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, November 7, 2013

Ruiko Kurahashi -- Ai, Soshite Anata (愛、そしてあなた)

Rather delighted to find this one by Ruiko Kurahashi(倉橋ルイ子). As I've said in some of the other articles about her, she's been one of those under-the-radar singers that I've enjoyed listening to all these years. That breathy voice of hers and her choice of adult contemporary ballads and light mid-tempo tunes have been a weak spot for me. When I scour through YouTube, I often find multiple videos of her most prominent songs such as "Glass no Yesterday" and "Last Scene ni Ai wo Komete"(ラストシーンに愛をこめて), so it's great when I can come across one of her lesser known examples of her discography.

"Ai, Soshite Anata" (Love, And Then You) is definitely one of those rarer gems that never even came out on any of her singles, but instead was a middle track on her 1987 album, "Sailing" (for some reason, she had decided to call herself Ruika Kurahashi for that album). However, I first heard it as one of the tracks on one of Ruiko's BEST albums that I had gotten sometime during my years in Gunma. Right from the beginning of her career in 1981, she'd become known amongst her fans for putting out these heart-on-a-sleeve love tunes with arrangements that hint at some of the torch songs from decades past. Being a fan of the movies and music from that era, I was automatically drawn to "Last Scene", the very first song of hers that I'd heard at my old karaoke haunt of Kuri back in my university days.

Written and composed by Toshiki Fujiwara(藤原年樹), "Ai, Soshite Anata" has a bit of that torch song feeling but there is also quite the power ballad in there. Around the mid-80s, there were a few of her songs that seemed to coax her vocal cords to punch a hole into the atmosphere, and this is definitely one of them. The lyrics have her declaring her love most strongly for that special someone, and that nothing will come in their way. Perhaps it may not be the most subtle song to be used when popping THE question (especially when that electric guitar just explodes at the end), but the heart is certainly there. And it's another one of her songs that I consider a career highlight.

Strangely enough, after having known about the song for just a little while, I actually heard it on TV as the closing tune on one of the Japanese channels after a whole day of special broadcast of the marriage between Prince Akishino and the former Ms. Kiko Kawashima in June 1990. And against a backdrop of fireworks, to boot.

Since I'm on the topic of "Sailing", I feel somewhat compelled to talk about another track on that album. It's actually a Ruiko cover of a ballad by singer-actress Maria Conchita Alonso whom I knew more for her 80s Hollywood movies such as "Moscow on the Hudson" with Robin Williams and "The Running Man" with a former governor of California with a penchant for intoning "I'll be back".

"O Ella O Yo" was also on that BEST album, and like "Ai, Soshite Anata", it's another one of her ballads that I've also liked over the decades. I hadn't known who the original singer was, so when I first heard it done wonderfully by Ruiko, I rather assumed that Julio Iglesias was the first vocalist according to the songwriter, Juan Carlos Calderon, and my impression that the song had that Euro-Latin tender-heartedness.

In any case, until I find the actual Ruiko recording somewhere on the Net, I'll be happy to keep the song tucked away here.

P.S. I couldn't resist....I couldn't quite believe a Vocaloid like Miku Hatsune(初音ミク) would cover such an obscure song like "Ai, Soshite Anata", so here it is.

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