Several months ago I had encountered this new Enka singer, Kouhei Fukuda (福田こうへい). While I'm now more excepting of this fellow after being exposed to the genre's veterans like Hideo Murata (村田英雄) in the months that followed, bluntly speaking I did not like this guy at all at that point in time. I found his singing style difficult to listen to, especially when he sang his 2nd single, the very traditional sounding 'Toge Goe'.
However, when Fukuda had appeared on a recent episode of Kayo Concert singing the same song, I decided to have another listen to it and figure out why 'Toge Goe' has been floating up and down within the Top 20 in the En-kayo charts for the longest time - it has been more than 2 months since I've started checking the Oricon rankings for such songs, and every week I see it in there with its highest position being 1st place... and 6th place when it came to the regular Oricon charts.
Anyway, the first singer that came to mind when Fukuda opened his mouth was the late Enka-Rokyoku master, Haruo Minami (三波春夫), especially when hitting the higher notes! Hence my current appreciation for Fukuda. Some research later brought to light the reason for his powerful delivery. Turns out this Iwate native has a background in Min'yo, starting at age 23. But he only made his debut 13 years later in 2012 after emerging victorious at the 25th Japan Min'yo Festival. Hmm, no wonder his performance of Minami's 'Otone Mujou' (大利根無情) was spot on.
'Toge Goe' was written by Kyosuke Kuni (久仁京介) and composed by Akito Yomo (四方章人). This is the same duo who spawned Fukuda's debut hit 'Nanbu Semi Shigure' (南部蝉しぐれ). And the song did so well that it got awarded the Golden Disk in July for selling more than 100 000 copies - it already sold about 130 000 copies 2 weeks after its release (2nd April 2014). This guy is really on a roll here!