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.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rie Hatada -- Terminal (ターミナル)

Having listened to aidoru throughout the 80s, I've come to a couple of opinions. One is that the really early 80s aidoru tunes up to about 1983 often had that innocent country girl-in-the-summer arrangement whereas the later 80s examples incorporated some more worldliness in the music while still maintaining that usual aidoru-ness. I once borrowed a mix tape of aidoru songs from an acquaintance and I'm still occasionally kicking myself in the keester since I didn't really keep a good memory of what I listened to. The only tracks I can remember involved Sonoko Kawai(河合その子)and Sayuri Kokusho(国生さゆり), but what I do remember about the songs themselves is that the lot of them had that attractive worldliness I've just mentioned (yes, I am aware that I am talking about aidoru, not timeless classics here).

Case in point: I was just doing my random little walk through YouTube and found a few Tomoko Aran(亜蘭知子) tunes. I have covered a few of her songs as she tackled some of that City Pop but she's probably much more famous as the lyricist for TUBE's big early hits such as "Summer Dream".

Still, I found out that she also provided the words to this song, "Terminal" which was the 2nd single by aidoru Rie Hatada(畠田理恵). After listening to it, I realized that this was another interesting little gem illustrating some of that worldly late 80s aidoru music, and it was special especially since it involved an aidoru who hadn't been connected to Onyanko Club (Kawai and Kokusho were members).

The Osaka-born-and-raised Hatada was scouted by entertainment promotion company Big Apple in 1986 after she had entered and done well in a couple of magazine-sponsored beauty contests. She promptly dropped out of high school and took that train to Tokyo to start her career, initially appearing as a variety show tarento program on TBS titled "Momoco Club"(モモコクラブ)sponsored by the female aidoru magazine "Momoco".

Then in 1987, she debuted as an aidoru in March with "Koko dake no Hanashi -- Ofureko"(ここだけの話 〜オフレコ〜...A Secret - Off The Record)which peaked at a respectable No. 13. "Terminal", which would turn out to be her most successful record, was released three months later and went as high as No. 12. I was drawn to the combination of the typical aidoru beat and that Latin infusion although Hatada's vocals weren't exactly remarkable. Latin fusion musician and composer Naoya Matsuoka (松岡直也)was responsible for the music and if the last few bars of "Terminal" sound somewhat familiar, it might be because they also popped up in the last several seconds of a more successful Latin-spiced song, "Meu Amor e" by Akina Nakamori(中森明菜). And guess who was responsible for weaving that classic?

Speaking of Nakamori, up until her 4th single in 1988, Hatada had been being groomed to emulate Akina's style but from that point onwards, the powers-that-be decided that she would take on a more coquettish Momoko Kikuchi(菊池桃子)brand.

As I said Rie Hatada wasn't exactly the best singer, but, hey, it's the overall effect of aidoru vocals, music and nostalgia that had me enjoying "Terminal". She released 8 singles and 2 original albums in total between 1987 and 1993. Also, she appeared as an actress during that same period before retiring from the industry in 1996 after marrying shogi champion, Yoshiharu Habu(羽生善治).

Ueno Station


  1. Hi, J-Canuck.

    Rie Harada is a new one for me, and I like her vocals a lot in this serious Latin tune called "Terminal".

    About your opinions on aidoru, I endorse them... I always thought that from 1980 until 1983~84, the Seiko Matsuda style was the norm. After that, more edgy aidoru like Miporin or Minako Honda, for example, were "born".

    Like you said, Japanese aidoru singers, during the mid-80s, embraced more "world sounds". Nowadays, on the other hand, I see the mainstream aidoru scene as a very "Japanese" thing (if something like that exists at all while talking about J-Pop), with few direct Western influences. So, if during the 80s we had examples like Naoko Kawai recording with AOR's names like Peter Cetera and David Foster, Minako Honda working with Queen's Brian May and a music staff related to Janet Jackson, Mari Hamada recording with famous American guitarist and session musician/producer Michael Landau, Eurobeat as an imported genre, and even City Pop as a mixture of Western sounds, nowadays we see an aidoru boom focused in crazy sounds and gimmicks. In a simple way, what I'm trying to say is that listening to 80s Japanese music is a more normal experience to Western ears (besides the language, of course) than listening to what Japan has been producing in the last five years, for example.

    I wonder how much of this is related, in the first case, to Japan's glorious enocomic status during the 80s and, secondly, to its now stagnant economy, plus what people call Japan's Galápagos Syndrome.

    Well, it's something I need to think more, but I'd be glad to hear more from you on the topic, J-Canuck.

    1. Hi, Marcos.

      Yeah, I've always enjoyed through the blog coming across someone that I'd never heard before and then liking the material. I think City Pop and aidoru from the 80s are still very unexplored territories for me in that respect.

      Good point about Seiko Matsuda in your 2nd paragraph, She seems to have been the flagbearer when it came to what a typical aidoru would look like back in the early part of the decade. It would have been interesting to wonder what would have happened if Seiko HADN'T taken that respite in the mid-80s to start raising a family. Perhaps the second wave of 80s aidoru would have come regardless but would have done so at a slower pace.

      There was a definite borrowing of Western pop influences and influential people during the 80s. A lot of aidoru and other female pop singers (from Seiko to Akina to Anri) wanted to get that West Coast/pop-rock MTV-friendly sound...Naoko Kawai's "9.5" especially comes to mind. I think the resulting music may have indeed reflected and/or boosted the tourism economy (that image of the airplane flying to exotic climes is a representative one for City Pop), and that is one part of the overall economy that showed how big and affluent the Japanese were getting.

      Currently, it seems that the current crop of aidoru is quite Japanese in that it's embracing "moe", although particular songs such as AKB48's "Koi no Fortune Cookie" have that old 70s disco feeling. I'm sure that part of the allure for fans outside of Japan is that the music sounds very "exotic" to their ears. Perhaps if those same people heard 80s City Pop, they may react with some surprise (disdain?) at how much it sounded like their parents' music. :)

    2. Hi, J-Canuck.

      Thanks for your insights on this topic.

      About Seiko, you talked about the time she left for raising a family. Maybe you can clarify this to me. Besides that, I don't know how much power this fact alone had at the time. On the other hand, we surely had other things happening, like the massive Eurobeat imports that started coming mainly from Italy (Italo Disco) and England (Stock Aitken Waterman acts) around 1986 (the first Eurobeat compilation series, called “That’s Eurobeat”, started in 1986), which may have helped changing the whole aidoru aesthetics (that’s only one example).

      As for Western influences, Naoko's "9.5" album is surely a good example (she had at least two more albums with this West Coast/AOR sound, "Summer Delicacy" and "Daydream Coast", both released in 1984). As I said in the "Love Letter" post, I've been watching a lot of Naoko's live concerts recently, and one thing that quicky grabbed my attention was that in her mid-80s (her 1984 and 1985 concerts, more precisely), she divided her concerts in two main parts, one dedicated to her West Coast/AOR songs, which she were releasing mainly through the albums, and other part dedicated to her aidoru hit singles. So, after listening to these two different facets of Naoko Kawai in one concert you can easily see the diference between the more Western sound and a more Japanese (aidoru-styled) tune.

      Even her attitude and clothes while singing were different. In the West Coast/AOR part, she appeared wearing a classy, shining, and almost short, black dress (a typical dress an elegant woman can wear for going out late in the night) to sing two duets with Nobu Takahashi (who was also classy dressed in a suit), while in the aidoru part her clothes were totally wacky and playful. What became obvious to me was the fact that Naoko’s West Coast/AOR performance had no trace of Japanese culture at all, besides the fact she was a Japanese young woman. Maybe at this time, Japan’s major economic growth, which resulted in the world’s admiration towards Japan’s “new” reality, was an importante factor in favour of a more “global” sound. At the same time, there was the whole aidoru paradox, a very Japanese thing that is still very hard for Western eyes to buy. In the end, the experience was truly educational for me.

      As for today’s aidoru artists, I also think that this full embrace of “moe” is something purposedy done to maximize physical music sales. Thanks mostly to the AKB48 business, the industry understood that the only way to sell CDs is promoting aidoru music (with all the secondary things like handshake events, special photos, and every merchandise you can actually think, in the baggage) and aiming them at otaku audiences. In a negative economic scenary, like the one Japan is facing in a while, plus the fear of losing more and more buyers, the aidoru industry strategically bloomed in favour of this more “exotic” sound.

    3. Hi, Marcos.

      It's hard to imagine back in those days when the Internet didn't exist among the masses, but somehow even though I was living in Toronto, I was still able to glean some information about Seiko's life and career in the early 80s, most likely via my mother's magazines and the rental videos.

      My impression was that Seiko was seen as the Queen Aidoru of the first half of the 80s, and as such, anything about her was pretty much fair game in the media. I knew that she had been dating Hiromi Go for what seemed like such a long time that rumours of marriage were very strong. However, there was a very public announcement of her breakup (with tons of tears) and then a very quick announcement of engagement to actor Masaki Kanda to lead to the so-called "Wedding of the Century".

      Needless to say, media coverage was overwhelming. Just from seeing and reading about all that, I got the impression that Seiko was quite the headline-grabber and perhaps trendsetter for the aidoru genre (I recollect in one magazine an article which displayed every hairstyle that Seiko had between 1979 and 1985!). I think even being away for that one year to start raising Sayaka made me wonder if that absence could have given the powers-that-be behind the aidorus some thoughts about perhaps changing things a bit. Then again, the last (her 22nd) single she released before going on maternity leave was more in the Western dance-pop mode, so perhaps the changes were already beginning.

      I would be interested in getting "Daydream Coast" since I heard that the album was in the same genre as "9.5". There is quite the difference in sound between her work on that album and those bubbly early singles. I also noticed the change in dress as well. The cover of "9.5" had her in just a simple sleeveless T-shirt...quite the world away from my image of her in those puffy chiffon dresses...mind you, I think she was somewhere in Arizona or Nevada during the photo shoot; she probably would have broiled in that chiffon dress. :)

      I'm not sure whether the music industry was intentionally doing so, but the whole thing about AOR/City Pop/Resort Pop seemed to play very well for the tourist industry. Imagine Anri and Naoko singing in the States in a distinctively West Coast style just like their American counterparts....perhaps listeners might have wanted to reserve their air tickets.

      Oh, I'm pretty sure that "moe" has been seen as very monetizing for various aspects, including music and tourism. I saw my fair share of French people in Akihabara searching for various stores like Animate. It's been interesting how CDs have still hung around compared to the United States which seems to have embraced downloading. Perhaps that hanging around may just be by fingertips, mind you, but the Tower Records chain is still doing well. That need to keep the CDs going might explain the reason behind the large amount of remastering CDs for albums from the 70s and 80s.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.