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.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Yuko Kanai/Noriko Matsumoto -- Pastel Love (パステル ラヴ)

I only found about singer-lyricist Yuko Kanai(金井夕子)by accident last night when I saw her YouTube video of "Hashire Usagi"(走れウサギ), a song that I had thought was solely in the territory of 80s avant-gardish chanteuse Miharu Koshi(コシミハル). Whereas Koshi added that extra whimsy to the proceedings with her high voice, Kanai's vocals were quite a bit huskier.

Kanai made her debut just before her 20th birthday in June 1978 with "Pastel Love" which was written and composed by Ami Ozaki(尾崎亜美). And as would befit a song by the great Ozaki, Kanai's 1st single is mellow and sunny, and rather nice to stroll in a park with while wearing those rose-coloured glasses. Although according to her article in J-Wiki, in a world of new aidoru, she never really got that hit, I think her voice was just right for me and for this ballad. It was also on her debut album, "Feeling Lady" which came out in November of that year, and is a collection of mellow tunes and City Pop. Apparently each of her four albums had a certain melodic theme in mind varying from the aforementioned two genres above to a more 80s Taeko Ohnuki-like sound which her original version of "Hashire Usagi" would represent.

I'm not sure whether Kanai is still active in the music business but supposedly she is now managing a handbag shop somewhere and is also teaching yoga.

For the longest time, I had once thought that former aidoru Noriko Matsumoto(松本典子)had been one of the members of that first big aidoru supergroup, Onyanko Club(おニャン子クラブ)in the 1980s. But she actually started out a few months before them. The Tokyo-born and Gunma-raised Matsumoto debuted in March 1985 with "Haru Iro no Air Mail"(春色のエアメール...Spring-Coloured Air Mail)which was created by City Pop princess EPO.

Virtually all of my knowledge of Matsumoto was through TV since I knew her only as a tarento acting as the giggling straightperson against the nutty comedian Ken Shimura(志村けん)on his old Monday night show on Fuji-TV (yup, years before "Hey Hey Hey Music Champ"). On the B-side of her 7th single, she did a somewhat more tropical and twinkly cover version of Kanai's "Pastel Love". She didn't exactly impress me in that video above but the original recording below is a bit easier on the ears. Strangely enough, that A-side was actually her cover of the Kim Wilde hit, "Keep Me Hangin' On" from April 1987.

As I mentioned, Matsumoto was a regular on "Shimura Ken no Daijoubu da"(志村けんのだいじょうぶだ...Ken Shimura's It's OK)on Monday nights. One of the usual segments involved her being the good daughter calmly putting up with her zany and argumentative parents played by Shimura and Masashi Tashiro(田代まさし), former member of doo-wop group, Rats & Star. That was my go-to program at the beginning of my week when I was living in the mountains of Gunma.

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