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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kayoko Moriyama/The Peanuts -- Tsukikage no Napoli (月影のナポリ)

Well, I got it over with...paid my annual taxes at the nearby TD. My wallet is definitely feeling a bit lighter and lonelier right now but I will get over it.

Anyways, the happier news is that I caught the 3rd episode of the new "Utakon"(うたコン) last night and I'm glad to say that it looks like things are settling into place. Plus the theme of the night was a girls' night out so almost all of the guests were a good mix of female enka and pop singers, although Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし)actually popped on board for a couple of songs near the end.

One of the re-revelations was a song that I had once heard as a child on an old audiotape. Even at the time I heard it, it did sound as if it were in existence around the time of my birth with a melody line that was woven to fit that old-time dance, the Twist, before it suddenly took a temporary turn into something a bit more coy and comical. As has always been the case with those old kayo back in my childhood, I never found out the title or the singers behind the song although I surmised that it was probably The Peanuts(ザ・ピーナッツ).

I was half-right. The Peanuts did indeed sing it but it looks like history has given the first digs to a singer by the name of Kayoko Morikawa(森山加代子). Born in Hakodate, Hokkaido in 1942, she was discovered by a talent scout while she was performing at a jazz cafe in 1958. Throughout the 1960s, she became a hit singer with a repertoire that centered on covers of Western songs with her debut launching her into the stratosphere. That would be the song of this article, "Tsukikage no Napoli" (Naples in the Moonlight) which was released in June 1960. Although the originally recorded version that you can hear right at the very top of the page sounds a bit slower than my expectations, the performed versions by Moriyama has got that swingy beat down pat as I once heard it long ago.

As I said, Moriyama gained her fame from performing cover versions. And indeed, "Tsukikage no Napoli" is a cover of an Italian song "Tintarella di luna" (Tan Moon) performed originally by legendary singer Mina. To quote directly from the Wikipedia article on the singer, "In performance, Mina combined several modern styles with traditional Italian melodies and swing music, which made her the most versatile pop singer in Italian music." And I think "Tintarella di luna" is an example of that description. Her version above is at the speed I had associated "Tsukikage no Napoli" at. B.D. Filippi created the original music while Tokiko Iwatani(岩谷時子)provided the Japanese lyrics.

Apparently, although Mina's first album was given the same title, "Tintarella di luna" wasn't released as a single. So, although I'm not sure how famous the original song became in Italy, the Japanese version was a huge hit for Moriyama as it sold 500,000 records. The Kohaku Utagassen was also not immune to the song's charms so Moriyama found herself on the NHK stage on New Year's Eve in 1960 for her first appearance.

The Peanuts' version came out a month after Moriyama's version. I think it is a more playful version than the original thanks to that flute and marimba plus the vocals by Emi and Yumi themselves. However, I will go with the Moriyama take on it in terms of the coolness factor.

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