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, February 12, 2012

Yokohama Kayo: Blue Light Yokohama and Yokohama Tasogare

Like jazz and blues, a lot of the tunes in enka 演歌)music often pay tribute to certain cities and regions in the country. A couple of the first examples of enka that I'd ever heard centered around the port city of Yokohama...and they go way back to the late 60s and early 70s. "Blue Light Yokohama" (ブルーライト・ヨコハマ)is a classic first released on Christmas Day, 1968 and sung by singer/actress Ayumi Ishidaいしだあゆみ). The horn intro is probably one of the most recognized beginnings to a kayo. The lyrics themselves don't make any strong references to the metropolis aside from the title, but talks of a girl and a guy taking a nice stroll through the big city. "Blue Light Yokohama" hit No. 1 on the Oricon charts and got Ishida a slot on the following year's Red-and-White Song Festival. Prolific composer Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)took care of the classic melody while Jun Hashimoto(橋本淳)wrote the lyrics.

A few years later, another Yokohama-based song also made another singer's career. Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし)was only 23 when he crooned a tune whose lyrics were more lurid than Ishida's innocent walk along the port. "Yokohama Tasogare"よこはま・たそがれ)、translated as "Yokohama Sunset". illustrated vignettes from a one-night stand, another enka theme. However, like the first song, it also garnered a No. 1 posting on Oricon for Itsuki (real name: Kazuo Matsuyama) and a spot on the "Kohaku Utagassen"(紅白歌合戦). The song was written by Yoko Yamaguchi(山口洋子)and composed by Masaaki Hirao(平尾昌晃).

In a way, both songs could also qualify as City Pop, but this category includes songs with a more overtly Western AOR melody.

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