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.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Seri Ishikawa/Mio Takagi/Yosui Inoue/Akina Nakamori -- Dance wa Umaku Odorenai (ダンスはうまく踊れない)

"Dance wa Umaku Odorenai"(I Can't Dance Well) is a cool song. Written and composed by Yosui Inoue(井上揚水),  it's been covered by a number of singers over the decades, including once by Yosui himself. Despite the title, the music does the amazing thing of portraying a bit of a challenging tango: mostly sweeping across the dance floor but then suddenly and briefly, a burst of quick stepping. Yosui had originally created this song for his then-girlfriend (and current wife), Seri Ishikawa(石川セリ), as a present early in their relationship (you sly devil, Yosui, you). It was released in April 1977 as her 6th single and became a minor hit for the singer. It was also a track on her 3rd album, "Kimagure"気まぐれ...A Whim), released in June of the same year.

The version that I've known the longest though is the one that was released in July 1982 by singer/actress Mio Takagi(高木澪). Takagi's version, her 3rd single, is a bit more ethereal than the more folksier original by Ishikawa. I first heard it on "Sounds of Japan", and since then it's popped up on a number of compilation albums for Showa-era pop songs. Apparently, Ishikawa was none too pleased that her present had been given to someone else....I guess to her it was the musical version of "re-gifting". Still, the song was able to eclipse Ishikawa's original by selling 800,000 records although the entamedata.web site only gives a more modest figure of 300,000 which means that it could've scored even higher than the 35th-place ranking it got in the annual Oricon charts.

As I mentioned above, Inoue also did his own cover of "Dance wa Umaku Odorenai" a couple of years later for his December 1984 album of covers, "9.5 Carat". His version is a bit more City Pop with some electronic bells and whistles, although the violin near the end gives it a somewhat more otherworldly quality, for a lack of a better expression.

I have to say, though, that Akina Nakamori's(中森明菜)take on the song is probably the most appealing me, at least. Her cover was on her first album of covers, "Utahime"歌姫...Diva) released in March 1994. Her light but resonant delivery, and frankly that aura that has surrounded her since she came back from her suicide attempt, just seems to fit this song to a T. Perhaps not only because of the's also because of Inoue's lyrics which talk about someone who would love to have a dance with someone....with all of the beauty and glamour involved...but just has to stumble along in the meantime by herself (probably only in her self-deprecating opinion....I think the protagonist dances quite well). There is that sense of vulnerability and loneliness that rather runs through the whole song that may also describe Akina herself. But that's about as much pop psychology as I try for today. It is a lovely version of a decades-old pop song, though.

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