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The Japanese pop phenomenon known as Shibuya-Kei exploded forth from the ultra-trendy Shibuya shopping district of west Tokyo, an area home to some of the most fashionable and best-stocked record and clothing stores in the world. Shibuya-kei -- literally, "Shibuya style" -- was the name given to the like-minded pop musicians who emerged from this consumer culture, a group of young Japanese weaned on a steady and amazingly eclectic diet of Western pop exports; the result was an unprecedented collision of sights and sounds, with trailblazing acts like Pizzicato 5 drawing on disparate influences ranging from the lush lounge-pop of Burt Bacharach to the rhythms and energy of urban hip-hop. In its purest form, shibuya-kei is classic Western pop refracted through the looking glass of modern Eastern society -- music cut up, pasted together, and spit out in new and exciting ways. Shibuya-kei is also pop music at its cutest: it's a view to a world where the sweetness and simplicity of the girl-group era never ended but simply evolved, never out of step with the times but always true to its roots as well -- the Lolita complex so pervasive throughout Japanese culture informs much of this music, and its youthful innocence is the key to much of its endearing charm.

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