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.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oginome Yoko -「ゴールデン☆ベスト」

Following J-Canuck's lead with his great post on 中森明菜's 「BEST」 album, I wanted to go ahead and feature an artist who hold's a special place in my heart for she was one of the reasons I became a fan of JPop, the lovely 荻野目洋子. Oginome's 1986 album 「NON-STOPPER」 was one of the very first JPop CDs I bought in Japan. Prior to that I wasn't heavy into JPop all that much. Back in San Francisco, CA I would watch the various NHK 紅白歌合戦 telecasts but didn't really have any particular favorite artists. Once I moved to Japan, I started to pay attention more to all the great JPop artists and idols hitting the airwaves and promoting their songs on TV at the time. Oginome was one of the idols that really caught my eye. While Oginome was cute, she wasn't what you would call overly sexy. With her short pixie hair cut and slender frame she seemed more like a tomboy than a girlie-girl yet what she lacked in a distinctive look, she more than made up with her spunky personality and infectious Euro-beat inspired songs. Her cover of Angie Gold's "EAT YOU UP" was just pure "gold" and 「ダンシング・ヒーロー」 became one of my favorite songs in 1985.

Oginome was born December 10, 1968 in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture. Oginome got her first taste of being an entertainer when she and her older sister appeared in a 1977 film 『獄門島』 as child actors. Her sister would later go on to become the famous actress 荻野目慶子.

While in 4th grade, Oginome would enter the children's singing contest 『ちびっこ歌まねベストテン』 where she won the champion title. Scouted by entertainment agents she would be recruited into the pint-sized kid trio 『ミルク』. The trio released a couple of songs in 1979 but would disband after a year.

In Intermediate school, Oginome would audtion for a part in キティ・フィルム's 『ションベン・ライダー』 live action film. While she didn't get the role producers liked her enough to instead give her the lead role in their anime feature 『みゆき』 as a 声優. She would lend her vocal talents again to the アニメ映画 『バリバリ伝説』 and the kid's show 『ウゴウゴルーガ』.

Oginome continued to push forward her dreams of becoming a singer and in 1984 released her first single 「未来航海-Sailing-」. She would release a number of subsequent songs thereafter but it wasn't until 「ダンシング・ヒーロー」 that she finally made it big and became an overnight idol sensation.

I debated a bit which "Best" album to focus this post on. Should I go with 1987's 「POP GROOVER - The Best」 which collected most of her signature ユーロビート themed songs or should I go with  「'91 OGINOME COLLECTION」 which focused on her later 80s songs or better yet should  I go with her massive 「オリジナル・アルバム・コレクション The BOX -25th Anniversary Special」 which collects all 19 of her album releases. Ultimately, I chose her 2009 「ゴールデン☆ベスト」 which offers up a good retrospective of her music career with all of her greatest hits from the mid-80s plus a few of her early career songs and a few of her later 90s songs as well. Here's the track list:

1. ダンシング・ヒーロー(Eat You Up)
2. 六本木純情派
3. ねえ
4. コーヒールンバ
5. 湾岸太陽族
6. さよならの果実たち
7. Dance Beatは夜明けまで
8. フラミンゴ in パラダイス
9. ストレンジャーtonight
10. スターダスト・ドリーム    
11. DEAR~コバルトの彼方へ~
13. 北風のキャロル
14. ヴァージ・オブ・ラヴ (日本語バージョン)
15. 湘南ハートブレイク
16. 未来航海-Sailing
17. 心のままに~I’m just a lady~
18. 恋してカリビアン
19. ユア・マイ・ライフ

While Oginome will always be known for 「ダンシング・ヒーロー」, I don't consider it her only great song as I like her followup dance hits like 「六本木純情派」, 「Dance Beatは夜明けまで」, 「ストレンジャーTonight」, 「湾岸太陽族」 and 「フラミンゴ in パラダイス」 equally as much if not even more so. While 「北風のキャロル」, 「湘南ハートブレイク」 and 「さよならの果実たち」 didn't have the same Eurobeat/Dance influence they were also other brilliant examples of her love for up-tempo rock/pop songs. Even with her debut single 「未来航海-Sailing」 Oginome seemed to foreshadow her Pop Idol Princess sensibilities. Yet not all of Oginome's songs were pure dance/rock numbers. One of my favorite song from her is the touching and sentimental ballad 「心のままに〜I'm just a lady〜」 which was the song Oginome released just prior to  「ダンシング・ヒーロー」 and was the ending theme to the TBS ドラマ 『愛の劇場・わが子よV』. Her collaboration with Narada Michael Walden 「Verge of Love」 also had more of a soft rock/pop vibe and showcased Oginome's English-language skills (although with a slight accent).  While Oginome tried to recapture her Pop/Dance glory days of the mid-80s with songs like 「コーヒールンバ」 and 「Steal Your Love」 in the early 90s, they weren't quite as good.

「ゴールデン☆ベスト」 could hardly be called the definitive collection as it's missing some key and notable Oginome tracks. 「Postcard from Paris」 and  「You Take It All Away」 from 「VERGE OF LOVE」 are surprisingly missing as is her non-single releases 「Melting Point」 from  「NON-STOPPER」 and 軽井沢コネクション from 「246コネクション」. Her covers of 「ヴィーナス」 and 「Cha-Cha-Cha」 also from 「NON-STOPPER」 are unfortunately excluded as well.

For completists the massive 7 CD + 1 DVD uber collection 「SUPER GROOVER THE BOX-THE PERFECT SINGLES -25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL」 released in 2009 might be a better choice as it seems to have most of her A/B singles plus additional remixes and video performances. It's still missing the above non-single tracks unfortunately. A limited release item, it has since gone OOP (Out of Print). While I have the 18 CD - Original Album - Box Collection, I still definitely would have wanted this particular item, if just for the DVD bonus (If anyone has a copy of this let me know).

Oginome would eventually marry Pro Tennis player 辻野隆三 in 2001 and become the mother of three daughters. Yet as this 2011 clip of her appearance on an NHK retrospective program on her shows, she has only grown more beautiful with age and can still rock out at age 43.

Here's a clip from her 「ヴァージ・オブ・ラヴ 武道館ライヴ」 Concert DVD which features a number of her hit songs -

(Unfortunately, the PV was taken down, but here is a performance.)

Here's the oddly choreographed PV for 「ストレンジャーTonight」 -

And finally here's the elaborately directed PV for 「Dance Beatは夜明けまで」. (Sorry the video has been taken down but the above is her performance on a music show)


  1. Thank you, JTM, for this fantastic post on Yoko Oginome. Having videos with these songs really helped with bringing out the charisma in her performance. "Stranger Tonight" and "Roppongi Junjouha" are pretty addicting. I'm gonna have to look this compilation up on the net to dust off my memory of the rest of the songs. It's been a while since I've listened to them.

    Thanks again.

  2. I'll agree with nikala...this is a very comprehensive post on the various BEST albums that Oginome has released over the years.

    Oginome with that distinctive angular look and her dancing style really made her stand out. Kudos to her choreographer, especially on "Roppongi Junjoha". For me, I think she was the first aidoru who could actually bust a move on stage. But going to her songs, I think pop music is frequently about the hook, and "Roppongi Junjoha", "Dancing Hero" and "Dance Beat wa Yoake Made" have some of the more memorable hooks. I mean, the intro to "Dancing Hero" is one of the most recognized for fans of 80s Japanese popular music.

    I have some of the discs that you have mentioned, JTM, so I may be brushing off a few myself.

    1. I was poking around when I found this lesser known song, Natsu no Suteeji Raito. A summery tune and Yoko in rehearsal. It's from the same album as Flamingo in Paradise.

  3. Hi JTM,

    I can't quite call me the biggest Yoko Oginome fan, even though I bought her Budokan concert DVD some years ago. But I enjoy some of her eurobeat/dance songs, like "Dancing Hero (Eat You Up)", "Flamingo in Paradise", "Palmtree Candle" and "Jungle Dance Version II". But my personal favorite is "VERGE OF LOVE". It's such a beautiful and groovy romantic piece.

    And thanks for the great article. It made me revisit some of her hits on YouTube. And I might watch her live DVD later too.

  4. Great Post I'm a big fan of Oginome from Bangkok Thailand , back in the day. I'm living in San Francisco,now . I still listen to Her CD a lot She was great in "Verge of love" (one of the best English speaking from Japanese artist in my opinion )

  5. Ever since I found this blog (And I have emailed the owner about it), I am jumping from one article to another depending on the next singer I discovered, but it was really Oginome that... I don't know. Anyone who discovered her for the first time in 2017 will most likely have discovered her because of Dancing Hero, such as I. Billboard called her a veteran singer with a 30-year old song that suddenly became popular again. You can't help but get intrigued with that kind of remark. And I did. Me and my girlfriend love Kyary Pamyu Pamyu... and how shocked I was to see Yoko's costumes, especially in the music video of Dancing Hero

    Anyway it was Golden Best that I got (through unceremonious means, please don't judge me) because of this article. And really thankful it's the one I chose to check out because as you say, it covers a retrospective of her career. Every 2 weeks or so I have a new favorite from this collection.

    Thankfully, Japan Spotify has majority of Yoko Oginome's songs and albums ( I made a new account to check since I'm not from JP), including Dear Pop Singer.. I don't know but I was really curious with how she sings her old songs. And I think she did well. There was this one video where she sings with what look likes a younger idol group (2 girls and some backup), and she sings and dances well, the 2 girls were like statues. It was the video that earned her my admiration. I certainly want to make sure that when I reach that age, I hope I can dance and be as energetic as her in that age.

    So yeah, thanks for this article and thanks to Golden Best. Thankfully Dear Pop Singer is a relatively new effort and it's going to be easy for me to import it. The one I'm saving up is Super Groover, but man it's super expensive!! Hahaha.

    1. Hello, Michael.

      Good to hear that you've been enjoying Yoko Oginome. She really stood out due to her delivery and some of her angular dance moves. Of course, I think the one song that most folks will associate her with is "Dancing Hero". Plus her work last year with that dynamic high school dance club really brought back those memories.

      Keep on reading!


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