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, January 20, 2015

Hiromi Iwasaki -- Matenrou (摩天楼)

According to the J-Wiki article on "Matenrou", the song is still classified as an aidoru tune for Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美), although I think her age (nearing 22 at the time), looks, gorgeous vocals and the arrangement of the song belie that status. Mind you, Momoe Yamaguchi's(山口百恵)latter hits were still considered aidoru despite her deeper voice and the maturity of the lyrics but then again, the 70s aidoru and the 80s aidoru were perceived quite differently.

In any case, I digress. Right from the get-go, "Matenrou" has that City Pop beat provided by composer Kingo Hamada(濱田金吾), a singer who has known his way through the metropolis in a musical sense. The guitar, keyboards and strings all work together to create that Tokyo atmosphere; in a way, the arrangement evokes some of what singer/actor Akira Terao(寺尾聡)would offer in the most Oricon-successful City Pop album, "Reflections" in 1981. And I also get a bit of early Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)rock from that guitar work.

Additionally, there is the title itself which translates as "skyscraper". And even back then, there was a fair agglomeration of the tall buildings amassing in Shinjuku threatening to poke through the cumulus of the big symbols of Big City Life in Japan. Lyrically, Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆)brings in the words of intrigue as Iwasaki trips the tongue fantastic about a woman who unfortunately and suddenly finds out that her beau isn't totally devoted to her when she hears another feminine voice coming from the heel's bathroom. Both Iwasaki's vocals and the music zip along quite urgently as if to hint at the poor young lady running away from the heartbreak that has already caught up with her.

"Matenrou" was Iwasaki's 22nd single from October 1980. It did rather modestly on the charts, getting as high as No. 22 (there is something rather eerie about how that number has popped up in this article), although of course, the Tokyo native would gain some higher Oricon success in the following years. 

In the city, I'm staring, staring, staring...


  1. I;d like to ask about a Hiromi song that I've found which seems to have a strange background. I've seen it written as そばに置い or そばにおいて, and it's included in a list of her singles, but it doesn't seem to have been released as a single, nor was it an album track, or a b side. It doesn't seem to be a cover either, but was written specifically for her. As I don't know any Japanese, I don't know anything about the song, except that it's musically beautiful. Here are a couple of performances of the song. The first one looks like around 2000 or early 2000s, while the second is from a 1996 concert.

    1. Hello there, and thanks for your question. I always like doing a bit of detective work when it comes to this blog, and I gotta say that is one lovely song even considering Hiromi's grand body of work.

      "Soba ni Oite" (Put It To The Side) is a rare animal in that it was only included on a BEST compilation of her work from 1984 titled "Dal Segno" (ダル・セーニョ). However, recently it has been included as a bonus track on a 2007 re-mastering of a 1984 original album, "I Won't Break Your Heart" and I also found it on her 1995 "Complete Singles". In fact, you can hear the original version here:

      Good choice!

  2. I'd like to ask about a couple of other Hiromi song titles,

    Song 1 is from the same 1981 album as Matenrou, titled Salvia. I'd have thought it was more single-like, and it's easy to imagine a 70s Hiromi singing it in the studio. The song is at the end of the second link, after she jumps around to "Hot Stuff".


    Song 2 is from the 1977 album "With Best Friends", which has the singles "Dream" and "Omoide no Ki no Shita de". She evidently finds the lyrics affecting, as she tears up whilst singing it live in the second link.


    1. Thanks for introducing "Kon'ya Dake wa" and "Papa ni Somuite". I had never heard them before which presses the point home that no matter how long I've been a kayo kyoku fan, I will always be surprised by something new.

      As usual, Hiromi's pipes do a grand job with the material. "Kon'ya Dake wa" definitely has that sunny 70s vibe but that keyboard melody underpinning the song has got that 80s AOR/City Pop feel to it as well.

      As for "Papa ni Somuite", the song was another collaboration from the legendary Yu Aku and Takashi Miki. I'm not surprised that Hiromi teared up a bit since although the lyrics relate a daughter defiantly disobeying her father regarding a romance, the singer adds a bit more regret to her decision.

      Speaking of hidden Hiromi hits, I really like "The Man" from her 1978 album, "Hatachi Mae": Love the horns in there.


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