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.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Kanako Wada -- Golden Best

I've already written a number of articles on a couple of albums and a number of singles by Kanako Wada(和田加奈子), so allow me to summarize my history with her. I first came across her debut album, "Tenderness", just by chance at that old Chinatown music store, Wah Yueh, during my university years, listened to it, and thought it a bit middling so it just went into onto the rack for several years. Then during my Gunma years, I re-discovered her via a soup pasta commercial in which she provided a pretty fun tune, "Dreamin' Lady" which got me to buy one of her later albums, "dear". Having found a new appreciation for Wada, I started tracking down some more of her albums.

But then after starting my life in Ichikawa, Chiba, the Wada file dried up. Whenever I went into a Tower Records or an HMV, there was nada of Wada....yada. Basically, looking into the 「わ」section of those stores was more an exercise in wishful futility for many years, sad to say. However in 2007, I was once traipsing through the massive Tower Records flagship in Shibuya and decided to make another foray into the 「わ」section, when all of a sudden, angelic choruses started crying "Hallelujah" and a glowing flash of light attracted me to an album labeled "Kanako Wada -- Golden Best". Hallelujah, indeed. It was the only copy there so my next action was pretty obvious.

In any case, here are the tracks for this 2006 album:

1. Ano Sora wo Dakishimete          (あの空を抱きしめて)
2. Futashika na I Love You   (不確かな I Love You)
3. Tori no yo ni                                (鳥のように)
4. Natsu no Mirage      (夏のミラージュ)
5. Kanashii Heart wa Moeteiru (悲しいハートは燃えている)
6. Jenina          (ジェニーナ)
7. Mou Hitotsu no Yesterday  (もうひとつのイエスタデイ)
8. Salvia no Hana no yo ni   (サルビアの花のように)
9. Wake Up Dream
10. Heart de Furimuite    (Heartでふりむいて)
11. Dreamin' Lady
12. Lucky Love
13. Tanjoubi wa Minus 1   (誕生日はマイナス1)
14. Creation My Heart    (クリエイション・マイ・ハート)
15. Boy
16. Passing Through     (パッシング・スルー)
17. Yakusoku no Eve    (約束のイブ)

From the BEST album, it was about half & half as to which songs I was already familiar with and which songs were new....which was great. I could happily enjoy my old favourites and discover some new ones. For the latter, "Futashika na I Love You" (An Uncertain 'I Love You') was definitely a nice find. There was that gap between that "Tenderness" LP from 1986 and 1989's "dear" in which Wada had become well-known for her contributions to the soundtracks for one of the most popular anime of the 80s, "Kimagure Orange Road" for which Track 2 of her BEST was one of them. It stands as an example how a theme for an anime could also stand on its own as a tender-hearted love ballad. The song was originally part of her 4th album, "Kana" from 1987, and was created by Yoshiko Miura and Yasuhiro Mizushima(三浦徳子・水島康宏).

As with that last song, her "Kanashii Heart wa Moeteiru" (The Sad Heart is Burning) is arguably an even more famous song associated with "KOR" and also has that bit of a Latin twist, although this is a whole lot more uptempo, and perhaps even a bit more Eurobeat-y. As well as being one more track on "Kana", it was the singer's 5th single released in the same year. I actually borrowed this album from a friend of mine but at the time, it didn't really register with me. Ikki Matsumoto and Daisuke Inoue(松本一起・井上大輔)were behind this one.

"Heart de Furimuite" (Turn Around with your Heart) is from the last full album she made in 1990, "Dessert ni Hoshikuzu no Jelly wo"(Dessertに星くずのゼリーを...Stardust Jelly into your Dessert). It's one of my favourite tracks from that album and the BEST album, and it's reflective of the more uptempo feel of her final disc compared to the slightly more laid-back "dear". For both of those mentioned albums, I noticed that she had plumbed more of the mellower tones of her voice which served her and my ears very well. For this song itself, I like the addition of the funk and I can easily imagine the idea of a career woman strutting to the office in downtown Tokyo as I listen to it. Perhaps it could have been a theme song for one of the trendy dramas on Japanese TV back then. Wada herself was behind the lyrics with Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司)taking care of the melody. The song was also her 2nd-last single.

For fans of Kylie Minogue, Wada's 7th single from May 1988, "Lucky Love", should be instantly recognizable as a cover of Minogue's big hit, "I Should Be So Lucky". Lyricist Ren Takayanagi(高柳恋), who also provided the words for songs by Wink, Yasuhiro Abe and SMAP, wrote down the Japanese words while the famed UK producers, Stock, Aitken & Waterman, composed the original song. It was also a track on Wada's 5th album, "Vocu". I have to admit that I'm still more drawn to Wada's brassy cover than the Eurobeat original by Minogue.

For quite a while, I'd thought that "Creation My Heart" was a campaign song for the mammoth shopping/office complex of Roppongi Hills which was built in 2003. It had Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一) behind the composition and arrangement, and the whole sound of it just seemed like it was selling something epic and modern in scale. As it turned out, though, it was created way back for release in September 1986 as Wada's 3rd single. With the techno beat and the vocal effects, it's Sakamotically quirky and appealing. With lyrics by Ikki Matsumoto, it was also included on Wada's 3rd album, "esquisse" which came out in 1987.

And although I already wrote about the song elsewhere, I just had to put in the live performance video of "Dreamin' Lady", just to be sentimental.

Getting that BEST album got me inspired back onto the Wada file (instead of "yada", it was now "Yeah!, da"), and not long after, I started discovering those shops that specialized in the old and used discs. Just before I made my journey back home in late 2011, I was finally able to finish the mission of tracking down just about every Wada album (including "Kana"), except for that last 1990 mini-album, the Xmas-themed "Yakusoku no Eve" (Promised Eve). Perhaps I will get that one someday next year although I've got YouTube to tide me over until then. But basically it's been a happy ending to a long search for me when it comes to Kanako Wada.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.