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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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Michiya Mihashi -- Disco Tengoku (ディスコ天国)

Knock 'em dead, Mitchie!
discogs.com/search/?sort=title%2Casc&style_exact=Enka&genre_exact=Funk+%2F+Soul

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).

The visuals don't exactly match the audio...

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.

6 comments:

  1. Hi, Noelle. Glad that your presentation went swimmingly.

    I'm sure that there were a lot of enka fundamentalists who wanted to storm down to Mihashi's house with their pitchforks and torches but as for me, I don't particularly mind "Disco Tengoku". At the time, a lot of music on both sides of the Pacific were getting the disco treatment such as Beethoven's 5th, "Star Wars" and the theme song for "I Love Lucy". At least, "Disco Tengoku" worked much better than Frank Nagai's attempt at City Pop, "Woman" (that would be entry No. 8 for http://kayokyokuplus.blogspot.ca/2016/08/selection-of-10-japanese-city-pop.html).

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    1. Thanks, J-Canuck. I guess it helped that one of my team's assessors happened to be a teacher who had taught us on multiple occasions, and she told us straight that we need not do the whole presentation sh-bang; she was merciful and just asked us questions.

      When I saw Frank Nagai and City Pop, I didn't see it as surprising as I still have no clear idea on what City Pop is and I think I mixed it up with New Music. But then I listened to it and I now see what you mean... Hmm, I like Yamashita's score, buuuut Nagai's delivery feels weird with this sort of music. Somehow Disco Mitchie sounds more normal in comparison.

      Oh, and there's actually a discofied Beethoven's 5th? O_o Dang.

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    2. Looks like you have a pretty cool teacher there. :)

      As for Nagai, there seemed to be a mis-match on what the singer and the arranger wanted to accomplish. Felt like saying to Nagai "Nice try...but don`t quit your day job".

      Yup, there was indeed "A Fifth of Beethoven". I heard it all over the place back when I was in junior high school.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ouMaLRth-s

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    3. Yep, she's quite chill... though her grading can be rather strict. I hope we answered her questions well enough and that she won't take into account my team's shenanigans during the Q&A - there was quite a bit of monkeying around on the part of a couple of more playful members.

      That "A Fifth of Beethoven" is pretty funky and has got that laid back vibe, but it really is one of the stranger things I've heard so far. It has me thinking of The Dude from "The Big Lebowski".

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  2. Do you know where can i download this album? cant find it anywhere :(

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    1. Hello there. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything for download but there are a couple of sites for something more tangible.

      https://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%83%87%E3%82%A3%E3%82%B9%E3%82%B3%E6%AD%8C%E8%AC%A1%E3%82%B3%E3%83%AC%E3%82%AF%E3%82%B7%E3%83%A7%E3%83%B3-%E3%82%AD%E3%83%B3%E3%82%B0%E7%B7%A8-%E3%83%87%E3%82%A3%E3%82%B9%E3%82%B3%E3%81%8A%E5%AF%8C%E3%81%95%E3%82%93-%E3%82%AA%E3%83%A0%E3%83%8B%E3%83%90%E3%82%B9/dp/B000056667

      https://www.discogs.com/ja/MITCHIE-%E6%BF%80%E3%82%8C%E3%83%9F%E3%83%83%E3%83%81%E3%83%BC-%E4%B8%89%E6%A9%8B%E7%BE%8E%E6%99%BA%E4%B9%9F%E3%82%82%E3%81%86%E4%B8%80%E3%81%A4%E3%81%AE%E4%B8%96%E7%95%8C/release/4334355

      Sorry for all the characters!

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