Who had the top-selling single of 1970? Enka singers Shinichi Mori or Keiko Fuji? Mood Kayo group The Cool Five? Nah....it was some 6-year-old Tokyo kid singing an Italian children's song about a little cat. Really....
I've heard "Kuroneko no Tango"(Black Cat Tango) from time to time over the decades, and thought it was actually a somewhat older song. Not too surprised at this overwhelming success. I've found that once in a blue moon, a kid's song managed to reach the giddy heights of the Oricon charts, such as Masato Shimon's "Oyogi, Taiyaki-kun!", B.B Queens'"Odoru Ponpokorin"(both already profiled), and "Dango San Kyoudai".
What became "Kuroneko no Tango" was an Italian children's song "Volevo Un Gatto Nero"(I Wanted a Black Cat), written and composed in March 1969 by Francesco Pagano. It didn't take long before the song managed to make its way to Japan. The recording studio, Japan Victor, asked the leader of a school's choir group to choose a member to sing the cover version. She chose her nephew, Osamu Minagawa（皆川おさむ）. And the rest, they say, was history. With Japanese lyrics provided by Mizuho Miota（見尾田みずほ）, the single managed to sell close to 3 million records and make little Osamu a star....at least for a little while. Furthermore, the single managed to stay at the top of the charts for 14 straight weeks! Apparently, the kid wasn't too up on his musical genres at his tender age; he'd thought that "tango" was the name of the cat.
Having locked up the most successful song of the year, Minagawa inadvertently started a small kid singer's boom for a few years. There were a few boys and girls who were getting their tunes out in the zeitgeist....and even one American boy by the name of Jimmy Osmond was able to get his foot into the shoji because of what happened with Minagawa. As for the lad? Well, he's now a half-century old, and he is neither a professional singer nor a pet shop owner, for that matter. Osamu Minagawa is currently an industrial graphic designer.