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.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kumiko Yamashita -- Sekido Komachi Doki (赤道小町ドキッ)

I have to confess that this is the only Kumiko Yamashita(山下久美子) song I know, but it is a memorable one. In fact, even before I realized who was behind the playful delivery, I'd known the song as the "Doki Doki" tune.

Kumiko Yamashita was born in 1959 in Oita Prefecture, and debuted in 1980 with "Bathroom kara Ai wo Komete"(バスルームから愛をこめて...With Love From The Bathroom)before breaking through with her first hit, "Sekido Komachi Doki" (Small Town On The Equator...Heart Goes Ba-Bump) in April 1982. Her 6th single had been chosen to become the latest commercial song for Kanebo Cosmetics, so there was quite the pressure to get it written up and recorded. Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆) had taken care of the lyrics in advance but right up to the day of recording, the music had yet to be completed, so it was up to YMO's Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)to get down to the studio and get it worked out with his colleague Yukihiro Takahashi(高橋幸弘)on drums and former Akai Tori(赤い鳥)member Kenji Omura(大村憲司)on guitar (Omura also arranged the song).

As would be the case for a Hosono-penned tune at that time, there is that technopop side in there nestled alongside the kayo rock. It's quite the quirky little tune delivered in an appealingly squeaky way by a singer who, looking at the images in the video above, was also quite flamboyant. Although it was Hosono who took care of the music, there is something of Akiko Yano(矢野顕子) in it, and I could imagine someone like the main vocalist for the band Fairchild, YOU, covering it easily. Lyrically, since it was made for a make-up ad, the song playfully describes how beautiful the subject of the song looks in the summer sun. The main line in the refrain goes "Kimi wa sekido komachi..." (君は赤道小町....You are a small town on the equator) which, I guess, would be along the lines of "You are a spicy little number" or "You are a tall drink of water".

As mentioned, "Sekido Komachi Doki" was Yamashita's first big hit, peaking at No. 2 on Oricon and becoming the 22nd-ranked song of the year. Incidentally, Yamashita had been married to former BOOWY guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei(布袋寅泰)for about 12 years.

Kumiko Yamashita -- Sekido Komachi Doki


  1. It's a cool song, isn't it? Yep, I agree that it sounds like a Yano tune. Of course, I'm a fan of Yano's as well. I actually own Yamashita's 8CD box set that covers her entire 80's career and she's quite a distinctive singer. Squeaky, yes, but she's also got a certain edge to her voice that's attention-grabbing. I must say, it is her technopop songs that have stuck with me the most, though some really good ones like "Peke Peke" and "Natural High Jumper" are missing from Youtube.

    And on the Hotei note, as much as I like Miki Imai (like you, I prefer her early material), I think the songs he created for Yamashita were generally stronger than his Imai work. Then again, those were from his BOOWY days and Yamashita had the right amount of charisma to pull off the rock image.

    1. Yeah, I'd have to say that along with Yamashita's technopop tunes, I've been most attracted to Yano's techno period in the early 80s.

      I just listened to Yamashita's debut, "Bathroom kara Ai wo Komete", and it has that 50s nuance to it melodically...somewhat in the vein of early Mariya Takeuchi and Ann Lewis.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.