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.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Miho Nakayama -- 50/50

After reading and commenting on J-Canuck’s “Rosa” post, I decided to contribute an article about Miho’s (中山美穂) other Latin-styled hit song, “50/50”. To be honest, this article was written some months ago, but just now, inspired by J-Canuck’s above mentioned post, I decided to give it a proper life in this blog.

“50/50” was one of the few Miho Nakayama 80s singles that I didn’t care at all. Being released in July 1987, I always thought of "50/50" as a silly Latin song trying to emulate Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” (listen to it here), which was released as a single in February of the same year (but appeared first in the 1986 "True Blue", Madonna's third album).

But this scenario changed a couple of months ago when I started watching Miho’s 1987 drama “Mama wa Idol” (ママはアイドル), as the show gave new life to my Miho’s fanboyism. Although “50/50” was not featured on the show, I decided to give the song a chance after two years of remembering it as the worst Miho single from the 80s. Yeah, it’s strange. I can’t even explain properly why I hated the song so much.

But now I changed my mind. In reality, “50/50” is a strong summer song and a great addition to Miho’s discography. “50/50”, as a whole, is very bouncy, while the Latin melodies played by some charming synths are also an interesting touch. Talking about synths, the song is actually full of them, making this a very 80s style Latin song. And the chorus, of course, is a highlight. The melody mixed with the synths makes it a very catchy pop number.

I especially like the live performances of this song, as they made the bass sound more robust than in the studio version. In the video presented below, from “The Best Ten” TV show (ザ・ベストテン), Miho is singing in the middle of Tokuyama Post Office (徳山郵便局). Everyone who knows “The Best Ten” is aware of how transporting an aidoru singer and a live band to a Post Office was really the kind of thing they would do back in the days. Enjoy it.

As a side note, Tetsuya “TK” Komuro (小室 哲哉), the J-Pop wizard of the 90s, composed “50/50”. He even recorded his own version for the self-cover “Hit Factory” album, released in October 1992. The arrangement of his version is very nice and the synths used by him bring some tension to the song. The only turn-off is his vocals. Unfortunately, his version is not on YouTube, and I only found it on niconico, which needs a free registration. But for who is able to access it, here’s the link below.

Released between the catchy and bouncy “Hade!!!” (「派手!!!」), theme of “Mama wa Idol”, and the eurobeat-inspired “CATCH ME”, Miho’s first number one hit, “50/50” was a hit on its own. The song reached #2 on the Oricon charts, selling over 211,000 copies and landing in the year end chart as the #23 best-selling single of 1987. It was later included in Miho’s first best of album, called “SELECTION”, which was released in November 1987 and reached #1 on the Oricon charts. It was also part of the “Perfect Best” compilation, released in 2010. “50/50” was written by Shun Taguchi (田口俊), composed by Tetsuya Komuro, and arranged by Motoki Funayama (船山基紀).

Finally, here is a frontal picture of my own copy of the “Perfect Best” compilation.


  1. Hello, Marcos. Never heard this song before so I'm glad you put it up. Compared to some of her earlier singles, I don't think I ever came across Miporin doing something with a Latin feel to it.

    A lot of aidoru tunes in the 80s pretty shamelessly "borrowed" hooks from Western hit songs, and I think "50/50" is actually not too bad with any of its copying from Madonna. I heard something far more blatant for an Yoko Oginome song from a hit by British band Level 42.

    Glad that you have a better appreciation of "50/50" now since I've been doing the same thing with a lot of other songs from my past.

  2. Latin music was not very common in Miho's 80s discography. I remember one or two album tracks, but not much more than this.

    And I agree that "50/50" is not similar to Madonna's "La Isla Bonita", besides the fact that both are Latin songs. It was a strange idea that kept coming every time I listened to it, though. Fortunately, I don't mind it now, and the song started to get a lot of heavy rotation.

    Sometimes we appreciate a song better after a while. I'm always happy when this happens.

    And I need to hear that Oginome/Level 42 thing. It must be interesting.

    1. Well, the song in question was on Oginome's "246 Connection" album from 1987. I forgot the title of it but it was one of the later tracks. The Level 42 song was "Lessons In Love".


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