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.

Friday, April 10, 2015


I always find it thoroughly amusing to hear renditions of mainstream J-Pop songs by Enka singers since they usually pleasantly surprise me by how well they can pull it off. Sometimes, they may even shed their "Enka-ness" and sound completely different from when they sing songs from their respective genre. There is a series of albums that go by "Enka no Chikara" (エンカのチカラ... Power of Enka) that gives me my fill of that. All the tracks listed in these albums are J-Pop/Kayokyoku hits from different decades (depending on the album) and are sung by the likes of Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし) and Sayuri Ishikawa (石川さゆり). So far, through the wonders of the music163 website and the homepage of "Enka no Chikara", the most jaw-dropping covers I have heard of are Itsuki's "Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" (世界に一つだけの花... This one partially blew my mind. And I'm probably being biased, but I like his version best), Takashi Hosokawa's (細川たかし) "Julia ni Heartbreak"(ジュリアに傷心... I prefer Hosokawa's version too. There's just more kick to it with his powerful vocals), Harumi Miyako's "ZUTTO" (She sounded so... so... unrecognizable...! Mind blown to infinity) and of course, Kiyoshi Maekawa's (前川清) "Choo Choo Train" (I have now seen everything) and the song I'll be writing about today, "HOWEVER". Man, this guy never fails to impress me... :)

I found Maekawa's version (21/6/2015)

Anyway, I saw Maekawa's version of GLAY's hit while scrolling through the track list for "Enka no Chikara Saikyo Z White" (エンカのチカラ 最強Z ホワイト) on the album's site. They had indicated the names of the original singers by the side, and my interest piqued when I saw the "GLAY", a rock band, beside Mae-Kiyo's name. "He can sing rock too?!" was the first thing that entered my head, so with a skeptic smile on my face, I went ahead to check "HOWEVER" out on YouTube to see what I could be in for. Contrary to what I had anticipated, "HOWEVER" was not one of those crazy-loud rock songs with screaming, for that I'm very thankful. Instead, it was easy on the ears. Composed (and written) by the band's guitarist TAKURO, the electric guitar was not overpowering, blending in well with the synths and piano, and I liked it immediately on my first listen. I found TERU's vocal delivery pretty cool too.

"HOWEVER" was released as GLAY's 12th single on 6th August 1997 and it did really well, staying at 1st place for 5 weeks (last 2 weeks in August, other 3 weeks in September) before securing its spot in the Top 10 at 9th position by the end of the year. It also managed make the band the Grand Prix winners at the 30th Japan Cable Awards, got them the bronze prize at the 16th JASRAC Awards, their first ticket to the Kohaku in 1997 and was their first-ever million seller out of 6. Wow, impressive. Then the drama "Ryukudaai Abunai Onna" (略奪愛・アブない女) used "HOWEVER" as its ending theme - TAKURO was actually in charge of the music for that show.

Y'know, I think I'll get that "Enka no Chikara" album. Really want to hear the full Mae-Kiyo version of this song. You can find some of these covers on and some on YouTube, by the way, if you're interested in listening to them.


  1. Oh, I love this song. The first time I heard it I was watching SMAP's concert and Nakai covered it alone (he did a good job in my opinion, not because I'm SMAP's fan but Nakai sang it pretty well)

    I think J-rock is kind of interesting compared to my impression of rock in general. I'm not a big fan of rock but I love several songs (and actual surprised that they are categorized as rock.)

    I do listen to enka sometimes, but not a lot. I found the full version of Itsuki's "Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" and also Piece of my wish in the same album. I don't know why but both songs sound much more mature to me. The singers' voices are great, and I enjoyed both versions, (maybe I'm biased) but for me Sekai no hitotsu dake no hana is the song that has combination of others. It's the song that people can sing along and SMAP did a good job of representing the individualism since they have 5 members, 5 different voices but blend well and sound good enough (some people keep saying SMAP can't sing, well, I won't get into that but I really feel the meaning in SMAP's version, even without translation).

    And I listened to Maekawa's HOWEVER cover too. It's really interesting, it might take me a couple more times to get used to, but I like it a lot. I've listened to other singers covered enka songs (Angela Aki's Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki was the first cover I knew) but never another way around.

  2. Hello May Lily,

    Yeah, J-Rock is pretty interesting as you've said, and as far as the genre goes, I can't say I'm a fan either - Chage and Aska don't do J-Rock all the time, neither does Anzen Chitai... I don't suppose Rock-themed Enka counts?

    If its (the covers) mature you say, it could be because Itsuki and Marsha (singer who did the cover of "Piece of my wish") and most of the singers on that album have been in the music business for many years - Itsuki has been singing away for 5 decades! Although I don't like the SMAP guys - yeah..., I'm one of those people who say they can't really sing (individually)... opinions - I have to admit that you're right about the song being one that sounds better with 5 different voices. It just makes the it more interesting to listen to.

    Maekawa's version of "HOWEVER" sounds a little odd (from whatever I had heard at least) at first since he's got a low voice, but I got used to it rather quickly. So far I've not heard of many Pop singers doing Enka covers, it's either that or I don't really pay attention to them.


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