There was never anyone quite like Kenji 'Julie' Sawada（沢田ジュリー). Before the Yellow Magic Orchestra started putting on the eye shadow and blusher during concerts, before Anzen Chitai's Koji Tamaki（玉置浩二） equipped himself with his dark brooding appearance and sharp suits, Sawada had already been doing that. As early as 1975, the former member of the Group Sounds band, The Tigers, was getting up on stage looking distinctly dandy-ish with a bit of glam rock makeup, to boot. Those comparisons to David Bowie were probably not too far away.
Sawada was metamorphosizing. The media may have placed him in the company of enka singers Hiroshi Itsuki, Shinichi Mori, and big-voiced singer Akira Fuse as The Four Emperors (as a counterbalance against The New Big Three of Hiromi Go, Goro Noguchi and Hideki Saijo), but it certainly seemed as if he were trying to distance himself with comments like "To be honest, I'm not influenced by the kayo world. The Julie sound is based on Western music.".
In 1976, Sawada had a pretty bad year. Getting into fights on two different occasions on a Bullet Train platform and on the train itself meant that any hopes of earning music awards and an appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen frittered away that year. So it was with some irony that in the next year, Sawada hit pay dirt with "Katte ni Shiyagare". Written and composed by Yu Aku (阿久悠）and Katsuo Ohno（大野克夫）, the song was titled after "Katte ni Shiyagare", the famous 60s French movie directed by Jean-Luc Godard known as "A Bout de Souffle" and titled as "Breathless"in English, in which a young criminal leads police and a girlfriend on a nihilistic chase before meeting his end at the end of a gun. Not only does the title of Sawada's 19th single refer to that movie, but the lyrics also hint at a fellow who's on the run.
But for me it was the melody by Ohno. It lifts off right from the start with a rush of piano that sounds as if it were being played to symbolize a Spanish bullfight. And the urgency keeps on going via shimmering strings and opportune injections of horns.
After its release in May 1977, it hit the Top 10 two weeks later and would stay at the No. 1 spot for 5 weeks running and then staying as either the No. 1 or No. 2 song for a total of 10 weeks. "Katte ni Shiyagare"also won a number of awards, such as a Japan Record Award, and became the 4th-ranked song of the year.
As for the literal translation of the title, it means "Do Whatever The Hell You Feel Like". Sawada certainly did.