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, May 11, 2016

Taeko Ohnuki -- Shall We Dance? (シャル・ウィ・ダンス?)

Back when I was but a wee lad, I used to hear the famous standard "Shall We Dance?" and associated it with the musical "The King And I", most notably via the Hollywood movie adaptation starring one of the coolest actors that I have known, Yul Brynner with Deborah Kerr. It was rather remarkable to see and hear that Rodgers & Hammerstein song change one stolid yet intimidating king into a graceful dance partner.

However for the past 20 years, whenever I hear "Shall We Dance?", I've been linking it up with the 1996 Japanese comedy film, "Shall We Dance" starring Koji Yakusho(役所広司)and dancer Tamiyo Kusakari(草刈民代). Yakusho is an actor that I first saw on the cult noodle western "Tampopo"(たんぽぽ)in the mid-1980s as the snappily-dressed yet pervy gangster, although since then I've been seeing him as more of the lovably goofy salaryman thanks to his many commercials...and of course, his character in "Shall We Dance" who falls in love with ballroom dancing.

The final scene has most of the cast dancing on the floor to the famous song, this time covered by Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子). As many of you know, I'm a huge Tabo fan but at the time "Shall We Dance" was released with Ohnuki's cover happily ending things off, I had hardly been cognizant of the singer-songwriter at all. It took some years afterward before I finally fell for the charms of her brand of eclectic pop, especially in the late 70s and early 80s. Therefore, it was a bit of a revelation to listen to the now-familiar tones of Ohnuki singing "Shall We Dance?" and I have to say that her English does sound quite good here. I was able to finally get a copy of her version via one of her BEST albums, "Anthology Library ~ Anthology 1973-2003 ~". However, it was also the coupling song to her 1997 single, "Happy-go-Lucky".

And just for comparison's sake, here is the ending of the Hollywood remake with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez.

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