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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Music Station (ミュージックステーション)

For the longest time, I've avoided writing about this long-running music show, TV Asahi's "Music Station". And frankly the reason was really quite irrational. I had just felt that I shouldn't really go into a show that I never really watched all that often although I knew about it almost back to the point that it had first premiered.

It wasn't really my fault, either. Logistics was the main reason. Of course, during the late 1980s, I had only known about the ranking shows such as TBS' "The Best 10" (ザ・ベストテン) and the venerable "Yoru no Hit Studio"(夜のヒットスタジオ)on Fuji-TV through rental tapes. And then when I finally did get to Japan those two times, it just so happened that I had to work Friday nights which was when "Music Station" was televised. By the time I actually had Friday nights off, which was close to the end of my time in Japan, I really had no idea or interest in the folks who were showing up on the show.

Just to give fair warning in advance, depending on where you are, you may not be able to see the above video due to the usual copyright wrangles. If that is indeed the case, my apologies in advance. However, the above is TM Network and I believe they are on "Music Station". Back in those late 1980s (it could have been 1987 or 1988), one of my English students (a really early one...before my JET adventure) was kind enough to dub a couple of episodes of the show on VHS tape when she went back to visit her family in Japan. It just so happened that the one guest I remembered was TM Network (and nope, the above footage isn't it). My impressions were that each of the band members had a really bad case of bed head.

The very first broadcast of "Music Station" was October 24 1986 which means it has just celebrated 30 years on air. Now, according to the blurb for this YouTube video, this footage came straight from Episode 1. I realize that aidoru pop up on the show regularly even now but it's still surprising to see that way back when, singers such as Naoko Kawai(河合奈保子)did show up. And that's because I've seen "Music Station" as the hip and cooler cousin to "The Best 10" and "Yoru no Hit Studio" which had that old-style glam and glitz of Las Vegas in my eyes. Perhaps it was the rock theme song (more on that later) or the color scheme which was fairly familiar to that of HMV (which I also saw as the hip and cool music store).

Of course, the long-time host of "Music Station" has been professional host and comedian Tamori (タモリ) paired with a TV Asahi announcer. However for the first 6 months of the show, hosting duties had belonged to another veteran TV presence Hiroshi Sekiguchi(関口宏)and singer Rie Nakahara(中原理恵)with aidoru Yu Hayami(早見優)taking care of a small segment each episode.

I don't have much in the way of notable memories when it comes to "Music Station" for the reasons I laid out above. However, one that I do have is one that I have mentioned before, in the very first article for Dreams Come True that I did for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" since it was on that show that I first saw the band with their amazing performance of "Ureshihazukashi Asagaeri"(うれしはずかし朝帰り), and it was on "Music Station" that I felt that kayo kyoku had made the jump into J-Pop (as subjective as that sounds). What I didn't say was that I had just returned from watching a local festival of guys in loincloths gallivanting about with my host family.

As I mentioned off the top, "M-Sute" has had this modern and sleek coolness when compared to other music shows. One other factor that contributed to my observation is that somewhere in that long J-Wiki article for the show, it's said that the last enka performer to appear did so back in the early 1990s. Since then, it's been all about the pop and aidoru and rock.

Another is the design of the set which kinda reminds me of what a party room on the USS Enterprise from Starfleet might look like. Perhaps one other subtle thing is that the audience (or one segment of it) is seen weekly on the show which was not often the case on the other programs. In fact, I think the producers made it a policy to ensure that the fans were given almost as much exposure as their idols themselves. Paired with that fact are the live performances of the singers. The sets are not on the same level as the epic scenes that would often engulf the artists on "The Best 10" (which I loved) but they are concert-worthy and the closer proximity of the cameras and audience made the show look like the show was broadcasting a whole spread of concerts on Friday night.

Of course, the piece de resistance is the theme song for "Music Station". Titled "1090 ~ Thousand Dreams", the rock theme for the show contrasts with the old-fashioned studio orchestra themes for "The Best 10" and "Yoru no Hit Studio". When I was first listening to it, I just thought "This has gotta be B'z" behind this one. And I was half-right. "1090" was composed by the guitar-shredding Takahiro Matsumoto(松本孝弘), one-half of B'z.

But strangely enough, as much as "1090" has been linked to "M-Sute" all these years, it is actually the third theme song. Between its debut in late 1986 and the end of 1991, there were two other themes used before the most famous theme got its debut probably on the first broadcast of 1992. It was only in early 2016 this year that "1090" was given a facelift of sorts with the new title being "1090 ~ Million Dreams".

When "1090 ~ Thousand Dreams" was released as a single in March 1992, it actually made it all the way to No. 2 on Oricon and became the 98th-ranked single of the year. The song is also a track on Matsumoto's 2nd original album "Wanna Go Home" from April of that year. That album peaked at No. 3 and was the 94th-ranked album for 1992.

Not sure what "Music Station" has in store in the future but although I still don't watch it all that often, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for it whenever it does its retrospective specials over the past 30 years. It's during those shows that I realize how far it has spanned from the later years of kayo kyoku into the current J-Pop.

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