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 13, 2013

Yuki Uchida -- BABY'S GROWING UP

Another piece of Komuro’s (小室 哲哉) dance/pop hit factory, Yuki Uchida (内田有紀) was a notable aidoru from the mid-90s. With TK she had two big hits, “Only You” and “BABY’S GROWING UP”. Although “Only You” was bigger than “BABY’S GROWING UP”, I like the second one better.

With a typical TK combination of pop hooks and 90s house beats, “BABY’S GROWING UP” is an interesting song in Yuki’s discography. As the title already reveals, this song had a more mature sound than the aidoru ones she released before, especially at a time when dance beats were synonymous of “mature stuff” for pop singers, thanks to TK and 90s J-Pop queen Namie Amuro (安室奈美恵). And although the old cute aidoru style never died, it left the mainstream for a while. Even well established acts like the duo Wink suffered from this loss of popularity that haunted the aidoru category during the mid-90s. Yuki Uchida, on the other hand, succeeded in the market with a playful aidoru image that is best remembered by her short and tomboyish haircut at the time. But her songs quickly became edgier when Komuro took the producer seat. “BABY’S GROWING UP”, released in August 1995, was the final product of this short but successful partnership between TK and Yuki Uchida.

Talking a little bit more about the song, I really love TK’s synth work in “BABY’S GROWING UP”, especially the minimalistic synth notes that keep playing in various parts of the song. Yuki’s vocals are very nice too. We can tell that she was young, even though her voice was not overly cute. And the way she pronounces the title is very catchy.

Yuki stopped singing in 1999, when she decided to be a full time actress. But we can always remember her as a successful aidoru story from a time when female aidoru singers were having the hardest time in a marked dominated by female pop stars that were “shifting focus from the playground to the disco”, as the journalist David Tracey pointed out in his – very pejorative, if you ask me – 1996 article about Namie Amuro and the evolution of the aidoru genre (the article is here). In the end, J-Pop observers of the mid-90s could never guess that 15 years ahead Japan’s pop culture would be inside an even bigger “playground” centered on aidoru groups like AKB48 and Momoiro Clover Z (ももいろクローバーZ).

“BABY’S GROWING UP” reached #5 on the Oricon chart. It sold around 252,000 copies (source: generasia). The song was written, composed and arranged by Tetsuya Komuro.

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