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.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spitz -- Robinson

Well, it was over a couple of years ago that I wrote down my first article on my favourite song by the band Spitz, "Cherry". In it, I did mention my first introduction to Masamune Kusano's(草野正宗) group via their earlier single, "Robinson", but it wasn't until today that I finally decided to write about this one.

The reason was that I only kept seeing the excerpt of the monochrome music video on CDTV and did nothing about it, and it kept getting shown over and over again over the weeks and months. I should have picked up on that hint but ended up falling for their later food-based hits such as "Cherry" and "Hachimitsu"(ハチミツ). And that was a shame, since I finally got to hear the full version tonight.

Some days ago, I came across a topic on one of the Mixi communities and the title posed the question: "Is there a song that you didn't like initially but you have come to love later in life?" Now I never disliked "Robinson"...just never attempted to get to know it better. However, after listening to that cascading opening and then hearing Kusano's riff on falling head-over-heels in love with that bicycle-riding woman, I've seen the light. And I have to admit that there is a bit of nostalgia in my revelation as well since it's now been 2 decades and at my age, there is now less discovery and more re-discovery and re-appreciation of the music of yesteryear.

And what do you know? Reading the fairly packed J-Wiki article on "Robinson", I found out that even songwriter Kusano himself didn't think too much of his first. When Spitz was discussing about which song to put out as their 11th single, the band was stuck between choosing "Robinson" and "Ore no Subete"(俺のすべて...My All). While they ultimately went with "Robinson", Kusano was less than thrilled, stating that his creation was just "too pop" and not getting too excited about the promotion. In fact, aside from it being used as a theme song for a short-lived Fuji-TV late afternoon variety show, there was barely any promotion for it when it was released in April 1995.

So that is why "Robinson" became a sleeper hit. It just came out of nowhere to become a million seller, peaking at No. 4 on Oricon (their first Top 10 hit since Spitz debuted in 1987) and ending up as the No. 9 single of the year. It even won a Japan Record Award. In a 2007 interview, Kusano admitted that he still couldn't understand why the song became such a long-running hit. Luckily for Spitz, millions of fans could.

Now, the only question for me about the song is: "What is the meaning behind the title?" I mean, before "Robinson" came out, the only two people I associated with that name were Robinson Crusoe and the American children's show host, Mr. Robinson. And there was no hint in Kusano's lyrics about being stranded on a deserted island or asking the listener to be his neighbour. Well, the answer turned out to be that "Robinson" was only meant as a stopgap title. When Kusano had been traveling through Southeast Asia, he was struck by the name of the regional department store, Robinsons. And as I mentioned in the article for "Cherry", the singer had a love for the way English words were arranged. But there were no consonant clusters in this word which would eventually become the official title of the song. And of course, there was never meant to be any connection between it and the actual lyrics. Just one of those stories that will be passed about between lovers of Japanese popular music...when the conversation gets really, really slow.

In any case, I now appreciate a new Spitz song...20 years after the fact.


  1. do you know where I can find a RIAJ certification database?
    I wanted to know in which year "Review" by Glay was certified a 5-million seller.

    (Spitz are one of my favourite bands indeed!)

    1. Hi there.

      Unfortunately I couldn't find an RIAJ database to find out in which year GLAY was able to hit 5 million with "Review". However, I did track down an article which announced Hikaru Utada's first album "First Love" reaching that same mark which was dated March 30 1999. It did mention "Review" being a previous album hitting that 5 million mark. It's not the exact answer you were seeking but I'm going to assume that since "Review" had been released in October 1997 that it had most likely reached that number early in 1998, if not sooner considering how it was selling like pancakes.

    2. Ah, by the way, the article is here:

    3. thank you for your answer.
      I was wondering which album was the first to reach the 5-million mark: "Review" by Glay or "Pleasure" by B'z?
      It's not easy to understand, because "Review" sold "only" 4.876.000 copies during its permanence on the Oricon chart, while "Pleasure" sold 5.135.000 during its permanence. So the question is: did the RIAJ certified the 5 millions for "Review" before "Pleasure" reached that same mark?

    4. I also wanted to ask you about these charts:

      What they are about? The title translation is "Annual artists sales", but it can't be, AKB48 sold much more records than Arashi in 2014, and I'm also pretty sure that Akira Terao sold more than Masahiko Kondō in 1981. Can you understand what these lists are about?

    5. Hello again.

      To address your first comment, yeah, I am not quite sure how RIAJ goes about its certification process. It seems all rather arbitrary since "Review" didn't even reach 5 million. Perhaps as long as the album is in the general vicinity.:)

      As for the entamedata stats, I've been using them and those of Oricon to give information on the rankings. Usually the two sets coincide but a few times here and there, I've encountered discrepancies not just in the rankings but also in the records/CDs sold. When I come up against these, I just go with my gut and hope for the best. From what I've seen of the website, entamedata also takes care of stats such as those for books, TV programs and the like.


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