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, July 17, 2014

Akina Nakamori -- Asylum (アサイラム)

(cover version)

First off, Happy Belated 49th Birthday to Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)! Hopefully, she enjoyed a fine weekend with friends and family on her special day.

I decided to go with a non-single single today. "Asylum" is the first track on Akina-chan's 5th studio album (6th overall), "Anniversary" from May 1984, and was titled that way since it was released on the second anniversary of her debut. The album also has her 7th official single, the soaring "Kita Wing"(北ウィング), which I already talked about in a past article.

"Anniversary" was an album that I bought on CD just a little while after I'd borrowed a VHS tape centering on the album's tracks with Akina providing a travelogue as she visited places like Paris, France. Along with "Kita Wing", another song that I was drawn to was the first track, "Asylum". Having a distinctive Caribbean beat, the singer also had an interesting whispery yet slightly staccato approach to her delivery. I was surprised to find out that the melody was provided by Koji Tamaki (玉置浩二)of Anzen Chitai(安全地帯); not that I didn't think he was capable but I've always imagined him as the voice of moody kayo pop/rock and soaring ballads at the time. The lyrics by Yoshiko Miura (三浦徳子)had me thinking of Anri's (杏里)"Omoikiri American" (思い切りアメリカン)since both songs depict their respective protagonists sending good ol' fashioned pen-&-paper mail back home about their time in exotic climes. "Omoikiri American" has Anri in sunny California while Akina is off somewhere pretty sandy with "Asylum".

In a way, my impression of "Asylum" was that of a melodic crossroads for Akina. There is that aidoru side to the song but the arrangements also make it sound that the singer was ready for something bigger with more interesting pop hooks. As for the album itself, it hit No. 1 on Oricon for 3 consecutive weeks and ended the year as the 13th-ranked LP.


  1. Hi, J-Canuck.

    "Asylum" is one of my favorites from Akina. Athough I'm not a fan of reggae music, I just couldn't resist this magical piece from her discography. Also, even though she was maturing it, her voice was beautiful at the time. I know she performed "Asylum" in her 1991 special concert, but, unfortunatey, it wasn't televised or released in video. It's a pity.

    I don't know if you're aware, but Akina is finally making a comeback. She recorded two kayo kyoku covers and a brand new song, which is called "Sweet Rain". These songs are going to be included in her new compilation albums next month. I just hope she records more new material and doesn't vanish away for the next five years.

    1. Hi, Marcos.

      Yeah, "Asylum" has been one of those non-singles from Akina that has continued to linger on in my memory all these decades. I guess it's because it really sounds quite unique.

      I'm glad to hear that Akina is coming back. Considering that she's almost at the half-century mark, I can't really see her going at the torrid pace she was performing back in the 80s but I think if she wants to, she can still release albums every few years or so. It would be interesting if she hooks up with people like m-flo or Tomita Lab.


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