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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Asami Kobayashi -- Ame Oto wa Chopin no Shirabe (雨音はショパンの調べ)

I think JTM or one of the other contributors wrote about Asami Kobayashi(小林麻美) and this song in an article, but for the life of me, I've forgotten which one so if any of them can set me straight, I will be happy to link up with the appropriate article. Ahhh....found it.

In any case, I've also forgotten when I first heard Asami Kobayashi's cover of "I Like Chopin" by Gazebo but at the time I hadn't known that it was a cover. All I knew was that the song with the title of "Ame Oto wa Chopin no Shirabe" (The Sound of Rain is a Chopin Melody) had quite the impact with me since it didn't at all sound like anything aidoru or enka or even Japanese, for that matter. Classical music was never my forte (no pun intended) so I can't tell you the difference between a Chopin or a Beethoven composition, but the melody had that pleasant classical feel to my ears along with some synth thrown in.

When it comes to faces of the 1980s in music, the three that come to mind are Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子) in her Seiko-chan cut, the poker faces of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and the woman who made "Ame Oto wa Chopin no Shirabe" a hit in Japan, Asami Kobayashi. It was those high cheekbones and waifish look that made her look like the live version of those really stark illustrations of 80s models. And I think it was that look that made her fit the part when it came to her vocalizing the Japanese cover version of "I Like Chopin". At the time, I didn't know anything about her past as a 70s aidoru and actress, so I just assumed that this song was simply a one-off by her, but the way she delivered the lyrics in that fragile and ennui-laden way against that introspective music was a home run out of the park. Listening to that delivery easily had me imagining Kobayashi lying on a chaise lounge in a way-too-large house while sucking back on a cigarette. The only other singer who I could relate to her is singer-actress Kaori Momoi(桃井かおり).

"Ame Oto wa Chopin no Shirabe" was actually Kobayashi's 8th single, released in April 1984. Although the original version was produced the year before in Italy with Pierluigi Giombini behind the melody and Gazebo (aka Paul Mazzolini) writing the lyrics, Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実) provided the Japanese words for the song, which would explain her own cover of it for her album "Yuming Compositions: FACES" in 2003. The Japanese cover went all the way to No. 1 on Oricon for a couple of weeks in July 1984 and became the 12th-ranked song of the year.

Below is the original version by Gazebo.

And finally, here is an old 80s commercial starring Kobayashi.

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