Nope, this isn't my own Top 10 of the 1980s. That will probably be coming in the first half of next week. But I still had my own itch to scratch when it came to the ton of J-Xmas songs out there, so I have decided to put up my own list of favourite Japan-made Yuletide songs.
1. Junichi Inagaki - Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa
2. Tatsuro Yamashita - Christmas Eve
Now, why did I put the Top 2 together? Well, it's because their two Yuletide entries also happen to ironically be their most famous hits when it comes to the general populace. And I mention "ironically" since these songs don't represent the usual items in their respective discographies.
Now for Inagaki, I've known him as the Perry Como of kayo kyoku/J-Pop...a crooner of City Pop/J-AOR laid-back melodies. I get cravings for Perrier when I listen to him. But "Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa" is pretty darn uptempo for him. In fact, unlike its use as a theme song for a trendy drama, I've always seen it as a go-to tune for a Xmas-based suspense-thriller set in Tokyo.
As for Yamashita's "Christmas Eve", as I mentioned in the original article for the song, this was the "I'll show you" song that the former Sugar Babe member concocted after he kept being referred to as the "Summer Song" guy. That piece of critical grit in Yamashita's oyster ended up becoming Japan's pearly equivalent of Bing's "White Christmas". And even today, it's being passed around as a commercial jingle for various companies during the Yuletide season....the most famous client being Japan Railways.
3. Kazumasa Oda - Kimi ni Merry Xmas
In the past year since I put up this beautifully bluesy ballad by Oda, I have had a couple of friends tell me with some surprise that they had never heard of this Xmas song by the former vocalist of Off Course. Better late than never, I say. And I have to say that I was surprised by their surprise. Lyrically, it's similar to the first two songs since there is that melancholy thread of loneliness going through them. But it's a wonderful ache at the same time, especially when that nighttime city saxophone blows over.
4. Yumi Matsutoya - Koibito wa Santa Claus
This is the only song on the list that is actually quite bouncy AND happy. Since I did an analogy with "Christmas Eve", I can also compare Yuming's contribution of Yuletide joy to songs like "Rockin' Around The Xmas Tree" and "Jingle Bell Rock". Every time I hear this at the start of the Xmas season, I can't help but shimmy a bit in my seat (just imagine Jello except it takes longer to settle in my case). The Santa Claus in this song steers a warp-powered sleigh and may have a girl in every chimney.
5. Ruiko Kurahashi - December 24
This is probably the one that wouldn't be known by too many people since Kurahashi never became a huge star like the others. However, "December 24" has been another must-listen J-Xmas song for me for decades. There is just something about this City Pop-flavoured tune that had always got me wondering what Xmas in Tokyo was like. Of course, this song came out in 1981, so my image of an urban Christmas was rather skewed when I finally got to see it in person for the first time at the end of 1994. Still, my love for the song hasn't abated since then.
Well, this is my Christmas list and it's made for a good practice run for my own 80s list on the way in the next number of days.