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.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shizuko Kasagi/The Venus -- Tokyo Boogie-Woogie (東京ブギウギ)

For the longest time, I'd thought that "Tokyo Boogie-Woogie" was purely a Hibari Misora(美空ひばり) song, but as I would find out, she was actually just one of the first of generations of singers to cover one of the most well-remembered kayo kyoku. The original singer was Shizuko Kasagi (笠置シヅ子)(1914-1985), who was known as the Queen of Boogie in the postwar era....pretty much most of her song titles had the word "boogie" in the title.

Written by Katsu (or Sho) Suzuki(鈴木勝) and composed by Ryoichi Hattori(服部良一) in 1947, Hattori apparently came up with the melody while he was commuting on a train, and heard the combination of sounds from the clinking rail joints and the handstraps hitting against the metal shelves located over the seats. The composer had his "Eureka" moment and rushed off the train to the nearest cafe to jot the song down on a napkin. And I guess the rest is history. Kasagi had a hit and would eventually earn her tiara. She appeared on the Kohaku Utagassen four times, and performed "Tokyo Boogie Woogie" on her 3rd time in 1953.

Of course, I have to include the Misora cover. It's just a short clip, but she and the orchestra pull off a masterful performance.

I knew The Venus for their only major hit, "Kiss wa Me ni Shite"キスは目にして) back in 1981. The band was actually formed all the way back in 1974 as a musical group performing American music of the 1960s. According to the J-Wiki writeup on the group, The Venus underwent a number of personnel changes during its 9-year history, and in its last 2 years, the members decided to take on English stage names. So, lead vocal Sachiko Ishikawa(石川幸子) was Conny Lane. In its final year, Conny and the gang did their own version of "Tokyo Boogie Woogie".

Of course, numerous musicians have covered the song from enka singers to members of Hello Project. Here are Aki Yashiro(八代亜紀) and the late Mina Aoe(青江美奈) doing their duet version. "Tokyo Boogie Woogie"will always be that one song from long ago that will always be welcome in the home or in the karaoke lounge even in the 21st century.

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