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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, June 10, 2016

Akiko Yano -- Tadaima (ただいま。)


Out of my purchasing blitzkrieg a couple of weeks ago, the one album that has gotten the biggest pleasure out of me is Akiko Yano's(矢野顕子)"Tadaima" (I'm Home). Originally released in May 1981 as Yano's 5th studio album, it came out just a couple of months before my fateful high school trip to Japan. If I had known about it, I probably would have grabbed the audiotape or even the LP since my then-embryonic interest in Japanese pop music at the time was Yellow Magic Orchestra. Anything that had a synthesized pulse would have been in my radar range at the time.


I've already written about a couple of the album's tracks, "Itsuka Oji ga" (いつか王子様が...which finally triggered me to get the album) and one of her biggest hits, the super-catchy "Harusaki Kobeni"(春咲小紅)which I couldn't resist from bringing back here. And although I realize that Yano's albums have had a whole assortment of album covers, I think the one for "Tadaima" just strikes me as being so Yano-esque for the lack of a better term. It's kinda weird and adorable at the same time...somewhat like me in front of my niece.



But I will officially start off with the first and title track "Tadaima" which continues her technopop phase that began with her previous album "Gohan ga Dekita yo"(ごはんができたよ). Written by Shigesato Itoi(糸井重里)and composed by Yano, it has the spacy but warm Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一)synths and the singer's vocal whoops and onomatopoeia...this time emulating cats and dogs for some reason. In the song, she's pining to have her home filled with loved ones to greet her when she comes in instead of merely the empty darkness of being a single resident. Still, instead of it being a sad ballad, it's got that zippy energy that also infuses "Harusaki Kobeni". Yano might feel a little lonely but she can happily hang on for a while before that family comes in.


"VET" is Yano going way off on a New Wave tangent with spacy synths that really had me reminiscing about those British songs from the early 80s. I could have imagined her and her band all dressed up in tin foil and performing all Devo-like to this song about fighting the good fight against animal diseases. The interesting thing is that I can barely hear her rapid-firing those English lyrics.


"I Sing" is another all-English song written by Yano and composed by her then-beau YMO's Ryuichi Sakamoto which seems to be her giving advice to a less experienced singer on how to handle fame. Even with all of the electronics in there, I think this is a very sunny and gentle pop song.


My final song is indeed the final track "Rose Garden". Now with a title like that and the fact that it was placed as the last tune had me assuming that it would be a typically slow ballad to bring "Tadaima" to a nice close. But instead, it's a Yano-made technopop earworm with the singer rapping out her lyrics to a galloping melody that could be identified as a new synthesizer accompaniment to a traditional dance at the summer O-Bon festival. I would love to see any ambitious choreographers hammering a dance out from this one. And just some minutes ago, I was commenting on Marcos V's article on a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu song; I wonder what she could do with it as a cover.


As I stated in the "Itsuka Oji ga" article, I had read that "Tadaima" was even more well-regarded than "Gohan ga Dekita yo" although at this point, I'm not quite sure whether I would agree with that assessment just yet. There are some really hook-friendly songs on that previous album but "Tadaima" is still a fun release to finally get. Still, I'm now quite interested in hearing her even earlier material from the mid-1970s before Yano found her techno-muse.

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