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.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Naoko Kawai -- Half-Moon Serenade (ハーフムーン・セレナーデ)

I had a couple of surprises come to me today concerning Naoko Kawai's(河合奈保子) 27th single, "Half-Moon Serenade". For one thing, when my brother's family came to visit today for dinner, my cute little 8-year-old niece wanted to show me something. She unwrapped a piece of paper which had a set of lyrics, and the lyrics turned out to be those for this very song. Well, I thought, it has begun. The next generation of kayo kyoku fan has come forward. Alas, I may be jumping the gun a bit here since it is just the one song, but I was quite taken aback that a relative born in the 21st century would take an interest in an aidoru singer from the 1980s.

Apparently, her mother had come across it on the Net, and then my niece took a liking to it and started to play the tune on her piano. And according to some of the YouTube videos, it seems like a number of young folks have done the same on piano or guitar. "Half-Moon Serenade" is quite the epic ballad for Kawai....someone I had gotten to know through her Kohaku Utagassen appearances as the prototypical bouncy and smiley aidoru of the early 80s. In fact, this was her very first song in which she also wore a second hat as a composer. I remember hearing it for the first time as well on the 1986 Kohaku, her final appearance on the NHK special, and was struck by her performance on the piano and the fact that her voice took on a slightly operatic quality.

The other surprise was that the lyrics were provided by Yumi Yoshimoto(吉元由美), since I had always associated her with Anri(杏里) in terms of some of the really dynamic R&B pieces that they came up with together. "Half-Moon Serenade" was released in November 1986 and got as high as No. 6 on Oricon. It was also a track on her 13th album, "Scarlet"(スカーレット) which came out in October of that year. The album was notable for that all of the songs were created by Yoshimoto and Kawai.

According to J-Wiki, there was some media criticism at the time leveled at the song for having too much of a resemblance to another ballad from about a decade previously, "Shishuuki"(思秋期) by Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美). I have to admit that the two are similar but frankly speaking, even though I've known both songs for several years, I never made any sort of connection between the two until I came across the J-Wiki writeup for "Half-Moon Serenade". And since I've never come across any complaints from the Iwasaki camp, I'm quite happy to let sleeping dogs lie.

In any case, I'm quietly ecstatic that my niece has gotten a little appreciative peek into my....our....musical world.

Ahhhh, as an aside it seems as if the next generation in Ms. Kawai's world has also made her musical debut of sorts. Her daughter, Kaho, is gonna launch her career with "Every Hero" next month. Here is a brief clip from her music video. My hair is getting ever grayer.


  1. Hi, J-Canuck.

    Well, this type of power-ballad is not my personal cup of tea (I only like this style in the voice of Akina Nakamori), but based on the video you posted, Naoko Kawai was a beautiful young lady. I seached for some pictures of her and found some great bikini photos as well.

    But what I liked the most in this post was your little family story. It's great that your niece liked an old aidoru song like this one. I hope she can grow up listening to both new and old music.

    1. Hi, Marcos.

      Yeah, to be honest with you, I probably would go more with Naoko's earlier cheerful work if I had to choose. I've actually got "Scarlet" somewhere deep in the closet as an audiotape. As I remember, there were a few more songs in there that I liked better, including a Xmas song.

      Yep, hopefully my niece may start listening to a few more of the oldies. Actually, I might introduce her to Iwasaki's "Shishuuki" for the reasons that I noted above. :)


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