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 13, 2016

The Peanuts -- Jounetsu no Hana (情熱の花)

Well, after some weeks of waiting, NHK's new "Utakon"(うたコン)premiered last night. It was the first episode so it's still a work in progress but my initial impressions are fairly good. Aside from some giddiness by one of the two co-hosts, actor/tarento Shosuke Tanihara(谷原章介), things went pretty smoothly including a relatively rapid-fire medley of a whole mix of songs from enka and pop involving Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎), AKB48, Akira Fuse(布施明)and the like. Plus, there was a nice tribute to the theme songs from NHK's long history of morning serial dramas although I was wondering a bit about the fairly long interview segment with the cast of the new NHK asadora, "Toto Nee-chan"(とと姉ちゃん). Were the audience in Shibuya getting a little antsy? I gather that last night's big debut was a concentrated version of the Kohaku Utagassen within an extended time of 1 hour and 15 minutes. I am looking forward to seeing "Utakon" in its regular time period of 45 minutes from next week.

Going onto the main topic for the of the songs that was included in the intense medley was The Peanuts'(ザ・ピーナッツ)"Jounetsu no Hana" (Passion Flower). If the melody does sound familiar, it is based on Beethoven's "Fur Elise". I mentioned some years back in the blog for "Kiss wa Me ni Shite"(キッスは目にして), which was another kayo take on Ludwig's masterpiece, that I had remembered hearing this old song on audiotape by either The Peanuts or Candies. As it turned out, it was "Jounetsu no Hana".

Now, The Peanuts' song, released in 1959, wasn't a direct adaptation from the legendary composer but was probably adapted from Fraternity Brothers' "Passion Flower" and its cover by Italian singer Caterina Valente in the late 1950s. For the Japanese version, Takashi Otowa and Tetsu Mizushima(音羽たかし・水島哲)wrote the lyrics for The Peanuts. However, the melody for all three acts mentioned here kept its Latin edge.

The Peanuts once again released "Jounetsu no Hana" almost a decade later in 1967. This version had different lyrics and an arrangement that was very Burt Bacharach perhaps with even a bit of Herb Alpert thrown in for good swinging measure.

"Jounetsu no Hana" would make for a good comparison with the later 50s rock n' roll "Kiss wa Me ni Shite". Anyways, I can't really say whether Beethoven rolled over in his grave with either version.

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