I heard the sad and surprising news last night about Ryuichi Sakamoto's （坂本龍一）admission that he had been diagnosed with a form of throat cancer. After all he has done for so many singers and genres such as New Music, City Pop and Techno, along with providing the Oscar-winning score for "The Last Emperor", I think he still has things to say out there.
As much as his theme for "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" has become a staple to be heard around the Yuletide in Japan, this particular song, "energy flow", quickly rose to aural ubiquity when it debuted as part of his "Ura BTTB" （ウラＢＴＴＢ）maxi-single in May 1999. I first heard "energy flow" when it was a commercial song for the Regain vitamin brand. There was the black-&-white footage of the Professor playing the piano elegantly while this soothing music came through the speakers. With the just-as-soothing announcer, the whole ad with Sakamoto just seemed to reassure people that it was OK to take it easy from the rat race once in a while. Regain had made quite the name for itself in pop culture in past years, but this time, I think Sakamoto's creation usurped the brand to become its own phenomenon. This instrumental just took over the airwaves for the next several months.
The 30 seconds that "energy flow" had on the CM gave way to a CD release which would end up selling about 1.8 million copies. It hit and stayed at No. 1 for 4 straight weeks, and was the 4th-ranked song for 1999.
Here's hoping that Sakamoto comes back hale and hearty with some more nifty ideas in the 21st century.