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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Momoe Yamaguchi -- Kinjirareta Asobi/Papa wa Koibito (禁じられた遊び・パパは恋人)

Momoe Yamaguchi's(山口百恵)3rd single, "Kinjirareta Asobi" (Forbidden Play), was a song that I'd heard on an episode of "Sounds of Japan" that spotlighted the legendary 70s singer. At the time, I'd only known about Yamaguchi in the latter half of her career with hits such as "Imitation Gold" and "Playback Part 2", so to hear nothing of that sultrier voice in her earlier releases was a revelation to me.

What would also be a later revelation was how racy the lyrics got in some of those earlier songs. Obviously, compared to some of the stuff on albums today in the States, Momoe-chan's records wouldn't get that that "EXPLICIT LYRICS" or "NSFW" label, but for a 14-year-old wunderaidoru to sing about her naked lust for a guy back in that decade....well, I'm sure a lot of ears were pricked up.

In the earlier half of her career, it was the tandem of Kazuya Senke and Shunichi Tokura(千家和也・都倉俊一)who were taking care of those hits, including "Kinjirareta Asobi". Here are a couple of examples of the lyrics from the beginning and the middle of the song:

Kowakunai, kowakunai    恐くない、恐くない
Anata to dattara nandemo dekiru あなたとだったら、何でも出来る

I'm not scared, I'm not scared
If it's you, I can do anything.

Rousoku mitai na moeru honoo ni  ローソクみたいな燃える炎に
Watashi no karada wa atsuku naru 私の躰は熱くなる

My body gets hot
in the burning flame like a candle.

Well, yowza! I never would have thought to compare Yamaguchi with Britney Spears or Katy Perry but there you are. Torrid lyrics aside, though, I really like the opening to "Kinjirareta Asobi" with the explosive horns and the chorus' rendition of that first line before Momoe's declaration to her man in the second. I think it's that repeated call-and-back throughout that distinguishes it, and especially with that breathy girlish way the chorus delivers that first line, before Momoe puts her strong stamp on matters.

(cover version)

The song was released in November 1973 and got all the way up to No. 12 on Oricon before becoming the 77th-ranked song of 1974.

On the B-side, to balance things out with the hot and sweaty A-side, is "Papa wa Koibito" (Papa is My Lover), a cute innocent duet between Yamaguchi and the late actor Ken Utsui(宇津井健). Both starred in the TBS drama, "Kao de Waratte"(顔で笑って...Laugh With Your Face)as a father and daughter, and the song was also created by Senke and Togura as the theme song for the show. Unlike "Kinjirareta Asobi", "Papa wa Koibito" simply has all the threat of a "Sazae-san" episode, and I could imagine Yamaguchi and Utsui in character doing a corny little softshoe at the neighbourhood talent show at the community centre. Perhaps more prudish listeners sighed with some relief.

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