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 6, 2015

Natsuko Godai -- Hitori Zake (ひとり酒)

I've seen enka singer Natsuko Godai(伍代夏子)numerous times over the years on shows like NHK's "Kayo Concert", and I saw her today on the national broadcaster's regular half-hour documentary in which a famed singer heads over to one of the small communities in the quake-stricken Tohoku area to provide a concert for the citizens over there. The Tokyo-born singer trilled a final song which sounded quite familiar to me for some reason. It was "Hitori Zake" (Drinking for One), and the reason that it rang a musical deja vu was that it was the song that she had performed at last week's Kohaku Utagassen.

Godai was born as Terumi Nakagawa(中川輝美)in 1961, and she had actually debuted in 1982 under the stage name of Hiromi Hoshi(星ひろみ)which was switched to Yuuki Kagawa(加川有希)a few years later before changing for a very brief period to her real name and then settling on her current name in 1987 with her official debut of "Modori Gawa"(戻り川...The Returning River). "Hitori Zake" was her 7th single released in January 1994, and was composed by Hideo Mizumori(水森英夫)and written by Takashi Taka(たかたかし).

Despite the cheerful visage that Godai beams out at the audience and the happy uptempo nature, it seems that the lyrics express a lonely woman pouring herself the drinks at the local watering hole while remembering happier times with that significant other. It's not just the male customers who are crying into their sake.

(karaoke version)

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find the stats about how well "Hitori Zake" did on Oricon, but I know that it didn't place on the Top 100 for 1994. However, Godai herself has appeared on the Kohaku a total of 21 times including one stint lasting from 1990 to 2001, and then from 2006 to 2014. She has also performed "Hitori Zake" three times on the New Year's Eve special including her appearance last year.

Incidentally, her husband happens to be actor/singer Ryotaro Sugi(杉良太郎).

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