I've been a fan of Japanese popular music for over 35 years, and have managed to collect hundreds of CDs during that time. So I decided I wanted to talk about Showa Era music with like-minded fans. My particular era is the 70s and 80s (thus the "kayo kyoku"). The plus part includes a number of songs and artists from the last 20 years and even some of the early stuff. So,let's talk about New Music, aidoru, City Pop and enka. (Sorry but music163 is now dead so ignore those links.)
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, March 30, 2014
KAN -- BRACKET
“Bracket” was KAN's second single released on October 25th, 1987, the same day his second album “No-No-Yesman” dropped. I was very surprised to see that one included in Japanese City Pop, the 2011 edition at least, since KAN is not exactly the name I would associate with the genre. His sound is more akin to a casual and lighthearted side of everyday life than to the glamorous images of the beach and urban nightlife. But there were a few tracks with a bit of jazz and horns in the arrangement that compelled the reviewer to include the album in the book anyway, though I forgot what he actually wrote (and currently have no access to the book, which I left back home). “Bracket” was probably one of those. With those low notes in the verses and the jazzy feel, it gives off the image of the singer in a proper suit and a tie in place of that comical bowtie he sported in the early 90's. On the other hand, the bouncy chorus melody and that adorable scat he does around 2:20 mark still make me go “That's KAN alright.” It's a really fun song, I think, and it doesn't matter that his voice is flawed because he's a pro at livening up songs with personality.
While searching for working links of the song a couple of days ago, I came across its music video which I've been curious to watch for the longest time because of its background. You see, the year before KAN debuted in 1987, he was asked by the director Nobuhiko Obayashi (大林宣彦) to create background music for his film “The Strange Couple”, officially titled in Japan as “Nihon Junjouden Okashi na Futari Monokuru-hoshiki Hitobito no Mure” (日本殉情伝 おかしなふたり ものくるほしきひとびとの群) that was still in the making to be released in 1988. Obayashi returned the favor by directing the music video for “Bracket”. I don't even know how the two met or how a total freshman like KAN got such an assignment as his first recording work, but according to a magazine account that I can no longer track down, Obayashi thought his light poppy sound with a hidden edge was a perfect fit for his film. For those of you familiar with the director's work like “House” and “Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo”, you'll know that he loves surreal and dreamy visuals and uses them to the max in the “Bracket” video. The set and the concept are pretty simple, but the editing makes it a quirky little clip, which has even got film-like opening and credit sequences. The 25-year old KAN looks like his usual casual self there, making silly faces and playing the piano. The female actress is Aura Lani (オーラ・ラニ), and she has appeared in minor roles in some of Obayashi's films such as his adaptation of “The Drifting Classroom”. Lastly, the credit sequence features an excerpt from another “No-No-Yesman” track, the lovely ballad “All I Know”.