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.