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, March 8, 2015

Off-Course -- Motto Chikaku ni (もっと近くに)

(karaoke version)

I took a dip into my Twitter account yesterday and just by luck, I saw one of the tweets from a J-Pop Internet radio service mention that this song was currently playing. I had never heard of "Motto Chikaku ni" (As Close As Possible), so I decided to give it a try.

Most of my knowledge of the various works by Off-Course(オフコース)are from their 70s discography of folk and ballads although there are a few that I know from their City Pop/J-AOR 80s. But when I heard "Motto Chikaku ni" midway through the song, I knew right off the bat that this must have been close to the end of their time as a band. For one thing, it's quite peppy and the arrangement is such that it could have easily been packed into an album of Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)as a soloist.

As it turns out, "Motto Chikaku ni" is Off-Course's 33rd single from May 1987, almost a year and a half before the band broke up. Oda wrote and composed the song but American songwriter Randy Goodrum also helped out with the English lyrics. And the story behind how Goodrum helped is pretty quaint and telling of the state of communication technology at the time. According to J-Wiki, things got somewhat tight in the lyric-writing and it was determined that there just wasn't enough time to send over a tape to Goodrum Stateside, so with the assistance of an international phone call from Japan, the main track was played over the phone and an explanation given to the songwriter about the lyrics and idea of the song. Several hours later, he sent over his contribution the same way. I'm not sure if Oda and Goodrum were majorly panicking at the time, but if the same thing happened today, Skype would save the day. Also not sure whether KDD or NTT got some credit as well.

The song did pretty decently on the charts, getting as high as No. 29. It was also a track on Off-Course's 12th album, "As Close As Possible" which had been released in March 1987, and peaked at No. 2. Since I'm the City Pop/AOR fan, perhaps I should take a closer look at the band's 80s output in more detail, although I think for a lot of folks, Off-Course probably had their heyday in the 70s.

As for Goodrum, well, he co-wrote a number of songs that decade on this side of the Pacific that I loved such as DeBarge's "Who's Holding Donna Now?" and Steve Perry's "Oh, Sherrie".

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