Strangely enough, the very first Naoko album I bought was this one called "9 1/2". Her 12th album, this was her second production in the US. It didn't make any waves in Japan or in the States, but I think it's still an interesting album since it was the first time for my ears to hear the aidoru push the crossover envelope. Of the 9 songs she put down, the first two tracks are the ones I remember the most since I first bought the LP in the late 80s. The album cover has her photographed against the backdrop of the Grand Canyon, and sure enough, the videos (couldn't find them, sorry) have her traipsing across America.
"Say It's Over" is the first track and a ballad. Right from the start, I could hear that this was not an aidoru tune....obviously since it had been written and composed by Tom Keane, Michael Landau and Mike Himelstein with the lyrics changed into Japanese by Masao Urino（売野雅勇）. I can't really put it into words but it just sounds like American pop of that decade. I half-expected Peter Cetera and other members of the band Chicago to suddenly jump into the chorus. Vocally, Kawai is allowed to let some of the richer lower register of her voice to emerge.
Again, "9 1/2"didn't break the mold when it came to joint Japanese-American musical relationships, but it did answer for me for the first time a "What If"question as to how an aidoru could go beyond the usual parameters of a Japanese recording company with the help of some high-powered American production staff.
|Naoko Kawai -- 9 1/2|