Pop, R&B, and chill electronic-influenced Japanese artist MIREI returns with a lush animated video for new jazz-laced single “1998” out now via Cool Japan Music.
Named after MIREI’s birth year, the track explores her feelings about being stuck between two generations. Split between Millennials and Gen-Zers, she struggles to find which one is most relatable to her and where she belongs. She asks on the chorus, “am I young, or am I old?” The lyrics are filled with juxtapositions of the two age groups, the lyrics mention the shift from handmade mixtapes to Spotify’s algorithmically generated playlists, hand-rolled car windows to self-driving cars, watching celebrity tabloid relationships to swiping left on dating apps. It’ll have you in your feels as MIREI goes down memory lane and reflects on how things have changed over the years.
On the track, MIREI says, “While looking back at the culture I grew up with, I reflected on who I am and where I belong… Britney Spears with Justin Timberlake in the all denim outfit still brings me back to my sweet childhood memories, and makes me feel like I’m a ’90s Baby. But on the other hand, I love Olivia Rodrigo, and I am so hooked on TikTok, so I feel like I’m much younger. I feel like my birth year, 1998, is a limbo year in between it all.”
The sound of “1998” is an entrancing, lowkey vaporwave groove. Produced and co-written with DJ Shiftee (a two-time DMC World Champion) and Zak Leever (a classically trained musician who’s earned support from industry heavyweights like Diplo), the sonics mirror the lyrics with stark contrasts. The gentle vibraphone chords are like a soft lullaby against moving drums like a distant club beat. You’ll hear phone chimes from her current life, but also a VCR or tape player rewinding as a warm and familiar sound from her childhood. This soundscape is jazzy and nostalgic but very much of the present, as MIREI pulls inspiration from current pop and R&B. With MIREI in Tokyo, Zak in SoCal, and Shiftee in Brooklyn, NY, the track was recorded via remote sessions, made possible with internet applications like Zoom and Audio Movers.
The corresponding visual mines at our sentimental sensibilities with aesthetic similarities to the classic “Take On Me” music video from a-ha. In a minimal setting with several ever-changing animated styles, MIREI sings of simpler times when she was just playing Super Smash Bros. and on her Tamagotchi.