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, October 1, 2013

Masao Sen -- Hoshikage no Waltz (星影のワルツ)

About 11 years before Masao Sen's(千昌夫) heartwarming "Kita Kuni no Haru"北国の春) there was the quietly heartbreaking "Hoshikage no Waltz"(The Starlight Waltz). This was another song that got a lot of play on the RCA Victor at home, and I remember it for the backup chorus and the muted trumpet that starts things off.

With a serene "swish-swish" beat, "Hoshikage no Waltz" sounds like an enka to be heard just before it's lights-out in the bar. However, Sonoe Shiratori's(白鳥園枝) lyrics lay a tale of sadness under the gentle melody by Minoru Endo(遠藤実)as Sen sings in a voice close to breaking about one final traipse on the dance floor before the romance between a still-in-love couple has to end due to circumstances beyond their control. In a way, it reminds me of Kyu Sakamoto's(坂本九) "Ue wo Muite Arukou" (i.e. the Sukiyaki song) in which the singer exhorts everyone to keep on smiling between the tears.

Sen's 6th single was released in March 1966, and although it wasn't a hit at first, within a couple of years when Oricon got started, it not only hit the No. 1 spot but it became the very first No. 1 Single of the Year in the history of the ranking system. It sold over 1.5 million records and earned Sen his first appearance on the 1968 Kohaku Utagassen.

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