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.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Keisuke Yamauchi -- Ruten no Hatoba (流転の波止場)

When it comes to the younger batch of enka performers, the level of scrutiny I place on them is quite high, and I think it's due in part to me wanting them to live up to the standards of their predecessors I adore and wish to be able to see perform, and to a lesser extent, maybe be a little like them. But I realise that it is quite unfair as they each have their own style of singing and whether or not they sound like a modern-day Yujiro Ishihara or Haruo Minami, even when singing one of the late veterans' hits, frankly, shouldn't matter.

As to why I brought this up: Keisuke Yamauchi (山内恵介) is a prime example of what I had just mentioned. I tend to get riled up whenever he were to attempt a Tough Guy tune as I didn't think he had the voice to carry it - nasally and relatively high-pitched, rather than deep and mellow. However, I have to admit that although it's not a similar voice, Yamauchi doesn't sound that bad. And if he were to wear an outfit that's not too glitzy and a size or two too big, he's actually a rather decent and respectable enka singer. Still, it'd be better if he were to sing something more befitting of his genteel appearance. Case in point, "Ruten no Hatoba".

I'd describe Yamauchi's 17th single as a mix of "Ano Ko ga Naiteru Hatoba" (あの娘が泣いてる波止場) and "Genkai Blues" (玄海ブルース), and a dash of "Minato Machi Blues" (港町ブルース) to add the finishing touch. All three of these songs happen to be a few of my enka-favourites so it was no wonder why this became the first of Yamauchi's repertoire to be liked by me. Put together by Hideo Mizumori (水森英夫), who also happens to be Yamauchi's mentor, and his frequent collaborator Toshiya Niitani (仁井谷俊也), "Ruten no Hatoba" has a jaunty melody but the lyrics are of a young man leaving his hometown (and a loved one who's reluctant to see him go) to chase his dreams, which has him travelling to various places in the country - from Hokkaido all the way down to Kyushu.

"Ruten no Hatoba" was released on 23rd March 2016 and was the enka Ikemen 3 member's first single to get into the top 5 (5th place) in the regular Oricon charts in of his 15 years of showbiz, while also peaking at 1st on the enka-yo charts.

Well, this is going on to the list of stuff to buy in Japan... Man, that's gonna A LOT of stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Noelle.

    Years ago, I had wondered whether enka would actually survive as a viable genre in Japanese popular music since I had associated it with a gradually aging group of singers. Although enka doesn't hit the top of the charts as it once did, I would say that it is still going on quite nicely thanks to the fact that the Japanese as a whole are still very willing to enjoy nostalgia and songs that go way back. I cannot say that about Canadians or Americans. It is heartening to see that there are young people in Japan (and elsewhere) who are not just listening to enka and Mood Kayo but also trying their voices in performing those genres professionally or even at a karaoke box.

    I think Yamauchi is fine with these jaunty or strident enka songs that kinda show the young dapper man strutting across town whether in the 21st century or the 18th century. Ishihara in his later years always fit the image of the worldly and world-weary fellow at the nightclub and bar. I couldn't really see Yamauchi even a couple of decades from now singing something like "Brandy Glass" convincingly like the Tough Guy, and as you mentioned above, that's perfectly fine. I think especially in this genre, singers have their own distinct style.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.