meme

As cancerous and bewildering as the internet and its culture can be at times, once every blue moon or so the stars will align and something truly unexpectedly amazing will happen. Such was the unforeseen rise of City Pop, a bygone genre from the mid to late 1980’s. Emulating genres like disco, funk, jazz, yacht rock, and synthpop, this trend rocked J-Pop for a couple years, however similar to America’s yacht rock trend, was short lived and mostly forgotten in the decade or two that followed it. However, thanks to a combination of factors, including a quirk in YouTube’s algorithm and the wave of memes that followed, the lead single off Mariya Takeuchi’s Variety, “Plastic Love” would blow up in 2016. This single would become a launching pad for millions of Westeners worldwide to a long-forgotten time capsule representing mid 1980’s Japanese culture, and giving Takeuchi (who was already a respected musician) more popularity than she had ever seen before (the song itself peaked at #86 on the Japanese charts the year it came out). New-found Mariya Takeuchi fans will come for “Plastic Love”, but stay for the refreshing, jazzy, and timeless sounds that Variety presents.

When reviewing a project like Variety, where an esteemed music critic such as myself doesn’t know the language of Japanese without some kind of translation, an emphasis is placed on both productive quality and a vocal performance. Variety excels in both these qualities. This record contains a blend of slow, tender love ballads, and more upbeat, exciting poppy rhythms. Takeuchi does attempt to speak in English at times, and she actually has a very smooth and clear pronunciation. Although some songs are a bit repetitive and one-note, the album is mostly consistent. Some of the album’s best work comes in “とどかぬ想い with a beautiful mix of acoustic guitar and synthesiszer. My only real grip with this project is that the latter half of the record seems to fall off. “水とあなたと太陽と” is pretty much elevator music and lacks the charisma and charm that makes the first half of this project so exciting. The closing track, “シェットランドに*をうず” is also pretty weak, and it feels a bit out of place (almost like a B-side from an earlier project), however Mariya’s relaxing vocal performance helps cover this a bit. A rough translation of the lyrics reveals themes of love, heartbreak, and loneliness. Mariya uses these themes to tell stories centered around a mystery man of her affection (and at times, obsession). This use of storytelling adds a bit of depth that isn’t immediately noticed, and helps give the album an extra layer that a more refined audience will appreciate.

Variety is proof that Mariya Takeuchi’s newfound success wasn’t a silly trend or stupid meme but a real passion for a legitimate and rather ageless record. While the second half the album is somewhat diluted and laggy, the first half is top-notch and some of the best City Pop has to offer. The production quality is fantastic and Takeuchi provides for 42 minutes of enjoyable and reclined City Pop and any listener of all ages, races, shapes, and genders can enjoy. While “Plastic Love” will be the only thing this project (or Mariya Takeuchi herself) will be remembered for, there’s really more than meets the eye in regards to Variety 4/5.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

As Sputnikmusic has been frozen in ice since 2006 and seems to have pretty much been unaware about Plastic Love I decided to give this a review.





Asdfp277
July 31st 2020


22796 Comments


i know that's plastic loooooooooooooooooooooooooooove~

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parksungjoon
July 31st 2020


21490 Comments


good review and correct take

dedex
July 31st 2020


4000 Comments


man that's an actual review and not a rant or a bigglelore story fucking pos

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JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i was in a good mood when i wrote this



JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i am also experimenting with different review styles to see which i like the best.



anyways im giving BTS a pretty harsh review tomororw and i anticipate a common criticism will be "well this music isnt meant for you its in a different language of course youre not gonna like it". Variety shows that just because a music is in a language i dont understand theres more to a record than just lyricsm

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
July 31st 2020


20531 Comments


Well this is something I didn't expect, a Mariya Takeuchi rev... And from the biggle!?

Take a pos, u madman.

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JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i am a man of taste.

Asdfp277
July 31st 2020


22796 Comments


"anyways im giving BTS a pretty harsh review tomororw and i anticipate a common criticism will be "well this music isnt meant for you its in a different language of course youre not gonna like it".

it's a valid criticism when the lyrics are a major part of a particular piece, but i don't think they're the focus on tween pop xD

edit: why did sputnik delete the quote -- i re-added it

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2020


27119 Comments


what the fuck

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Asdfp277
July 31st 2020


22796 Comments


why did sputnik delete the copypaste

JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

sputnik trolls and haters tryna censor me again as per usual



varity is based its too bad people will only listen to plastic love (which admittedly is one of the better songs from this project)

Asdfp277
July 31st 2020


22796 Comments


it's such a good song, at least it's getting her some recognition 😅

JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah true it is



city pop fans may recognize Tatsuro yamashita funny enough he's Mariya's husband and his albums Big Wave (even though its basically a Beach Boys tribute project) and Ride on Time may be the top 2 City Pop albums of all time. Funny how these two basically invented and popularized a genre.

JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Tatsuro and Mariya had pretty different takes on city pop to be fair. Tatsuro was very inspired by the Beach Boys as well as funk artists like Parliment. Mariya was more inspired by the Beatles I would say.



City Pop is basically if 1960's/early 70's pop had a baby with funk music and that baby grew up in the 80's.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2020


5150 Comments


This is a good album, I have to listen to more of her stuff. Also, I really dig the whole city pop atmosphere

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LeddSledd
July 31st 2020


524 Comments


real nice review d00d. i wouldn't have thought this would be my kind of genre at all but you've sold me so i'll give a listen

JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

City pop is really great. Variety is good if you want a more laid back, atmospheric sound. if you want more upbeat party music I'd either listen to Cologne by Kaoru Akimoto or Big Wave by Tatsuro Yamashita, or better yet make the jump over to future funk and listen to Saint Pepsi's Hit Vibes.

MrSirLordGentleman
July 31st 2020


13461 Comments


A City Pop review will always be awesome

JefferyBigglestein
July 31st 2020


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks based.



and i think this is my best pos ratio on a review we have finally defeated the trolls and neg bombers great work biggle boys.



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