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.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Unicorn -- Yuki ga Furu Machi (雪が降る町)

I remember the band Unicorn, led by Tamio Okuda(奥田民生), during the turn from the 80s into the 90s, and my original image of them (fair or not) was that they were pretty raunchy solely because of their video for their 3rd single, "Hataraku Otoko" (働く男...Working Man)from 1990, in which naked women walked across the screen while the band played....predating by a couple of decades the uncensored version of the video for one of America's big hits from this year, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke.

However, when I think of a Unicorn song, my memory will always first go to their Xmas contribution, "Yuki ga Furu Machi" (The Town Of Snow). This came out in December 1992 as their 8th single, and was written and composed by Okuda, but I only became aware of it just several years ago when I had bought a compilation of J-Xmas tunes at HMV in Shinjuku one day.

Y'know, listening to "Yuki ga Furu Machi",  I can't help but feel that there is a bit of Phil Spector or Eiichi Ohtaki(大滝詠一) in the melody. It just has that sound from way back when. And considering that this is a rock band singing an Xmas rock song, there is also that down-home traditional message from Okuda telling listeners during the Yuletide to slow down and take it easy from all the partying and hullabaloo on the streets. Just let the snow fall and relax for a while. At the end, he even asks everyone to be well and be careful out there. He sounds like the nicest, most relatable guy singing about what every young person in the city feels during the last couple of weeks of December. And I think the official video is just so well done with Unicorn performing on a stylized Xmas-y set interspersed with Yuletide scenes.

"Yuki ga Furu Machi" did pretty well, hitting No. 8 on Oricon, but it also had another benefit in that Yosui Inoue(井上陽水) took notice of Okuda through the song and initiated this long collaboration with the lead vocalist. One of the products of this partnership was the song "Arigato".

Initially, the song started out life as something solely for the Christmas season, and Okuda himself had started creating it as Unicorn's Christmas song, but his thinking altered somewhat as the process went along. He thought if he could incorporate elements of the year-end (which he did), "Yuki ga Furu Machi" could also be played up to December 31. It is truly a Holiday-spanning love letter of a tune.

A nice LED Xmas tree in Tokyo 2009!

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