Thursday, December 12, 2013
Chisato Moritaka -- Hijitsuryokuha Sengen (非実力派宣言)
Chisato Moritaka (森高千里) was the first J-aidoru from the 80s that got me hooked some years ago. She was not the best vocalist and had a very high-pitched voice, but her early songs (late 80s/early 90s) were pure pop/disco/eurobeat pleasure to my ears.
As for the “Hijitsuryokuha Sengen” album (released in July 1989), it was one of the first albums I listened from her big discography and it got a high spot in my “favorite albums of all times” list (yeah, it really did). I just loved it to death. Also, it was the album that featured her biggest hit at the time, “17-sai” (in not one, but two remixed forms). Based on that, the album functions as a continuation of the narrative initiated in “17-sai” (17才), which, for me, is a girlish and summery narrative with pastiche eurobeat music in the background.
The fourth song of the album and also the title track is a personal highlight. I must confess that “Hijitsuryokuha Sengen” (the song) is not so interesting in the sonic aspect, but I like Moritaka’s deep vocals on the verses and the whole synth work provided by Saito Hideo (斉藤英夫), the man behind Moritaka’s electronic programming at the time. Also, it has a more serious tone if compared to the other eurobeat/disco songs Moritaka recorded for this album.
About the meaning behind the song, Patrick W. Galbraith offers a nice interpretation in his article “Idols: The Image of Desire in Japanese Consumer Capitalism”, which is included in the compilation “Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture”. According to Galbraith, “the album [Hijitsuryoku-ha Sengen] not only showcases Moritaka’s proclaimed lack of singing ability, but even contain a song called ‘Hijitsuryoku-ha Sengen’ wherein she literally states that she has no ability, never did, and does not want or need it” (GALBRAITH, 2012, p. 190). In his interpretation, Moritaka was just acknowledging that her capacities were very limited and, even so, she could experience success in the aidoru world. It was something like an aidoru revealing, shamelessly, that she was an aidoru. In his words, “some idols [Moritaka included] engaged in a form of self-parody, drawing attention to their own produced artificiality” (GALBRAITH, 2012, p. 190). Well, I can’t quite confirm what the song really tells, but generasia, for example, translate it as “Non Capability Group Declaration”, so maybe Galbraith’s interpretation is not so far. At the same time, I don’t know if Moritaka was really interested in mocking the aidoru system, but her image surely could be interpreted as very flamboyant, even for aidoru standards. All in all, I find interesting that someone took some time to talk about Moritaka in an academic book.
The “Hijitsuryokuha Sengen” album was Moritaka’s fourth full studio album. It sold 215,090 copies and reached #53 on the yearly Oricon chart for 1989 (source: generasia). As for the “Hijitsuryokuha Sengen” song, its lyrics were written by Moritaka herself, while music and arrangement were done by Saito Hideo.
To finish, here are some beautiful photos of my “Hijitsuryokuha Sengen” album. Personally, I think Moritaka was at her peak when it comes to beauty. And the front cover is also stunning and kinda epic in a strange way.
I read somewhere that she got tired of staying with the arms like that during the photoshoot.
The famous "17-sai" look (left) and a sexy red dress she used in some concerts (right).
Probably my favorite picture of the bunch. Moritaka was a beautiful and sexy young lady.
Nice pose. Almost a pin-up (well, we can't say she wasn't one).
Back cover of the album.
The book used in the article. It's a great compilation of articles about idols, gender and media.