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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Maaya Sakamoto -- DOWNTOWN


So, if we can get a classic kayo done in its original New Music then covered in City Pop and even Chip Tune, why not get a version given with a jazz arrangement with a hint of ska? That was indeed the case with "Downtown" originally by Tatsuro Yamashita and Ginji Ito(山下達郎・伊藤銀次)in the 1970s with the most famous cover by EPO in 1980 and even a technopop version by YMCK in 2008.

Then in October 2010, Maaya Sakamoto(坂本真綾), whom I knew only for her work with a couple of anison just in the past couple of years, "Shiawase ni Tsuite Watashi ga Shitteiru Itsutsu no Houhou"(幸せについて私が知っている5つの方法)and "Million Clouds", had come up with her own big band version of "Downtown" as her 18th single. Judging from the intro, Sakamoto decided to follow the Tats original.

Being a jazz fan myself, I did appreciate the big band arrangement here.


Sakamoto's version of "Downtown" peaked at No. 5 on Oricon and was also a track on her 7th album "You can't catch me" from January 2011 which did hit No. 1 and modestly finished the year as the 170th-ranked album. The above is just a mere 25-second snippet from the official music video. Actually, I remember seeing the video but at the time, I had no idea who Sakamoto was.


And whaddaya know? It was also the opening theme of a TBS anime titled "Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru" (それでも町は廻ってる...And Yet the Town Moves) which had its run starting from October 2010.


EPO & Masayuki Suzuki -- Downtown Rhapsody (Down Townラプソディー)


Well, how's this for a lovely Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of a team-up? One of the wonderful representatives of City Pop, EPO, did a duet with one of the most soulful singers of Japanese pop music early in his solo career, Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之). And I only found out about this last night. I will yet again use one of my catchphrases, better late than never.


EPO released her 14th single in March 1987, "Downtown Rhapsody" with Suzuki helping out on the vocals. She was also the one taking care of words and music with the latter part mixing some of that early 1980s City Pop sound with a good dollop of laidback soul. EPO and Martin together indeed! Of course, with that title, comparisons were probably made with EPO's debut single and first hit, her marvelous cover of Tatsuro Yamashita's(山下達郎)"Downtown".

I'd say that whereas "Downtown" signified the beginning of that wonderful night in the wilds of Shinjuku, Tokyo, "Downtown Rhapsody" pertained to the midway point of the evening when the friends were happily walking between bars. Quite a giddy feeling and that sax in the middle of the song is simply excellent.


"Downtown Rhapsody" also appeared on EPO's 9th album from April 1987, "Go Go Epo". It's at the 1:21 mark above although feel free to give the rest of the album a try!

GOODWARP -- Sweet Darwin


Back in November last year, I wrote up an article about the opening theme song for slice-of-life anime "Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari" (うどんの国の金色毛鞠), aka "Poco's Udon World", WEAVER's "S.O.S." I had yet to write anything about the ending theme but that was partially because I hadn't seen the last two episodes of the series from Fall 2016 and that was due to my buddy heading over to Japan during the Holidays.


However, I did catch those last two episodes this week and I'm kinda glad that I didn't see especially the finale over at my friend's place since frankly having two guys tear up watching an anime is still a bit weird for me. Yup, Episode 12 was that heartwarming and heartbreaking but not totally surprising, and from what I read on the YouTube comments, it looks like a lot of folks felt the same way.

I also read that "Poco's Udon World" didn't exactly launch any ratings up into the stratosphere and that's a bit disappointing although again not altogether surprising. Being a gentle slice-of-life show probably wouldn't have grabbed the action fans and the show had the slight misfortune of coming on right after a pretty similar series in the summer titled "Amaama to Inazuma"(甘々と稲妻)in terms of overall tone. Heck, it even had the same seiyuu, Yuuichi Nakamura(中村悠一), in the lead male role.

But for those who did watch the antics of Poco and Souta from beginning to end like myself, I think they were satisfied for the most part with this mix of "Field of Dreams", Japanese folklore and a travelogue of Kagawa Prefecture. That finale, though...wow...and that was televised on Xmas Day, too.



I think that soothing ending theme by GOODWARP, "Sweet Darwin" hit harder than usual after all of the stuff that had occurred in Episode 12. To be honest, when I first heard it in Episode 1, I had thought that it was WEAVER again but it was indeed a different band here. The song was part of the band's 3rd single released in November 2016 and was created by vocalist Takuya Yoshizaki(吉崎拓也).


GOODWARP is a rock band formed in 2011 with four members: the aforementioned Yoshizaki, guitarist Tomoo Fujita(藤田朋生), bassist Hisashi Hagiwara(萩原尚史)and drummer Yuuji Ariyasu(有安祐二). According to the J-Wiki profile, all four of them have their own distinct musical influences ranging from The Beatles to X Japan to YMO. As for the shortened version of the official music video here, you can also get a partial demonstration of how to make udon noodles

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You can see the ending credits featuring "Sweet Darwin" at a little past 19:10 in the above video.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Maki Goto -- Ai no Bakayarou (愛のバカやろう)


I remember the first time I saw Maki Goto(後藤真希)on TV. It was either just before or after she was officially brought in as the sole 3rd-generation member of Morning Musume(モーニング娘。)back at the end of the century. She kinda wobbled in on those high-heel shoes like a newborn fawn, all arms and legs. It was quite the contrast with the 1st-generation member who had left, the more pixie-ish Asuka Fukuda(福田明日香). Because of the timing of her arrival, I will always see her as the one face for MM's monster hit "Love Machine" although I am well aware that it was a group effort.


A couple of years later after being with the main group, it was decided that she would start her own parallel solo career. And so Goto started off with a song that had a pretty in-your-face title "Ai no Bakayarou" (Fool of Love). Yeah, the way I translated it right now doesn't make it sound too threatening, does it (for those who know their Japanese)? Well, the way I know bakayarou, I would have to choose from a few profanities, including one which also starts with the letter F. So, we'll just go with fool and just imagine it as being supercharged in meaning.

Getting back to the main topic "Ai no Bakayarou" made quite the splash when it was released in March 2001 due to Goto herself, the title perhaps and the lyrics by Tsunku (つんく) which were perhaps seen as being a bit racy for a 15-year-old to handle. Mind you, Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵)had done much the same thing back in the early 1970s with some of her songs when she was about the same age as Goto. Not that the words rated the label "NSFW" or "Explicit" by any stretch of the imagination but I guess the folks in Japan thought that a teenage aidoru from Hello Project expressing rage and despair about a romance gone wrong was a bit of a leap in maturity.


I guess another comparison to Yamaguchi would be in order since Goto was raging away in a way that reminded me of the Aki and Uzaki-fueled hits for the legendary 70s aidoru when she sang about some angry and embittered women.

"Ai no Bakayarou" got a lot of airplay as I remember since I kept seeing Goto dancing about in that hall of mirrors in the video almost daily. I hadn't been paying too much attention to the lyrics at the time but whatever the lyrics were like, she sang them sweetly if forcefully. Finally reading them, I realized that Goto's heroine was alternately cursing her ex while at the same time missing him. There was some pretty interesting imagery in the video as well with that desert, the image of the innocent Goto of the past in her regular clothes compared to the Goto in that exotic regalia of the present...maybe representing someone in mourning. And perhaps there was something about the hall of mirrors possibly reflecting the various aspects of her. But before I lose all of us in fake psychoanalysis, I have to say that desert reminds me an awful lot of the same environment used for Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" video...it was out on rental, maybe?

Tsunku composed the music which also provided a departure from the usual Morning Musume mode along with the lyrics. At the time, I was accustomed to a bit of old-timey 70s disco with the MM, but with "Ai no Bakayarou", there was more 80s synthpop in there although I don't think I could really compare it with anything by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.


"Ai no Bakayarou" hit No. 1 right from the get-go (eventually ranked at No. 37 on the yearly charts), and apparently it is still the only single by a solo artist from Hello Project to reach the top spot. Furthermore, Goto became the youngest solo female singer at 15.5 years to hit No. 1 since 80s aidoru Marina Watanabe(渡辺満里奈)reached that mark at nearly 16 years of age back in 1986. According to J-Wiki, that record still stands.

Incidentally, the youngest singer to hit No. 1 is Osamu Minagawa(皆川おさむ)for "Kuroneko no Tango"(黒猫のタンゴ)all the way back in 1970. He was only 6 years and 9 months old.

Chanels -- Hoshikuzu no Dance Hall (星くずのダンスホール)


I guess as that band leader said in the latter half of the very first "Back to the Future" flick, this is for all you lovers out there.

That's the vibe I get from listening to "Hoshikuzu no Dance Hall" (Stardust Dance Hall) by 80s doo-wop group Chanels (シャネルズ). I had not known about this ballad although I've known about Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之)and his old band since the early 1980s since it wasn't one of their released singles and I never bought any of their original albums from that period before Martin and company changed their name to Rats And Star (ラッツ&スター).

Well, better late than never. "Hoshikuzu no Dance Hall" sounds like the ideal slow dance near midnight to have with that significant other. And even more ideally, it would be great listening to it while the couple is dancing alone on the floor with that disco ball slowly spinning those sparkling lights.


The song was written by Masao Urino(売野雅勇)under his alias of Reiji Aso(麻生麗二)and composed by Suzuki himself for Chanels' 5th album, "Dance! Dance! Dance!" which was released in December 1981 and got as high as No. 13 on the charts. The video above has Suzuki performing at a concert commemorating his 35th anniversary in music ably assisted by his old band mate, trumpeter (and comedian) Nobuyoshi Kuwano(桑野信義).


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Peggy Hayama/Masako Mori/Chieko Baisho -- Gakusei Jidai (学生時代)


On the heels of not only the graduation songs article I wrote about earlier today but also yesterday's article on Shoji Koganezawa(小金沢昇司), I'm introducing veteran singer Peggy Hayama(ペギー葉山)to the pages of "Kayo Kyoku Plus". Like Koganezawa, I had assumed that Hayama was already here since again her name is one that I've heard for years via TV shows and the like but when I checked the Labels, I had to sheepishly admit to myself that there had been no representation of her.

Well, yesterday, she did show up on "Uta Kon" (うたコン) last night, if just via old video tape, on a retrospective of graduation-themed songs. She sang "Gakusei Jidai" (Student Days) which was one of her singles from 1964, and sounding appealingly upbeat yet wistful, I decided to talk about this one tonight.


Written and composed by the late jazz musician Seiji Hiraoka(平岡精二)for Hayama, I think I actually like the version given in the very top video since it hews closer to Hiraoka's roots although I believe it's also a relatively recent take according to the arrangement. The performance video just here is probably close to what was actually recorded.

According to an NTT Docomo-sponsored radio show featuring guest Hayama back in 2012 (via J-Wiki), Hiraoka had initially meant the song to be titled "Daigaku Jidai"(大学時代...University Days)but Hayama insisted that it wouldn't be an appropriate title since she felt that the times back then were such that not everyone was heading to university. There was quite a back-and-forth between her and Hiraoka until Hayama won out so that "Gakusei Jidai" became the official title.

The lyrics were modeled on Hayama's own student days through the Aoyama Gakuin school system in Tokyo (the singer had attended the junior high and senior high schools there at least) that also happened to be Hiraoka's own alma mater. "Gakusei Jidai" also mentions about a chapel which actually refers to the Charles Oscar Miller Memorial Chapel in Berry Hall at the Aoyama campus of Aoyama Gakuin University. In fact, "Gakusei Jidai" has been called the second anthem for the university.

"Gakusei Jidai" was released in the pre-Oricon days so there were no rankings given but it did become a huge hit selling at least a million records and garnering Hayama her 12th straight appearance on NHK's Kohaku Utagassen at the end of 1965.

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The song got its fair share of covers by singers over the decades including Masako Mori(森昌子)who seemed to specialize in school-based kayo in her early days. She provided her own version of "Gakusei Jidai" in her 1973 album "Chuugaku Sannen-sei"(中学三年生...Junior High School Senior)with a typically 70s arrangement of jaunty violins, flute and perhaps a vibraphone (xylophone?). Considering that Mori was only around 15 years old at the time, her performance was probably what Hayama had been insisting upon when it came to the title nearly a decade before...it wasn't just a song about university life but also of the life of any kid in the high school system.


Actress-singer Chieko Baisho(倍賞千恵子)gave a more near-operatic take on the song starting with a whirlwind of a string intro...perhaps reflecting the usual high-paced hijinks of students racing to school. Her version was recorded on her 1975 album "Baisho Chieko Best 20".

I'm sure there are generations of alumni who have heard the song and quickly reminisced back to those salad days in school. In any case, for all those in Japan who are making that big leap between levels in the education system, my congratulations!


J-Canuck's Graduation Songs


Until I saw last night's "Uta Kon" (うたコン), I had completely forgotten that this was the graduation season in Japan. After all, in a few days, it will be the beginning of a new fiscal year including a new school one. So, there are plenty of cherry blossoms to scatter, tons of tears to be shed, and lots of uniform buttons to be given by the guys to the girls.

Basically, this Author's Pick isn't really a list of revelatory favourites but more of a summary of some of the graduation-themed songs that I've already written about in the blog and have known for decades. At least two of them were played and sung by the teachers for the graduating senior year students in my junior high school on the JET Programme with the tear ducts flowing like crazy.


H2O -- Omoide ga Ippai (1983)

It may have started life as an anime theme song but it's grown into one of the big graduation songs to elicit tears.


Hi-Fi Set/Yumi Arai -- Sotsugyo Shashin (1975)

My fellow teacher on JET who lived in the next village once remarked that he wanted to smash this song into smithereens (he's more of a rock guy anyways) after hearing it so often during graduation season. Well, to each his own. But I still like Hi-Fi Set's old-style version.


Kaientai -- Okuru Kotoba (1979)

Along with "Omoide ga Ippai" above, this was the other song that had my students' waterworks starting up. And who better to send the grads off to a new chapter in their lives than the ultimate TV teacher of Japan himself?


Yuki Saito -- Sotsugyo (1985)

I don't know Saito's "Sotsugyo" as well as the others on the list but I have to say that having young Saito sing it brought that feeling of sweet innocence to the proceedings of leaving school.


Misato Watanabe -- Sotsugyo (1991)

This may be a graduation song but I keep getting the expression "insurance company" popping in my brain whenever I heard this one. Mind you, it was used as the campaign song for Meiji Insurance, and there's nothing like a life-changing event to think of life insurance.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mari Amachi -- Futari no Nichiyoubi (ふたりの日曜日)


The above is Den'en-Chofu Station which is on a Tokyu Railway line going west of Shibuya. I used to come here biweekly on Sundays to teach a student who lives in the neighbourhood. It's one of the tonier areas of Tokyo with quite a lot of nice houses although they are not nearly as big as the mansions of Beverly Hills. In fact, when my student picked me up and drove me over to his home, we sometimes passed the house of then-Prime Minister Hatoyama and depending on the level of the crisis hitting the Diet, there could be anything from one to a handful of security officers in front of his house.

It is rather interesting comparing my biweekly Sundays now and then. Over 5 years ago, it was my student and me as the duo of the day taking care of a private English lesson; now it's my buddy and me taking care of private anime viewings.


All that prelude to present early 1970s darling, Mari Amachi(天地真理), and her 5th single from December 1972, "Futari no Nichiyoubi" (Sunday For Two). Another characteristically jaunty outing from Amachi about going out with that special someone on that Sunday, it seems to be more fit for spring or summer than the technically autumn release but I gather that when meeting the one you love, any Sunday of any season is a grand one.


Masaaki Hirao's(平尾昌晃)bouncy melody seems to fit the mood of the young lady or perhaps the entire couple walking down that park lane, supporting the cheerful delivery of Michio Yamagami's(山上路夫)lyrics. It was the lone No. 3 hit in the middle of a series of No. 1s for Amachi and it became the 13th-ranked single of the year, ultimately selling a million records. The song also spearheaded her 4th album "Ashita e no Melody"(明日へのメロディー...Melody for Tomorrow)which did hit No. 1 on the album chart.

Hopefully, that nice sunny Sunday will come up this weekend, but knowing Toronto weather, it could be anything approaching early summer weather or a snowstorm.

Shoji Koganezawa -- Negai, Ichijomodori Bashi (願・一条戻り橋)


I was surprised that I hadn't done an article on enka singer Shoji Koganezawa(小金沢昇司). I've seen and heard the man a few times now so I'd assumed that he did get into the blog somewhere. However, such was not the case so I'm rectifying it here.


A few days ago, I was watching NHK's "Nodo Jiman"(のど自慢)when Koganezawa and Sayuri Ishikawa(石川さゆり)appeared as guests. One of the amateur songsters performed one of the former's songs on his behalf, "Negai, Ichijomodori Bashi" (Please, Ichijomodori Bridge) which I thought was pretty good as a heartfelt crooning ballad.


The singer came out with this one in October 2012 and was created by lyricist Yuriko Shima(志磨ゆり子)and composer Meiyu Otani(大谷明裕). I've spoken sometimes about how enka and Mood Kayo like to focus on certain areas in Japan. Well, I think geographical structures have also come into play as well, notably bridges and airports. I guess with bridges, they have also been seen as settings for fateful meetings and departures, and so they have been used in the titles of many a song, and not even restricted to the traditional Japanese genres. In this case, Ichijomodori Bashi is a bridge in Kyoto.


Koganezawa sings about some wistful reminiscings about a past romance and how he would dearly like to have the lady back, preferably meeting on the titular bridge.


The singer was born in the city of Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1958. In his teenage years, he did go through a period of hard knocks as he became a delinquent, and according to one interview, Koganezawa admitted that he spent most of his high school years at police stations in his home prefecture. However, he somehow came under the tutelage of enka legend Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎)to learn how to become an enka singer himself. Another padawan of Kitajima, George Yamamoto(山本譲二), even revealed that out of all of Kitajima's proteges, Koganezawa was the one who got yelled at the most.

Koganezawa made his debut in 1988 with "Omae Sagashite" (おまえさがして...Looking For You) but remained an unknown quantity until sometime in 1992, when he appeared in a commercial for throat spray. The narrator merely identified him as "Singer Shoji Koganezawa" which had viewers wondering "Who the heck is THAT guy?" The question was answered when his 4th single "Omae dake" (おまえだけ...Only You) came out later in the same year and ended up selling 350,000 copies. Thank you, throat spray.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Motoharu Sano -- Angelina (アンジェリーナ)



I came across rocker Motoharu Sano's(佐野元春)March 1980 debut single, "Angelina", a few nights ago. And right from the get-go, it sounds just like the image that I've had for the singer-songwriter. "Angelina" has that old-style rock n' roll with the guitar and the saxes.

There was something downright Early Springsteenian about it, and the image that coalesced in my brain was of teenage rebel-without-a-cause Rocko rumbling down the highway on his motorcycle while dreaming of his darling Angelina the ballerina. Rocko probably stood on a hill overlooking the great big city, smoking away a box of cigarettes and hoping to see the lass. Considering how Japanese pop culture back in those days included a whole bunch of rockabilly wannabes twisting away in Yoyogi Park, perhaps Sano's debut hit a certain chord.

However, there was nothing mentioned in J-Wiki about it hitting the Oricon charts. "Angelina" was also a track on his debut album which came out in April of that year, "Back to the Street". Apparently, that release also didn't chart but no problems. Sano would someday get his fame in the next few years. And this is pure speculation from me, but I wonder if Sano ended up inspiring future artists such as Ayumi Nakamura(中村あゆみ), Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里)and Tomoyasu Hotei(布袋寅泰).


Yumi Matsutoya -- Sunny day Holiday


Happy Monday! For me, Yuming's (ユーミン) best days ended sometime in the early 90s, at least where her albums were concerned. Now, some might say that I've being overly generous while others may posit that I'm being a little harsh, but that is where I stand.


Still, her singles and albums up to the present have still been hitting the Top 10 on Oricon, and I have to admit that some of the singles that have come out from the 90s onwards have resonated to a certain extent. Case in point, "Sunny day Holiday", Yumi Matsutoya's(松任谷由実)31st single from November 1997.

At the time of its release, it got some pretty heavy rotation on TV at least since I could pick up on the melody immediately when I heard it again after so many years. I did get the album that it appeared on "Zuvuya no Nami"(スユアの波...Wave of the Zuvuya), her 29th original release from December 1997 but I only listened to it a couple of times before it was placed on the shelf not to be moved again (perhaps I'll have to give it another try). I do remember talking with an old friend about the album not long after "Zuvuya no Nami" was released, and we both agreed that it was kinda meh.

Listening to "Sunny day Holiday" again, though, I also have to say that it is a pretty nice pop song through the ears of nostalgia although it's not up at the same level as past classics such as "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai" (あの日にかえりたい). Her lyrics are also sweet as she portrays a man verbally gushing out his love and gratitude to the woman in his life despite any of his idiosyncrasies. As the key lyric goes: "Kimi wa Sunny day, boku no Holiday" (きみはSunny day, ぼくのHoliday...You are a sunny day, my holiday).


"Sunny day Holiday" was also the theme song for a 1997 Fuji-TV drama "Narita Rikon"(成田離婚...Narita Divorce)starring SMAP's Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Asaka Seto. On Oricon, it peaked at No. 10.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

GUMI/Ari Ozawa, Nana Mizuki, Sumire Uesaka, Nao Toyama -- Kokoro Palette (ココロ*パレット)


It's been several months since one of my favourite anime from the Summer 2016 season, "Kono Bijutsu-bu ni wa Mondai ga aru!" (この美術部には問題がある!), finished its run, and being a fan of the comedic slice-of-life sub-genre, the show managed to fulfill a promise that any televised project wants to achieve...leave the audience wanting more. I've read that the original manga is still plowing ahead but I don't know whether there will be a second season. However, that ending scene in the final episode was good enough for me.


Of course with this blog, I've brought in the anime for the purpose of introducing anison earworms and near-earworms, and what also helped "Konobi" was the really catchy themes of Nana Mizuki's(水樹奈々)"STARTING NOW!" and Sumire Uesaka's(上坂すみれ)"Koi suru Zukei (cubic futurismo)"(恋する図形). And of course, I already wrote about those two tunes as the series was wrapping up.

However, I neglected to talk about a cute little tune adorably sung by Ari Ozawa's(小澤亜李)main character of Mizuki Usami(宇佐美みずき)during a brief montage scene in the penultimate episode which involved prepping for the annual Culture Day festival at the school. I later found out that the song was titled "Kokoro Palette" (Heart Palette).


Then "Kokoro Palette" came out in its full rousing glory as the ending theme for that final episode with the four main female seiyuu, Ozawa, Mizuki, Uesaka and Nao Toyama(東山奈央)bringing the group effort. I was finally able to get my own copy of "Konobi" and enjoyed my second round; listening to the song once more made me realize that this was a pleasant and worthy song to talk about.


But the final trigger was when I was reading the "TV Tropes" entry on the show and I discovered this kernel of knowledge in the YMMV section. Apparently, the song wasn't a product of the anime and was actually a campaign song for the manga by Imigimuru (いみぎむる) a number of years before. I couldn't be sure of the actual year that "Kokoro Palette" was recorded but considering that the original manga came out in 2012 and the YouTube video above was uploaded in 2013, I think 2013 is a fairly safe bet.

The original recording artist was a Vocaloid by the name of GUMI with "Kokoro Palette" written and composed by musician 40mP. It was a hard choice but ultimately I went with this original version as my favourite due to that hint of Shibuya-kei in there. Plus, that video above with the manga characters being drawn in as the song is playing struck me as a true labour of love. I wouldn't have been surprised if the author got a misty-eyed watching it.

And perhaps some of the fans of "Konobi" even before the anime must have gotten a thrill at hearing the song performed in the show, thinking that it should have been used as either the opening or closing theme.


Junichi Inagaki -- Boku naraba Koko ni Iru (僕ならばここにいる)


Another weekend is coming to a close. For some reason, a Sunday dinner seems to be conk me out more than the evening meals during the rest of the week so I was in a half-awake limbo for about an hour and a half before ambling over to the computer for another round of "Kayo Kyoku Plus". I was contemplating something nice and comfy from City Pop/J-AOR maestro Junichi Inagaki(稲垣潤一).


So I came across his 28th single from January 1993, "Boku naraba Koko ni Iru" (If It's Me, I'm Right Here). Incidentally, this was the single immediately following his Xmas classic "Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa"(クリスマスキャロルの頃には), arguably the song that most people who aren't Inagaki fans per se know him best for.

However although "Boku naraba Koko ni Iru" has that familiar layer of mellowness which often infuses an Inagaki ballad, I wouldn't say that this particular entry is completely relaxing. There's quite a bit more of the screeching electric guitar in there so I had initially mused about categorizing this as a J-Rock tune but I came to the conclusion that that would have been a bit too much of a stretch for Inagaki so I made a compromise and put it in Pop.


As you can see from above, "Boku naraba Koko ni Iru" was used for a Honda commercial although I think it would also have made for a nice theme song for a romance drama on Japanese TV. The lyrics were provided by Yasushi Akimoto(秋元康)and composed by MAYUMI. The reason for the slightly amped-up arrangement here was probably the message of the song in which the protagonist sounds almost challenging in his declaration to the love of his life who may be waffling a bit about commitment. This fellow is completely anchored in his resolve.

"Boku naraba Koko ni Iru" peaked at No. 4 on Oricon and was placed as a track on his 13th album "for my DEAREST" which was released a couple of months later in March. That album managed to rise to No. 2 on its chart, scoring a Gold ranking.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Top 10 Albums in Oricon History

1.  Hikaru Utada                       First Love                      7.7 million     1999
2.  B'z                                       B'z The Best "Pleasure" 5.1 million     1998
3.  GLAY                                 Review-Best of GLAY   4.8 million     1997
4.  Hikaru Utada                      Distance                          4.5 million     2001
5.  B'z                                       B'z The Best "Treasure" 4.4 million     1998
6.  Ayumi Hamasaki                A BEST                           4.3 million     2001
7.  globe                                   globe                               4.1 million     1996
8.  Hikaru Utada                      Deep River                      3.6 million     2002
9.  Mai Kuraki                         Delicious Way                 3.5 million     2000
10. Southern All Stars             Umi no Yeah!!                 3.5 million     1998



Also, have a look at the "Top 10 Singles in Oricon History".

Yuko Asano -- Hanbun Aishite (半分愛して)



I've seen Yuko Asano(浅野ゆう子)mostly as an actress and as a regular presence on commercials so it was pretty surprising to hear her singing something like this. I mean, I've already written on a couple of songs from her early aidoru period that I had already been aware about through all sorts of retrospectives on TV.

But little did I know that she even tackled the smooth sounds of City Pop/J-AOR which her 17th single "Hanbun Aishite" (Love Me By Half) falls solidly into. Released in 1980, Asano channels Junko Yagami(八神純子)very well through this song penned by lyricist Chinfa Kan(康珍化)and composer Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司)who are veterans at the genre. Had no idea that she could croon a tune like this. It makes for a nice evening down by Tokyo Bay. I can only wonder what other City Pop delights she came up with at the time.


Keizo Nakanishi -- Eien no Namae (永遠の名前)


I haven't heard much from songsmith Keizo Nakanishi(中西圭三)although I have heard that he's still out there performing. However, I think his best days were in the 1990s and so I'm happy that I've got what I think is his best work with his 4th album "Starting Over" from March 1994 which I had a chance to write about back in 2013.


One of the tracks from "Starting Over" that I didn't get to talk about at that time was "Eien no Namae" (Eternal Name). It's not particularly a ballad nor is it a really uptempo tune; it's just a simple mid-tempo love song. But although it probably won't go down as one of the most notable examples of Nakanishi's discography, his vocals and the calming arrangement by Shingo Kobayashi(小林信吾)still make it a very pleasant song to listen to.

Kanata Asamizu(朝水彼方)provided the lyrics while Nakanishi came up with the music which has that feeling of springtime...something that a lot of us here are still waiting for although the season has officially been here for almost a week.

Momoe Yamaguchi -- Shinayaka ni Utatte (しなやかに歌って)


"Shinayaka ni Utatte" (Sing Delicately) was Momoe Yamaguchi's(山口百恵)27th single released in September 1979, and for those who know about the singer's discography throughout the 1970s, the latter half of the decade had her singing some more muscular songs as a jaded take-no-prisoners woman who plays men like a Stradivarius a la "Imitation Gold". "Shinayaka ni Utatte" was indeed created by the husband-and-wife team of Ryudo Uzaki and Yoko Aki(宇崎竜童・阿木燿子)who had been behind those very songs.


And yet, "Shinayaka ni Utatte" was quite a different animal. It didn't have any of those urgent strings or wailing electric guitar, the song came across to me as being quite Hawaiian in feeling; more relaxing and rhythmical like a hula dance for a Don Ho ballad rather than speeding and screaming like a Ferrari being driven by a scorned woman. However, Aki's lyrics still related the story of lost love and the woman trying to get over the end of the romance. Perhaps it's rather indicative of the times that one of the lyrics describes the lass putting on a pair of roller skates and scooting down the road...maybe she'll hit a disco later that night to boogie.


I've gotta make a slight detour over here and talk about that adverb in the title shinayaka ni. I looked it up at jisho.org and I got definitions such as flexibly and elastically. But I wasn't sure whether either of those words would be appropriate as the translation. At the same time, though, there was the word delicately, which I still don't think is ultimately the best word but perhaps it is the best I can do for now.

Still, the Uzaki-Aki-Yamaguchi collaboration was another relative success although "Shinayaka ni Utatte" didn't hit the big heights like its tougher cousins. It peaked at No. 8 on Oricon and won a Gold Prize at the Japan Record Awards before finishing the year as the 55th-ranked single as it was also placed as a track on Momoe's 19th album "Harutsugedori"(春告鳥...Bush Warbler)which peaked at No. 5. The song also got Yamaguchi an invitation for her final of 6 straight appearances on the Kohaku Utagassen.

Not sure whether the song was meant to come out just before this particular earth-shattering announcement by Yamaguchi, but just several weeks after "Shinayaka ni Utatte" had been released, the singer announced her relationship with actor Tomokazu Miura(三浦友和)which probably broke a lot of hearts out there in the fandom. I could imagine that many of them took those lyrics and swallowed them repeatedly. Of course, the following year, Yamaguchi and Miura would marry and the former would retire for good.


Here is Okinawan singer Rimi Natsukawa(夏川りみ)with her cover of "Shinayaka ni Utatte".

Thursday, March 23, 2017

w-inds -- Forever Memories


Last month, Marcos V. wrote the blog's first entry for w-inds, "LOVE IS THE GREATEST THING", and I just went "Well, that's a name I haven't heard in a long time!"

Like Marcos, I was never a fan of the aidoru group but I do remember their debut single back when it was released in March 2001, "Forever Memories". Well, actually, I didn't remember the title but there was the original music video which had lead vocalist Keita Tachibana(橘慶太)sing in that really cute high voice. I had to wonder how old the lad was, and frankly speaking, for the first couple of times that I had the seen the video, I was rather stuck on whether I was watching a boy or a tomboy.

It didn't help that the song which was written and composed by Hiroaki Hayama(葉山拓亮)sounded just as cute (and I have to admit that I didn't recollect hearing a soprano sax in a turn-of-the-century aidoru tune then or since) . "Forever Memories" sounded as if it had been made for the elementary school set although Tachibana and his two bandmates Ryohei Chiba(千葉涼平)and Ryuichi Ogata(緒方龍一)could bust a move like the folks at SMAP and Arashi(嵐). But w-inds was never a Johnny's group; it belonged to Rising Production.


"Forever Memories" made it all the way up to No. 12 on Oricon and ended up as the 91st-ranked song for 2001. It was also a track on w-inds' debut album "w-inds.〜1st message〜" which had been released in December of that year and hit the top spot on the charts.


Yumi Seino -- Katamuku (傾く)


I've seen this singer Yumi Seino(清野由美)on YouTube for the past number of months but did not notice her within the pages of "Japanese City Pop". And although she's not profiled on J-Wiki, she has received some acknowledgement on a Japanese-language music blog that I've referred to in the past, "Music Avenue". Even the writer there has stated that considering her low profile, it would be surprising if any of her presumably 3 albums ever got converted to CD. Well, that article was written over 10 years ago, and apparently someone in the recording industry had a heart and did have at least two of the albums turned into CDs according to what I saw at CD Japan.


For that "Music Avenue" blog entry, the writer kaz-shin mentioned that the first album "U-TA-GE" which came out in 1981 had a sound reminiscent of Akira Terao's(寺尾聡)City Pop classic "Reflections". However, with today's article, I'm going with a track from Seino's 3rd album "Continental" titled "Katamuku" (Leaning In) which was written by Masami Sugiyama(杉山政美)and composed by Seino herself.

Released in January 1983, I found out on another page which gave a short review of the album that her sound had changed. And listening to "Katamuku", I did get the impression that although that City Pop feeling was there, there was also some of that blippity-bloppity technopop sound so my overall impression of the song was something closer to Taeko Ohnuki's(大貫妙子)poppier tunes from around the same time. Maybe there is even a certain amount of EPO tossed in as well.

Also listening to "Katamuku", I wasn't quite sure whether the YouTube video had gotten a good recording especially with the saxophone solo which sounded kinda wobbly. It almost sounded like something from a weird dreamy burlesque show directed by David Bowie. Basically, I could compare the version I've heard here to pineapple on pizza....I can take it just fine (I fully realize that others won't go near the stuff) but there's something a tad odd about a fruit so tangy sweet on an Italian classic. For the record, my favourite slice is pepperoni, although at Pizza Hut, I always like to grab a Meat Lovers'.

I would be interested in getting "Continental" someday in the near future just to listen to it as originally recorded. As for that matter, I want to get that debut album by Seino as well since that reportedly hewed toward the full City Pop. And frankly, if it has been compared to "Reflections", then it has gotten my attention.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

RAMU -- Rainy Night Lady


My friend and collaborator JTM wrote an article a few years ago on the band RAMU (ラ・ムー) and their song "Shonen wa Tenshi wo Korosu"(少年は天使を殺す). He did a great job in talking about the overall amorphous nature of a group that had a mid-80s aidoru in the form of Momoko Kikuchi(菊池桃子)providing vocals with Yoshikazu Matsuura(松浦義和)and Nozomu Nakanishi(中西望)from the fusion group Prism (プリズム) coming in as keyboardist and drummer respectively along with another guitarist and two backup singers. Was RAMU going for a rock sound or was it trying for something R&B? Perhaps it was going for a taste of both via fusion or maybe even late-decade City Pop.


The first time I saw RAMU was on an episode of "The Best 10" when they appeared to perform the aforementioned "Shonen wa Tenshi wo Korosu" presumably (my memory is a bit fuzzy but since JTM had remarked that the song was their only bona fide hit, I'm making that assumption). Although I certainly didn't have the insights back then that JTM had when he wrote about the song in the blog, I do remember that I was pretty intrigued seeing Miss "Say Yes!" Kikuchi in some pretty slinky clothing singing something that was definitively non-aidoru. I couldn't quite categorize what I was hearing though. So, by the end of the performance, I was going "Uhhh..."

Listening to "Rainy Night Lady" which was the first track on RAMU's only album from September 1988, "Thanks Giving", I can say that I've got a better handle on the music now than when I was still a pretty callow guy of the 1980s. Still, even though the band has been categorized on J-Wiki as a rock group, "Rainy Night Lady" isn't a rock song by my definition. It's perhaps closer to the mellow urban material that Omega Tribe (オメガトライブ) was singing at the time, and that's not too surprising since it was composed by Tsunehiro Izumi(和泉常寛), who helped out in making two hits for that band, "Kimi wa 1000%"(君は1000%)and "Aquamarine no Mama de ite"(アクアマリンのままでいて)with Shun Taguchi(田口俊)providing lyrics.


I guess the best way to describe it is imagining Momoko taking the place of Anri(杏里)in one of her 80s songs. Having an aidoru like her with those high-tone vocals fronting RAMU might seem a bit odd but from working on this blog over the past 5 years, I have realized to my surprise that the singer had been performing City Pop-like tunes for her albums when she was an aidoru in contrast with those aidoru singles that she sang on the music shows. Perhaps recruiting her into RAMU may not have been completely out of left field.

I don't know how "Thanks Giving" did on the charts although I can imagine that it did get somewhere on the charts due to Momoko's fame. Still, RAMU had a short shelf life and perhaps acquiring that lone album would be quite interesting for an 80s Japanese music guy like myself just to hear what they were trying to accomplish musically.

Haruo Minami/Aya Shimazu/Keisuke Yamauchi -- Tawaraboshi Genba (俵星玄蕃)


Ever since encountering "Jan Naito Jan" (ジャン・ナイト・じゃん), I have always been marveling about how incredible Haruo Minami's (三波春夫) rapping ability was. However, I discovered that in the genre he's known for, rokyoku, there's rapid-fire narration, and I found that out through listening to "Tawaraboshi Genba" in its entirety. The veteran's delivery of this lengthy bit was incredibly fast yet articulate, and so that made me realise, in a sense he was technically rapping even before he decided to deviate a little from enka, and "Jan Naito Jan" was probably a piece of cake for him compared to his iconic hit decades before.

Here's "Jan Naito Jan" for reference.

To give some background info on "Tawaraboshi Genba" or "Genroku Mei Sofu Tawaraboshi Genba (元禄名槍譜 俵星玄蕃): It isn't your typical kayo-rokyoku. It falls under the category of Chouhen Kayo-Rokyoku (長編歌謡浪曲... long kayo-rokyoku). Creating this sub-genre was Minami himself who sought to revive this narrative style of singing that seemed to be dying by the end of WWII. A rokyoku song is usually quite a long one, and from what I've tried to watch (not very much, really) it can be rather draggy/boring. So, what Minami did was to condense a rokyoku story into a (comparatively) short and sweet package combined with enka-yo to make it more appealing to audiences that can be easily bored (like me). The narrative that was shortened here is Chushingura (忠臣蔵... The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), which refers to fictional tale that revolves around the Forty-seven Ronin's plot to avenge their master's death - the real historical event is called the Ako Incident. Minami had penned this rendition under his pen name Touji Kitamura (北村桃児).

60's Minami... don't get to see that all that often, now that I think of it.

Anyway, due to its length "Tawaraboshi Genba" isn't a tune I listen to all that much - also because my Minami compilation album doesn't have it. But recently I have developed a lot more appreciation for this kayo-rokyoku. The music, brought to you by renowned showa era composer, Yoshiji Nagatsu (長津義司), sounded like three different enka melded into one. It starts off noble - a little like "Yawara" (), then dips into something like a slightly jauntier version of "Otone Mujou" (大利根無情), after which the score picks up to become something akin to a crazier, faster paced "Ippon Doko no Uta" (いっぽんどっこの唄), before finally ending on that grand note it began with. 

We also have Minami's delivery - by far my favourite part of "Tawaraboshi Genba" - which was as much of a roller coaster ride as the accompanying melody. As in "Otone Mujou", the fun comes when the expressions of the rokyoku master change fluidly like the face-changing characters in Chinese operas. One moment he's his usual beaming self that welcomes all with his chirpy vocals, the next his eyes have a murderous glint and he's screaming like a mad man and ruffling that neatly gelled back hair. Of course, there's also that intense "rapping" session - kinda sounds like chanting - I mentioned at the start of the article, so on a whole, "Tawaraboshi Genba" turned out to be more entertaining to me that what I had originally assumed.

"Tawaraboshi Genba" was released a number of times, most notably in April 1964 (original release) and in October 1992, the latter of which was actually a self cover rap mix with... an easy-going reggae version of "Sekai no Kuni kara Konnichiwa" (世界の国からこんにちは). Minami had sung the original twice on the Kohaku, the first being during his 7th appearance in 1964 and the second during his 31st and last appearance in 1999. Since it is a long song of about almost 9 minutes (about two/three normal enka songs long), most of the rokyoku portion was cut out when it was sung on TV due to time constraints.


A number of enka performers have attempted this kayo-rokyoku, and the ones I tend to see a lot are those by Aya Shimazu (島津亜矢) and Keisuke Yamauchi (山内惠介). Both are respectable but I have to say that Shimazu manages to convey the high intensity of "Tawaraboshi Genba" better than Yamauchi does.



That's one apt pic of Minami right there!
blogs.yahoo.co.jp/kabukimedakabenkei/folder/606860.html?m=lc

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mariko Nagai -- YOU AND I


Ah...yes. "Yawara!" That fashionable judo girl. The anime series lasted longer than the time I was in Gunma Prefecture on the JET Programme so I missed out on the final season. Not that I could be a regular viewer of the show on Monday nights anyways since I was regularly asked to dinner to have some English conversation with an elderly couple then.


Well, watching that loopy-and-flashy opening credits sequence that regularly launched a "Yawara!" episode, it looks like the final season finally saw the show's raison d'etre, namely young Yawara Inokuma achieving her mission to make it to the 1992 Barcelona Games for a medal in judo, come to fruition. I never saw that final season but I hope that she did get that Gold.

Also, I didn't know that perky Mariko Nagai(永井真理子)had one more go-round with the opening theme song. My very first Nagai article was "Miracle Girl" which served as the opening theme for Season 1, and so Nagai performed the theme for Season 3, "YOU AND I"...not to be confused with Keizo Nakanishi's(中西圭三)soul tune with the same title that came out a year later.


Nope, Nagai's "YOU AND I" was written and composed by singer-songwriter Taizo Jinnouchi(陣内大蔵)as her 16th single in April 1992. It is a song that I had heard before although I didn't know about its connection with "Yawara!" and it plays to her usual strengths of happy and inspiring. The song broke into the Oricon Top 10 getting as high as No. 7. I wouldn't have asked for a better song to finish the series on.

Light Mellow


Commenter Gen Kanai contacted me a few nights ago asking about whether I would talk about the "Light Mellow" series of CDs since I've often referred to them on specific articles. And seeing that I've written on a couple of other series "Good Times Diva" and "Seishun Uta Nenkan"(青春歌年鑑), I went "Why not?"


Unlike those first two series which I found out about when I was living in Japan at the turn of the century, "Light Mellow" was something I discovered after returning home to Toronto for good; I had a chance encounter with one of their campaign YouTube videos and listening to the sample tracks on one of its albums "Breeze", I realized that the series concentrated on J-AOR and City Pop. The love lights suddenly flashed on in my head! Plus that title and the calming design of the cover had me thinking air freshener...and I do love me a good air freshener.


To make another comparison with "Good Times Diva" and "Seishun Uta Nenkan", the various songs from the "Light Mellow" series are not Oricon-friendly hits and mostly fall within the underwater 90% of that J-Pop iceberg which I've found to be the case with the genres of J-AOR and City Pop. There are a few songs that have become recognizable to listeners at large but the vast majority of them are tunes that are either somewhat more obscure album-only tracks by famous singers such as EPO and Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之)or complete revelations to me by folks that I had never heard about. Basically for me and the blog, "Light Mellow" has been quite the manna from heaven!


I've also already spoken of some of the songs on the blog because I discovered them through "Light Mellow" such as "Parallel=" (パラレル=) by Fumiya Sashida(指田郁也)and "Day Dreamin'" by little-known R&B unit Chocolate Lips, and one of the nice things about the series has been that producers have been able to put up tracks that had never been committed to CD before such as that latter song. For those who have enjoyed listening to some of the Future Funk or whatever they're calling those certain remixes these days by Artzie Music or Yung Bae, I would say that this series could be a nice medium to find out where they all began. But heck, anyone who likes their Steely Dan or Doobie Brothers and doesn't mind the Japanese language can get into "Light Mellow".


According to their website, the series was released during the years of 2014 and 2015 and if I have counted correctly, a total of 24 compilation albums have been released. But as you can also see above, the producers also released albums focusing on specific artists of the genre. Up to this point, I've been able to get a few of those discs and hopefully I can procure a few more.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Masataka Matsutoya -- Kiri no Orita Asa (霜の降りた朝)

www.billboard-japan.com

The name Matsutoya for listeners of Japanese popular music almost always conjures up one other name: Yuming (ユーミン), aka Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実). As for any "Kayo Kyoku Plus" reader who's leafed through the Labels section, my Yuming file is one of the larger categories in the blog, and a good majority of the entries are of her 1970s and 1980s material when she was both Yumi Arai(荒井由実)and Yumi Matsutoya.

Then, there is the other Matsutoya, Masataka Matsutoya(松任谷正隆), Yuming's husband and a longtime music producer & musician who has been represented on this blog via a few entries for other singers. Of course, he's been involved with his wife's projects but I've never heard his voice in a singing capacity. And if the information that I found in J-Wiki is correct, then he would have tried not to get himself behind a mike for recording purposes.

However, apparently to fulfill contractual obligations way back when, he ended up recording his only solo album for release in November 1977. Titled "Yoru no Tabibito"(夜の旅人...Night Travelers), it's been described in the book "Japanese City Pop" by Yutaka Kimura(木村ユタカ)on Page 34 as "...a must-have for City Pop fans", and according to J-Wiki, the album cover was designed by Yuming herself. As it is, though, Masataka pointed out in 2013 on his own radio program on Radio Nippon that he has only listened to "Yoru no Tabibito" a smattering of times since it was recorded.


I've only listened to one track from the album (all of the songs were written and composed by him), "Kiri no Orita Asa" (The Morning The Fog Rolled In), and no, I don't think Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)or Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)ever curled in a corner in fear of his abilities but he's not bad on this relaxing song which seems to veer from epic balladry to something that is almost as sing-songy as a children's tune. I wouldn't call this particular track an example of City Pop by any means, though. It's probably more along the lines of New Music, and it might be personal bias on my part, but Masataka sang it in the way that Yuming would have (is that actually her I hear in the background?) at the time. I would probably equate it with anything that Gilbert O. Sullivan released.

Masataka may not ever put "Kiri no Orita Asa" or the other tracks on "Yoru no Tabibito" on heavy rotation, but I certainly would be interested in getting my hands on the album. Although it may be hard to acquire, I don't think it's one of the rarest of the rare since J-Wiki has said that a Blu-Spec CD of "Yoru no Tabibito" was released in 2015.

Hiroshi Itsuki -- Shinjuku Eki kara (新宿駅から)


When I first came to live in the Tokyo area in the mid-1990s, Shinjuku was separated into the gleaming skyscraper area in West Shinjuku and the raucous and slightly grimy East Shinjuku with all sorts of bars, restaurants, department stores and red-light facilities. But about 10 years ago, South Shinjuku suddenly came alive starting with the Takashimaya Times Square complex, and even since my last visit, I've read that things have further developed in the area. But all things start from that central hub, Shinjuku Station.


And I've got a song about that place and by one of the big guns in enka himself, Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし). In fact, this was his debut as a teenager back in 1965. The thing is, though, that he didn't debut as Hiroshi Itsuki.

To explain, a few nights ago, I wrote an article about singer Shigeo Kusunoki(楠木繁夫)who was known to have 55 stage names. Well, although Itsuki didn't start his long and illustrious career amassing stage names like a stamp collection, he did have a few professional aliases before he finally settled on his most famous name. Born Kazuo Matsuyama(松山数夫)in 1948, he debuted as Masaru Matsuyama(松山まさる)and that debut song was "Shinjuku Eki kara" (From Shinjuku Station).

Written by Tetsuya Furuno(古野哲也)and composed by Gento Uehara(上原げんと), "Shinjuku Eki kara" may start out like a Mood Kayo but since the lyrics talk about a trip from Shinjuku Station back to the ol' hometown in the countryside, it quickly reverts to an enka style. The above video is of an Itsuki performance from 2004 on the cusp of his 40th anniversary in show business where he sang all of his very early songs under those various pre-Itsuki names. I was quite impressed actually. I didn't really expect Itsuki to cover all those tunes since they were not only not under his most established name but it didn't look like any of them became hits before his big breakthrough of "Yokohama Tasogare" (よこはま・たそがれ).


The above is a cover version, by the way. Although the pre-Itsuki output didn't result in any hits, I think any of his tunes back then would be worthy of exploration. For the record, between Masaru Matsuyama and Hiroshi Itsuki, the future superstar also went by the names of Eiichi Ichijo(一条英一)and Ken Mitani(三谷謙).

Dreams Come True -- Anata ni Aitakutte (あなたに会いたくて)


This was before I saw them on that fateful Music Station episode, before Miwa Yoshida(吉田美和)with that wide-as-the-Mississippi smile launched into "Ureshihazukashi Asagaeri" (うれしはずかし朝帰り) when I first started out on the JET Programme.


Believe it or not, Dreams Come True did have two prior singles before "Ureshihazukashi Asagaeri" started the band on their way to super success way into the 90s. Their debut single was "Anata ni Aitakutte" (Wanting To Meet You) which came out in March 1989, and listening to it, I don't think I would put it among their most popular hits (and it didn't get into the rankings) but the ingredients of DCT were there: Yoshida's boomer voice, that synth sound that seemed to come in from another country, and, even watching her performing the song, that neck jive.


"Anata ni Aitakutte" was also on their debut album "Dreams Come True" which was released on the same day as the single. That release got as high as No. 27 on Oricon and actually ended up as the 88th-ranked album for the year 1993! Talk about late bloomers! From an original output of 8000 albums, by June 1994, that first album sold 900,000 copies, going Double Platinum.

From such humble beginnings, dreams came true for Dreams Come True.