I guess there WAS life before Mariya Takeuchi（竹内まりや） as far as Kentucky Fried Chicken's J-Xmas ads were concerned. Just came across this Christmas song by vocal group Circus（サーカス）, "Ichiban Suteki na Christmas" (The Most Wonderful Christmas) that had been used as the KFC jingle (no pun intended) for at least 1987, the year of its release.
To be exact, this was Circus' 22nd single to be released in December 1987. Tetsuji Hayashi（林哲司） was responsible for the oh-so-adorable-it-hurts melody while Linda Hennrick & Masami Tozawa（戸沢暢美） took care of the lyrics. Tozawa has written for a number of female aidoru, Arashi, and notably she was also involved in Miki Imai's（今井美樹） "Boogie Woogie Lonesome High Heel".
I've often compared vocal groups such as Circus and Hi-Fi Set to America's Manhattan Transfer, and listening to this song, it does sound quite a bit like a Xmas tune by the Transfer (I've also got a couple of their Xmas albums). And there is also a fair similarity to "Somewhere Out There" with Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram. It's rather interesting comparing this 1987 gentle KFC Xmas ballad to Mariya Takeuchi's Norman Rockwell-friendly "Suteki na Holiday"（すてきなホリデイ...A Wonderful Holiday) which was the KFC Xmas tune that I've been most familiar with during my years in Japan. Even being back here in Toronto for a couple of years now, I still get a craving for chicken with those 11 herbs and spices whenever I hear that one.
|Christmas Market in Shiodome, Tokyo|