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, December 28, 2014

J-Canuck's Favourite Six Akina Songs

Well, according to the headlines at Mixi, NHK made this announcement at 5 p.m. JST December 28 (3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time the same day): Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)would be returning to the Kohaku Utagassen for the first time since her last appearance on the New Year's Eve special in 2002. And considering that she had been out of the geino spotlight since 2010....Christmas will be coming around once again for Akina fans (Akinans? Akirers? Akinoids?). Apparently, she won't be singing on the NHK Hall stage but will be broadcasting live from the United States, and the song will probably be her latest single to be released in January, "Rojo Tierra".

Rumours had been swirling about this possible appearance by Akina-chan, but when the producer of this year's Kohaku was being interviewed live on NHK's "Asaichi", I didn't recall hearing anything about her name, although he did mention that there were some fairly intense negotiations going on as they spoke.

I was planning to write this article in any event, but with this news coming out in the last several hours....well, it's about as good a time as any with the year growing nigh. So I give you my own favourite Akina songs. All of them have already been given their profile on the blog so I won't harangue you too long here...feel free to be harangued at the other articles when you click on the titles.

6. Ni-bun no Ichi no Shinwa (1/2の神話)1983

Along with "Shojo A"(少女A), this is the song from her early years toting that image of tough high school rebel. Right from Note 1, the Yoshiyuki Osawa-composed rocker takes off on its high-octane ride while Akina mouths off at all who dare to tsk-tsk her lifestyle. When I first listened to "Ni-bun no Ichi no Shinwa", that guitar had the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention during the bridge. The guitar pretty much leapt over that bridge!

5. Kita Wing (北ウィング)1984

When it comes to those early years, "Kita Wing" is the one favourite that will represent that time. As I mentioned in the article for the song itself, it's neither a rocker nor a ballad but a pop flight filled with thrills and uncertainty for the young lady sprinting away from all that she's known. I like both the soaring refrain and the more contemplative passages.

(karaoke version only)

4. Romantic na Yoru da wa  and 3. Kazarijanainoyo Namida wa (ロマンチックな夜だわ・飾りじゃないのよ涙は)1985/1984

The reason that I've considered "Bitter and Sweet" my favourite Akina album of all time is the one-two punch of the first two tracks. Track 2, "Romantic na Yoru da wa", is simply one of my favourite Japanese urban funk tunes, period, regardless of artist. The horns, the keyboards and Akina's vocals just seem to be working overtime, and happily so.

And of course, there is the more famous and popular Yosui Inoue-created song, "Kazarijanainoyo Namida wa" which launches "Bitter and Sweet". With that funky arrangement and Akina's delivery, I think it's the one hit that signified the singer's change from successful aidoru to pop superstar.

2. Lonely Journey (ロンリー・ジャーニー)1985

Yeah, I gotta admit that I went ga-ga over this song right from my first listen to it...and that has only been within the last couple of years. Again, like "Kita Wing", there is that feeling of racing urgency and excitement with this one. This would be one song that I would love to have heard while in a sports car bombing down on the highways of Tokyo on a Saturday night. 

I fully realize that I've chosen the B-side to the A-side of the more well-known "Meu Amore" by going with "Lonely Journey", but hey, paring things down to just 6 personal Akina hits meant that I had to let go of a lot of her other 80s stuff, not to mention the work she released into the 90s and beyond. But I digress...

1. TATTOO 1988

And this is what I'm choosing for my very favourite Akina song. She had already started going into some more eclectic fare with her albums but for her 21st single, Akina and her collaborators seemed to head back into the past for a bopping Big Band sound of the 40s filtered through some of the electronics and rock of the 80s. Those bang-bang-bangs of the synth horns are what grabbed me. And seeing her in the tight red outfit didn't hurt either.

To be frankly honest, I didn't take much time to come up with the list since if I had gone deep into my thoughts about this, I would have ended up catatonic right up until o-zoni time on January 1st coming up with my favourites. From this lady, there are many, and there is a reason that she has the 2nd-largest number of articles on this blog (next to Yuming).

There might be at least one more Akina list coming out by one of the other writers here, so stay tuned. I'm looking forward to the discussion! And of course, I'm looking forward to Akina herself in a few days. The ratings may just spike up like a stalagmite.


  1. J-Canuck, thanks for the good news. I'll certainly be searching for any Kouhaku video after New Year.

    What an interesting choice of 6. If I had to choose, Kita Wing and Kazarija nainoyo Namida wa would certainly make my top 6. I have a completely different taste than you regarding Lonely Journey. For some reason, I skip it many many times when I am listening to Akina. At the beginning, I used to skip I Missed The Shock too. But as I listened to it more and more, I came to like it quite a lot. Not for Lonely Journey though.

    1. Hey, Larry.

      Yeah, since I've got a lot of favourites that I couldn't get into the Top 6, I wanted to bring in a song that wasn't an obvious hit, so I chose "Lonely Journey" since I liked it so much. If I had left out that song, I probably would have chosen "Solitude".

    2. I'm writing a blog about my list right now upon your "implicit request" :) Ha ha ha

  2. Hi J-Canuck,

    I see you finally did your article on your Top 6 Akina songs.

    I rarely listen to Akina since I'd usually go for Matchy's "Sneaker blues", Hikaru Genji's "Starlight", or "Dakishimete TONIGHT" by the jumping jelly bean known as Toshi-chan first if I want to indulge in some high octane aidoru music. But when I do it's usually "Jikai (1984)", "Desire" or occasionally "Shojo A". But listening to what you've got here... I would say "TATTOO" is pretty good, and "Kita wing" ain't bad either.

    Wow, I can't believe Akina's going to be on the Kohaku! You and the other Akina fans must be stoked! For me, I take it as a bonus for my first ever viewing of the annual year-end competition. I can't wait to see Hiroshi Itsuki sing "Yokohama tasogare", Takashi Hosokawa, and Sayuri Ishikawa's legendary "Amagi goe" too!

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      "Jumping jelly bean" would also be my description for Toshi-chan. He was quite the active high-stepper in those day-glo clothes.

      "Desire" was definitely another consideration for me, but after juggling all those choices, it just didn't make my Top 6. Some of the others I left out reluctantly were "Liar", "Blonde" and "Fin".

      Yeah, I'm sure we Akina fans are pretty excited after so long. The Mixi Akina community was absolutely squeeing on hearing the news. It'll also be great to hear folks like Itsuki and Ishikawa sing their classics. I guess in a way, part of the show may be rather nostalgic for me. :)


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