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

NiNa -- Happy Tomorrow

My awareness of The B-52s began with their appearance on an episode of "Saturday Night Live" sometime around the late 70s or early 80s, and as I was watching their bizarre performance of "Rock Lobster", I just went "Who the heck are these guys?!" I gathered that this was part of New Wave with Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson in those sky-high bouffants that seemed to pop out from my Mom's old photos from the 1960s. "Rock Lobster" may not have been my cup of tea at the time but I did get better with "Love Shack" and then came my favourite song by the band "Roam" in 1990.

JTM and I were having a talk the other night and our conversation slowly veered into the topic of bands such as Judy & Mary, and we were then trying to remember the name of that side project that J&M's vocalist, YUKI, got involved in around the end of the century while J&M was on hiatus. I knew that Kate Pierson from the aforementioned B-52s was YUKI's co-vocalist.

As it turned out, I was trying to remember NiNa which along with YUKI and Pierson also included Mick Karn from the band Japan, Takemi Shima & Masahide Sakuma(島武実・佐久間正英)from the Plastics, and drummer Steven Wolf. When I first heard about this project back in the late 90s, I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that there was going to be this overt collaboration between this 90s J-Pop singer and this American band member from the 80s.

The one song I remember from NiNa was "Happy Tomorrow" which I saw performed on television a number of times. It was released as their first single in July 1999, and it's a sunny laidback song that reminded me a lot of the jangly guitar pop/rock from the 90s in Japan before R&B and the Hello Project started entering the stage.

The lyrics for "Happy Tomorrow" were written by YUKI and Pierson, with YUKI and Sakuma (under his pseudonym of Ma-Chang) providing the music. Another notable thing about the song was that it was the theme song for both the anime "Arc The Lad" and a regular live-action J-Drama on Fuji-TV, "Kanojo-tachi no Jidai"(彼女たちの時代...Time of the Women), which were both broadcast in the same year within a few months of each other. The single went Platinum while peaking at No. 9 and becoming the 77th-ranked song of the year. "Happy Tomorrow" also appeared as a track on NiNa's lone album "NiNa". It came out in November 1999, and hit No. 3 on the album charts, finishing 1999 as the 83rd-ranked release.

One last piece of trivia about NiNa. The name was derived from YUKI's age at the time which was 27 with "ni" representing 2 and "na" representing 7.

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