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, May 4, 2014

Junko Hirotani -- Michi/Kagirinai Sora (道・限りない空)

I first found out about Junko Hirotani (広谷順子)after leafing through a copy of "Nihon no Josei Singer-Songwriters" (thanks most kindly, JTM) and coming across her 1980 2nd album, "Blendy" (I did enjoy drinking its iced coffee namesake years later during the torrid summers in Tokyo). So I heard a few of her tracks from the album on YouTube and enjoyed them as light pleasant pop.

Then, I went all the way back to her debut single, "Michi" (The Road) which came out in February 1979, along with the Side B song, "Kagirinai Sora" (The Limitless Sky). For a cool and sunny Sunday like today, these two fit the bill rather nicely. There's a countryside freshness to "Michi" that reminds me of some of the earlier stuff by Ruiko Kurahashi (倉橋ルイ子)who would make her own debut a couple of years later in 1981. As for "Kagirinai Sora", there seems to be a bit of early Taeko Ohnuki (大貫妙子)in that melody. Unfortunately, I don't know who created the B-side, but Michio Yamagami and Kunihiko Murai (山上路夫・村井邦彦)were responsible for "Michi" according to the notes for the YouTube video. The single was also a tribute to 1979's International Year of the Child.

From the time that she was 3 years old to her high school days, Hirotani had been playing piano, but then decided to start up her own band with which a lot of The Carpenters' discography was used as performance material. In June 1976, she won the Grand Prize and a prize in composing at the Inter-College Original Song Contest, and in the following month, she signed a contract with Alfa Music, the same company that later signed up the Yellow Magic Orchestra and Circus.

As a solo performer, she has released 6 albums and 3 singles, but has mainly been busy as a composer and backing vocalist for a number of other singers such as Wink, SMAP and Akina Nakamori(中森明菜).

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