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.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Works of Koji Makaino (馬飼野康二)

Time for another attempt at a retrospective for a veteran songmaker, and the subject this time is Koji Makaino. For some reason, when I see or hear the name, I always think of one of his later compositions, "A-RA-SHI", the debut single for the current top band on the Johnny's Entertainment hill, Arashi(嵐). But obviously he's been plying his trade from far back. The other thing that I've been struck with is his name itself which sounds pretty rare to me (according to one website dealing with Japanese names, it ranks in the 17,000s for the top 50,000 names). And when I did a bit of checking, I found out that "Makaino" may have originated in Shizuoka Prefecture, the land of green tea. However, songwriter Makaino was born and raised in neighbouring Aichi Prefecture which is the land of some of the more intriguing examples of Japanese comfort food such as miso katsu and ten-musu.

Koji Makaino was born in 1952 into a family associated with music. His father, Noboru Makaino(馬飼野, was a composer of go-tochi songs (ご当地ソング...songs about specific cities and towns), and his older brother, Shunichi(馬飼野俊一), also became a composer and arranger. The brothers' interest in music started from an early age as the family got involved in a tango band and also in the backup band for singer Yoshiko Ohtsu(大津美子).

Makaino got his formal education in music at the Shobi College of Music in Tokyo although he dropped out to join a Group Sounds band, Blue Sharm(ブルー・シャルム), in 1967. However, the band only lasted until 1970 and produced only 4 singles. A couple of years later, he started cutting his teeth on arrangement when he helped out on Hideki Saijo's(西城秀樹)3rd single, "Chance wa Ichido"(チャンスは一度...Just One Chance), a short-but-sweet song that sounded like something from the go-go-boot friendly age of the 1960s. It managed to peak at No. 20 and from that point forwards, Makaino focused his talents on composition and arrangement.

From what I've gleaned from his long list of creations on his J-Wiki file, Makaino has done a lot of work for aidoru representing the last few decades of the 20th century and into the 21st. Another dynamic example of his aidoru work was "Yuki no Naka no Futari"(雪の中の二人...Couple in the Snow)for Megumi Asaoka(麻丘めぐみ)as her 10th single from December 1974 for which he was listed as composer. That song reached as high as No. 16 on Oricon.

However, Makaino didn't just keep himself on retainer for merely the teenyboppers. He has also created works in the Mood Kayo and straight pop genres with examples like Shigeru Matsuzaki's(松崎しげる)heart-on-a-sleeve ballad "Ai no Memory"(愛のメモリー)from 1977 and the cutesy kayo "Otoko to Onna no Love Game"(男と女のラブ・ゲーム)from 1987.

One other example of his non-aidoru compositions that I just found was the surprising union of 70s folk singer Akira Inaba(因幡晃)and late 80s/early 90s former aidoru Shoko Aida(相田翔子)of Wink fame to perform "Kureta no Shiroi Suna"(クレタの白い砂...The White Sands of Crete)as Inaba's 34th single from April 2004 although it is also a track on Aida's 3rd solo album "This Is My Love" which was released much later in September 2013. Listening to this glossy ballad, I realized that Makaino has had quite the romanticist inside of him since "Ai no Memory".

Moving on...or the 1980s, Makaino kept busy with the aidoru of a different breed then. He composed "100% Danjo Kousai"(100%男女交際...100% Boy-Girl Dating)for saucy Kyoko Koizumi(小泉今日子)in April 1986 as her 18th single. It's as perky as a Kyon-Kyon tune goes but it has some nice backing by the orchestra. As for the title, it had originally been "Akarui Danjo Kousai"(明るい男女交際...Cheerful Boy-Girl Dating)but was changed into "100%" during a delay in the release. According to the article for the song, Koizumi was far from pleased with the name change saying it was the worst on a radio program. Still the song hit No. 2 on the charts and was the 86th-ranked single for the year.

Geez, where have you been all of my life? I never heard of this Hikaru Genji(光GENJI)song until a few days ago, but man, I really like "Waratte yo"(笑ってよ...C'mon, Smile). Makaino composed and arranged the band's final No. 1 hit which was released in November 1990 as its 11th single. It's got a lot of oomph with a spritz of Latin and a percussion that will hammer your ears into submission above a certain sound level. It became the 82nd-ranked single of the year.

Still a lot to explore about Makaino but in consideration of the limits of the number of categories I can place in the Labels section, I will have to stop it here with Yasuko Naito's(内藤やす子)"Omoide Poroporo"(想い出ぼろぼろ...Tattered Memories). This was arranged by Makaino as Naito's 3rd single from September 1976 and it's also a fine discovery by me. I love the combination of the rock guitar with those soaring and shimmering strings. I've got an impression that Makaino liked to put in a nice layer of lushness into his arrangements, no matter what the genre was or who the singer was.

In fact, I like this last song so much, I will give it its own individual entry as soon as I can. There's a bit more I can add in my comments here in the body and also in the Labels.

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