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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hiromi Iwasaki -- Madonna Tachi no Lullaby (聖母たちのララバイ)

After having returned from my eye-opening Japanese Language School graduation trip in 1981, I became a convert for Hiromi Iwasaki's(岩崎宏美) music due to her cover of the Blue Comets' "Sumire Iro no Namida"すみれ色の涙....Violet-Coloured Tears). The next year, it was my brother's turn on the graduation trip and so I asked him to bring back an album or a single record by her, and so he got me this single. I always loved the young Iwasaki's long straight black hair during the 80s.

"Madonna Tachi no Lullaby"(The Madonnas' Lullaby) originally started out with very humble beginnings. It didn't even start out as a full song. It had been written just as a short sung accompaniment to the end credits of "Kayo Suspense Gekijo"火曜サスペンス劇場....The Tuesday Night Suspense Movie) on NTV, but when viewers overwhelmingly flooded the station for requests of this song, Iwasaki's 28th single was born. I have heard the original version for the end credits, and the intro and the middle instrumental struck me as tepid, so I am glad that the arrangers gave the official single a more urban contemporary punch-up with Rhodes Piano and electric guitar.

The little song that could was released in May 1982, and went to the top of the charts for four weeks straight before finishing the year as the 3rd-ranked song for the year, ultimately selling 1.3 million records. In addition, it won the Grand Prize for that year's Japan Kayo Awards. There were also expectations for it winning a similar prize for the Japan Record Awards.

And that's where the controversy came in. Toshiyuki Kimori(木森敏之) composed "Madonna Tachi no Lullaby" with Keisuke Yamakawa(山川啓介) as the lyricist. As they were accepting their accolades for creating Iwasaki's latest hit, a very unhappy American composer, John Scott, who had been responsible for composing the soundtrack for the 1980 sci-fi movie, "The Final Countdown", stormed into Japan accusing Kimori of plagiarizing parts from a couple of tracks for that movie (those tracks are in the video above). His protests against Kimori were enough so that there was a hasty revision in the credits. John Scott is now officially listed as co-composer. Those expectations for the song to receive the Grand Prize at The Japan Record Awards plummeted out of existence. All this happened before the single's official release in May; actually, it was supposed to have been released in April but all of the chaos forced a month's delay.

Still in the end, "Madonna Tachi no Lullaby" is recognized as one of Iwasaki's representative works, and because of its origins as the ending theme of that Tuesday night suspense drama, she was called upon again to provide further ending themes for the program for the next few years after that.


  1. Hi! First, forgive me for my bad english. And second, your blog is great, I'm delighted.

    I'm Brazilian and I love Hiromi Iwasaki since my teens. Her crystalline voice captured me from the first time I heard a tape I got from my father at the time. This tape had recordings of the duo Pink Lady, Sakurada Junko and of course, Hiromi. This collection all sang cover songs and the voice of Hiromi Iwasaki was the one that most caught my attention.

    That time was very difficult to have access to information about Japanese artists and occasionally we derived a recording homemade videos of tv's shows with artists from Japan. I was very happy when this beautiful singer was presented. Also remember that the Music Festival season, the traditional Kohaku, was broadcast in my city and I was eager to know if Hiromi Iwasaki would perform. At that time she was a constant presence. She attended from 1975 to 1988, totaling 14 consecutive participations in Kohaku Festival.

    "Madonna in Tachi Lullaby" is a very representative song in her career. Love your interpretation and it is very unfortunate that this beautiful music has stayed out of the dispute the award "Record Taisho" of 1982. In return she won the "Kayou Taisho" that same year. I had the pleasure of watching this award in its entirety on this link:

    I had never seen before and it was very nice to see the artists of that time.

    Currently, at age 54, she still maintains an active career, which makes me very happy. Unfortunately, his voice is not the same anymore. Because of a problem we had on her vocal cords, she had to undergo surgery and almost gave up her career. She told in a interview that she decided to relearn how to sing. This change is clearly noticeable when she sings "Madonna in Tachi Lullaby", where it makes use of falsetto. In more recent videos I notice that she seems to have regained a bit of naturalness, but nothing to detract. Iwasaki Hiromi is still a great singer..

    1. Hi, William, and glad to hear from you. No problems with your English; I can understand you very clearly. Thanks very kindly for your compliments.

      I absolutely sympathize when you talk about the past when it was so difficult to get Japanese music. Back then, I had to rely on my family to get records and tapes for me when they went to visit Japan. One of the smaller reasons I wanted to get over there was so that I had ready access to Japanese music.

      Maybe you can confirm this for me, but I think Brazil was able to get the Kohaku Utagassen much sooner than us here in Canada. I think January or February 1982 was the very first time that the Kohaku was broadcast here. It was quite exciting. By that time, Iwasaki had already matured into a wonderful chanteuse, so I never got to see her aidoru phase on the New Year's programme. However, with the retrospective programs I saw back in Japan and of course with YouTube, I have been able to see the younger Iwasaki when she first started out.

      I had not known about her medical problems, but since I saw her recently on NHK's "Kayo Concert", I think she's still doing fine up there on the stage. I hope that she continues to sing for a long while longer.

      I remember watching an awards show on video tape in which Iwasaki won a prize for "Madonna Tachi no Lullaby". Of course, it wasn't the Japan Record Awards due to those copyright problems, but she did get something, and I distinctly remember her crying up a storm during her performance.

    2. It is true. I believe the Japanese colony be significant here, it had an interest in some sponsors that Kohaku was broadcast in Brazil. In the 70s and 80s it was possible to watch the Kohaku already on 01 January with only a few hours apart.

      I don't remember much of Hiromi Iwasaki phase Aidoru. We started to use the advantages of video tape just at the beginning of the 80s, so the performances that I remember most of it is already in her adulthood with "Sumire no Namida Iro" and "Madonna in Tachi Lullaby".
      But I have saved somewhere low quality AVI videos of all presentations she made in Kohaku. It is interesting to note that it isn't always presented with the most representative song of the year. In 1977 "思 秋 期" ("Shishuki") was her biggest success, but the organizers should have preferred a song more pop then she performed with "悲 恋 白 書" (Hirenhakusho), which interestingly was her single that less sold that year.

    3. Hello again. I saw that video on Tanteidan and, yes, it was the awards show that I had seen Hiromi cry after getting the prize. So, thanks for that.

      Actually, last night on TV Japan, I saw her perform "Shishuuki" on NHK's "Kayo Concert". I think hitting the high notes has become more difficult for her, but otherwise her voice still sounds like it did 30 years ago!

  2. As you're talking about Hiromi at her singing peak, here are a couple of clips of her from that era, mostly in disco mode. It's a pity there isn't more footage of her from thar period, as she absolutely owns the stage.


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