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.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kenji Hayashida/SMAP -- Aoi Inazuma (青いイナズマ)

Well, I feel kind of awkward writing about two boy band songs in a row (I wrote about ARASHI's [嵐] "Everything" a couple of days ago), but whatever... Let's just have fun with the songs.

I had my first contact with "Aoi Inazuma" through a compilation of classic J-Pop dance songs called "DISCO FINE J -SUPER J-POP DANCE HIT TRAX-", which was released in 2004. It was the same compilation that introduced me to Wink's "Ai ga Tomaranai ~Turn It Into Love~" (愛が止まらない) and featured some interesting songs like access's "NAKED DESIRE", Chisato Moritaka's (森高千里) version of "17-sai" (17才) and Hidemi Ishikawa's (石川秀美) "Everynight", to name a few. At the time,my knowledge of 80s aidoru and J-eurodance songs was restricted to Chisato Moritaka and Miho Nakayama (中山美穂), so it was great to meet some more oldies as well.

Back to "Aoi Inazuma", the version featured in the aforementioned compilation and placed above is the original one, sang by Kenji Hayashida (林田健司), which was released as a single in April 1994. Composed as an infectious disco-pop song, "Aoi Inazuma" features a catchy chorus with a bouncy synth work between some sentences. The song was later covered by Johnny's golden boy band SMAP, a group of five (originally six) young men that was quickly becoming one of the nations top acts during the mid 90s. Their version of "Aoi Inazuma", which was released in July 1996, was their best selling single at the time, with 807,210 copies sold, but that's kind of comprehensible as the group was in a very noticeable ascension. At the end, SMAP's version was not so different from the original one, with the only remarkable difference being the change of vocals, of course. About the vocals, it's interesting to notice that only KimuTaku (木村拓哉) and Goro Inagaki (草彅剛) did solo lines, basically because they were the only two that could sing in the group (not that they were great, but Shingo Katori [香取慎吾] and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi [草彅剛] were very weak in comparison. As for Nakai Masahiro [中居正広]... well, Nakai can't sing. Period). Also, I remember that when SMAP sang "Aoi Inazuma" on Music Station (ミュージックステーション), they were wearing a blue combination of trousers and opened shirts, which, of course, can be seen as a cheap way of showcasing some kind of sex appeal to the fangirls. I can't think of ARASHI doing the same nowadays. Here's SMAP's version of "Aoi Inazuma".

"Aoi Inazuma" reached #1 on the Oricon charts and ended the year as the 28th best selling single. Lyrics were written by Hiromi Mori (森浩美), while music was composed by Kenji Hayashida. As for the arrangement, CHOKKAKU was the responsible.

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