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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Yutaka Ozaki -- I Love You

Happy Valentine's Day, folks! I was thinking for a short while about what song I could put up on the blog to symbolize February 14th. I mean, I've already put up Dreams Come True's "Love Love Love", Off Course's "I Love You" and JTM was good enough to put up Sayuri Kokusho's(国生さゆり) "Valentine Kiss". And then I heard the velvety words in my head, "I Looooooove You...."Not by Kazumasa Oda(小田和正), but by the late balladeer Yutaka Ozaki(尾崎豊).

Written and composed by Ozaki as a track for his first album, "Juu-nana Sai no Chizu"(十七歳の地図....Seventeen's Map) in 1983, this song probably got the most airplay out of his repertoire in the media in the days immediately after the news of Ozaki's untimely death at the age of 26 in April 1992. Although it hadn't been released as a single originally from the album, it did get a CD release in March 1991 which peaked at No. 5 on the Oricon weeklies.

Listening to Ozaki's emotion-laden vocals and the gentle piano-and-guitar melody, it's sometimes hard not to get a bit of a tickle or a lump in the throat. I bet there have been buskers over the last 30 years (yeah, it's been 30 years) who've slapped themselves upside on the head and wondered why they couldn't have written this. But those same people have probably been more than happy to croon this on whatever street corner and JR station they've placed themselves. And if they do it right, they can be guaranteed of an appreciative audience. And I can imagine "I Love You" being a must-play at any wedding reception.

The song has been covered by singers from a number of countries in a number of languages. Debbie Gibson has done it, Aaron Kwok has done it in Chinese, and of course, several J-Pop singers from Hikaru Utada to Kazumasa Oda to Akina Nakamori to Shinichi Mori have given their own takes. And I'm sure tons of karaoke amateurs have tackled "I Love You" from Okinawa to Hokkaido, maybe with that special someone in the room....and most likely after a few glasses of beer.

This is the Debbie Gibson version.

Yutaka Ozaki -- Seventeen's Map


  1. Thanks for this great post on 尾崎豊, an artist that died well before his time. 「I LOVE YOU」 is a great song and one of my favorites.

    On 3/20/13, they will be releasing one of his concert performances on DVD/Blu-Ray - 尾崎豊 「LIVE CORE 完全版~YUTAKA OZAKI LIVE IN TOKYO DOME 1988・9・12」

    His son 尾崎裕哉/Ozaki Hiroya is following his father's footsteps in music and recently became a radio DJ.

  2. Man, time really has flown! I didn't even know he had a grown-up son.

    Ozaki had too short a life but at least what he did in it was remarkable.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this!! It's always great to find posts about Yutaka Ozaki in non-Japanese sites.
    "I Love You" is indeed an iconic song-- even though I think that many of his other singles (like "Shelly", "Core" and "Forget Me not") were far superior than "I Love You"^^
    By the way, I'm also a fan of older Japanese music and your blog is a treasure*_* I've just linked you on my Yutaka Ozaki Fansite ( ). I hope it's okay :D

  4. Hello, sayoko3! Thanks very much for the comments and welcome to the blog. I just took a look at your site and it's obviously a labour of love there. :) Yeah, no problems on the linking...always happy to connect with other like-minded people.

    So far, I've known and enjoyed the big songs by Ozaki such as "I Love You" and "Oh My Little Girl". However, I still have that sweet spot for "Donut Shop" since it's such a small but comforting song....and because Toronto seems to have a Tim Hortons donut shop on just about every corner.

    Feel free to take a look around at some of the other tunes that the rest of us have put up and give some comments.

  5. Thank you^-^
    Donut Shop is one of my favorites too, together with Beigun Camp from the same album, which I've always felt particularly close to me, since I live in a country full of American army bases (Italy^^).

  6. Good to hear from you again, sayoko3. Whereabouts in Italy are you residing, just out of curiosity? I've never been there (never been to Europe, actually) but of course, a lot of my former students have made multiple trips there on vacation.

    Have you come across anyone in Italy who is also into kayo kyoku? I'm always interested in finding about people who have enjoyed the genre overseas.

  7. I live in Northern Italy, a 30 minutes train ride to Venice^^ Most of the people I know here are into Johnny Ent and Visual kei. I've been able to persuade a few to listen to older tunes... starting with Ozaki songs, of course.
    To the average Italian, though, the only known Asian singer is the Gangnam-style guy. On a better note, I recently found that Yukari Ito sang at the most important Italian music festival (Sanremo):
    which is so amazing I wouldn't believe it without the Youtube proof XD

  8. Ah, Venice. A couple of my students are especially attracted to that city. Yeah, I'm not surprised that Arashi, SMAP and the boys, along with the Visual-kei bands would be popular outside of Japan, especially the latter. Whenever I've seen any music show here do a feature on what's hot in Japan, it's either maid culture or the Visual-kei. So, I guess I can imagine Kyary Pamyu Pamyu making some inroads into Canada, eh? :)

    I've got a BEST compilation of Yukari Ito somewhere in the shelves. I like her 60s stuff but I have a special spot for one song she did in 1981 called "Yakusoku dake Romantic". Very nicely done folk and pop...almost like The Carpenters.
    I'll take a look at that video of her at Sanremo. Thanks!

  9. It seems that Ozaki Yutaka-san composed "I Love You" (that singer-songwriter Deborah Gibson English-language covered). And, of course, Hikawa Kiyoshi twice performed "I love you": once in 2005 (at Kiyoshi Kono Yoru) and once recently (KayoConcert 2015). I have the Hikawa Kiyoshi's version of the late Ozaki's song, recorded recently!

  10. Hi, Tatianna.

    Thanks for commenting...I've read that you're Hikawa's No. 1 fan in Brazil. I believe I saw him perform his wonderful version of "I Love You" on NHK's "Kayo Concert" some weeks ago. Ozaki is sadly no longer around but it's good that there are singers like Hikawa who are continuing on his legacy.


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