Credits

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.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yukari Morikawa -- SHOW ME



It wasn't all Kuri karaoke on Friday nights during my university 80s. The other Fridays were often spent at the various dance clubs in Toronto such as The Diamond, The Copa or what was once the highest disco in the world, Sparkles, on the observation deck of The CN Tower, once the highest freestanding structure on Earth. And one of the popular songs that got heavy rotation in those places and at the U of T dances was "Show Me" by The Cover Girls. That particular song didn't get me onto the dance floor (I was more for New Order, Ministry and The Pet Shop Boys) but it did bury itself into my head for eternity as one of those 80s songs of my not-so-youth.


The thing is, though, the Japanese pop music industry also took notice of "Show Me" as well. In October 1987, a cover version of The Cover Girls' hit was released by singer/actress/TV personality Yukari Morikawa(森川由香里) as her 2nd single. Given a bit more frenetic speed, it otherwise had the same feel as its original cousin. During the latter half of the 80s, Eurobeat was becoming popular as a source of melodies for pop singers in Japan (BaBe, Wink for example), and "Show Me" was able to make a smooth transition from the United States since it was known there as a prime example of the genre known as Freestyle. Both genres had a common denominator in the form of Italo Disco, and I could see them as either kissing cousins or the same type of music but with different names depending on the geography.

As for Morikawa, she started her celeb career as an on-air assistant on Peter Barakan's TV program, "Poppers MTV" in 1984 before branching out into various variety shows and dramas. I never saw any of her dramas, although watching her on the variety shows, I got the impression that she was probably cast as the appealingly kooky best friend of one of the leads. "Show Me" would be Morikawa's only hit but what better way is there to be remembered than as a musical and TV touchstone of a certain decade.




"Show Me" was also the opening theme song for a popular trendy drama titled "Danjo 7-Nin Aki Monogatari" (男女7人秋物語....The Autumn Tale of 7 Men and Women) which started its broadcast a few weeks before the release of the single. Now, I did mention trendy drama. This was a genre of TV drama during the latter half of the 80s which was popular during a time when Japan was enjoying its times in the high life; the dramas always had the biggest household names from music and acting portraying characters who had these jobs which could only be described in katakana (e.g. kopiiraitaa, コピーライター....copywriter) and therefore meant trendy and lucrative. This particular drama starred Kansai comedian Sanma Akashiya, singer Hiromi Iwasaki and actress Shinobu Otake among others, and was a sequel to the previous year's "Danjo 7-Nin Natsu Monogatari"男女7人夏物語...The Summer Tale of 7 Men and Women). The theme song for that first drama was Akemi Ishii's(石井明美) "Cha-Cha-Cha", one of the early examples of Eurobeat-influenced songs in Japan.

Getting that tie-up as the theme song for a popular drama certainly didn't hurt the Japanese "Show Me" when it came to sales and rankings. It hit the top spot on Oricon and stayed a good long while on those charts. It was not only the 29th-ranked song of that year but also ended up being the 31st-ranked song for 1988. Giving credit where credit is due, the original creators of the song are Albert Cabrera, Dr. Bob Khozouri, Tony Moran and Andy Panda. However, the Japanese lyrics were provided by Hiromi Mori(森浩美) who contributed to Yoko Oginome's "Dance Beat wa Yoake Made" and would later help out acts like SMAP, Kinki Kids and MAX.




And for comparisons' sake, here is the original version by The Cover Girls.

P.S. Just out of sheer coincidence, I made this profile right on Morikawa's birthday!

9 comments:

  1. Hey J-Canuck.

    I kinda like "Show Me", both the original and the Japanese cover version. It's not one of my favorites, though.

    As I'm a big fan of "Italo Disco" and "Eurobeat", I like to flirt with "Freestyle" as well (I like the German "Freestyle" better than the American one). I agree with you that they are like "kissing cousins", and while "Italo Disco/Eurobeat" is, for me, more mechanical and melodical, "Freestyle" is more funky and soulful, two characteristics borrowed from the never dead "disco/post-disco" American style.

    But, personally, the main problem I have with "Freestyle" music is not the music per se, but what it became here in Brazil. Here, "Freestyle" and the awful "Miami Bass" were the stylistic origins of the even more awful "Funk carioca", something that, apart the name, has nothing to do with the real American "Funk" you know about. If you never heard about it, try out "funk carioca" on YouTube. You'll have a bad taste of what I'm talking about, and be thankful for not understanding Portuguese, because some, if not most, of the lyrics are just as low quality as the sound itself.

    But back to "Show Me", I like its bass line a lot. I just think the lead synth could have been more elaborated, but it's okay the way it was delivered. And the song is very catchy, which helps a lot too.

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    1. I felt like Morikawa's cover of "Show me" was a lot more fun due to being more ostentatious. I'm the sort who thinks that the more ostentatious, the better when it comes to dance music.

      For instance the addition of trumpets, and the more prominent rhythm, as well as the fact that the song is led off with a sort of fanfare. The drum line is stronger as well, and I feel that her voice fits the song better than The Cover Girls' did.

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    2. Hi, Matt. Enjoyed your review of the KZ-ZST and I'm one of the guys who's not hugely into audio but does appreciate some nice sound through headphones.

      I used to listen to The Cover Girls' "Show Me" at the discos here back in the 80s, and I remember that the folks dancing to it did so in a rather languid manner. Morikawa's version is quite a bit more frenetic so I could imagine that people would have been shaking their "hippu" more vigorously. It's got some good spice in there.

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  2. Hey, Marcos. Good to hear from you again. I've been rather busy myself of late.

    I never got into the rave scene and my interest in dance music waned after I stopped going to the discos once I hit Japan in 1989 so my knowledge of the various genres in dance/techno is very limited. But in terms of satisfying my curiosity, I've been interested in reading about the different types out there. I didn't even know about "freestyle" until I researched for this article...I always considered the original version of "Show Me" as just plain and simple dance music. I wonder if "Let The Music Play" would be put into the same category.

    I'll have to take a look at these YouTube videos for "Miami Bass" and "Funk Carioca" that you mentioned just to hear what their sound is like.

    For several years during my last time in Japan, Trance seemed to be the thing in the Tokyo dance clubs like Velfarre. I actually bought a CD of "trancified" YMO hits.

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  3. I'm not a night club guy. I listen to dance music while relaxing on my couch and while studying, mostly. I probably would like to go back in time and go to the same discos you were used to. I'd have a lot of fun with 80s dance music, for sure.

    To be fair and honest with you, I was surprised to read about freestyle on your article, because it's kind of an underground dance music genre. As far as I know, it hit big in Florida's dance clubs, reached some mainstream airplay in America and climbed in some of the American charts at the time (late 80s/early 90s), but nothing really big. It was big here in Brazil too, and as I said earlier, evolded, with time, into the "funk carioca" of today.

    "Let The Music Play" is classic freestyle too, but it can be also labeled as "electro-funk" and "post-disco". Those names are really confusing because they can be applied for many types of dance music. As you pointed out, we can say some forms of dance music are the "same type of music but with different names depending on the geography". I would also add the release year as an important factor for nomenclature too.

    About trance, I'm not quite sure about it, but I've read somewhere that Japan got interested in it around the late 90s and early 00s. Also, Tetsuya Komuro started composing trance songs for his band "globe". But I can't say more, because trance is a style of dance music that I don't really like. Maybe someday I can appreciate it, but not now.

    "trancified YMO hits". That's something very curious. It ended out good? Or you didn't like the results?

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    1. I think it was a bit middling for me. I distinctly remember enjoying the Trance version of "Absolute Ego Dance" and "Rydeen", but that's about it.

      I can certainly understand about the confusion concerning the different names for the genres. Even on this blog, I sometimes wonder when I should categorize something as New Music, City Pop or J-AOR, so I often just throw all three into the article.

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  5. Thanks J-Canuck for this great post on 森川由香里's 「Show Me」. You must have some sort of JPop ESP as no sooner than a couple days after you post this Morikawa's name resurfaces in the news in relationship to her pending marriage to Kayokyoku singer 布施明. While a little embarrassing, I was a big fan of Freestyle during the 80s and loved groups and singers like Expose, Judy Torres, Trinere, Nu Shooz, Shannon, Paris by Air, Regina, Sweet Sensation, Pretty Poison and Debbie Deb among others. I'm kind of surprised that more Freestyle songs weren't covered by JPop artists. I guess JPop artists tended to favor the Italiano Pop Disco songs of artists like Michael Fortunati. I know that during the late 80s and early 90s a lot more foreign singers started getting more airplay on Japanese radio especially European Pop artists like G.I. Orange, Eighth Wonder, Sandra, Swingout Sister, E-Rotic and even did collaborations with Japanese artists like the Canadian synth band Lime.

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    1. Hey, I used to listen to all those songs as well, so misery loves company, I suppose. :) Heck, I'm still a big fan of Starship's "We Built This City"! I was just as big a fan of 80s Western music as well.

      I think Swingout Sister seems to be even bigger in Japan than they were in Canada or the US. They even came up with a theme song for a Yuji Oda drama back in the 90s, I believe.

      And my jaw is properly dropped on hearing about this wedding plan between Morikawa and Akira Fuse. Never saw that coming.

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