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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Best 10 (ザ・ベストテン)

The orchestra plays the dramatic opening notes, and then the two hosts shout out, "THE BEST TEN!"

The music ranking shows of the late 70s and 80s greatly helped me in my education in kayo kyoku. As you may have gleaned from looking at the Labels section, that period has the bulk of the songs I've highlighted. Part of Must-See TV Thursdays on TBS was "The Best Ten" at 9 pm. I wouldn't be surprised if parents in the 70s and 80s despised the program since it would've taken nothing less than capital punishment to drag the kids away from the screen at that time. It lasted from January 1978 to September 1989 for a total of 603 hour-long shows. And at one point, the show reached a peak of 41.9% in the ratings department. Managers and production agencies must have dreamt about getting their singers on there.

"The Best Ten" was hosted by Hiroshi Kume(久米宏)and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi(黒柳徹子). Their sartorial style has imprinted itself into everyone's brains. Kume in his tuxedo while Kuroyanagi had her gowns and onion-bulb hairstyle. But it wasn't just their fashion. The duo was probably the fasting-speaking pair in Japanese TV history. I could only imagine how a guest must've felt being bracketed by those two while getting aurally machine-gunned.

 The show was always notable for the ranking boards clattering away as they went up to show the best ten singles of the week, the guests coming through the shiny wall panel, and the elaborate stages set just to enhance the singer's performance. Of course, there were all of the on-location performances as well.

Shortly after getting back from my 1981 graduation trip in Japan, the graduates and I got together for a bit of a reunion a month later at one of the students' houses. And we all watched tons of "The Best Ten"that she had dragged back via VHS tapes. So, I got to learn about Jun Horie's "Memory Glass", Hiromi Iwasaki's "Sumire Iro no Namida", Hitomi Ishikawa's "Machibuse", etc.(all profiled). Couldn't have asked for a better education in Japanese popular music.

But the one highlight for me is something that has yet to get onto YouTube. It was one in which a young Seiko Matsuda got onto a roller coaster to do a performance live (as it always was) on the show. The cameraman and a minder also got on. I can't remember which song she sang, but as soon as the coaster went into its power dive, Seiko-chan just freaked out....was pretty much a gibbering mess by the time it finally returned to base. Meanwhile, the minder was a complete and utter rock beside her....bastard!

The happy news for us oldies is that "The Best Ten" has been out on DVD for some time now. So, if I can get some money together, I may just invest in a few choice box sets.

Enjoy another one!


  1. "The Best Ten" was such a great show. I've got Akina's box, and I just love it. It's so great to enjoy Akina's performances on the show until the sad episode that marked the year of 1989 for her.

    And what I love the most about the show is the fact that the songs were played live by a band/orchestra. And the whole scenario created just for a song shows how much effort and creativity were involved.

    I must confess that I enjoy "Yoru no Hit Studio" a little more, but "The Best Ten" was awesome as well.

    1. Yep, it was a fun show to watch for me as well. I was going through a lot of those music shows such as "Yoru no Hit Studio Deluxe", "The Top 10", "Music Fair" and "Music Station". For the two ranking shows, the set designers really went all out for those singers, didn't they?

      As for "Yoru no Hit Studio Deluxe", the show had a nifty way of introducing the guest artists for that night. The first guest would appear and sing the first few bars of the next singer's hit song before introducing and then handing over the mike to him or her.

      The two YouTube videos that I put up were quite nice to see even just to see early 80s Tokyo and those commercials.

  2. Thanks J-Canuck for this post on "Best Ten". I was also a big fan of the show and used to watch the show religiously in the 80s while I was living in Japan. While "Music Station" is the sole last music show standing it's not as fun to watch as the 80s shows (maybe I'm just biased towards the 80s artists and songs). I used to watch a lot of Onyanko Club's "Yuuyake NyanNyan" show as well. I'm also a big Japanese CM fan and absolutely loved all the 80s adverts/commercials.

  3. Yep, I like the old ranking shows of the 70s and 80s as well. The 80s songs were the things for me, obviously, but there was also the glittery staginess of the show as well, with all of the live remotes.

    "Music Station" is probably the last prime-time music ranking show existing right now, but there is a late-night Saturday show on TBS called "Countdown TV" which I used to see a fair bit when I could stay

  4. Is this the Roller Coaster video you mentioned?

    1. Hello, Jesus.

      Yes, that was INDEED the footage of Seiko freaking out on a roller coaster. That smile on my face will take a few days to fade away. :) Many thanks. I have not seen that in literally 34 years!

      And true to the hazy art of recollection, the real thing was actually quite a bit different from how I remembered it. She didn't look as panic-stricken as I had thought, she took the ride after the song, and that so-called minder was one of the Best 10 reporters. The interesting thing is how her voice sounded as if she smoked an entire pack of cigarettes before she got on the coaster.


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