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.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hiroshi Itsuki -- Hakata A La Mode (博多ア・ラ・モード)

Love that navy blue Pinstripe suit.

I don't know why, but ever since I'd seen Hiroshi Itsuki's (五木ひろし) official homepage promoting his 2016 calendar, I have this compulsion to get it. I'm surprised at that as in terms of calendars, I would usually go for one featuring Mae-Kiyo or Hiroshi Tachi (舘ひろし) because... you know... and not so much of Itsuki. The calendar features shots of the veteran enka crooner on his own music TV show on BS Asahi, "Nippon no Meikyoku Jinsei, Uta ga aru" (日本の名曲 人生、歌がある), and boy does he look distinguished and polished in all those suits as always! Come to think of it, that's probably the main driving force behind this compulsion. But I'm still trying to figure out how to go about getting it once I'm completely certain that I do indeed want it, so until then.

Anyway, it's been a while since I had done a write up regarding Itsuki's original works, and a long time since I had done the article on the B-side to the 2nd version of his 2013 single, so today I'd like to talk about this single's A-side, "Hakata A La Mode".

The first thought that enters my head upon seeing the words "Hakata a la mode" is a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream floating in a bowl of tonkotsu ramen. It's quite an off-putting image as I generally don't like to mix sweet and savoury foods together, especially not frozen dairy product with piping hot ramen, and I like my tonkotsu ramen as is with no "special" toppings. Itsuki's song, on the other hand, is a lot more palatable than ramen a la mode.

Put together by Raymond Matsuya (レーモンド松屋), "Hakata A La Mode" has a Latin flair to it brought on by the Spanish Guitar and a cha-cha beat to it, kind of like his previous single, "Yoake no Blues", that Matsuya had also produced a year before, but softer and more refined (the reason why it took me a slightly longer time to like it), and sadly no Itsuki rocking out with the electric guitar - bummer. The lyrics are a little vague to me, but it seems like our hero here meeting up with his lover in Hakata, Fukuoka, and having a blast exploring every nook and cranny of the city at night.

This will make a fine poster...

"Hakata A La Mode" was released during two occasions; first on 24th April where it was coupled with "Deai Bashi" (であい橋), and then on 7th August where it was coupled with "Izunokuni" (伊豆の国). As a whole, "Hakata a la mode" did well on the Oricon charts, peaking at 16th place, which is impressive for something by an enka singer his age... Well, but it is Itsuki.  He sung this song during his 43rd appearance on the Kohaku Uta Gassen in 2013 together with AKB48.

2nd version with "Izunokuni".
Not bad, but the other is classier.


  1. Hello, Noelle.

    Nothing like a well-dressed man to bring panache to enka, eh? And Itsuki and Maekawa have always been the go-to guys for good suits. I've heard "Hakata A La Mode" a couple of times on shows such as "Kayo Concert" and enjoyed it for its enka swing. I'm sure Itsuki would have loved to have taken his date through the huge yatai town in Hakata...a lot of good food there.

    By the way, a totally different topic. I don't quite remember whether you refer to in your articles but have you been able to access any music there recently? Although the site is up, I haven't been able to hear any music from it for the past couple of weeks. Not sure if the powers-that-be over there are cross with me only or if the site has been rendered immobile for everyone.

    1. Hi, J-Canuck.

      Yup, ain't nothing like a man in a good suit. :)

      Yes, I had been using music163 for my articles and to listen to songs that aren't available on YouTube. But for the past few weeks, I too have not been able to play anything from that website, so you're not the only one. It kinda limits the songs I would like to write about though as some of them can only be found there.

    2. Yeah, I'm kinda wondering whether music163 is going the way of Grooveshark. It's too bad but I wouldn't be surprised. I haven't heard any official news as of yet, though. Still, there have been some anime songs that have just gotten their release in the past week that have been uploaded to the site and their music videos can still be played so perhaps there is some hope.

    3. Hi again, Noelle.

      Just an update on the music163/NetEase situation. After clearing my cache and reading up on the situation about having to go through proxies (have no idea about this), I ended up downloading what I think is the site's player for the PC and it can play the songs.

      Mind you, I'm not sure when or if the online site will be able to play things.

    4. Hello, J-Canuck.

      ... I have no idea what proxies are either - one of those computer jargon that I never understood and never did bother to understand - but I'll see what I can do. Thanks for the update.

    5. No problems here. If music163 is kaput online then it's kaput online. I'll just stick with YouTube.


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