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, July 6, 2013

Ryo Aska/Chikuzen Sato -- Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame (はじまりはいつも雨)

Ryo Aska's "Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame" (There's Always Rain In The Beginning) had me at "Hajimari", to paraphrase a line from an old Tom Cruise movie. A bit exaggerated, but even without knowing what the lyrics were about, I just remember this ballad hooking me immediately even as the commercial song for a Panasonic stereo component system. Just the way the melody and Aska's vocals wound its way through the song was remarkable. It took a bit of doing, but I was finally able to track down the title and eventually get the album that it was on, "Scene II".

The taller half of J-Pop's power duo of Chage & Aska had a banner year in 1991. C&A had a massive hit that year with their summer release of "Say Yes", but just a few months earlier, Aska had released "Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame" in March as his 3rd single as a solo artist. Originally, a self-cover of a song that he had penned for Akina Nakamori(中森明菜) was to have been the jingle for that commercial, but the production staff and even the folks at Panasonic were so enamoured with this new song that it wasn't too difficult a decision to have it put in instead. Aska took care of both the music and lyrics, and I can now understand why the appeal was so great on a literal level as well. The singer just so tenderly sang about how much in love he was with this girl, even noting how wonderful her name was and how much rain there was when they first met. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of lovelorn guys would go to this ballad to serenade their significant others under the window. As for the official video above, I think there's a lot to be said romantically about Aska making that call in the rain in an actual old-fashioned phone booth instead of just speaking into a tiny cellphone.

"Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame" went as far as the No. 2 spot on the charts, and sold a little over a million copies. And it secured the No. 5 ranking for the whole year, compared to the even more successful "Say Yes" which became the No. 2 song of 1991 which sold close to 3 million discs. A good year, indeed.

(excerpt only)

For his 2004 album, "THE HITS -- CORNERSTONES 3", Chikuzen Sato(佐藤竹善)gave his own softer version of the song. It almost sounds unplugged, and the arrangement is distinctly Sato, considering his work with Sing Like Talking. 

(Sorry but the video has been taken down.)

Beni gives her own English-language version of "Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame", although the video is very brief.

And this was the Panasonic commercial (at 00:29) that had plenty of hearts-a-throbbing.

Aska -- Scene II

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