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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Unicorn -- Hataraku Otoko (働く男)

A few years ago, there was all that kerfuffle about the music video for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines". The unrated version had all those topless models shimmying and shammying away with Robin, T.I. and Pharrell (I guess he was happy then as well) as if there were no tomorrow.

Well, seeing that video reminded me of something similar which happened over 20 years ago in Japan. The rock band Unicorn with Tamio Okuda (the fellow who helped launch Puffy later on) had just released their 3rd single in July 1990, "Hataraku Otoko" (Working Man). The song was catchy enough for me as it was but then the video came out. It featured the band goofing about and performing while a nude model innocently posed and traipsed around the guys. Now I'm not sure how much of the footage involved Chromakey/greenscreen but I'm still fairly certain that at least that model and Unicorn shared the same space and time at some point during filming. Tough work, eh, guys? As you readers may already know, the music video above has been muted due to the usual copyright issues but I just felt that I needed to put it up there. Just play the video below while watching the video above.

Let's listen to "Hataraku Otoko" here. Written and composed by Okuda(奥田民生), the arrangement has the song pulling in little bits here and there of exotic rhythm, Beatles and a bit of that swinging 60s also with some added spaciness. It's got an interesting progression as well. It funks about at first before the synths send it soaring skyward. All that for the story of a working cog hanging in there at his desk for the 12 or 13 hours so that he can admire and fantasize about a female colleague. And here I thought it was all about the semi-annual bonuses.

I didn't search for a lot of rock songs during my spare time on the JET Program but I did come across "Hataraku Otoko" because it was used as one of the opening themes during the life of the late-night Saturday variety show "Yume de Aetara"(夢で逢えたら)on Fuji-TV at the turn of the decade from the 80s into the 90s. I've already written about two of the other themes, "Believe in Love" by Lindberg and "Furi Furi '65" by Southern All Stars. Considering how popular that show was, I think there was quite the symbiotic relationship between it and its theme songs.

"Hataraku Otoko" made it all the way up to No. 3 on the charts, and it is their most successful single to date. The song is also a track on Unicorn's 4th album, "Getamono no Arashi"(ケダモノの嵐...Beast Storm). It was released in October 1990 and hit No. 1 on Oricon. Not only did it hit the top but it also won Best Album honours at the Japan Record Awards that year. Hard working men, indeed.

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