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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Junko Akimoto -- Ai Kagi (愛鍵)

I was watching the latest episode of "Kayo Concert"(歌謡コンサート)tonight, and as usual, the last three singers sang their latest releases. The second up to bat was Junko Akimoto (秋元順子)with "Ai Kagi" (Key of Love) which was released just a couple of months ago in June 2014 as her 10th single.

I've enjoyed examples from the various shades of enka over the years. For example, there is the manly-man enka such as Saburo Kitajima's (北島三郎)hearty "Yosaku"(与作)and there is the enka that represented a certain geographical area in Japan like the sultry "Isesakicho Blues"(伊勢崎町ブルース)by Mina Aoe(青江三奈). And there is the enka that contains a certain exotic musical element that has been called European Enka. I've often associated Teresa Teng (テレサテン)with that sub-genre, but I can also include "Ai Kagi" by Akimoto now. It has some of that Latin and French flavour mixed in which I like sometimes with my traditional Japanese music, and the Tokyo native has some fine vocals to match. Makoto Kitajo(喜多條忠)was the lyricist while Yuhei Hanaoka(花岡優平)composed the music.

Junko Akimoto is someone that I've seen often on "Kayo Concert" and some of the seasonal specials, so I had assumed that she was around for years and years. Actually, she made her debut as an enka singer at the age of 57 in 2005. In her younger years after graduating from high school, she was in a Hawaiian band while working at an oil company before becoming a housewife and helping manage her family's flower shop. Then at the age of 40, she and her old bandmates decided to start up the band again, before making her major debut several years later with "Madison-gun no Koi"(マディソン郡の恋...Love of Madison County). In 2008 and 2009, Akimoto appeared at the Kohaku Utagassen, becoming at the age of 61, the oldest member of the Red Team to ever debut at the New Year's Eve special.

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