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.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Frank Chickens -- We Are Ninja

From the weird corner of YouTube, I bring you Frank Chickens(フランク・チキンズ).

During my whole time listening to "Sounds of Japan" on CHIN-FM, I was accustomed to hearing enka and pop from the country of my ancestors. However one Saturday night, I just heard this tune from a pop performance group called Frank Chickens called "We Are Ninja" which just seemed to have come out from left field....if the baseball diamond had been located on Mars. The song was the 1984 debut single by the original duo of Kazuko Hohki(法貴和子)and Kazumi Taguchi(カズミ・タグチ).

The reason I remember Frank Chickens is simply because "We Are Ninja" sounded so unlike the usual fare that came onto my old radio show. Just imagine a minimalist technopop tune sung by a slow-rapping pair of Berlitz students. I just went "OK...that's definitely not Pink Lady..." There was that bass beat which reminded me of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust", but otherwise this definitely was one weird song. I had no idea that their presence was known on YouTube. Listening to "We Are Ninja" again, I'm sorely tempted to open up the New Wave category on the blog since there have been a few other tunes that we've written about that perhaps deserve the label, too.

Frank Chickens formed in 1982 and has grown somewhat over the decades with members from both Japan and the UK. Between 1984 and 2000, they released 6 albums and 7 singles. Not sure how high their profile ever got in their native Japan, but they have gone on tour worldwide so there is most likely a niche following.

My final line here is a musing. I wonder whether "We Are Ninja" had some sort of influence on flamboyant Kome Kome Club's(米米クラブ)creation of "Funk Fujiyama".

My fixins for a stir-fry of chicken and bean sprouts
Sorry, Noelle.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi J-Canuck.

      That is one big bag of sprouts... I hoped you enjoyed your chicken stir-fry though. If I were to make chicken stir-fry I'd go with the safer spinach or broccoli. :)

      Okay, this is the weird part of YouTube indeed. We have a group with a name that looks appropriate for a chicken joint like Kenny Rogers, and Godzilla munching on buildings in the MV... But then, as odd as Frank Chickens and the MV for "We Are Ninja" may be, I must say that the song's beat is quite cool and somewhat hypnotizing. Definitely a tune that can easily get stuck in one's head, like "Funk Fujiyama".

    2. Hello, Noelle.

      The stir-fry is an old recipe of mine so it has yet to fail me yet. :)

      Yeah, "We Are Ninja" has stayed in the dustier areas of my memory just because of how quirky the melody and the delivery are.

  2. I must have read about Frank Chickens in Trouser Press, which is how their debut album, We Are Frank Chickens, found its way to my record collection. Even though it's the only album of theirs I own, it's a treasured relic just because it's so quirky and odd.

    Frank Chickens are based out of London (one of their later singles, "Yellow Toast," is even a sarcastic reaction to their unique appeal to hipster Brits), and I think that Kazuko Hohki (who is not only a singer but also a performance artist) is/was married to David Toop, who produced the entire We Are Frank Chickens album.

    Kazuko and David are/were also members of The Japanese American Toy Theatre of London, who produced among other things the avant-garde short film James Bonk in Matt Blackfinger for Channel 4, which can be viewed in all its 11 minute glory on Vimeo.


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