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.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Noriko Awaya/Kenji Sawada -- Amapola(アマポーラ)

First off, I have to remark on the passing of David Bowie which just hit me like a bolt of lightning when I woke up this morning. It was the top news on NHK's main broadcast, and the shock was further enhanced since it was just a few days ago that his latest and final album was released along with another photo of a beaming Bowie. I had absolutely no idea that he had even been sick.

Obviously, he had a connection with Japan through his co-starring role in "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" with Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一), but personally for me, his album "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps" was, in a way, the soundtrack of our Toronto Japanese Language School graduating class to Japan in the summer of 1981. One of my classmates brought his Walkman along on the plane so some of us got to hear not only the title track but also one of his classic songs, "Ashes to Ashes".

The man's music, his various personae, sense of style, and just his raw looks simply had him stand out like no other singer.

I tried looking through Kenji Sawada's(沢田研二)article on J-Wiki and although I could not find anything on the matter, I've always wondered whether the singer had been inspired by Bowie in his own changes in looks through the 70s into the 80s. When I saw him for the first time on the 1981 Kohaku Utagassen all glammed up to do "STRIPPER", along with my jaw dropping, the brainwave that sliced through my most likely lone brain cell was "Bowie?"

Sawada appeared on the NHK New Year's Eve special for the 12th time in 1984, and compared to some of his past appearances, he was slightly less outrageous in fashion but no less bizarre when he performed an old chestnut that had been first introduced all the way back in 1924. As his official 43rd single, he crooned "Amapola" in the form of a pink dandyish figure supposedly on his last legs. It was quite another shift in performing direction on the Kohaku for good ol' Julie after glam rock and New Wave, but the capper was seeing fake blood gush out of him like a failing geyser right at the end of the song. Not quite sure if the execution quite worked but I have a feeling that the NHK switchboard lit up like an Xmas tree. Still, he would appear on the show 5 more times after that.

His version of "Amapola" peaked at No. 26 after its release in September 1984. The Japanese lyrics were provided by Reiko Yukawa(湯川れい子).

"Amapola" (My Sweet Little Poppy) was originally composed by Joseph Lacalle as an instrumental piece, but after he passed away in 1937, American lyricist Albert Gamse (who also gave words to "Hail To The Chief") provided lyrics for the ballad.

Chanson and ryukoka singer Noriko Awaya(淡谷のり子)in the same year sang "Amapola" as one of her own releases. Her version definitely has a bit more Spanish spark although she doesn't actually start singing until about halfway through the song.

1 comment:

  1. THanks for the article. The B-Side of the single was Chi Sei a song which was already in his album "Song Calendar".
    Because his group Exotics disbanded this year, Kenji Sawada changed his style after that.


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