|Knock 'em dead, Mitchie!|
Well this article is long over due. With the release of Pokemon Go in Singapore and preparation needed for my Final Year Project presentation, I hardly had enough time to breathe. Thankfully, last Saturday morning officially marked the end of this hell of a project with a group presentation (;_; I'm so happy) that went somewhat smoothly, so I now finally have the time to put to put the spotlight on Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也) - y'know, in between some Pokemon hunting.
Last week I had introduced Boogie Hachi, House Haruo, and Fluffy Muchi. Quite the amusing combination and not something you'd see everyday from these enka oldies. But as you know there's still one more. Now, for the moment you've been waiting for - introducing, Disco Michi! No, hang on... Disco Mitchie! Looks like he caught the Disco Fever!
Out of the four, this was the one I'd discovered first when I wrote the "Natsu Matsuri Nippon no Uta" article a while ago. My reaction upon reading that Michi had done disco renditions of some of his hits - e.g. "Yuyake no Tonbi" - as well as a whole album revolving around this genre was the same as when a growlithe were to appear on my phone screen when I've got the Pokemon Go app running: eyes popped wide open with shock and disbelief (in a good way, of course).
From what I observe, Mihashi's the most stoic-looking of the four - I believe I've described him as stony-faced on multiple occasions too - seeing the guy just smile feels like a wonder of nature. Plus with his roots deep in enka and minyo, it's difficult to imagine him deviating from that. So to witness him turn from statuesque Michi in kimono to Mitchie in a Saturday Night Fever polyester suit and striking a pose was actually hilarious, especially in that picture at the top of the article. That one is from the album I mentioned earlier, "Hageshire! Mitchie" (激れ!ミッチー) from 1979.
Anyway, one of the tracks from "Hageshire! Mitchie" is "Disco Tengoku" (Disco Heaven), and boy was it a lucky and coincidental find on YouTube; never thought I'd have the chance to come across one of his atypical works on YouTube. Hiroshi Sato (佐藤ひろし) composed the upbeat and funky score that has a light enka flavour to it, and the backup singers are a nice touch. Then there's also the aMAzing shamisen solo after the first chorus; I can picture the John-Travoltafied Mihashi strumming his trusty Tsugaru shamisen like an electric guitar. The lyrics were done by Shiko Yuki (ゆうき詩子), and in each chorus there is mention of famous aidoru from the 70's, such as Pink Lady, and the Shin Gosanke (Hideki Saijo (西城秀樹) and the lot). Party in the house hosted by Mitchie!
To explain Michi's drastic, albeit temporary change in musical styles in 1979, he seemed to have done so to pander to the younger crowd of that generation since the movie "Saturday Night Fever" and John Travolta were all the rage back then. Personally, I like seeing Michi as Mitchie from time to time to lighten the mood, but I wonder what the staunch enka fans must've thought when they saw their favourite minyo star's change. Were they amused and joined in on the fun, or did they see it as heresy? Now that's the question.