Credits

I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jun'ichi Inagaki -- Long After Midnight



If American AOR veterans like Bobby Caldwell, Boz Scaggs and Dan Fogelberg had ever heard this song, they most likely would have been hitting the bar and crying in their Perrier. Probably out of all of the songs I've heard by J-crooner Jun'ichi Inagaki(稲垣潤一), "Long After Midnight" flies in like something from the mid-late 70s era of Album-Oriented Rock. Mr. "Bluer Than Blue" himself, Michael Johnson would be eating his heart (along with several other internal organs). The song has everything an adult contemporary singer would want: languid melody, a bit of blues riff, French horn and strings. Green with envy, the Boz is.

It wasn't released as an official single but always ends up on Inagaki's Best compilations. However, it was part of his second album, "Shylights", released in 1983. It was written and composed by Akira Inoue(井上鑑).

Have that Perrier, look at the sunset and listen to this song! You'll be wrapping pink wool cardigans around your waist before you know it.

Seiko Matsuda/Asako Toki -- Komugi Iro no Mermaid (小麦色のマーメイド)



After first hearing and seeing Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子) on the 1981 Kohaku perform "Natsu no Tobira"夏の扉....The Gates of Summer), I asked my brother when he went on his Japanese school class' graduation trip to Japan during July 1982 to get a Seiko record of some sort, a 45" single or a cassette tape (quaint reading words like "45 single" and "cassette tape", isn't it?). So, it was basically a month-long wait before he came back to Toronto and brought me my very first Seiko-chan piece of vinyl.


I had been expecting a bouncy number a la "Natsu no Tobira", but "Komugi Iro no Mermaid"(Tan-Coloured Mermaid) was something different....it was a slower, swaying tune with Seiko sounding a little more relaxed as if she were that mermaid resting on that rock in the ocean (no doubt an image that many a boy in Japan...and Canada....had while listening). I recall that I was slightly (and mistakenly) disappointed when I first heard it in light of my initial exposure to the Queen of 80s Aidoru and other starlets like Naoko Kawai(河合奈保子) and Hitomi Ishikawa(石川ひとみ), but of course as I started getting further into Japanese pop music, my appreciation for the song grew. "Komugi"may have been sung by an aidoru, but it didn't quite sound like the typical aidoru song.




Of course at the time, I hadn't known the credentials behind the production of the tune, but it turned out that Seiko's 10th single had been written by Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆) and composed by Karuho Kureta(呉田軽穂)...which was the pseudonym of Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実). A couple of singles and six months earlier, the duo had created one of Seiko's biggest hits, "Akai Sweet Pea"赤いスイートピー...Red Sweet Pea). That was the New Musician's first time composing a song for Seiko under her fake moniker, and for a lady who had once declared that she would never make tunes for aidoru, she ended up making a few more for Seiko....and with very good results, might I add. "Komugi"entered the Oricon charts at No. 2, so hitting the top spot was a no-brainer. It became the 15th-ranked song for 1982, just three spots down from "Akai Sweet Pea".


Singer Asako Toki(土岐麻子) is someone that I came across just in the last few years of my time in Japan. She is an artist who seems to concentrate on her own brand of light pop, often inflected with some Latin and jazz influences. I'd say that her music would be perfect in a trendy cafe/bar...of which Tokyo has tons. Toki also has a penchant for doing covers of 80s Japanese pop, and so here is her version of "Komugi Iro no Mermaid".

Overall, the interesting thing about this song (that my brother must've bought just a few days after it had been released on July 21) is that it may have been penned by Yuming, but it sounds custom fit for Seiko....and yet it showed the aidoru in a new, more mature light.

Ah, by the way, Seiko's original also came out as a track on a special Christmas album, "Kin Iro no Ribbon"(金色のリボン...Gold Ribbon) in December 1982. Meanwhile, Asako Toki's version is on her album, "Summerin'", which was released in 2008.

Keizo Nakanishi -- So Bad


One of my favourite songs by pop/R&B singer Keizo Nakanishi(中西圭三). "So Bad"is so good. It has all of my favourite elements in an uptempo song: tight horn section, great vocals and GROOVE. Being a fan of all that was R&B and fusion in the late 70s/early 80s (Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, etc.), it's always splendiferous when Japanese acts like Nakanishi, Sing Like Talking and Toko Furuuchi(古内東子) can also evoke some of that wonderful music. But again, I'm talking like the middle-aged man I am.

"So Bad"was Nakanishi's 16th single released in August 1995 and it was also the leadoff track on his 5th album, "Graffiti", released in September of that year. It was written by Goro Matsui(松井五郎)and composed by Nakanishi himself with Yoshiyuki Sahashi(佐橋佳幸)behind the arrangements. I've always wondered if Nakanishi and SLT have ever collaborated....


Akai Tori/Kaori Kawamura -- Tsubasa wo Kudasai (翼をください)





Some time ago, I wrote an entry on the song "American Feeling" by vocal group The Circus. The song was one of the mainstays during that part of the junior high school year known as "Gassho Konkuuru"合唱コンクール....Chorus Group Competition) Season. During my 2 years teaching in my 2 junior high schools in northern Gunma, I would always hear the kids, led by the music teacher, sing in serious harmony as they prepared for the inter-school contests. Along with "American Feeling", another go-to song in the contests was "Die Moldau", one of the six symphonic poems created by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana in the late 19th century.

But there was one other popular song that had the students in Japan singing, and that was "Tsubasa wo Kudasai". The title literally means "Please Give Me Wings", but apparently it's more known as "Wings to Fly". This song was originally created in 1970 by lyricist Michio Yamakami (山上路夫)and composer Kunihiko Murai(村井邦彦) as an entry in a music festival contest in Mie Prefecture. However, the folk group, Akai Tori(赤い鳥), asked if they could sing it just 2 hours before its recording. I guess the meaning of "wings"in the title was not lost on this new band since its name means "red birds". And it was also a good match in that the group gave the song that optimistic lift which would later be emulated by later generations of uniform-wearing students. In 1971, it would release the song as the B-side to another song in February 1971.

Akai Tori will always be known as the leading group for this much-covered song. And even after it disbanded in 1974, its members branched out into their own successful projects. Vocal Junko Yamamoto(山本潤子) and bassist Shigeru Okawa(大川茂) started the vocal group Hi-Fi Set along with Yamamoto's husband, Toshihiko(山本俊彦), who was also a guitarist in Akai Tori. Meanwhile, two other members would start up another group called Kami Fuusen(紙ふうせん).

After hearing the song so much from the teachers' room that it took up permanent residency in my head, it was a pleasant surprise to hear this rock version one night near the end of my stay in Japan in 1991. Sung by the late Kaori Kawamura(川村かおり), this fresh take on what had been given the anthemic approach was as if a few of those kids snuck out during rehearsal and treated it their own way. The song became a hit for Kawashima as it sold close to 300,000 copies.

But everyone has covered it over the decades....from Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里) to Kazumasa Oda(小田和正). Even the Susan Boyle has given her own rendition.




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yoshitaka Minami -- Video City


I kinda wish I didn't have to start the Yoshitaka Minami(南佳孝) file with this song since he had an even bigger hit earlier in this career called "Monroe Walk", but I came across "Video City"just by accident for the first time in over 20 years via YouTube and just had to post it up. I first heard it on a compilation album lent by my friend and never bothered to find out who sang it. I just remembered it as a quirkily fun tune.

Minami usually relies on two themes when he writes his songs: manly emotions and life in the big city. I would say his 17th single falls firmly into the latter category. When it comes to City Pop, the image is often of a cool nocturnal Tokyo while someone is knocking back a few drinks in a Western bar. "Video City"is City Pop through Disney glasses. You're still in Tokyo but you're not in Aoyama or Roppongi; most likely you're in Akihabara and knocking back a Makudonarudo strawberry milkshake. Right from that tinkly synthesizer, Minami's slightly Speedy Gonzalez delivery and funky horns, what you get is a musically fun tour of Tokyo's modern, neon-drenched areas.

In a way, the 1987 "Video City"gives me some fond memories of the old Akihabara with all of the  "Where did they think of this?"-gadgets and sleek electronics shops. Would love to walk through the area once more.

Hear of Maid Cafes? This was a Maid Tour Guide of Akihabara.

Hiromi Go -- How Many Ii Kao? (How Many いい顔)



That cover for the single shown at the very bottom can write its own jokes. I think we all have to intone with each other...."It was the 80s....that was actually considered a cool hairstyle back then..."Kinda wondering if Go-san was probably saying in the photo, "Hey, just how much did I pay that barber?" As a Canadian, I would have yelled at him, "Hey, Gino Vannelli called. He wants his hair back!"

Jokes aside....I first heard this song by Hiromi Go(郷ひろみ) back on "The Sounds of Japan". It came on just after Junko Yagami's(八神純子) speedy "Purpletown"(already profiled), so hearing them back-to-back, I was pretty much ready for a nap. "How Many Ii Kao?"(How Many Nice Faces?) was Go's telling of a 20-year-old prostitute on the mean streets of Tokyo (I assume) as she goes over plans of her regular night and deciding which face should she put on for the tricks. The high-speed wailing electric guitar helps tell the story.

The lyrics were provided by Yoko Aki(阿木耀子), who along with her husband, Ryudo Uzaki(宇崎竜童), wrote many of Momoe Yamaguchi's(山口百恵) later hits. Kazuya Amikura(綱倉一也) was the composer. Released in July 1980, it managed to reach the 8th spot on Oricon and ended up as the 46th-ranked song of the year.


The Aoyama district in Tokyo.
Nope, not exactly a mean street but it's
got that urban feature, and Go was walking through
here one time for a variety show.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hirofumi Bamba -- Sachiko




Hirofumi Bamba(ばんばひろふみ) began his folk career right from university when he started up a band called The Jackals in 1969, and then created another group soon after called BanBan. He even started a 3rd group in 1978 and a solo career when in the following year, he had his biggest hit in "Sachiko".



Released in September 1979, "Sachiko" is this pretty little ditty that always brings out the nostalgia in me. In a way, Bamba rather reminds me of a Japanese John Denver. He just has this melodic voice which carries the lyrics through the air...maybe for a number of listeners, for those 3 minutes or so, they are transported away from the big city and into the countryside. Perhaps they were hoping for a bit of refreshing change considering that during the turn of the decade, music was changing aidoru styles and the band YMO was bringing in the technopop sound. In any case, it's interesting that a folk song could still do well on the charts entering the 80s. "Sachiko" became the 11th-ranked song of 1980.

Thanks again to entamedata.web.fc2.com for the ranking data.

Yumi Tanimura -- Moon (ムーン)


(Miku Hatsune version)

Over the weekend, one of the most famous and ironically, one of the most intensely private, people of the last 50 years passed away. Astronaut Neil Armstrong was of course the first man on the moon. And so in tribute and within the parameters of this blog, I'm providing this song by singer-songwriter Yumi Tanimura(谷村有美).

I actually came across one of her Best CDs at one of the major stores in Tokyo back in the mid-90s and gave it a try. Not too bad at all although I think she's one of those singers who never quite exploded into superstardom. She's been labeled as having a "crystal voice"which most likely refers to her clear delivery, but I think the label can also point to that slight vibrating quaver she has. She wrote and composed "Moon"for release in July 1995. It has that hint of Henry Mancini jazz which I've enjoyed, but I think it would've been even better if the strings had sounded less synthesized.


Yumi Tanimura -- Moon



Yumi Arai -- Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta nara (やさしさに包まれたたなら)


(cover version)

One of my early blog entries was "Rouge no Dengon"ルージュの伝言...A Message in Rouge), an early Yumi Arai (荒井由実) song that was the opening theme for the Hayao Miyazaki classic "Kiki's Delivery Service"(1989). It was one of Arai's early New Music hits which had this rollicking novelty 50s feel to it as Kiki made her way on her trusty broom to a prospective new city. I didn't find out while I was writing the profile on it that the lyrics were much more gleefully sinister.

No such case with "Yasashisa ni Tsutsumaretara nara"(If It Could be Wrapped in Kindness). Arai sings almost as if she were a little girl wondering if only love and kindness were tangible things to be stored. There isn't a single cynical word in this lovely song. And the melody...thanks to that steel pedal guitar, it has that innocent fresh country air. It made for a wonderful ending theme to "Kiki".

There are two versions to "Yasashisa". The album version appears on Yuming's 2nd album, "Misslim"which was released in October 1974, and this was the version which was the ending theme for the movie.

(cover version)

For trivia purposes, the bassist on the song was Yellow Magic Orchestra's Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)。

Actually, a bit of a correction. If you are looking for "Rouge no Dengon", look for the entry for Yuming's 3rd album, "Cobalt Hour"(1975). The track is in there.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Harumi Miyako -- Osaka Shigure (大阪しぐれ)



A lot of the enka songs I've been profiling up to now have been powerful showcases for singers such as Sayuri Ishikawa(石川さゆり) and Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎). Themes of unrequited and lost love crooned with passion and bitterness are often fully displayed like the plumage on a peacock (or Sachiko Kobayashi『小林幸子』 during an annual performance on the Kohaku Utagassen...haha).

But enka can often be very romantic and sentimental as well. The sentimentality can be a tribute to a loved one or to a beloved place. Up to now on my blog, Tokyo and the northern areas of Japan have been highlighted. Well, it's time to spotlight my relatives' home of Osaka.

Harumi Miyako(都はるみ) was born in Kyoto in 1948 to a Korean-Japanese father and a Japanese mother. Her mother, who was big on show business, made sure that her daughter would make the big time someday, so from the age of 6, Harumi, was thrown into ballet and Japanese dance. But in high school, she declared to her principal "I will become a singer!"and she promptly dropped out. Methinks that her Mom didn't sound too disappointed. She made her debut as an enka singer in 1964 and for the next 10 years, she garnered the hits until she was known as one of the premier singers.

"Osaka Shigure"(Osaka Showers) was her first hit in the 80s. Composed by Shosuke Ichikawa(市川昭介)and written by Osamu Yoshioka(吉岡治)who also wrote Sayuri Ishikawa's big hit "Amagi Goe" in 1977, Miyako tenderly sings her heart out about her love of Osaka and her hopes for love; she name-drops a number of places in the city such as Kita-Shinchi and Neon Street (known formally as Kanraku-Gai). The melody is also very leisurely and lilting which contrasts with other enka blockbusters such as the aforementioned "Amagi Goe".



Here is the lady herself performing one of her greatest hits on the 1980 Kohaku. For some reason, enka seems to be a favourite music genre in the morning, although I'm not sure if the singers are particularly thrilled about it. Still, Miyako has always been a trouper. She also has a distinctive way of singing as well....she often holds her microphone at an oblique angle to her mouth and often looks up or away as she sings. For you Trekkies who know about The Picard Maneuver, well, this is the enka equivalent (yes, you guessed right...I am an enka-liking Trekkie).

Released in February 1980, "Osaka Shigure"made it all the way to No. 2 on the charts and became the 49th-ranked song of the year. It did even better in 1981 when it finished that year as the 6th-ranked song! Of course, NHK came calling and so she appeared on the 1980 Kohaku Utagassen for the 16th consecutive time. Basically, she was on the Kohaku every year up to that point since her debut.



Tatsuro Yamashita -- Artisan




In June 1991, Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎) released his 10th album, "Artisan". He settled on this title since for the album he wanted to be heard as "an artisan of sound". Yep, a bit pretentious but hey, he IS an artisan....a damn fine one, at that. And boy, does he start the album off with a wallop with "Atom no Ko"(アトムの子...Children of the Atom). There is a relentless storm of a drummer just going nuts throughout the song which almost threatens to overwhelm even Yamashita's voice. Yamashita created the song as a tribute to the late Osamu Tezuka(手塚治虫), the manga king who created the legendary hero "Astro Boy", known in Japan as Tetsuwan Atomu. Through that brash melody, his message is simple: no matter how old we get, we are all children of the Atom (i.e. Astro), and as such we can live together in harmony and build a better future for ourselves. The video above is a concert version, and all I can say is that the drummer there must have lost 3 kg in sweat after he left the stage. His wife Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや) is one of the backup singers on the original studio version.



(karaoke version)

The second track is "Sayonara Natsu no Hi"さよなら夏の日...Goodbye Summer Days). Compared to the raucous "Atom no Ko", this song is a gentle evening breeze. Yamashita had written it as a remembrance and a farewell to his childhood days. I've enjoyed it especially near the end when it reaches a crescendo with a switch in keys. As of this writing, we're coming to the end of another summer, so I think playing this tune has quite the poignant heft now.



(karaoke version)

"Turner's Steamroller"....fascinating title for a tune with just as fascinating an origin. Apparently, the ingredients needed for this song to take form was a crying woman, a 19th-century British painter and the band U2. Yamashita was at an Aoyama restaurant/bar called CAY to catch the American soul vocal group The Dramatics when he came across a crying young woman in a corridor as he was heading to the washroom; the image stuck with him. Then later on, in the same place, he saw a painting of Joseph M. W. Turner's "Rain, Steam and Speed" hanging on the wall. He put the images of the painting and the young woman crying together to imagine the everchanging ways of the world and the just-as-everchanging moods between men and women. As for the U2 connection, Yamashita had always wanted to write a song reminiscent of the band's melody...I'm thinking "With or Without You". In any case, the steamroller seemed to be the best sort of vehicle to illustrate what he was imagining about.


The final track for this entry is "Tokyo's A Lonely Town". The arrangement is pure classic Yamashita as he provides his usual Beach Boys-type vocal layering. However, the song was adapted from The Tradewinds' "New York's A Lonely Town" back in the 60s. It's a fun tune to listen to as Yamashita adapts certain lyrics to make it Tokyo-centric. And yeah, Tokyo can be pretty lonely for a newcomer without much money. Take it from someone who knows. By the way, the above is the original version by The Tradewinds while the video below is Yamashita's version.



"Artisan" is a great album for Yamashita fans but I think it can also attract a lot of people who have never heard of the veteran musician before. As I said, the supposed reasoning behind the title may have been a bit fey, but the variety of songs in this album does show that Yamashita is a craftsman, and doesn't that mean the same thing as "artisan"? The album peaked at No 1 on the Oricon charts and finished up as the 18th-ranked album of 1991. It also includes the song "Endless Game" which has already been profiled. The first three songs listed here were also released as singles, but "Endless Game" was the one that scored the highest at No. 5 during its run on the charts.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Princess Princess -- Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Natsu (世界でいちばん熱い夏)



One of my favourite musical memories of that time in Gunma Prefecture, "Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Natsu"(The Hottest Summer in the World) always fits the Japanese summer, even though the "atsui" in the title refers more to "passion" rather than "heat". One thing that I will never miss about my adoptive country is the season of summer. It is so humid there that I can sprout gills; the air is just so saturated with water that it literally forces the sweat to stay on my skin.

Back to the song, though. "Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Natsu" has that distinctive characteristic of being PuriPuri's 2nd AND 8th single. Written by drummer Kyoko Tomita(富田京子) and composed by lead vocal Kaori Okui(奥居香), it was originally released in July 1987. But since at that time, Princess Princess hadn't made its breakthrough yet, the song, which was released as a 45 single, didn't chart.

Go forward a couple of years. Princess Princess has made its breakthrough with "Diamonds". And it was decided that "Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Natsu" would get a new lease on life by being released one more time in CD format in July 1989. This time, the song would hit the top spot on Oricon as many listeners discovered it for the first time, and end up being the 2nd-ranked song of the year....just behind "Diamonds". It very nearly broke the million-seller barrier. There are probably a lot of young parents right now in Japan who would swoon on hearing this chestnut again.

Ryoko Moriyama/Sumiko Yamagata -- Ame Agari no Samba (雨上がりのサンバ)



One of the loveliest folk singers to ever grace the Japanese stage, Ryoko Moriyama(森山良子) was born in 1948 to a 2nd-generation Japanese-American jazz trumpeter and a former jazz singer, so the genes for a life in music were there. Her most famous song is the epic "Sato Kibi Batake"さとうきび畑....The Sugar Cane Fields), which dealt with the sugar cane fields of Okinawa under which the dead from World War II's Battle of Okinawa are buried.

However, my first experience of Moriyama came via "Ame Agari no Samba"(Samba After the Rain), a wonderful bossa nova tune to finish off a Friday night (like tonight). I first heard it on the radio program "The Sounds of Japan"years ago and spent a long time searching for the actual song until YouTube came along to help out. Moriyama may be famous for her folk music, but she can also give a wonderful Latin lilt. I would love to hear it by her in concert. The song was actually a B-side to "Chiisana Kaigara"(小さな貝がら....A Little Shell) released in May 1968.




"Ame Agari no Samba"was originally written by Michio Yamagami (山上路夫) and composed by Kunihiko Murai(村井邦彦). A decade after Moriyama's version, folk singer-turned-New Musician Sumiko Yamagata(やまがたすみこ) also did a fine cover version as part of her 1978 album, "Emerald Shower". Yamagata's version has a bit more Latin flavour thrown in.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sumiko Yamagata -- Moonlight Jitterbug (ムーンライト・ジルバ)




Sumiko Yamagata(やまがたすみこ) is another singer who I only discovered from "Japanese City Pop"(profiled under Media) a couple of years back. The Tokyo native started writing songs from the 6th grade in elementary school, and was eventually recruited by Japan Columbia in 1972. She started writing and singing folk songs but in the mid-70s, Yamagata moved over to New Music. When the move happened, she left the writing and composing duties to others.

Her 10th single, "Moonlight Jitterbug", released in July 1977, isn't a jitterbug at all but an easygoing bossa nova song. It was also part of her 9th album, "FLYING"which was also released in the same month. I decided to get that album just on the looks of the jacket alone. In the video above, there are images of her former folkie look before she took on a more dramatic appearance in her New Music era. Strangely enough, the song was written and composed by one-half of the rock band, Happy End, Takashi Matsumoto and Shigeru Suzuki(松本隆・鈴木茂).

I've heard "Moonlight Jitterbug" a couple of times now. She's not exactly the second coming of Astrud Gilberto but I still want to absorb as much of "FLYING"as I can before rendering a final decision. Actually, for the longest time, I'd been trying to figure out what "jiruba"(ジルバ)meant before finally finding out that it stood for "jitterbug". A number of kayo kyoku songs use that word in the title.

Sumiko Yamagata -- FLYING

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Misato Watanabe -- Niji wo Mitakai (虹をみたかい)

Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里) has that voice which can knock a ball out of the park just on her vocal cords. She unleashes that power on "Niji wo Mitakai"(Have You Seen The Rainbow?) as she rocks out with that resonant voice of hers. Released in October 1989, it was written by Misato and composed by Yasuyuki Okamura(岡村靖幸).

This was her 15th single and up to now, it remains her last No. 1 song; Watanabe has two No. 1s, the other one being her 4th single "My Revolution"in 1986 (already profiled). However, no need to be sorry since she's had a lot of her singles penetrate the Top 10.


 Her lungs were, and hopefully still are, mighty powerful. The song was also a track on her 6th album, "Tokyo"(released in July 1990), which also hit the No. 1 spot on the album charts. The song itself became the 58th-ranked single in 1989 while "Tokyo"became the 4th-ranked album of 1990. (Thanks again to musictvprogram.com for the rankings information)

The song also became the jingle for Maxell Cassette Tapes, which is where I first heard the song, and was thrilled enough to grab "Tokyo". Another hit, "Summertime Blues"is also on it which provided added incentive.


Momoe Yamaguchi -- Yume Saki Annainin (夢先案内人)





"Yume Saki Annainin"(A Guide To A Dream Destination) was the 2nd single created for Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵)by the husband-and-wife team of Ryudo Uzaki and Yoko Aki.(宇崎竜童・阿木耀子) The pair would come up with some fiery and defiant hits for Yamaguchi such as "Imitation Gold"and"Playback Part 2", but Yamaguchi's 17th single is a cute romantic number about dreaming of that gondola trip with a beau on a moonlit night.

When I first heard it on the radio years and years ago, it had that really sunny kayo kyoku sound of the 70s with that characteristic guitar, strings and chorus backing Momoe-chan up. It always has that nostalgic feeling of summer. So, it was a surprise to find out that Uzaki and Aki whipped up this happy-go-lucky tune for her before she started getting all medieval on us with her later hits.


"Yume Saki Annainin"was released in April 1977, and hit the No. 1 spot some 6 weeks later. It would be Yamaguchi's last No. 1 song before her retirement a few years later, although some of her later works would reach as high as No. 2. It was the 21st-ranked song for the year. 

The Akina Nakamori-Momoe Yamaguchi connection continues here. When Nakamori(中森明菜) was trying out on the talent show "Star Tanjo"スター誕生...A Star Is Born), she sang this very song to make it through.


July 28th 2015: My fellow contributor, Noelle Tham, has her thoughts on the song right here.

Dreams Come True -- Kessen wa Kin'youbi (決戦は金曜日)


It was the best of times for Dreams Come True in the early 90s. They were making hits like Ichiro Suzuki. And for a successful band that also comes across as fun-loving, it was only a matter of time when TV would come knocking. And so Miwa, Masato and Takahiro got their own late night variety show on Fridays titled "Ureshi, Tanoshi, Dai Suki"(うれしたのし大好き...Happy, Fun, I Love It) for an entire year as they had guests, did skits and performed their songs.

The theme song was appropriately called "Kessen wa Kin'youbi"(The Deciding Battle is Friday), a fun funk-pop-disco tune that heralded the start of the weekend (although the kids probably still had to go to school on Saturdays at the time). It was written by vocalist Miwa Yoshida(吉田美和) and composed by leader/bassist Masato Nakamura(中村正人). According to J-Wiki, the song is based liberally on Cheryl Lynn's classic 1978 disco hit, "Got To Be Real". You can take a listen to that as well below.


"Kessen wa Kin'youbi", DCT's 11th single, hit the top spot on the Oricon weeklies and became the 18th-ranked single for 1992 after its release in September. It was also included as a track on the band's 5th album, "The Swinging Star"released in November 1992. That album also hit No. 1 and not only did it become the 5th-ranked album of the year after only a month and a half of release, it went one rank better for the following year.

This is just an amalgam of their performances on their variety show above. I was between gigs in Japan during that year; it would've been interesting watching the program, but I guess the Japanese video and food shops just didn't cotton onto Dreams Come True.

Dreams Come True--The Swinging Star
Thanks also to musictvprogram.com for the rankings information for this song and album.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Los Indios -- Como Esta Akasaka ?(コモエスタ赤坂)



The subgenre of Mood Kayo(ムード歌謡)evokes and is evoked by scenes of tipsy businessmen crawling throughout the bar districts. In Tokyo, one such pricey area is Akasaka where bars, nightclubs and restaurants are squeezed in together so tightly that they've probably secretly made a Guinness World Record in the category of "Most Densely Populated Bar District". For some reason, Mood Kayo often incorporated jazz, Latin or even Hawaiian melodies. It all started in the 50s when such music was played for Occupation forces and then later moved into the bars and nightclubs of Tokyo districts such as Ginza and Akasaka.


Los Indios was one such band that specialized in Mood Kayo. It formed in 1962 with Shizuo Tanahashi(棚橋静雄) as the lead vocal. One of their representative hits is "Como Esta Akasaka"(How Are You, Akasaka?), a tribute to the famed drinking area where love can be found and lost. It was written by Takashi Nishiyama(西山隆) and composed by Kazunori Asano(浅野和典) in 1968.


I'm also leaving you with the karaoke video for the song since it gives a nice view of what Akasaka is like in the evening. Yes, night is the best time to just even walk through the area and admire just all the lights (yes, even in post 3/11 Tokyo). A couple of my farewell parties were in the area last December. Had one nice dinner and drink in an izakaya with one student, and then a bunch of friends took me to the local Hooters there....very pleasant young waitresses....yes, they were.

A fine evening in Akasaka.

It is as the sign says.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hikaru Genji -- Paradise Ginga (パラダイス銀河)



Let's see....when I first started this odyssey into kayo kyoku, my first representative of Johnny & Associates(ジャニーズ事務所) came in the form of Masahiko 'Matchy' Kondo(近藤真彦) prancing about. Then came the trio of Shibugaki-tai(シブがき隊) with Fukkun, Mokkun and Yakkun. But then in the late 80s, maestro Johnny Kitagawa threw 7 of these guys at us which made up the new group known as Hikaru Genji(光GENJI), named after the primary character of the legendary "Tale of Genji"源氏物語).

When I think of this Johnny's group, there are three things: 1) the headband, 2) roller skates....lots of them and 3) toplessness. Leader Kazumi Moroboshi(諸星和己) was the smiley headband-sporting kid and heartthrob, the septet had a squad of roller-skating kids just swarming about as if they were trying to illustrate the Pauli Exclusion Principle of quantum mechanics, and for the first little while, at least, the boys seemed to have acquired a shirts-phobic attitude when performing.

At the beginning, there were two groups. One was a duo called Hikaru which consisted of Koji Uchiumi(内海光司) and Mikio Osawa(大沢三樹生), while the quintet known as Genji had Moroboshi, Hiroyuki Sato(佐藤寛之), Jun'ichi Yamamoto(山本淳一), Akira Akasaka(赤坂晃) and Atsuhiro Sato(佐藤晃啓). But then they were merged into one in June 1987, and never looked back. Except for one single, their first 11 releases all went to No. 1 on the charts.

For me, it is their 3rd single that reminds me most of them. "Paradise Ginga"(Paradise Galaxy) was released in March 1988, and was created by Ryo Aska(飛鳥涼), one-half of the singing duo, Chage & Aska. When I was renting music program videos during those late 80s, Hikaru Genji virtually had a lock on the charts as they skated and sang all over the stage. Not only did "Paradise Ginga"Paradise Galaxy) make it to No. 1, it became the No. 1 song of 1988. And to add further cherries to the top of their sundae, the No. 2 and No. 3 slots for Top Singles of the Year also went to Hikaru Genji, something that hadn't been accomplished since Pink Lady a decade previously. The group also won the Grand Prize at the Japan Record Awards, and would become the youngest male group to top the Oricon charts...this record was finally toppled nearly 20 years later by another Johnny's unit, Hey!Say!7.

The single was also part of Hikaru Genji's 2nd album, "Hi!"which also hit the top of the charts, and ended up as the 9th-ranked album of 1988.


Taeko Ohnuki -- Kusuri wo Takusan (くすりをたくさん)


I briefly mentioned this song when I did my entry on Ohnuki's(大貫妙子) 2nd solo album, "Sunshower" (1977).  As I've also mentioned when it comes to her early albums, Ohnuki seems to combine epic introspective works with pleasant if smaller tunes that look almost to be thrown in. My observation certainly applies to her early 80s albums when she made that big change in direction into her European/technopop mode, but I think "Kusuri wo Takusan"(Lots of Drugs) is one of those minor pleasantries on this album.

When I was reading the YouTube comments for this video, the majority of them were thankful but there were a couple of them for which you could feel the backhanded slap across the face. One panned the "cheap pop" melody, and the other took aim at the "bad"lyrics that Ohnuki had supplied. And yet, "Kusuri"made quite a stir in that the singer took aim at how easily patients in Japan sprinted to get their meds to cure the tiniest discomfort while the medical industry was only too happy to oblige them.



My feelings on the song are that I don't think Ohnuki ever meant to go on a musical tirade against a practice that is continuing even today. The lyrics sound as if they were created by a cheeky teenager, and the music....poppy with a bit of Latin thrown in....contrasts with the coldcock that she puts against the medical industry. But even for me to write that last sentence puts a bit too much weight in what just seems to be more of a pet peeve on Ohnuki's part than any smoldering societal problem to be attacked vigorously. I do think that there has been a tendency for doctors there to overmedicate their patients but Ohnuki never made it her soapbox.

Anyways, here are the translated lyrics:

You're not the only one who's crazy
Hey, open your eyes
Look at people
No matter at what you see
It's wrong to think things for granted!

If a fever breaks out
And a disease goes around
You become weak
And give up
Run as quick as you can
You're gonna end up in Heaven

Lots of drugs
Pick and choose and see
So many of them
If you take them, it'll be the end
As soon as you recover, you'll be sick again

Don't push yourself
Take a break
You're different
You don't have the time
You got something wrong with you
Anyways, drugs are the best!

Have a listen to the song while looking at the above. Was she being serious or merely sarcastic?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Yellow Magic Orchestra -- U.T.




As I've mentioned before, my very first purchase of Japanese popular music was the tape of YMO's 1978 self-titled debut album back in 1981 on that graduation trip to Japan. The following year, it was my brother's turn to commemorate his many years in Japanese school, and he brought back a number of 45s and another tape of YMO....this time, a collection of their hits up to 1982.

The usual suspects were there: the representative "Rydeen", the celebratory "Firecracker", and the cool "Behind The Mask". However, I then came across "U.T."as the first track on Side B for the first time. It was said that the band was starting to change directions to a certain extent into the 80s, but I found "U.T."as an example of one of their fun ol' pure techno hits. The melody is pretty minimalist but Yukihiro Takahashi's(高橋幸弘) propulsive drumming keeps things urgent. And then there is the bridge where the three members pretend to be on a panel show discussing the significance of U.T.

Hosono: Hello, I'm your host, Haruomi Hosono. Appearing on the show today are Yellow Magic Orchestra's Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Welcome gentlemen.

Takahashi: Thank you.

Sakamoto: Thank you.

Hosono: First, I'd like to ask Mr. Takahashi....do you know about U.T.?

Takahashi: Well, I know YT, but this is the first time to hear UT.

Hosono: Ah, really? Well, then, Mr. Sakamoto, what is the meaning of UT?

Sakamoto: Yes, that refers to super global existence.

Hosono: Oh, really? By the way, Mr. Takahashi's drumming on this song is amazing, isn't it?

Takahashi: Yes. It is amazing.

Hosono: Ohhhh....will you listen to this song on the "BGM"album?

Takahashi/Sakamoto: ARE YOU KIDDING?

Love those guys....just horsing around, as usual. But, indeed, according to the writeup for the song in YMO's 1999 Best CD, "YMO Go Home", UT stands for Ultra-Terrestrial....a form of transcendental existence. Originally, the song was a track on the band's 4th album, "BGM", which is often used as a Japlish term for background music, but was referred jokingly by the boys as the abbreviation for "Beautiful Grotesque Music". In any case, the album was ranked 28th in 1981. 

Personally, I think the song title was just one preposition away from describing my alma mater, The University of Toronto.

YMO Go Home
I'd just like to thank the YouTube fellow who actually wrote down the original lyrics for the bridge portion of the song. Made it easier to translate than having to listen to the guys since they were all speaking through filters or vocoders.


Godiego -- The Galaxy Express 999 (銀河鉄道999)




I remember watching the first movie in the "Galaxy Express 999"series on an old VHS video, and was impressed with the overall animation, the various environments, and simply the entire epic feel of this old 19th-century locomotive traveling through the stars. The symphonic score was fabulous, but there were also the two contributions by the band Godiego(ゴダイゴ).

This song, which appeared at the end of the movie, was composed by vocalist Yukihide Takekawa(タケカワユキヒデ) and written by Keisuke Yamakawa(山川啓介) to reflect the 999 taking off on its journey. Initially, though, arranger Mickie Yoshino(ミッキー吉野), the band's keyboardist, had envisioned a ballad for the movie but with this vision of the train soaring through the galaxy, the song took on a far more uptempo structure.


A version with English lyrics was also created with Yoko Narahashi(奈良橋陽子) as the lyricist. The song was released in July 1979, about a month before the movie's release, and quickly entered the Oricon charts at No. 6. It would eventually peak at No. 2 before finishing off the year as the 14th-ranked song for 1979. As was mentioned in the first entry for Godiego, the year reaped a lot of success for the band since four songs would end up on the high end of the charts.

The Galaxy Express 999 soundtrack
It will never happen, of course, but if there were ever a live-action version, I'd pick Gwyneth Paltrow as Maetel, with a de-aged Shia LaBeouf as Tetsuro. Considering Hollywood's track record of filming anime as live-action, though, I think seeing an actual 19th-century locomotive fly through the sky would enjoy better odds. But seriously, folks, if you want to see a great anime, "The Galaxy Express 999" is definitely one to catch.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Akihiko Matsumoto -- Rhythm & Police

Arguably the police/detective show has the most memorable theme songs. In America, there are the themes for "Dragnet", "Hawaii Five-O" and "Columbo"(although I know that the theme for that last one was actually the title track for the whole "NBC Sunday Night Mystery" anthology), for instance. The same goes for Japanese versions of the cop show. In recent years, one of the most well-known themes has been the one for the popular 1997 Fuji-TV drama, "Odoru Dai Sosasen"(踊る大捜査線)which can be directly translated as "The Dancing Big Investigation", but has actually been translated for practical purposes as "Bayside Shakedown". The show was the usual mix of silly comedy and hard drama about life within the oft-disrespected Bayside Precinct on the shores of Tokyo Bay. Unlike the majority of dramas, "Bayside Shakedown"went beyond its original mandate of 12 episodes, and spun out into a number of prime-time specials and three movies.

Akihiko Matsumoto's(松本晃彦) scores for the original show, the specials and the subsequent movies have acted as that extra 10th player for the baseball team. The theme song (and other soundtrack compositions) for "Bayside Shakedown" has become one of those tunes that everyone can recognize right from the first few notes, even if some of them hadn't even seen anything of the franchise. I first heard it being used in a comedy-variety show but soon made the connection with the original program.



The interesting thing is that "Rhythm and Police" was based on a much-larger-than-a-sample of a song created by Mexican composer/actor, Lorenzo Barcelata, decades ago, titled "El Cascabel". The song, in fact, was even included on the Golden Record placed into one of the Voyager space probes as a sample of "The Sounds of Earth". Those probes are now hurtling out of our solar system into the vast reaches of our galaxy (a bit too floridly described, I admit). Barcelata passed away in 1943, and some 50 years after his death, the copyrights on "El Cascabel"lapsed and Matsumoto was more than happy to use the song for his police theme.

Akihiko Matsumoto -- Rhythm and Police

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kanako Wada -- Tanjoubi wa Minus Ichi (誕生日はマイナス1)




This single was written by Kanako Wada(和田加奈子) herself and composed by Hideya Nakazaki(中崎英也)who had also made songs for Miki Imai(今井美樹), Miho Nakayama(中山美穂)and Jun'ichi Inagaki(稲垣潤一)among others. "Tanjoubi wa Minus Ichi"(My Birthday is Minus One) is a slightly cheeky story about a woman who celebrates the big day with a beau who is one year younger than her and is often mistaken as her kid brother.

Originally a track from her 4th album "KANA"in 1987, it was later released as her 6th single in March 1988. It didn't end up charting on Oricon but I like it for its soda pop sprightliness. Though it may not be the deepest song on record, when I come across it, it's always pleasant to listen to.

Kanako Wada--Golden Best

Hiroshi Itsuki and Nana Kinomi -- Izakaya (居酒屋)



Was watching an NHK broadcast music special called "Omoide Melody"(思い出メロディー.....Melody of Memories) tonight and came across this old chestnut by enka singer Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし) and actress/singer Nana Kinomi(木の実ナナ). It was written by Yu Aku(阿久悠) and composed by Katsuo Ono(大野克夫), who had written a number of Kenji Sawada's(沢田研二) songs and the folk classic "Gakusei Gai no Kissaten"学生街の喫茶店) by GARO in 1972 (already profiled).


I was surprised by the relatively recent date on this song since the melody and the lyrical give-and-take between Itsuki and Kinomi harken back to a much older duet, "Tokyo Nightclub" by Frank Nagai(永井フランク) and Kazuko Matsuo(松尾和子) in 1959 (profiled as well). "Izakaya"(Pub) is a popular shibui karaoke song....or at least, it was back in the 80s. But the one thing that intrigues me about this tune is the title since the sound of it reminds me more of an exclusive top-level bar rather than a neighbourhood Tokyo watering hole. And certainly the above video of the pair's appearance in a fancy Western-style bar on "Enka no Hanamichi"演歌の花道) (also profiled under Media) emphasizes that feeling.

But if you're interested in tackling an enka tune at a nearby karaoke box with someone, I would recommend this one.

Enkobo, an izakaya in Higashi-Nakano

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tatsuro Yamashita -- Let's Kiss The Sun



Another one of Tatsuro Yamashita's(山下達郎) wonderfully sunny pop songs, "Let's Kiss The Sun" practically screamed, "PUT ME ON AM RADIO!"Released in April 1979 as his 4th single, it was also included as the final track on his 4th album, "Moonglow", which came out half a year later. Yamashita took care of the melody and arrangements while his buddy, Minako Yoshida(吉田美奈子), handled the lyrics. She even helps out on backup duties.

The story behind this song is that Yamashita had been going through some major writer's block and he was just about to give his deep regrets to the powers-that-be at his studio, when while being driven there, the car passed through a Harajuku intersection, and suddenly inspiration struck with the melody hook. He probably wanted to kiss more than the sun at that point.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Miki Imai -- Mocha (Under A Full Moon)


When it comes to Miki Imai(今井美樹), I guess my favourite era of hers spans 4 albums: Mocha (1989), Ivory (1989), Retour (1990) and Lluvia (1991). Mind you, the second one "Ivory" was actually her first Best album, but it's the one that properly introduced me to the sylph-like singer with the wide-as-the-Mississippi smile.





Up to this point on my blog, I've covered "Retour" and a couple of songs from "Mocha" ("Boogie-Woogie Lonesome High Heel" [above] and "Arifureta Love Scene"), along with one other tune, "Natsu wo Kasanete" from 1988's "Bewith". But since I've grown to like "Mocha"so much over the years, I've decided that I would profile it as well. It was Imai's 4th album, and compared to "Retour", it's less lush in terms of production but the songs included here also have some pleasant hooks delivered in Imai's high feathery voice at the time. Just to let you know, the video above the one for "Boogie-Woogie Lonesome High Heel" is from an old radio show she was hosting.


 "Anytime Manytimes" is a jazzy and funky number about a woman who loves his man but is frustrated that...gosh darn it...he just won't reciprocate. This song was written by Masami Tozawa(戸沢暢美)and composed by MAYUMI, who just happens to be the elder sister of pop singer Reimy(麗美). (Thanks to Utamap.com for the lyrics)




One of my favourite tracks on the album, the final song is "Chijou ni Oriru made no Yoru"地上の降りるまでの夜....Night Falling to the Earth),  perfect for evening listening. It's another classic Imai ballad with her sleepily lilting vocals floating across the night sky. It's written by Yuuho Iwasato(岩里祐穂) and composed by Akemi Kakihara(柿原朱美), and is an appropriate tune to hit the hay by.

"Mocha"peaked at No. 5 on the Oricon album charts after its release in June 1989.



Michiyo Azusa -- Konnichiwa Aka-chan (こんにちは赤ちゃん)




One of those songs that just wanna make you go "Goo...goo...goo." Appropriately, "Konnichiwa Aka-chan"(Hello, Baby) is one of those songs that I've heard since I was an aka-chan myself. Created by the same tandem that brought the famed "Sukiyaki"song (already profiled) to life a couple of years earlier in 1961, lyricist Rokusuke Ei(永六輔)wrote the words and gave them to composer Hachidai Nakamura(中村八大) as a present; Nakamura was on the verge of becoming a father for the first time. The lyrics speak of a parent's greeting to a child:

Hello, baby....your face
Hello, baby....your cries
Those hands, those cute round eyes
How do you do. I'm your mother.
Hello, baby....your life
Hello, baby....for your future
This happiness is your father's wish
How do you do. I'm your mother.              (Thanks to j-lyric.net)

Awwwwwwwww. "Konnichiwa Aka-chan"was first introduced on an NHK program, "Yume de Aimashou"夢で逢いましょう.....Let's Meet In Our Dreams)back in July 1963. It may have been a man who came up with the words, but there's always been a mother's heart buried deep in them. Sung cheerfully by the high-voiced Michiyo Azusa(梓みちよ), the song sold over a million records and earned the Grand Prize on that year's Japan Record Awards, plus an appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen for Azusa.

Even today, probably any new mother has internalized the song for obligatory use.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sayuri Ishikawa/The Gospellers -- Whiskey ga O-Suki deshou? (ウィスキーが、お好きでしょ)

One of my favourite commercial jingles, "Whiskey ga O-Suki Deshou?"(You Like Whiskey, Don't You?) was this sultry torch song written by Shun Taguchi(田口俊) and composed by singer-songwriter Masamichi Sugi(杉真理)for Suntory Whiskey in 1990.

I'm always delighted when a singer usually firmly esconced in one genre gives a great performance in another. Sayuri Ishikawa(石川さゆり) is famous for giving powerful renditions of enka, but she gives this tenderhearted and flirtatious jazz ballad, styled a la Nelson Riddle with shimmering strings. I can imagine Linda Ronstadt during her "What's New?"phase tackling this one.

The song was brought back again for another series of Suntory Whiskey commercials starting from 2007 onwards.

With the return of the song, two different versions were also added. From 2009, vocal group The Gospellers gave their own appealing acapella version replacing the Ishikawa original for the whiskey ads.

Unfortunately the full version isn't available online but Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや) gave her own version starting from 2010. However, the commercial take is here. If that fetching bartender looks familiar, she's actor/model Koyuki(小雪)who appeared in "The Last Samurai" with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe. Below is the slightly longer excerpt by Takeuchi.

https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/%E3%82%A6%E3%82%A4%E3%82%B9%E3%82%AD%E3%83%BC%E3%81%8C-%E3%81%8A%E5%A5%BD%E3%81%8D%E3%81%A7%E3%81%97%E3%82%87-ep/id401722178

For me, though, the Sayuri Ishikawa version wins hands down.

Takao Kisugi -- Goodbye Day



"Goodbye Day" was singer-songwriter Takao Kisugi's(来生たかお) 10th single released in May 1981. Since his debut in 1976, Kisugi has been known for his soothing melodies of which "Goodbye Day"is a representative example. And for this and all of his other songs, his sister, Etsuko(えつこ), has been the lyricist. Takao has stated that his influences have been The Beatles and Gilbert O'Sullivan, and certainly his voice has a passing resemblance to the latter singer. I first came across this song on a compilation tape that I'd bought in Chinatown, and initially pegged him as the Perry Como of Japanese pop music. Even in person, he has that rather relaxed expression that Como had.




There have been various arrangements of "Goodbye Day"over the years. This is one which is a bit more heavy on the strings. I actually prefer the original as depicted in the other video which is somewhat less florid, for a lack of a better word.

"Goodbye Day" wasn't a hit although his fans (me included) acknowledge that this is one of his most famous works. It was also released on his 6th album, "Sparkle", in July 1981. The song was also used as the theme for a police show shown on Fuji-TV in the same year, starring Group Sounds legend, Yuzo Kayama(加山雄三), as a detective.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Oricon Top 10 Singles for 1988

1. Hikaru Genji                      Paradise Ginga
2. Hikaru Genji                      Glass no Juu-dai
3. Hikaru Genji                      Diamond Hurricane
4. Otokogumi                        Daybreak
5. Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi            Kanpai
6. Shizuka Kudo                    Mugon Iroppoi
7. Hikaru Genji                      Tsurugi no Mai
8. Kyosuke Himuro                 Angel
9. Miho Nakayama                 Mermaid
10. Toshinobu Kubota            You Were Mine

Do I see a theme here? The Johnny's Entertainment group of the late 80s had a tight grip on the top singles of the year. "Paradise Ginga"was one of those songs I couldn't escape from while I was watching the ranking show videos during my university years. And the lead singer, Moroboshi-kun, was just every girl's dreamboat with his wide smile and headband. Imagine what that headband would've gotten on EBay if it had existed then.

Nice to see a couple of female aidoru help break up things a bit in the form of Kudo and Nakayama. Just a lot of testosterone in that list.


Shizuka Kudo -- Mugon Iroppoi (MUGO・ん 色っぽい)

 
Shizuka Kudo (工藤静香)came out of the huge aidoru group, Onyanko Club(おニャン子クラブ), of which she was also a member of a smaller subunit, Ushirogami Hikaretai(うしろ髪ひかれ隊)with two fellow groupmates. Her official club number was 38.





I had seen Kudo before as a soloist on a tape of "The Top 10"that a former student was kind enough to obtain for me. I'd forgotten which song she sang but I remember her decked out in a flashy outfit with a bare shoulder and pretty garish makeup....a mega-tsuppari (punk girl). Her face also stood out for its longer shape and her high, angular cheekbones. She also had a slightly lopsided expression which distinguished her from other aidoru.

Some weeks into my 2-year tour of duty on the JET Programme, my host family's son was driving me somewhere in Gunma Prefecture when he turned on the tape player, and out came this tune coming at warp speed. I asked him who sang this song, and he replied "Shizuka Kudo". I couldn't quite catch the title so I asked one of the teachers at my school about it, and he replied "Mugon Iroppoi"(Silence...Sexy).

A song about struggling to confess one's love to another, Kudo's 5th single,"Mugon" was written by Miyuki Nakajima(中島みゆき) and composed by Tsugutoshi Goto(後藤次利) and released in August 1988. The melody might be frenetic but the lyrics are typical introspective Nakajima. It hit No. 1 and became the 6th-ranked song on Oricon.

After listening to the song on my host brother's tape player, "Mugon" became one of my first CD single purchases.



Ienai no yo, ienai no yo
Iitai koto nara, dore gurai
Aruka wakaranaku afureteru
Watashi, kokoro wa oshaberi da wa
Iitai koto nara, anata ni wa
Ato kara ato kara afureteru
Watashi, igai to oshaberi da wa
Nanoni, iza to naru to uchiki ni naru
Toi basho kara nando mo hanashi kaketeru no ni

Me to me de tsujiau kasuka, n, iroppoi
Me to me de tsujiau so iu naka ni naritai wa
Mugon ikujinashi ne
Mugon sabishigari ne

Iitai koto nara, ano hi kara
Dare ni mo makezu ni afureteru
Watashi, kimochi wa wagamama da wa
Nanoni, iza to naru to uchiki ni naru
Kaita tegami mo shimaikonde dare mo shiranai

Me to me de tsujiau kasuka, n, iroppoi
Me to me de tsujiau so iu naka ni naritai wa

Me to me de tsujiau kasuka, n, iroppoi
Me to me de tsujiau so iu naka ni naritai wa

Ashita sukoshi yuuki wo dashite
Shisen nagete mi yo kashira

Me to me de tsujiau kasuka, n, iroppoi
Me to me de tsujiau so iu naka ni naritai wa
Mugon ikujinashi ne
Mugon sabishigari ne
Mugon ikujinashi ne
Mugon sabishigari ne

Ienai no yo, ienai no yo