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.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Shojotai -- Motto Charleston (もっとチャールストン)

I used to know the aidoru group, Shojotai(少女隊), mostly through the pages of the teen aidoru magazines such as "Heibon" and "Myojo" back in the 1980s. However, there was one song of theirs that got onto one of those compilation tapes that I had bought in Chinatown.

First, a bit of background on Shojotai through the auspices of J-Wiki. Through auditions held in 1983, three girls were selected by the names of Miho, Reiko and Chiiko(ミホ・レイコ・チーコ), with their debut single, "Forever - Gingham Check Story" coming out in August 1984. Apparently for that song and their first album, "Shojotaiphoon", the powers-that-be for the girls went sky-high on the money and All-American for the production values. Shunichi Tokura(都倉俊一), one of the masterminds behind the songs for Pink Lady and Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵) back in the previous decade, was the first producer, some of America's top-flight studio musicians were brought into the mix with the recordings done in Los Angeles, and a video and photobook were also produced for the occasion. But as they say about the best-laid plans, Shojotai didn't take off. And over the next several months, a planned commercial for a candy company starring the girls was heavily delayed due to a mysterious poisoning case involving the confectionary industry, Chiiko decided to leave the group, Reiko was injured and a number of their TV appearances were cancelled.

It was a rather sad state of affairs until Yasushi Akimoto(秋元康) came into the picture in early 1985, and a member to replace Chiiko was selected by the name of Tomo(トモ). Suddenly, their 3rd and 5th singles started making inroads onto the charts (at least, those on the music shows "The Best 10" and "The Top 10") and their popularity started rising to the point that by 1986, concerts were taking place not only domestically but in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. This story would've made for a fine comeback drama series.

The song that got onto my compilation tape was "Motto Charleston" (More Charleston) which was their 7th single from March 1986. It was written by Akimoto and composed by Yasushi Maeda (前田保...I hope I've gotten the first name right). I don't think Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller need to fear any encroachment on their territory (although they might roll over a bit in their graves), but the song is a cute aidoru approach to some early jazz through synths. And perhaps Akimoto's current charges in AKB48 may give (or might already have given) this a shot on the concert circuit. Unfortunately, I couldn't find out how successful in terms of the rankings "Motto Charleston" got.

Shojotai released 14 singles before their initial breakup in 1989 and then a 15th came out 10 years later when Reiko, Chiiko and Tomo got back together as 1999 Shojotai. Miho was also in there at the beginning of the reunion but had to pull out due to a baby on the way. As of now, it seems that Reiko has had the most recent action in showbiz as an actress and voice actress under her real name of Reiko Yasuhara(安原麗子).

Shojotai in the pages of Myojo

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