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.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Keisuke Yamauchi -- Spotlight (スポットライト)

Now that the new fiscal year is two weeks old, Japan will be getting back to its regular schedule. But in that country, April is more than just the launch of FY. It's also the start of the school year and it's also frequently the beginning of new shows on the various networks including the national broadcaster, NHK. "Utakon"(うたコン)is going to be launching on Tuesday night, replacing the long-running "Kayo Concert"(歌謡コンサート), and hopefully that it will stick to the similar and familiar formula of providing enka and other old Japanese standards.

I'm fairly sure that some of the regular guests on "Kayo Concert" will come to "Utakon" including the fellow above. In the last few years, I've often seen Fukuoka-born Keisuke Yamauchi(山内惠介)land on the Shibuya or Osaka stage on the NHK show, seemingly from the pages of the manga "The Rose of Versailles". I mean, this guy's picture ought to be next to the dictionary entry for the expression bidanshi(美男子). And it seems as if for the last year or so, he's been appearing to perform his hit "Spotlight".

Released in February 2015 as his 16th single since the release of his debut song in 2001, "Spotlight" is not Yamauchi's first song of note but it's the one that I've known him most for, and the title is most definitely intriguing since it isn't everyday that I see an enka song identified by one single English word written in katakana. Along with Hideo Mizumori's(水森英夫)melancholy melody, Makoto Kitajo's(喜多條忠)lyrics placing a spotlight on a couple humbly starting life together sounds like a situation that would pop up more in a folk song than an enka as Yamakawa sings about the sound of that final train reverberating into their city apartment (perhaps a 1K or 2K) and the man's love for his significant other. I also thought there was something quite clever in Kitajo's lyrics when the singer mentions that the right-hand radical in the kanji for tears(涙)represents return(戻る).

"Spotlight" was the single commemorating Yamauchi's 15th anniversary as an enka singer and became the 2nd single of his to get into the Top 10 by peaking at No. 10. On the enka charts, it stayed at No.1 for 4 weeks straight. It also won a number of awards and got the singer his first invitation to the Kohaku Utagassen last year, finishing 2015 as the 89th-ranked single.


  1. Ah, Keisuke Yamauchi's "Oiwaki Yama". I've seen "Spotlight" on the enka-yo charts for the longest time last year since its release and heard it many times on "Kayo Concert", I guess there was no wonder it got him his first Kohaku ticket.

    As you've mentioned, I think this is probably the first time an enka has an English-katakana only title, and what I find most interesting is how the word "Spotlight" was incorporated into the song. That's actually quite creative, especially by enka standards. But then I'm more of a fan of his new single, "Ruten no Hatoba"... Man, I never thought I'd say that! I'm thinking of writing about it soon.

    Oh, J-Canuck, I think you should change the "Yamakawa" to "Yamauchi" in the last few paragraphs.

    1. Oops there, Noelle.

      Gonna have to correct those names. Thanks for the tip!


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