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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Akina Nakamori -- Meu Amor e (ミ・アモーレ)/Lonely Journey (ロンリー・ジャーニー)



This is the article which is a sequel of sorts from what I wrote about her album, "D404ME" since it contains her 11th single, "Meu Amor e".

Released in March 1985, "Meu Amor e" served as a crossroads for me when it came to listening to Akina Nakamori(中森明菜). As I mentioned in the article for "D404ME", that album snagged me into becoming one of her ardent fans. As someone who was basically living a hemisphere away from Japan in the 1980s, I had to do my fair share of catching up when it came to her discography. Thanks to "Sounds of Japan", I was able to hear a lot of her early hits such as "Slow Motion" and "Kinku", and as I did so, I could also keep current by watching videotapes of "The Best 10". At the time I became a regular purveyor, that 11th single was the one that was getting all the attention paid to Miss Nakamori at that time, almost a year before she really rocked Akina fandom with "Desire".

Although those early hits I had heard on radio were well established in the Japanese pop sound, "Meu Amor e" was the first of her official singles to take Akina out of Japan and into a new frenzied beat in Latin America. I used to watch her repeated performances on the music shows as she elegantly brought in a lot of brio and Rio into living rooms while all around her the dancers were going a bit crazy with their choreography. I sometimes thought that the arrangement of the music was almost overwhelming for even her.

"Meu Amor e"(My Lover Is) was written by Chinfa Kan(康珍化) and composed by Naoya Matsuoka(松岡直也) who specializes in Latin fusion. He started his professional career as a pianist at the age of 15 in 1952 before starting a number of Latin bands. When he created "Meu Amor e" in 1985, he had also made the theme song for "News Station", the long-running TV-Asahi news programme starring Hiroshi Kume, the former co-host of "The Best 10".

The accolades for "Meu Amor e" were abundant. Hitting No. 1 on the charts, it eventually became the No. 2 song of the year (630,000 records sold), only behind Checkers' "Julia ni Heartbreak"ジュリアに傷心). It also earned the Gold Prize and Grand Prize at that year's Japan Record Awards. Not surprisingly, the Kohaku Utagassen came knocking as well.





Just a couple of months after the release of "Meu Amor e", the folks behind the single caught a major brainwave and decided to produce what was basically an extended version of the song but with different lyrics and title. "Akai Tori Nigeta"赤い鳥逃げた...The Red Bird Has Escaped) came out in a cover which was dramatically different from the one for the original single (that ravishing picture of Akina in the video above before you press "Play"), showing her in what I guess would be called Harajuku Punk(?). The second time was definitely the charm as this version also hit the No. 1 spot on the Oricon weeklies and even became the 20th-ranked song of 1985. "D404ME" also has a different extended version but under the original title and lyrics.

(cover version)

I was commenting to nikala about her article on Mitsutoshi Ambe(あんべ光俊)in that although I have been listening to kayo kyoku/J-Pop for decades, I still come across a lot of stuff for the first time to my absolute delight. The B-side to "Meu Amor e" is one such example. Everyone may have been paying rapt attention to the A-side, but "Lonely Journey", written and composed by EPO, is a revelation. Since it never got onto the original albums, let alone the BEST albums (correct me if I'm wrong, fellow Akina fans), I only became aware of this tune for the very first time in the last few months via YouTube. And I've fallen for it.....it's this fun 80s Tokyo disco-y highway-friendly song with a driving bass. And strangely enough, the end of the refrain reminds me a bit of YMO's "Technopolis". It may not be quite worthy for A-side fame but it's wonderful to listen to nonetheless.




But there are a lot of YouTube videos for "Meu Amor e". And yes, I'm going with the Portuguese spelling here, although the original single's cover had it written as "Mi Amore".

P.S. Larry Chan below brought up a topic about whose lyrics came first: the ones for "Meu Amor e" or "Akai Tori Nigeta", both by Chinfa Kan. If anyone can confirm this, please let us know!

8 comments:

  1. It's great that you've been writing Akina in succession. I read the following story on a Akina fan's blog but couldn't confirm.

    Akai Tori Nigeta was actually written first. But as far as lyrics is concerned, Chinfa thought it's not worthy to be included in a single. So Chinfa rewrote the lyrics and it became Meu Amor e. And because it was a huge hit, the record company decided to release the "original" version as well.

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    1. Good to hear from you again, Larry. Yeah, actually I was wondering about that. I read (or tried to read) the article about the song on J-Wiki, and I think that fan's blog may be correct about which came first (I was writing the article past midnight so my eyes weren't exactly at top level).

      In any case, it was quite a marketing coup for the record company!

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  2. "Meu amor é..." is classic Akina. Alongside "Shoujo A", "Kazari Janai no yo Namida wa", "DESIRE ~Jounetsu~" and "Nanpasen", it's an important single in Akina's 80s phase.

    I really like how Akina can make a carnival love song sound so melodramatic. It's just typical of Akina, to be honest. The ending makes me feel shiver especially during the third and last "amoreee...". The arrangement is also top notch, and although not very distant of the whole orchestrated aidoru pop songs of the time, it was richer than the majority.

    The special version included in the "D404ME" album is also very interesting. It starts as pure samba and then comes the bass before the full arrangement takes place. It's an incredible arrangement, for sure.

    Well, I've read a story about the whole "'Meu amor é...' vs. 'Akai Tori Nigeta'" dilemma in generasia. I just copied the part where it's written for you guys to take a look:

    "The single [Meu amor é...] was re-released as "Akai Tori Nigeta" which featured different lyrics which actually were the original ones, but due to composer Matsuoka Naoya's discontent with them not embracing the Latino sound new lyrics were written thus creating 'Meu Amor é'".

    I don't know if that's a true version or not, though.

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    1. Hey, Marcos. Good to hear from you.

      Yeah, it looks like we have a little mystery to resolve about which came first. It'd be nice if Akina herself could leave a comment or two. :) Good point about the song not straying too far from its Japanese roots. It may have that Latin beat but it still unmistakenly feels like a song that was produced in the J-Pop way.

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  3. Oh, I forgot to talk about "Lonely Journey". I can tell that it's one of my favorite b-sides from Akina. And we can assure it's a big hidden gem as J-Canuck, a big Akina fan, didn't know about it until this year. In my case, it was in the first compilation I listened three years ago right after discovering Akina in the 1990 year end special from Music Station (she sang "Dear Friend", "Kazari Janai..." and "DESIRE". She just blew my ears with this performance). The compilation I'm talking about is a big four CDs set with all her "A" and "B" sides from the 80s called "complete singles ~first ten years~". Here's a picture I found in the internet: http://animuze.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/akina_nakamori_500_2.jpg

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    1. Hmmm....maybe if I can find that 4-CD set on the Net...:) In any case, I'm planning to head on back to Japan for a visit next year, so I'll be getting my "Xmas wish list" prepared for the shopping binge.

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    2. Well, it's still available in some online shops like CDJapan and HMV. But if you're heading to Japan soon, it may be better to get it there. I don't know when I'll be able to travel to Japan, but I'll surely have a "wish list" as well. It'll be great to search for some oldies in second-hand shops.

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    3. Yup, I'm definitely heading for my old haunt, Tacto in Jimbocho. I hope that it'll still be there next year. My other favourite place in Nakano closed down, unfortunately.

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