Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Sanae Jounouchi -- Ajisaibashi (あじさい橋)
Yesterday, looking at Oricon’s 1986 Top 100 hits, I was surprised to see how many female aidoru tunes were in the list – I counted nothing less than 54 songs. In other words, half of the list was occupied by female aidoru tunes, leaving the other half to Enka singers, Rock bands, City Pop artists, male aidoru singers/groups, among other genres of Japanese popular music we could add here.
Apart from some usual Akina Nakamori (中森明菜), Kyoko Koizumi (小泉今日子) or Miho Nakayama’s (中山美穂) hits (to name a few big aidoru from the time), the huge majority of aidoru singers in 1986’s list were members of the big group Onyanko Club (おニャン子クラブ) going solo or being divided into subunits. For the critics, it was probably a very similar nightmare to what happens with AKB48, its subunits and sister groups nowadays, and we can thank – or blame – the same man, Yasushi Akimoto (秋元康), for both phenomenons.
Among the many singles released by Onyanko Club’s members in this particular year, I was able to discover an interesting and unusual one: “Ajisaibashi” by Sanae Jounouchi (城之内早苗).
Released in June 1986 as Sanae Jounouchi’s debut single, “Ajisaibashi” was meant to be an enka song. It somehow succeeds, but I find the vocals really light in this one, if compared to the usual vibrato-heavy and more traditional enka singing style. Maybe Sanae was still learning how to sing enka in a more mature way (I still have to listen to her more recent singles), but “Ajisaibashi” ends sounding more like an usual ballad with a warm melody and just some enka flourishes in the arrangement. In the end, it was probably due to this “light way of performing enka” that I liked the song so much.
Here’s Sanae singing “Ajisaibashi” in a more recent performance.
“Ajisaibashi” reached #1 on the Oricon chart, selling 155,000 copies. Lyrics were written by Yasushi Akimoto, while music and arrangement were done by Akira Mitake (見岳章).