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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Akina Nakamori -- Dear Friend

I'd been a huge Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)fan since the mid-80s...even had a poster of hers from an old Myojo magazine hanging on my wall for years. So, it was with shock that I had heard about her attempted suicide in 1989 through reading a tiny article in a Toronto newspaper....of course, this was a few years at least before even electronic bulletin boards came into vogue. I'd gone to Japan to start my new life as a member of the JET Programme at the end of July of that year, just a few weeks after that horrible event. It was rather an eerie feeling seeing her album, "Cruise" getting the heavy promotion in the CD shops at the time. I bought it and it took me a while to warm up to it since the songs seemed so sad and filled with ennui about life.

About a year later, Nakamori started her comeback into show business by releasing "Dear Friend" on July 17, 1990. The cover had her in a carefree, content pose bathed in warm sunlight in what seemed to me as "Hey, I'm're OK". The song was even more surprising for me. It was a complete turnaround in attitude from any of her tunes in "Cruise". Akina and the music sounded alive and happy....even joyous. That's not only a big contrast from her last album, but basically most, if not all, of her previous hits dating back to her debut in 1982. Even from her earliest songs, there was that feeling of heartbreak and romantic disillusionment....and a note of defiance. I always saw Akina to Seiko in the same way I look at Mick Jagger to Paul McCartney, although my analogy may be stretching things a bit here.

According to J-Wiki, Akina had remarked that "Dear Friend" was her happiest song. A part of me thinks whether some of that happiness which came out of her singing was slightly forced. It just struck me that much. In any case, she would return to her more defiant and darker mode with future releases, but for that brief time in the Summer of 1990, that single stood out like no other in the Nakamori oeuvre.

"Dear Friend" hit No. 1 virtually right from the get-go and on one other date (July 30 and August 13). It was the 6th-ranked song of the year. The song was written by Mayumi Ito(伊東真由美) and composed by Kazuya Izumi(和泉一弥).

I should also get around talking about the B-Side, "Caribbean".

My own copies


  1. Hi J-Canuck

    he he Kei Ogura!..not to worry if you just discovered happend with me reading this blog..lots of names that I have not heard of.
    Iam slow reader 2-3 entries behind you..

    As for Akina..well she is giant of '80..nothing to add..and off course i like her much more then Seiko..opppsss Seiko fans..heh.
    If may I recommend to you her Enka album..quite superb song choice and singers..Beside Hosokawa version Yagiri no watashi, her version is soooo cool..Akina style!

    Stay cool

  2. Hi, Makoto-gawa.

    Yup, I'm a fan of both ladies. I did hear about her enka album. Was that titled "Utahime"? I think she also put out a big band/swing album as well, so of course, "Tattoo" had to be on that one.

    I wrote an entry some days ago by the 70s folk band, Garo, for "Gakusei Gai no Kissaten". On YouTube, Akina did a really smoky and cool version of it, but for some reason, I couldn't transfer it to the blog. Really good.

    Stay cool.


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