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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Naoko Kawai -- Ohkina Mori no Chiisana O-uchi (大きな森の小さなお家)



Well, let's see...yesterday was sunny with a Humidex reading of 35 degrees C. Today, however, the rain was relentless and the temperature was a mere 9 degrees C. From mid-summer to mid-fall in less than 24 hours. As usual, Toronto is probably the weather capital where it's predictably unpredictable.

In any case, depending on the time zone, you may already be reading this on June 1 2015 in which we can all celebrate the 35th anniversary of Naoko Kawai's(河合奈保子)debut release. Yep, it was on this day in 1980, just shy of her 17th birthday that the native of Osaka came to the ears of the listening public for the first time with "Ohkina Mori no Chiisana O-uchi" (The Little House in the Big Forest). Apparently in December 1979, Kawai had barely gotten in her application and a demo tape for "Hideki no Ototo/Imoto Boshuu Audition" (HIDEKIの弟・妹募集オーディション...Hideki Saijo's Little Brother/Little Sister Recruitment Audition)after which some 6 months later, she actually won the championship, and then a few months after that was the debut.

The judges chose wisely in my estimation. I've heard "Ohkina Mori no Chiisana O-uchi" a few times since I got Kawai's BEST album, and that clear voice of hers was there right from the start. It just seemed to smile for me (an inside joke) right then and there. And it didn't hurt that Koji Makaino's(馬飼野康二)melody had that sweet but soaring feeling overlaid on a disco beat. As for Yoshiko Miura's(三浦徳子)lyrics, I think that wonderful house from the title is referring to the heroine's welcoming heart for that guy she likes. Considering her cute looks (especially with and not in spite of her snaggletooth) and that happy delivery, I'm fairly sure that there were quite a few guys who would have been more than ecstatic to answer the greeting.


For a debut, Kawai did pretty decently as the song peaked at No. 36. It was also a track on her debut album, "Love", which came out later that same year in October. Of course, bigger and better things were on the horizon for her.

As for which song she provided on her demo tape...it was Anri's(杏里)"Olivia wo Kikinagara"(オリビアを聴きながら).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Eri Hiramatsu -- Single is Best!?


First off, I'm glad to hear that it looks like that any damage from the M8.5 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Japan earlier today was mostly restricted to people's wits. But with some of the recent volcanic activity near Kagoshima and Hakone, I'm keeping my ears and eyes open to all things seismic for the next little while.

In any case, there's a bit of 90s nostalgia when it comes to Eri Hiramatsu's(平松愛理)11th single "Single is Best!?". Released in March 1993, I first heard it as the launch track for her very first BEST album, "Single is Best" which came out a month later and which I got through money order while I was back in Toronto. An old friend once told me that he found the opening line of "dindon, dindon, dindon, dindon..." to be pretty lame, and I have to admit that I'm still not quite sure what the meaning behind it is aside from a guess that it could be wedding bells. At least, it's a better theory than Hiramatsu having French turkeys on the brain when she came up with the song.

As it is, looking at the video above and the title with the punctuation marks, I think Eri was trying to wrestle over the thought of either settling down or enjoying the high life as a single woman. Along with some of the sepia tones in the video, the feeling of nostalgia crept in with the singer in her role as the oyaji gyaru or OG. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, there was quite a lot of coverage on the new generation of young women who were embracing their inner oyaji (old man) and happily hitting the links, the drinks and the horses just like their male counterparts.


"Single is Best!?" managed to get as high as No. 11 on Oricon. As for her BEST album, it hit No. 1, broke the million-seller level, and also finished the year at No. 11.


Chage and Aska -- WALK


"WALK" has the honor of being the first song that surprised me with how different its start and its chorus are. Finding it through the chorus via a 2-part Chage and Aska song medley about 5 years ago, I immediately took a liking to that few seconds of the song, as well as their many other singles compiled in there. Unfortunately, the video only showed the album this song came from, that being their 10th anniversary album "PRIDE", and not the single's own name, so I was left with that one pretty vague lead to do some exploring.

I somehow managed to stumble upon this one video of "WALK" (I'm pretty sure it's the same as the live performance above), not knowing it was the song I was hunting for, and I remembered thinking, "What in the world is this?! This definitely can't be it!" during the first few seconds because unlike the snippet I had heard, this began at a snail's pace with such a heavy atmosphere, coupled with Aska's echoing vocals and the dim lighting and grey surrounding, it seemed almost dreamlike and actually felt quite stifling, for want of a better word. But as the "WALK" progressed, it began to speed up to an appropriate, comfortable walking pace - I know it's a pun, but the drum's beat do make it sound like someone's footsteps on the ground - where it stayed throughout, and eventually I had finally found what I was looking for. Listening to it  intently many years later (now), I'd compare this change of pace to trying to run in a dream, where you're really sluggish and struggling to even move quickly, then waking up to reality with a start, and from there, you're strolling around the streets normally.


The lyrics the had been penned by Aska as well (yes, he composed "WALK") basically talks about our protagonist not being able to continue... walking... okay I'll stop... won't be able to continue living without that special one by his side. Yep, that's your typical Aska-written song right there. Finding out its meaning through its Chinese translation had actually made me appreciate and enjoy the song more than I already do, making another of my favourite C&A tunes.

"WALK" was first released on 8th March 1989 and did fairly well, peaking at 20th place on the Oricon weeklies, and it was then re-released on 25th March a few years later in 1992, doing a lot better that time and peaking at 3rd place. I'm guessing it's due to their resurgence in popularity after "SAY YES" a year before. Just as mentioned earlier, "WALK" is one of the tracks in their 12th album "PRIDE" (released in 1989), which peaked at 1st place, as well as in their 1992 compilation album "SUPER BEST II", which became best selling album of the year and sold about 3 million copies, allowing the duo to win the grand prize at the 7th Japan Golden Disk Awards. It was also used as the commercial song for the Subaru "Vivio" car.


Got "PRIDE" online, and "SUPER BEST II" while on
the latest trip to Japan about 5 years ago... Boy, was I happy
when I got that!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Yuko Ishikawa -- Cinderella Summer (シンデレラ サマー)



Yuko Ishikawa(石川優子)....a name that I've heard now and then over the decades but never really got to know. The only song I know that she's been associated with is "Futari no Ai Land"(ふたりの愛ランド)(1984), her duet with Chage of Chage & Aska fame due to it being a popular karaoke song at Kuri way back when.

Still, I'm more than willing to rectify the situation even at this late date. I've tried to read up on her via J-Wiki and anything else I can find on the singer-songwriter. One of the phrases that I've seen a fair bit about her is that despite her cute looks, she quite firmly declared that she wasn't an aidoru, and this was during a time when aidoru were pretty much popping out of the woodwork.

I've come to her 7th single, "Cinderella Summer" that was released back in March 1981. The single version has that appropriately summery sound with the wailing electric guitar that makes me think that this would have been ideal for the aidoru of the early 80s, Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子). However, it was Ishikawa who composed, wrote and sang this beach-friendly song with that hint of 50s. I could be transported back to those days on the graduation trip to Japan listening to this.


Took a bit of searching around but I was able to track down on a Japanese-language blog that "Cinderella Summer" managed to peak at No. 10 on Oricon and sell over 330,000 records. The tune eventually became the 42nd-ranked song of the year.


The song also got onto the album of the same title which was released in June 1981. Unlike the single version, the album version has a slightly more techno kayo sound to it without the wailing guitar. No complaints from me.


Not surprisingly, "Cinderella Summer" was used as the campaign song for Japan Air Lines Okinawa in that year. I could imagine tourism getting a nice boost from it.

Miho Morikawa -- Panic (パニック)


For the first time in a couple of decades, I decided to open up my lone Miho Morikawa(森川美穂)CD, "Pop The Top!" which was her 8th album from March 1991. Now, I bought this back in my Gunma days on the strength of the two theme songs she provided for the NHK anime, "Fushigi no Umi no Nadia". I liked the melody by Yoshimasa Inoue(井上ヨシマサ)and the spunk provided by Morikawa especially in "Blue Water".

I played the album...once. I don't remember the exact reasons why I only played it once but "not being particularly impressed" was probably the overarching factor. When I put the disc into the player earlier this afternoon, I gave the 48 minutes another chance. Each song had its own charms but listening to all of them together at one time soon had me reaching into the desk drawer where my stereo was perched and quickly skimming through the novelization of "Return of the Jedi" for the duration. That is also something that I hadn't done in decades.

Then I started searching whether any of the songs from the album ended up on YouTube or music163. A number of Morikawa's albums did show up on the latter site although "Pop The Top!" wasn't one of them, but I did find one of the tracks on the former. It was "Panic" which was written by the singer and composed by MOTHER'S RYTHM (that's how it was spelled in the liner notes). Listening to the song again, I realized that the song sounded great on its own, so I think what had me not liking the album all that much was just that there was too much of a sameness among the tracks; nothing really stood out.

For those folks like myself who listened to J-Pop back around that time in the 90s will pick up on the bouncy West Coast melodies and the synthesizers from that time. As I mentioned in the article for "Blue Water", I could pick out some Kahoru Kohiruimaki(小比類巻かほる), Mariko Nagai(永井真理子)and even Ruriko Kuboh(久宝留理子). And like those songstresses, Morikawa has some great pipes. As for the lyrics, the singer was relating about her shock (and perhaps envy and bitterness) on finding out that a former flame was tying the knot.

"Pop The Top!" reached as high at No.4 on Oricon. I may have to try a bit of reverse psychology with the album...perhaps listen to tracks such as "Panic" and "Because" (on music163) separately, appreciate them and then try the album as a whole again. It wouldn't be the only album that I would try that with.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Kaori Kozai -- Tomarigi Yume Akari (とまり木夢灯り)




This week's "Kayo Concert" on NHK had the theme of bars and drinking. If the producers had decided to do a full tribute, the show would have ended up as long as the current form of the Kohaku Utagassen, but instead it was kept to its usual 45 minutes.

As Noelle mentioned on her article "Ashita no Meoto Zake"(明日の夫婦酒)featuring Kaori Kozai(香西かおり)and Ikuzo Yoshi(吉幾三), I also don't know all that much about Osaka-born enka singer Kozai aside from the fact that she has appeared a lot on shows like "Kayo Concert" and the Kohaku. However on that edition of the Tuesday-night show, she came on to perform a song that had me thinking of some of the old chestnut enka or Mood Kayo of yesteryear. It certainly sounded like something that could have come from the 60s or 70s, and truth be told, I was also reminded of the classic karaoke tune, "Roppongi Lullaby"(六本木ララバイ)that came out in 1984.


However, "Tomarigi Yume Akari" (Barstool Dream Light) was just released last month in April 2015 so it hasn't even been put in Kozai's J-Wiki discography yet. Written and composed by singer-songwriter Raymond Matsuya (レーモンド松屋...interesting that "Roppongi Lullaby" was also taken care of by a fellow who used an English first name, Ed Yamaguchi), there is that country music swinging lilt and the boozy saxophone that has me thinking Tokyo bar. The lyrics are about a woman pining away at a drinking establishment alone as she thinks about a past love and what could have been...the usual recipe for a Mood Kayo.

From what I've been able to find out about Matsuya is that he was born in Ehime Prefecture in 1951, and that he was in a high school band and attended a music academy in Tokyo. He went into a different line of work after graduation although he still maintained his musical activities as he went into the indies route. However, it wasn't until 2010 at the age of 59 that he made his major debut as a singer-songwriter. In 2012, he got his first big break when he earned the Best Composer prize at the Japan Record Awards for the song "Yoake no Blues"(夜明けのブルース...Daybreak Blues)for Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし).




This is the karaoke video for "Tomarigi Yume Akari" so you can see what Matsuya was trying to say.


Pink Sapphire -- Happy no Jouken. (ハッピーの条件。)



Another oldie but goodie...it's rather sad that I'm saying that about the 90s, but that's the way the cake crumbles. In any case, this is "Happy no Jouken" (A Happy Condition) by Pink Sapphire...hadn't heard this in a long while. It has that happy pop/rock sound from the times that reminded me of Princess Princess' "Diamonds" from a couple of years earlier. I was trying to remember whether the band's 4th single from May 1991 was a theme for some trendy drama or a commercial tie-in tune. It turned out to be the latter when I checked the J-Wiki article; it was the song used for Recruit, the human resources company that had gotten itself into some trouble due to some insider trading back in the late 80s.

The song was written by Shun Taguchi(田口俊)and composed by Hiroyuki Miyaguchi(宮口博行)and it peaked at No. 10 on Oricon. Along with the Princess Princess comparison, that guitar riff at the beginning of the album version had me thinking B'z as well. My compliments to Takako Miyagawa,(宮川孝子)the guitarist.



"Happy no Jouken" was released just a few months before my departure from the JET Programme so it was one of the songs that rather accompanied me during my travels through western Japan before I took off for home in Toronto. That was a pretty torrid time through Kumamoto Prefecture, especially.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kimiko Kasai -- Natsu no Hajime no Image (夏の初めのイメージ)


(10:28)

Reading through Marcos V's fine article on Arashi's(嵐)fun "Miracle Summer", I started thinking about what I could contribute as one of the first summer-themed songs for this year. After all, it looks the season has decided to jump the gun and land on Toronto a bit early in 2015 (although we're supposed to be plummeting 10 degrees over the weekend...c'est la T.O.), and I'm somewhat sweltering in my room as I write this.

Well, I was playing one of the videos on the article for Yurie Kokubu's(国分友里恵)"Relief 72 Hours" after reading nikala's article on the singer's "I Wanna Be With You", when another video popped up by former jazz singer Kimiko Kasai(笠井紀美子). It was for "Vibration" from 1977 which had this Cleo Laine vibe going on, and since I saw her record cover for "Tokyo Special" on that YouTube video and in "Japanese City Pop", I was intrigued enough to take a further look at her discography.

So by fortunate happenstance, I came across "Natsu no Hajime no Image" (First Image of Summer), and was instantly smitten by the nice and pleasant light funk of it all. It's fine for sunset listening, especially on a summery day like it was today here. I kinda knew I was in for some aural relaxation as soon as I heard the opening notes of that laid-back waka-waka from the guitar, the rippling keyboards and the smooth strings. The song was also a track on that 1977 "Tokyo Special", and according to the Japanese music blog, "Music Avenue", it was composed by Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)and written by the late Kazumi Yasui (安井かずみ...she provided the lyrics for all of the songs on the album).

As I mentioned above, Kasai was a jazz singer who got her start in the 1960s before going solo with "Just Friends" in 1970, and then going on to work "...with some of the most renowned musicians in the jazz field, such as Billy Higgins, Mal Waldron, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, Oliver Nelson, and Herbie Hancock." (thank you, Wikipedia). However, she has also released albums in the AOR and fusion genres of which "Tokyo Special" is one.

Kasai retired from singing several years ago and is currently a jewel designer. One other interesting point that I found out about her is that she has been married to musician Richard Rudolph who was once married to the late Minnie Ripperton and is the father of actress-comedienne Maya Rudolph from "Saturday Night Live" fame.

Yurie Kokubu -- I Wanna Be With You


Thanks kindly to J-Canuck for his great review of Yurie Kokubu's (国分友里恵) debut album "Relief 72 Hours", which propelled me to obtain the CD as well. Even though some of the links in that post don't work any more, you can still get a sense that it's a strong assortment of City Pop songs with all the right ingredients: sophisticated mellow groove, sparkly musicianship and Kokubu's velvety vocals. Whenever I play this album, it refreshes and nourishes me like a nice glass of berry mix smoothie. So while picking up "Relief" from my local Tower Records in Gifu, I spotted two of her other albums on the shelf, both of which were just then-recently remastered. "Steps", her second album from October 1987, really jumped out at me with that striking artwork. And so, I ended up getting that one as well.

Compared to Kokubu's smooth debut, "Steps" is more of a dance pop album, though it does slow down here and there to give the tired clubbers a break. The second track, "I Wanna Be With You", made the biggest impression on me from the bunch thanks to the lush arrangement by Masaki Iwamoto (岩本正樹) . I can feel wealthier just listening to those rich horns and the bass groove, and since I'll be treating myself to a nice trip to Vancouver for the next three weeks, I might as well take this as an appetizer. In any case, it makes for nice background music to a meal at a high-end restaurant that overlooks a brightly-lit urban skyline. Kokubu breezes through this with her vocals so seamlessly as if they are part of the band. Definitely the perfect fit for the genre. Credits wise, she was responsible for the song's lyrics while Hitoshi Haba (羽場仁志) composed the tune.

Yufu Terashima -- Fuhehehehehehehe Daisakusen (ふへへへへへへへ大作戦)




I’m truly in love with Yufu Terashima (寺嶋由芙), and she’ll probably be my top aidoru of the year!

Like I said in my past article about two of her singles, “Campanulla no Yutsu” (カンパニュラの憂鬱) and “Neko ni Naritai!” (猫になりたい!), this cute girl was part of the punk/anti-aidoru unit called BiS (the group disbanded in 2014, but Yufu-chan was out of it since 2013). I thank her for realizing that her true destiny was at being a traditional aidoru.

When I say traditional aidoru, I really mean it! After months exploring her not-so-big discogaphy, I concluded that a good portion of her repertoire is made of retro-sounding tunes, which is a nice change in this era of hyper-energetic or rock-based aidoru groups (Babymetal is pretty nice and was a valuable addition to the aidoru universe, but things are getting strange with lots of indie groups trying to copy them and bite a slice of this niche market). However, she also records some denpa songs eventually, so variety is not a problem for Yuffie.

When I first heard Yufu signed to a major label, I was instantly happy for her. My only problem was how strange the title of her major debut single turned out to be: “Fuhehehehehehehe Daisakusen”. Also, it didn’t help that the short snippet on YouTube didn’t sound interesting at all.

Well, I waited a month before the single was oficially released and “Fuhehehehehehehe Daisakusen”, while not irresistible at first, is a cute song that showcases Yufu’s sound in a positive manner with all the fairy tale elements in the arrangement, such as the strings, synths and flutes. Also, her voice is one of the sweetest things on earth. Yufu’s level of saccarine is so high in “Fuhehehehehehehe Daisakusen” that I think about a fluffy cotton candy while listening to it, and I don’t even like cotton candy in the first place.

Finally, the video is pure heaven! Yufu is awkwardly beautiful, especially when she opens that big and almost disproportionate smile.

As a side note, “Fuhehehehehehehe Daisakusen’s” coupling song (b-side) is a cover of Sheena & The Rokkets’ (シーナ&ザ・ロケッツ) “You May Be”. Yufu’s cover is pretty similar to the original, but I’m a sucker for her cute vocals, so I like the cover over the original. You can hear it below.



I’m already eager to her first album release!!!

“Fuhehehehehehehe Daisakusen” was released in May 2015. Lyrics for the song were written by Seiko Oomori (大森靖子), while music and arrangement were done by rionos.

Azusa Senou -- Kimi no Tsubasa ~Daijoubu Dakara~ (君の翼~だいじょうぶだから~)


“Kimi no Tsubasa ~Daijoubu Dakara~” was the third single released by Azusa Senou (瀬能あづさ) in June 1992. Like I said in the post about “I miss You”, I was really mad to see Azusa leaving her aidoru group CoCo behind, but some great songs from her solo career, and “Kimi no Tsubasa” is probably one of the best examples, made me forget about this very quickly.

At first, I thought the song was going to be a cheesy Latin song, based on the synth notes at the beggining, but it soon moved on to this pretty straighforward pop song.

To be honest, I’m pretty confortable with the fact that there’s nothing very complex about “Kimi no Tsubasa”. We can easily say Azusa is not the typical high-pitched aidoru, which is nice for a change, and the arrangement is full of the shameless keyboards that were used non-stop during the late 80s and the 90s in Japan. However, what makes “Kimi no Tsubasa” special to me is the catchy chorus melody. In fact, I feel there’s some sort of spark in that combination of Azusa’s vocals, cheesy synth background and this melody altogether, especially in the final section, when she sings the first and second choruses in a row.

“Kimi no Tsubasa ~Daijoubu Dakara~” may not be revolutionary, but it’s one of the songs I’ve been listening to almost everyday since December or January. One can say I’m really hooked on it.

The single reached #8 on the Oricon charts. Lyrics were written by Yoshiko Miura (三浦徳子), while music was composed by Ichiro Haneda (羽田一郎). As for the arrangement, Jun Sato (佐藤準) was the responsible.


Arashi -- Miracle Summer (ミラクル・サマー)


(karaoke version)

I’ve been terribly absent from this blog, and, of course, I’m not proud of this. I’ll seriously try to get my things together again and start writing with more consistency.

Now, let’s have a little fun with Arashi ().

I’ve said before that Arashi is really great when they adopt a funk/disco sound. Also, I think they probably know this, because many of their songs are disco-based. Other thing I noticed after a while is how their b-sides are often better than the a-sides.

Last year, when Arashi released their “Daremo Shiranai” (誰も知らない) single in May (2014), I was not very impressed with the title track. It was not bad, but it lacked some “oomph” for me. However, like I said earlier, Arashi’s b-sides are sometimes more interesting than their hit songs, so I waited until the full single leaked just to listen to the other songs in it. I was happy to find out how pleasant “Miracle Summer” sounded.

“Miracle Summer” is that typical positive-sounding summer song with a light disco arrangement composed of gorgeous strings and brass. If it wasn’t enough, the melody is beautiful with all the variations, especially in the chorus. Even our boys are sounding good here.

Other than the song itself, what I like about “Miracle Summer” is how it stands for that melancholic, yet good, vibe which everyone who likes summer feels because they don’t want the season to end. Based on this, “Miracle Summer” always reminds me of Morning Musume’s (モーニング娘) 1999 single “Manatsu no Kousen” (真夏の光線), as both songs shares this same feel. In fact, I can’t listen to one without remembering the other. That’s really strange, but whatever.

Endless summer............


“Miracle Summer” can be found in the regular edition of “Daremo Shiranai”. The single reached #1 on the Oricon charts, selling 524,111 copies. Lyrics were written by macoto56, while music was composed by Christofer Erixon, Joakim Bjornberg and Susumu Kawaguchi (川口進). As for the arrangement, it was done by metropolitan digital clique.

Jun is very stylish in this cover.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kenji Sawada -- Hare Nochi BLUE BOY (晴れのちBLUE BOY)


Well, my education on Kenji Sawada(沢田研二)was primarily through his appearances on the Kohaku Utagassen starting with the 1981 show and then listening to him occasionally on "Sounds of Japan". And yep, he did leave quite the impression via "Stripper" (ス・ト・リ・ッ・パ・ー)and then his New Wave-y "Rokuban no Yuutsu"(6番目のユ・ウ・ウ・ツ)on the 1982 Kohaku. I could only imagine dropped jaws and perhaps a few calls to the NHK switchboard.

So I was wondering what he would bring to the 1983 Kohaku when I read in the local Japanese-Canadian newspaper, "The Nikka Times" that he would once again be returning to the NHK Hall stage on New Year's Eve. Glam rock, New Wave...would he go full Punk or go into Rockabilly this time?


Well, with his 39th single from May 1983, "Hare Nochi BLUE BOY" (Sunny and BLUE BOY), it seemed to be a bit of both Glam and New Wave. There was that usual Julie sullen and sultry look as he strutted about to a boppy bass and an alien horn arrangement that could have come from that cantina in Mos Eisley. I picked up some familiarity from the melody composed by singer-songwriter Yoshiyuki Osawa(大澤誉志幸)as it sounded a bit like Adam Ant's "Goody Two-Shoes". I wasn't quite sure how the audience in Shibuya took the song although perhaps a lot of the older generation used the time to check on how the osechi ryori was doing in the kitchen or to hit the washroom. And no, it isn't one of my favourite Julie songs but it's still not something to be forgotten. The lyrics were written by poet and essayist Natsuo Giniro(銀色夏生).


"Hare Nochi BLUE BOY" peaked at No. 11 on Oricon and became the 98th-ranked song for 1983.


Here is Osawa with his own more rock-tinged take on his creation which was also a track on his 1994 album, "Collage". In the same year that he composed "Hare Nochi BLUE BOY", he was also responsible for Akina Nakamori's(中森明菜)fierce song of defiance and regret "Ni-bun no Shinwa"(1/2の神話).


And this is Yasuyuki Okamura(岡村靖幸)with his own 2010 cover of the song. When I discovered that he had also sung the tune, I kinda figured that this was right up his alley.


Momoiro Clover Z -- Mōretsu Uchū Kōkyōkyoku Dai 7Gakushō "Mugen no Ai" (猛烈宇宙交響曲・第七楽章「無限の愛」)



A few years back, I was enjoying the nutso comedy in the 2012 anime "Joshiraku"(じょしらく)along with both opening and ending themes. The ending theme, "Nippon Egao Hyakkei"(ニッポン笑顔百景), was especially something that got batted beyond the outfield wall with Momoiro Clover Z(ももいろクローバーZ)as the girls sang the lyrics at something like the speed of sound. It was the first time that I had ever heard of the group and I felt like bowing in respect at how they handled it.

Earlier in the same year, there was another anime that got released but didn't get shown to me until much later in 2012 at about the same time that I got to see "Joshiraku". Once again, I got to hear Momoiro Clover Z rip through the opening theme like The Flash and with some shredding rock guitar accompaniment by former Megadeth guitarist and current tarento Marty Friedman. With the amazingly epic title of "Mōretsu Uchū Kōkyōkyoku Dai 7 Gakushō "Mugen no Ai"" (Bodacious Space Symphony's Movement VII 'Infinite Love'), the theme song welcomed all to the world of "Moretsu Space Pirates"(モーレツ宇宙海賊...Bodacious Space Pirates), the adventures of Captain Marika Kato and the mighty crew of the Bentenmaru. I enjoyed the series although some of the unsubtitled episodes dealing with the nitty-gritty of space yacht training had me dozing off sometimes....but that's why we have Crunchyroll, isn't it?


Got to see the official music video for "Mugen no Ai", and neither does it skimp on the excitement either. Cute girls in pirate costumes, somewhat dated special effects and tributes to a key scene from "E.T."...it's all good. Plus the whole song itself comes off as a mighty battle hymn given "Les Miserables" heights of epicness. Captain Kato would have been proud...or knowing her modest personality, perhaps a bit bashful. And I rather muse if the late Freddie Mercury had ever gotten his hands on the song. :)

Written and composed by Kenichi Maeyamada(前山田健一), Momoclo's 7th single was released in March 2012, and did very well for an anison, peaking at No. 5 on Oricon. and ending up as the 95th-ranked song of the year. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that the group didn't perform this particular tune at the Kohaku Utagassen.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Dreams Come True -- Million Kisses


A couple of years ago, I did an article on Dreams Come True's most successful album, "The Swinging Star" which came out in 1992, and there were some great tracks on that one. But I think it also ended up overshadowing another pretty decent album...their preceding one, "Million Kisses" from November 1991. And I have to say that the cover for DCT's 4th album is the quintessential photo of Takahiro Nishikawa, Miwa Yoshida and Masato Nakamura(西川隆宏・吉田美和・中村正人). Whenever I think of the trio, that's the pic that hits my mind.

(empty karaoke version)

The inspiration for the title of the album according to J-Wiki comes from the group's expression of gratitude in the form of a million kisses for the million people who bought their 3rd album, "Wonder 3" (I bought that one, too, and I will choose Miwa to do the honors).

As for the first song to be profiled, that would be the 2nd track of "Kare wa Tomodachi"(彼は友達...He's A Friend)which was the coupling song for Dreams Come True's 9th single, "Eyes To Me". Unlike the breezy nature of the main song, "Kare wa Tomodachi" has got an urgent beat to it and it's a song that I haven't heard in a long time. It's not one of my favourite DCT tunes since the refrain seems to go a bit off-kilter for some reason.

(cover version)

Strangely enough, the one track that repeatedly courses through my head whenever I think of "Million Kisses" is "Anata ni Salada"(あなたにサラダ...A Salad For You). It's just one of those intentionally cutesy and silly songs that reminds me of some of those novelty tunes or commercial jingles that popped up in the early years of television...kinda along the same lines as "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?" I think Miwa's performance with the backing dancers hit the nail on the head...if I'm not mistaken, the excerpt is from DCT's variety show from the early 90s. I only caught the bloopers from the show via rental video and my impression was that it seemed to follow that old US variety show style. It would have been nice to have seen at least one episode.



"Wasurenai de"(忘れないで...Don't Forget Me)was DCT's 10th single from October 1991 which I think was the big ballad of the album. The album version has the sad and brief telephone call between Miwa and the probably newly-minted ex-lover before the song revs up. It has that beat which creates that scene of a tearful Miwa walking through an otherwise gala festival while she is in her own bubble of grief. There seems to be that drama running in parallel with all of the frivolity. It peaked at No. 5 on the singles charts and became the 78th-ranked single for the year.

(cover version)

The final track is the longest one at 6:50 with "Ginga e no Fune"(銀河への船...Ship to the Stars). It's quite the epic ballad to finish the album as the verses start off with R&B/gospel before the melody transits into something akin to music from a merry-go-round and then it launches off into a musical flight into the heavens. There is even a feeling of a waltz especially near the end. And once again, Yoshida provides the fine rocket power with those vocal cords of her. Despite the length of the song, it doesn't feel all that long; I guess all those genre shifts keep our ears from getting bored. As I mentioned for "The Swinging Star", there is a segue of sorts from "Million Kisses" over to the next album as "Ginga e no Fune" gets a Big Band treatment at the beginning as the title instrumental track.

"Million Kisses" not only earned a million kisses from Miwa but it even garnered a million more. By 1994, it sold around 2.4 million copies. It hit the top spot on Oricon and lasted a good long while on the yearly charts. It may have come out on November 15th 1991 but within those last 6 weeks of the year, it became the 11th-ranked album, then the following year, it was the No. 9 album of 1992 and finally by the end of 1993, it was still hanging in there at No. 67. It also earned a Best Album prize from The Japan Record Awards.

Still for me, it's that wonderful cover of the three. It was the one thing that got me to write out the bank draft to send over to Japan.

Fuyumi Sakamoto -- Fuyumi no Soran Bushi (冬美のソーラン節)


For half of the precious weekend, my high patience - I'd like to think so - had been tested as my brain wrestled with a science research proposal concerning herbal extracts and whether or not they're able to kill food-spoiling bacteria. Now here comes the reason for my burning ire, the main purpose is to get us students who don't even know what herbal extracts are - I had only heard of them, but I never knew what they really were - to learn how to write a research proposal, and this was our given topic. So there I was struggling with the decision of how much information I should put into that  because at the end of the day, it's only the structure that's important and being graded... putting in lot's of info could just be a waste of time and effort. With 40% Wikipedia, 30% food safety sites, 15% lecture notes, 5% online grocery store catalogues and 10% pure bull (reserved for desperate situations), that was probably the most effort I had put in for a topic that's probably at least 90% irrelevant to my course of study, Marine Science and Aquaculture.



Looks rather claustrophobic...(the previous video was taken down)

Well, nightmarish research proposals aside, while taking breaks from investigating mold and the anti-bacterial qualities of mint, lemongrass and rosemary, I had also been digging around for information about the "Soran Bushi" (ソーラン節), a Minyo with its origins stemming from the gritty, salty fishermen of Hokkaido to cheer themselves on while performing backbreaking labour on the high seas. And just like many other Minyo like it, this rousing sea shanty with its signature, "Yaren soran, soran, soran...!" has been sung a multitude of times by enka singers both young and old, most notably by the late veteran and resident of Hokkaido Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也), the exuberant Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし) and enka beauty Fuyumi Sakamoto (坂本冬美)... or at least those are the versions I had heard of as of now.

I had first heard of "Soran Bushi" via Hikawa with his rendition that's aptly named, "Kiyoshi no Soran Bushi" (きよしのソーラン節) on a summer festival-themed "Kayo Concert" last August. I must say that this version is very... Hikawa..., and it's sits nicely between contemporary and traditional, but I can't say I'm a fan of it. Michi's take on "Soran Bushi" (that's the title) is a lot more deconstructed and is the most traditional sounding out of the 3 I've mentioned, it doesn't sound bad, it's just that the backup singers with their squeaky "Hai! Hai!" and "Dokkoisho! Dokkoisho!" irks me to no end.


And then we have Sakamoto's version, which is my favourite. I actually heard this on the plane while on the way to Hong Kong. It was the first song under the enka album in the Japanese music section, so I gave it a shot since I had some prior experience with this Minyo. Admittedly, I thought it was quite odd to be listening to a traditional sea shanty, but the music to "Fuyumi no Soran Bushi" allowed me to settle into it quite easily. Composed by Kaoru Hanagasa (花笠薫), it is very much Pop/Rock-like with the sting of the electric guitar and the trumpets blasting away, but the flute... I think it's called the shakuhachi and the constant, manlier "Soran! Soran!" helps the song retain it's Minyo/enka-ness. The lyrics were by Yo Yashiro (やしろよう).

"Fuyumi no Soran Bushi" was released on 2nd November 2005 as the B-side to "Futari no Tairyo Bushi" (ふたりの大漁節), which is her 35th single. It peaked at 24th place on the regular charts.

amazon.co.jp

Yoshitaka Minami -- Moonlight Whisper


Still digesting that Hakata ramen from Sho Ryu Ken, the latest ramen restaurant to appear in my fair city (those who used to play "Street Fighter" will get the joke about the name). So I've still got that mix of sleepiness and wakefulness fighting for control even at this midnight hour.

To finish off my broadcasting day, then, I'm going to go with Yoshitaka Minami's(南佳孝)"Moonlight Whisper" from his 1982 classic album, "Seventh Avenue South" that I wrote about 18 months ago. Despite the title, Minami's melody (also wrote the lyrics too) has more of that broad daylight-by-the-pier feeling to it with that hint of tropical. I think the song would do well for today as well since it was a gorgeously sunny and warm day at 27 C. That laid-back arrangement with the keyboards and guitar really bring up those images of blue sky and ocean and gigantic margaritas. I also have to admire that clear and resonant voice of Minami.


Ryuichi Sakamoto -- Anna


Not quite sure whether Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一)was being assaulted by Big Bird on his cover for his June 1994 album, "Sweet Revenge", but it's a cover that I've seen time and again over the years whenever I passed through one of the major CD shops.

And last night, I decided to try one of the tracks from the album on YouTube, "Anna". I've known The Professor's solo works mostly via "energy flow" and the theme song from "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence", but after listening to "Anna", I think I can add this into the "Memories of Ryuichi" file, too. I also knew that he had a flair for bossa nova from his song for Miki Imai(今井美樹), "Martinique no Kaifu"(Martiniqueの海風), but "Anna" just brings back some old-time romantic impressions from the 1960s. In fact, I would have loved to have met this Anna who apparently so inspired Sakamoto. As it so happens, the song was named after the wife of Antonio Carlos Jobim, the father of bossa nova himself.

Interesting thing I found out in the Japanese write-up for "Anna" on J-Wiki. Sakamoto had supposedly written it for NOKKO of Rebecca to sing but the circumstances made that impossible. I would've been intrigued to see how that would have come out.




Saturday, May 23, 2015

Chika Takami/EPO -- Kuchibiru Nude (くちびるヌード)




Received some words from commenter Ryan Miller the other day concerning Miyuki Kosaka's(香坂みゆき)"Nuance Shimasho"(ニュアンスしましょ)in which he mentioned about a compilation album under the title of "Yellow Magic Kayo Kyoku"(イエロー・マジック・歌謡曲). The album is chock-filled with popular and obscure techno kayo from the 70s and 80s so I think I might be getting that sometime. But in my little search for that disc, I also stumbled across another similar compilation titled "Techno Kayo - Ultimate Collection 1" at the Tower Records site.

When I took a gander at the playlist inside, I came across a track whose title I was already familiar with. But the singer wasn't. Chika Takami(高見知佳)was an aidoru who debuted back in 1978 but didn't really make much of a dent on the charts until several years into her career (she also did a lot of acting on TV) when she came out with her 15th single, "Kuchibiru Nude" (Lips Nude) in February 1984.


Written and composed by EPO, the song became Takami's most successful single, getting as high as No. 16 on the charts. It's got that hook-happy beat that EPO can concoct in her sleep with the cute technopop, some Chinese flavouring and even some naughty French phrasing that I think came out in some disco song a few years earlier. The main reason that it got made was for a Shiseido lipstick commercial, so of course it's gotta be catchy.


Actually, the first time I heard the song was when I bought EPO-chan's "The Best Station JOEPO 1980-1984", and she did her own cover. The arrangement is basically the same but with that vocal brassiness that I've always known about the singer. Her cover originally came out as a track on her 6th album from February 1984 "Hi-Touch, Hi-Tech".


Ikuzo Yoshi -- Otoko Chumon wa (男っちゅうもんは)


Finally, a recent Ikuzo Yoshi (吉幾三) song that I can really enjoy! His past few releases after the reggae-themed "NDA!" (profiled) have mostly been misses for me since they're quite dreary and unamusing, so it was quite the pleasant surprise hearing Yoshi sing his at the time newest single "Otoko Chumon wa" as one of the two guests on my first viewing of "Nodojiman" late last year - what a way to kick things off. And that was where I had learnt of the odd standards of this amateur singing contest, and that the contestants singing familiar enka tunes are usually above the age of 50.



What drew me closer to "Otoko Chumon wa" was that the livelier music Yoshi composed that sounded more Western than enka gave me the impression that it has some semblance to an English song I had taken note of somewhere along the way. As for the lyrics (also done by him), I'm not sure what they are about, but it seems to be either talking about the life of a manly man, or what it is to be a manly man. Though I do recall not fully paying attention to Yoshi's explaination of the meaning behind "Otoko Chumon wa" to the audience and George Yamamoto (山本譲二) during a perfect "Nippon no Uta Special Stage" pairing... It was already about 75 minutes into the 90 minute show so my brain began to go on hibernation mode.

"Otoko Chumon wa" was released as Yoshi's 58th single on 2nd October 2013. It peaked at 49th place on the regular charts, which is average by enka standards, so it must have placed within the Top 10 on the enka charts for a while.

amazon.co.jp

Friday, May 22, 2015

Saburo Kitajima -- Bungacha Bushi (ブンガチャ節)




I was watching "Kayo Concert" the other night and it was down to a reduced guest list: Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎), Sayuri Ishikawa(石川さゆり), Hiromi Go(郷ひろみ)and Yoshimi Tendo(天童よしみ). The theme for the evening was the debut singles for the four singers along with their more recent numbers.

Saburo Kitajima may have retired from the Kohaku Utagassen (the environmentalists must have celebrated knowing that there will no longer be trees sacrificed for all that confetti), but he was still finishing up the show on Tuesday. As requested, he performed his debut single from 1962, "Bungacha Bushi" (Bungacha Melody), but before he did, he gave a little background on the release of the song way back when. I couldn't quite get all of what he said but I did make out the part where he said that after the song was broadcast on TV 3 times, it was summarily banned from further televised performances. He didn't go into the reason behind its banishment.



Well, when I looked up his J-Wiki entry, I went to the paragraphs surrounding his debut and found that reason. First off, going back to the performance, Sabu-chan's "Bungacha Bushi" was written by Tetsuro Hoshino(星野哲郎), and he included a fair bit of onomatopoeia such as "kyu, kyu, kyu..." and the titular "bungacha-cha, bungacha-cha...". Apparently, the problem was there. The song was about one man going nuts for that young woman, and from that point, the powers-that-be thought that the "kyu, kyu, kyu..." was too reminiscent of bed springs getting a little too much exercise one night. Thus, one week of TV exposure later....it was gone. Kitajima didn't speak about when it was alright to perform the song on the telly again, but I certainly hope Tuesday's performance wasn't the first time.

As it was, I frankly thought all that onomatopoeia was just that romantic heart going "ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump...". And Toru Funamura's(船村徹)lightly bouncy (maybe I shouldn't be using "bouncy") music is a pretty happy-go-lucky thing about an innocent lad skipping down the road, a bit buoyant because of his head-over-heels feelings. Listening to the original song, I thought that "Bungacha Bushi" wasn't a purely enka song with that laddish chorus in the back and the comical horns, but there was enough of an enka-like formality (for lack of a better word) in the arrangements that perhaps it makes for a nice little hybrid.

Kitajima was around 26 years old in 1962, so I'm not how sure he was feeling when he found out that the song he was starting out his career with was given the hook from the airwaves (maybe it was given a reprieve on radio).  But he didn't need to worry for long. His second single, "Namida Bune"(なみだ船...Ship of Tears), which came out in June of that year and was created by the same duo for "Bungacha Bushi", became a million-seller.


Pat Metheny Group -- Last Train Home


"Jojo's Bizarre Adventure" was one of the anime that my friend introduced me to last year. I got through the very first episode before I made the decision to go "Uh...no thanks". Just wasn't my cup of ocha...seeing that beloved dog getting roasted in the kiln didn't exactly help. From what I've read though is that it's quite the epic odyssey and the anime has had a reputation for picking out some interesting songs as ending themes. I heard that British prog rock group YES' "Roundabout" and The Bangles' "Walk Like An Egyptian" were featured on the first season of the show. Man, I remember the latter tune when it originally came out in the 80's as the ladies were all strutting in the video.

Anyways, when it was time for the usual anison part of my visit to my friend's house last week, he played another ending theme for "Jojo" which was for the second half of Season 2 (2015). As he was getting the computer all lined up, he mentioned nonchalantly that it was by Pat Metheny Group.

Wait a minute, I went. Pat Metheny Group? The last time I heard those guys was also back in the 1980s when they and David Bowie did the theme song "This Is Not America" for the spy flick "The Falcon and the Snowman". Good golly...never thought I would be talking about those guys on this blog.


Then my buddy played "Last Train Home", and as it did, I started getting all these sensations of nostalgia and my body sank even deeper into the chair. My mind flitted back to my memories of being on that sunset train from Sapporo to Shin-Chitose Airport after a 3-day trip to Hokkaido. I had wondered about what would have made a fine accompanying song to those memories. Well, I no longer need to muse. This IS the song.


"Last Train Home" was a track on the group's 1987 album, "Still Life (Talking)", and it apparently has been quite the popular song for TV shows and commercials including one for a Florida supermarket chain according to Wikipedia. I mentioned that it was the perfect song to end my Hokkaido trip, but in train-happy Japan, I think it would make for the optimal theme for any working person heading home from the company after another long 13 hours. Back in the early days, when I was out late with the guys at the izakaya or karaoke box, it was the usual thing to take part in the nightly dash with dozens of other commuters for that last train home at the amazingly late time of 11:55 p.m. (yes, I'm being sarcastic here). However, I don't think Friday nights at that time would have been the ideal platform (no pun intended) for "Last Train Home" since people were still pretty juiced up and gabbing away.

A few nights after the March 11th 2011 earthquake, I took the Tozai Line back home. The subways were running again but Chiba Prefecture was going through its rolling blackout programme. There were not a whole lot of folks on the subway and the lights on it were only at half-power. My area in Ichikawa was blacked out when my train got past Minami-Sunamachi Station and was now traveling outside. In a country where power blackouts had been very rare (up until that week, I never faced the phenomenon in 17 years living there), entering my city in nearly total blackness was an eerie sight for me. Looking back on that commute home, perhaps I could've used a bit of Pat Metheny there. The song has that subtle mix of pride, sadness and even hope...got through another long day, will be back for another.


To finish off, here is "This Is Not America".


Thursday, May 21, 2015

AKB48 -- Heavy Rotation (ヘビーローテーション)


The first time I had ever heard of AKB48 was by truck. Seriously. I was walking down the main drag of Akihabara when I saw one of those huge trucks that often advertise some sort of singer's new release on the side. This time, I saw the three letters and the two numbers, and a few of the girls. I quickly figured out about what the AKB stood for but had no idea that the number would actually refer to the original number of members. I mean, I thought that Morning Musume(モーニング娘。)at their numerical peak (around 14 or so) was quite the gaggle, but more than three times that number on a stage?! Heavy Reinforcement of the stage, I thought.

However, as the months and years passed, AKB48 became a household word in Japanese pop culture (or perhaps a household group of letters and numbers). I never became a fan but even I wasn't blind to the effect they've had. They were popping up on the music and variety shows, the AKB48 Cafe appeared in Akiba next to the Gundam Cafe (would love to see any knife fights between the two groups of fans ), and another friend and I actually took a brief look-see one Sunday afternoon at some sort of performance on the 5th floor (I believe) of the Don Quixote building with a handful of the group. Man, the fans were bouncing about like crazy. Heavy Reinforcement of the floor, I thought.

In all honesty, I could count the number of songs I know by AKB48 on one hand...if that one hand belonged to the X-Man Nightcrawler. One has already been talked about by Marcos V. for "Koi Suru Fortune Cookie"(恋するフォーチュンクッキー)which I like because of that old disco beat. Another is "Heavy Rotation" which is the song that comes into my head by default whenever I hear those letters and numbers.


"I want you...I need you...I love you..."

That's the line I always remember from "Heavy Rotation". This is AKB48's 17th single from August 2010...I was kinda surprised to hear that it was their seventeenth single since I had thought it was one of their earlier shots. Yasushi Akimoto and Yo Yamazaki(秋元康・山崎燿)just created this ultra-cheerful and ultra-bubbly tune that infiltrated my brain like so many Ceti Eels that I couldn't help but feel considerably less blue.

Excerpts of the video were ever-present all over the tube since the song was released but I hadn't realized that it was this particular video for "Heavy Rotation" that had Atsuko Maeda(前田敦子)and crew meeting Victoria's Secret! To be honest, I felt like averting my eyes and giving the girls a stern lecture on an appropriate wardrobe. I'm pretty sure all involved would have snarked off at me using a barrel's worth of "jiji" (old fart).

Moving on...I did wonder about what the deal was with the title. After all, "heavy rotation" to me was about a song that got frequent play on the radio, and that was what did happen to this song. However, according to what I read on J-Wiki, the title refers to someone head-over-heels in love focusing on no one but that target of his/her affections 24/7.

Now, how did "Heavy Rotation" do? Well, it went Triple Platinum for one thing. So hitting No. 1 on Oricon was no problem, and it was the 2nd-ranked song for 2010. In 2011, it was still on the yearly charts in 52nd place.


Apparently, my timing for putting up this AKB48 article was quite good since I believe the group will be having their election within the next few weeks. I would definitely need a programme to keep up with all of the nominees.

Source: Rakuten.jp

Sugar Babe -- Sugar


A couple of years back, I did this big article on Sugar Babe's "SONGS", the lone album by the band which was released in April 1975. I don't make it a policy to cover every song on an album due to laziness on my part and also because I like to write about some of the tracks separately.

One of the tracks that I didn't cover on the album and that has popped up in my head from time to time is "Sugar". It's the final track and it sounds like Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)wanted to have a little funny jam session to finish the recording and perhaps even place a marker to signify a happy end to the days of the band. Although, naturally, the final product was done in the recording studio, I could have seen the folks of Sugar Babe sitting at various places on a back porch of a cottage somewhere in the wilds of Nagano Prefecture and improvising away.


While Yamashita is singing something in the background there, my memories of "Sugar" lie in the droll vocal gymnastics that the band does. Tats, Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子), Kunio Muramatsu(村松邦男)and the rest all blast out their "Sugar", and there is the "Shu-shu-shu..." Speaking of that latter part, I read on J-Wiki that it was inspired by a similar thing that Nancy Sinatra sang in her 1967 song "Sugar Town".




I had the above tiramisu last night for dessert when my friends and I hit an Italian restaurant by the name of Balsamico at Yonge & Eglinton. In all likelihood, I ingested my total sugar intake for the week after three bites of the above. Darn tasty treat, though!

Tomita Lab featuring Yumi Matsutoya -- God Bless You!


(cover version)

Had the windows open today since my room needed some airing out with some cool fresh air...only to get smacked down with a heavy case of allergies. I was sneezing up some of my internal organs until I got hold of that Reactine pill...and sorry, it didn't take 20 minutes to activate as advertised. It was more like 2 hours, just in time to have a nice Italian dinner with a couple of my friends in uptown Toronto.

Sneezing...a very appropriate segue into today's song "God Bless You!". This came from Tomita Lab's(冨田ラボ)2003 "Shipbuilding" album which I featured in an article that I wrote more than 3 years ago on KKP. As I intimated back then, I bought the album since I enjoyed the relaxing groove it brought through the speakers to my ears, and the collaboration between Tomita Lab and Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実)is no different. "God Bless You!" starts off with a jazzy R&B riff before settling down into a fairly happy-go-lucky rhythm that would have made for some nice background music for a walk along the lakeshore.


Tomita was behind the music while Yuming took care of the lyrics. I had wondered what the deal was behind the title, so looking into the words that she wrote, I found out that the song is (possibly) about a young lady who believes that she is the target of rumours over her latest romance but frankly doesn't give a care what the gossipers think. One of the little things I learned in Japan was that sneezing signified that other folks were talking about the sneezer...thus the title. The protagonist of the song and I probably earned quite a lot of that title today.

I may have mentioned in one of the other Yuming articles that my listening heyday to the Queen of New Music ranged from the time of her debut in the early 70s to the early 90s. "God Bless You!" is one of the exceptions. Nope, it won't pop up in the Top 10 of any Yuming fan's list but I still think it is one of the cute little gems to be heard on a sunny Sunday.