Up until the late 90s, "Rhapsody In Blue" meant to me the classic jazz composition by George Gershwin with that clarinet solo that seemed to rise up from bed as if to start a new day in Manhattan. I guess because of the movie "Manhattan", I've always treated the epic piece as the theme song for Woody Allen himself.
But then in my early years in Ichikawa, some group decided to come out with a vastly different animal under that very title. Good golly...in all these years of the blog, how could I forget DA PUMP? This was a song-and-dance boy band that came out from the Okinawa Actors School which seemed to pump out a ton of new hit acts back in the day such as SPEED and Namie Amuro. DA PUMP was the one male group I remember from that academy with Issa Hentona and his three mates bringing their brand of dance and hip-pop to the masses.
The one song I remember by DA PUMP is the aforementioned "Rhapsody In Blue" which was about as far away from a jazz hymn as one could get. Written and composed by musician/producer m.c.A・T as the group's 5th single in June 1998, it was a fairly catchy tune with Issa and the boys kicking and stepping all over the place. This was seen as their breakthrough song, and afterwards I recollect that the guys started making many more appearances on the music shows.
"Rhapsody In Blue" got as high as No. 9 on Oricon, and ended the year as the 151st-ranked song. It didn't break the Top 100 but DA PUMP's breakthrough still went Gold and the guys even got invited to the Kohaku Utagassen. The single was also a track on the group's debut album, "Expression" which came out in July 1998 and peaked at No. 3 on the charts. It eventually became the 37th-ranked album of the year.
Apparently, DA PUMP is still in business although Issa is the only original member with 6 current members.
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