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.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Yellow Magic Orchestra -- U.T.

As I've mentioned before, my very first purchase of Japanese popular music was the tape of YMO's 1978 self-titled debut album back in 1981 on that graduation trip to Japan. The following year, it was my brother's turn to commemorate his many years in Japanese school, and he brought back a number of 45s and another tape of YMO....this time, a collection of their hits up to 1982.

The usual suspects were there: the representative "Rydeen", the celebratory "Firecracker", and the cool "Behind The Mask". However, I then came across "U.T."as the first track on Side B for the first time. It was said that the band was starting to change directions to a certain extent into the 80s, but I found "U.T."as an example of one of their fun ol' pure techno hits. The melody is pretty minimalist but Yukihiro Takahashi's(高橋幸宏)propulsive drumming keeps things urgent. And then there is the bridge where the three members pretend to be on a panel show discussing the significance of U.T.

Hosono: Hello, I'm your host, Haruomi Hosono. Appearing on the show today are Yellow Magic Orchestra's Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Welcome gentlemen.

Takahashi: Thank you.

Sakamoto: Thank you.

Hosono: First, I'd like to ask Mr. you know about U.T.?

Takahashi: Well, I know YT, but this is the first time to hear UT.

Hosono: Ah, really? Well, then, Mr. Sakamoto, what is the meaning of UT?

Sakamoto: Yes, that refers to super global existence.

Hosono: Oh, really? By the way, Mr. Takahashi's drumming on this song is amazing, isn't it?

Takahashi: Yes. It is amazing.

Hosono: Ohhhh....will you listen to this song on the "BGM"album?

Takahashi/Sakamoto: ARE YOU KIDDING?

Love those guys....just horsing around, as usual. But, indeed, according to the writeup for the song in YMO's 1999 Best CD, "YMO Go Home", UT stands for Ultra-Terrestrial....a form of transcendental existence. Originally, the song was a track on the band's 4th album, "BGM", which is often used as a Japlish term for background music, but was referred jokingly by the boys as the abbreviation for "Beautiful Grotesque Music". In any case, the album was ranked 28th in 1981. 

Personally, I think the song title was just one preposition away from describing my alma mater, The University of Toronto.

YMO Go Home
I'd just like to thank the YouTube fellow who actually wrote down the original lyrics for the bridge portion of the song. Made it easier to translate than having to listen to the guys since they were all speaking through filters or vocoders.


  1. I have the first two albums and I love both of them. I'll have to check out their later output as well.

  2. Hello, Nekromantis.

    Yup, I've got both as well, although "Solid State Survivor" is a copy from my friend's original. From their 1978 debut album, I've always enjoyed "Simoon" and "Mad Pierrot" along with the other more famous tracks.

    Take care!

  3. Mad Pierrot is my favourite on the debut album and very close of being my favourite YMO song overall. They definitely were ahead of their time in '78!

    1. Yep, I think YMO and Kraftwerk were amongst the parents of techno. Especially on that first album, Sakamoto and the guys infused a lot of Japanese feeling into their computer music.

  4. UTはハードコアテクノの元祖なのでYMOの曲で最も影響を与えたと言われています

  5. Yellow Magic Orchestra is so subtle and yet so strong in their music. Some songs though, is utter crap, while others are so sublimely beautiful that one could start crying.

    1. Hi, dracopticon and thanks for your comments. How would you classify "UT"?


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.