Tonight, my family and I caught the 46th annual "Omoide no Melody"（思い出のメロディー...The Melodies of Your Memories）special on NHK. It's been a televised tradition since 1969 and it has been called the Summer Kohaku Utagassen since it is shown in August. The pomp and circumstance is slightly more toned down and there's a lot more emphasis on the fact that the songs sung on the program are through viewer requests, but the key point here is that the entries here are all absolutely natsumero. I think the most recent song performed tonight was dated 1974.
Anyways, I was able to hear a lot of stuff that I can talk about in the days to come on the blog. A few of them have already been profiled, but there were also other songs that jogged my dormant brain cells and others that I have heard but never knew what the title was or who sang it originally.
One example was "Aoi Sanmyaku" (Blue Mountain Range) which was actually at the very end of the broadcast when everyone came out to do the sendoff singalong. I had heard it many times but the title and the singer were mysteries until now. "Aoi Sanmyaku" originated in 1949 as the theme song for the movie of the same name. The movie itself has been re-done a number of times over the decades. As for the famous theme, it was written by Yaso Saijo （西條八十）and composed by Ryoichi Hattori（服部良一）who had also created another evergreen kayo kyoku, "Tokyo Boogie Woogie". The original singer was Ichiro Fujiyama （藤山一郎）who I felt gave a heartfelt but surprisingly laid-back version compared to the jauntier performances that I have been accustomed to whenever the song is sung.
The above clip is a scene from the movie along with a choral rendering of the theme song.
As I've said, "Aoi Sanmyaku" has been covered thousands of times, and perhaps I'm underestimating myself even with that figure. Even AKB 48 has given their version.
And to take things further into the 21st century, even the vocaloids have gotten into the act. In any case, "Aoi Sanmyaku" is just one of those kayo that everyone can clap and get into.
June 20, 2017: You can even hear a disco orchestra version of the song here.