Between the late 1920s and 1960s, Japan's recording industry produced songs that they simply labeled, "Popular Songs" (ryūkōka). Emerging within the context of the dramatic expansion of mass media during some of the most volatile decades in Japanese history, this musical genre came to occupy the mainstream of Japan's commercial music scene. Tokyo Boogie-Woogie is the first book-length, historical study in English of this musical phenomenon and its impact on the politics of culture in modern Japan. The book focuses on the broad range of self-appointed popular song critics, including musicians, intellectuals, political activists, and government officials, all of whom engaged in a series of contentious debates on these songs' cultural and social merits, or, more frequently, the lack thereof.-- Provided by publisher. "In this first English-language history of the origins and impact of the Japanese pop music industry, Hiromu Nagahara connects the rise of mass entertainment, epitomized by ryåukåoka ("popular songs"), with Japan's transformation into a middle-class society in the years after World War II. With the arrival of major international recording companies like Columbia and Victor in the 1920s, Japan's pop music scene soon grew into a full-fledged culture industry that reached out to an avid consumer base through radio, cinema, and other media. The stream of songs that poured forth over the next four decades represented something new in the nation's cultural landscape. Emerging during some of the most volatile decades in Japan's history, popular songs struck a deep chord in Japanese society, gaining a devoted following but also galvanizing a vociferous band of opponents. A range of critics--intellectuals, journalists, government officials, self-appointed arbiters of taste--engaged in contentious debates on the merits of pop music. Many regarded it as a scandal, evidence of an increasingly debased and Americanized culture. For others, popular songs represented liberation from the oppressive political climate of the war years. Tokyo Boogie-Woogie is a tale of competing cultural dynamics coming to a head just as Japan's traditionally hierarchical society was shifting toward middle-class democracy. The pop soundscape of these years became the audible symbol of changing times."--Publisher's description.