Minna sorotte Omanta Bayashi! Sate satesatesatesatesate na!
"Omanta Bayashi" is one of those songs that I feel fits Haruo Minami perfectly. Written and composed by the man himself; it leans more to the minyo side of enka, it's raucous with the horns blaring and percussion clanking away. Most importantly, I am able to picture his signature, welcoming smile so clearly as I hear him warble out this line.
Anyways, I had actually meant to do the article on "Omanta Bayashi" very early in the year. In fact, I had thought about writing it soon after my article on last year's Kohaku since this was the song I had chosen for Minami to sing in my fantasy Kohaku line up. However, when I went to do some research, it came to light that this was a festival-related enka featuring the Omanta festival, which takes place on 31st July and 1st August. So since I had done an article on the Nebuta festival during it's duration last year, I thought it'd be good to follow up on another summer festival on the day itself this year.
Judging from what came up when I searched for the Omanta festival online, it's not as spectacular or as well known as one of Tohoku's Big 3 festivals. And reading a bit more on it from this site, this summer festival that's held in Itoigawa, Niigata, only became a main stay after Minami's creation came into the picture. Many would gather and dance with fans and all to "Omanta Bayashi" during the festival.
Now for some info about the title: "Omanta" - that gave me results for manta rays when I searched for the festival in English - is Niigata dialect for "Anatagata", which translates to the plural form of "You", so I think that's why Minami included mention of folks from all over Japan - e.g. Hokkaido and Tokyo. As for the "Bayashi/Hayashi" bit, it translates to "Japanese orchestra/band/accompaniment", according to Jisho.org. In that sense "Omanta Bayashi" is perhaps meant to serve as an accompaniment to the festival itself. Well, it did fulfill its duty.
"Omanta Bayashi" was well-recieved and served as Minami's revival hit that sold about 500 000 copies in 1975. He sung it at the 26th Kohaku in the same year.
Alright, you must be thinking what "Omanta Bayashi" is doing on this list of somewhat unorthodox songs for the Yonin shu. Despite it being a very Minami tune, I can't help but notice that the rokyoku master did a House music remix of it in 1992. Yes, House Haruo in da house. In his later years (early 90's), Minami had expanded his musical horizons to include House music, rap, and reggae... That I find very hard to associate with the genteel man dressed in a kimono. In that year, he released an album called "Omantaseshimashita! HARUO IN DANCE BEAT" (オマンタせしました! HARUO IN DANCE BEAT).
I'm unable to find "HOUSE Omanta Bayashi", but I did find "HOUSE Gorin Ondo" (HOUSE五輪音頭), so that should give you an idea of how the former should sound like. Noelle from 22/3/2017: I FOUND "HOUSE Omanta Bayashi"! I'm not sure how long the video will stay up so enjoy it while it's still around.
To wrap up, I'd like to show Minami rapping away in "Jan Naito Jan" (ジャン・ナイト・じゃん), which came out in 1993, just because. He's actually good at it!