I remember the early days of Tomomi Kahala（華原朋美）in the mid-90s. As another new member in the Tetsuya Komuro（小室哲也）family, the titles of her first 3 singles read like mantras at a self-help clinic: "Keep Yourself Alive", "I Believe" and "I'm Proud". The first two songs I know just from the commercials and the video excerpts: with "Keep Yourself Alive", it was Kahala in all sorts of heavy sci-fi-ish makeup, and then with "I Believe" it was her performing in front of what looked like a CG barren winterscape.
With "I'm Proud" though....well, as Leonardo DiCaprio said in Quentino Tarentino's "Django Unchained" last year, "....you had my curiosity, now you have my attention." (Never thought I would have Tomomi and Leonardo in the same article.)
The song, written and composed by J-Svengali Komuro, is this heroic-sounding anthem done to an old-time disco beat and a little girl's voice. I could almost imagine Kahala coming out in a Wonder Woman outfit...and knowing her other job as a tarento, she probably did at one point or another. I just wanted to look up at the sky and beam with "I'm Proud". But I think what also helped send Kahala's 3rd single over the top was the sepia-toned video with the two TKs on the top of a Los Angeles skyscraper at 1100 Wilshire, and of course, the helicopter....that must've taken some serious yen. I'm not sure if anything like that had ever happened in a Japanese music video.
"I'm Proud" was released in March 1996. It was Kahala's most successful single, selling over 1.3 million copies (outselling even Namie Amuro's singles for that year), peaking at No. 2 on the Oricon weeklies and eventually becoming the 8th-ranked single of the year. It also earned a Japan Record Award and an invitation to that year's Kohaku Utagassen. But perhaps the greatest recognition by the listening masses was its No. 1 ranking of the year on the Oricon Karaoke chart. The single was also included on her debut album, "Love Brace" which came out in June of the same year. It hit No. 1 on the weeklies and was the 9th-ranked album for 1996.
As for Kahala herself, she was born as Tomomi Shimogawara（下河原朋美） in either Koto Ward, Tokyo (according to Wikipedia) or Urayasu City (according to J-Wiki) in Chiba Prefecture (in either case, pretty darn close to my old neck of the woods in Ichikawa City where the Tozai Line was concerned). She was a huge fan of Miho Nakayama（中山美穂）and wanted to make her own mark in show business, and despite parental opposition, she started out appearing as an assistant on TV programs and as a magazine model. She was spotted on one such show by her future producer and paramour, and the rest was history. Since then, she has had her share of ups and downs, including the professional and personal breakup with Komuro, but has been in the midst of a comeback from last year with her 27th single, "I Dreamed A Dream" being released in March 2013.
|Tomomi Kahala -- I'm Proud|