The years 1997 and 1998 were a watershed in Japanese music. It was the dizzying peak that marked the point between the relentlessly climbing music sales that preceded and the mostly unbroken decline that followed. It also saw the 21st century begin to take shape, with artists such as Hikaru Utada, Ayumi Hamasaki and Morning Musume bursting onto the scene with their first chart hits.
In the indie and alternative world there was a shift underway too, from the aesthetic-heavy and fashion-conscious art-pop that characterized the Shibuya-kei scene toward rock bands such as Number Girl and Quruli, who took more visible cues from U.S. alternative rock.
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