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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

J-Canuck's Favourite 6 Mariya Takeuchi Songs

Well, seeing that we're just another couple of days before the end of 2015, I thought it was time to put up another favourites list featuring one of my favourite singers, the mellow Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや). With the last couple of lists covering two of my favourite aidoru from the 1980s, Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)and Akina Nakamori(中森明菜), I think having someone in the pure pop vein would be quite nice. Ironically enough, although I've often characterized the wife of Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)as being this singer who had initially emulated the styles of American pop singers from the 50s and 60s, my Favourite 6 are straight pop or City Pop pieces.

6. Kon'ya wa Hearty Party (今夜はHearty Party)1995

Having KimuTaku of SMAP coming to your Xmas party? Flatter (or annoy) the heck out of him by playing this one on the stereo! Still, it's a fun song by Mariya which captures the feeling of a Christmas in Tokyo with all of the flashing LEDs on the streets, young folks in all their finery and rows of buffet tables, although this was once the go-to song for Kentucky Fried Chicken during the Yuletide season.

5. Kokuhaku (告白)1990

This was my re-introduction to Mariya after having heard her a number of times on "Sounds of Japan" in the early 1980s. It was great to realize that she was still releasing some fine music going into this decade as well. And to think, it wasn't because of the Tuesday evening suspense drama or any performances on the music shows that got me to listen to this one, but a simple visit to a household goods shop in Numata, Gunma Prefecture. That is indeed my confession.

4. Genki wo Dashite(元気をだして)1987

Originally a song for the sweet-sounding Hiroko Yakushimaru(薬師丸ひろ子), I've always enjoyed the Takeuchi self-cover more. The musical equivalent of a relaxing walk in the woods, it can also provide inspiration and reflection along with a couple of emotional thrills in that organ which races in and the final cameo chorus by Yakushimaru herself at the end. Arguably, if there is to be a tribute to Takeuchi someday, this would be the one song.

3. September 1979

The first song that I had ever heard by Mariya and one of the first songs to make me realize that Japanese pop music was not just all enka and aidoru. Western-sounding but not something that I would have imagined hearing in the West at all, "September" is as goofy and adorable as that beloved uncle in the family (which would be me). Every time, the 9th month comes around, the Takeuchi classic and the other "September" by Earth Wind & Fire are always played in my room.

2. Morning Glory 1980

"September" would have been in this position if it hadn't been for "Morning Glory". If anything, this song created by Tatsuro Yamashita is happy and even more adorable to me. It might be fully enjoying its status as a J-AOR/City Pop tune but I can also hear a bit of that old-style American novelty pop charm that I've always equated early Mariya to within "Morning Glory" as well. And with some of the big names in American pop music at the time helping out on the album that the song came out on, it was perfect for radio.

1. Plastic Love 1984

Yup, my favourite  Mariya Takeuchi song could probably be the Steely Dan tune that was never created nor sung by Walter Becker or Donald Fagen. Kudos to her for storing up all of that creative energy for her post-extended break album "Variety" to come up with all of the tracks including "Plastic Love" which for me is one of the great City Pop songs. I can only think of evenings in the most popular neon-lit areas of Tokyo whenever this is played. Mind you, the remix version above rather emphasizes some of the excess in extended versions way back when so have a listen to the original through the link.

My personal list is obviously not a comprehensive one since Takeuchi has gone through a fairly wide gamut of genres in her nearly 40-year career, but it does kinda show where I reside in the musical spectrum that is Mariya.

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