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.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Marlene -- Seishun Carnival (青春カーニバル)

That was quite the game, wasn't it? Pundits have been saying over the past few days that the final game of the 2016 Major League Baseball season will go down as one of the best Game 7s ever played. I will one up that opinion and say it may be one of the best games, period. As much as it was a pity that the Blue Jays didn't make it past the ALCS, I was rooting for the Chicago Cubs since they needed to get that 108-year-old albatross off their necks. And they did it!

So I was thinking of some baseball-themed kayo that would have been appropriate for the situation. However, I had already taken care of yakyuu songs such as the anison "Touch" and even "Rokko Oroshi"(六甲おろし), the theme song for the lovable losers of Osaka, the Hanshin Tigers. But try as I might, I couldn't find anything out there.

However last night out of the blue (& white...Cubs' colours), I came across the above video on YouTube. It turned out to be the Japanese theme song for the brief American sitcom version of "The Bad News Bears" (more ursine coincidence). The custom, I think, still continues today where J-Pop tunes are created specifically as promotion songs for imported foreign TV shows (heck, I think there was even one for "Space 1999").

Anyways, I remember watching the original movie from the mid-1970s with Walter Matthau as the suffering manager and Tatum O'Neal as the fireballing pitcher. There was even a sequel "The Bad News Bears Go To Japan", before the TV version came on via NTV with veteran actor Jack Weston in the Matthau role. I'd forgotten when the series aired but according to Wikipedia, it was 1979-1980. Apparently, that TV version did make it over to Japan but instead of the familiar strains of Bizet's "Carmen" greeting viewers there, it was a jaunty country music pop song that framed the opening credits.

Marlene Pena Lim is a jazz singer based in Japan who I first found out about when one of her disco songs got onto a compilation tape of 80s Japanese music that I got at Wah Yueh in Chinatown back in my university days. Going by her nom de guerre Marlene by that point, that particular song was called "Magic".

Born in Manila, The Philippines in 1960, she made her professional debut as a singer in 1975 at the age of 15 and made her way to Japan in 1979. Her debut single under the name of Marilyn (and that was the case for her next 3 singles) was "Seishun Carnival" (Carnival of Youth), a happy-go-lucky ditty about trying one's best and not giving up the fight while making a very short shoutout to the Bears. It sounded all very "ABC's After School Special". Nobuko Tanaka(田中のぶ子)wrote the lyrics while Yuuichiro Oda(小田裕一郎)came up with the hay wagon ride of a melody. While "Seishun Carnival" covered the A-side of the single, the B-side had an arranged version of "Carmen".

Finding this song was providence. Imagine writing about a song for a group of a fictional baseball team of lovable losers in tribute to a real baseball team of (now former) lovable losers. And I've always enjoyed finding the obscure and interesting Japanese kayo as much as I've savored writing about the hits.

Bill Murray has been one of my favourite comedic actors ever since "Caddyshack" and right through "Ghostbusters" to "Groundhog Day". I've known him for his deadpan sense of humour and sometimes downright dour demeanor. So it was well worth repeatedly watching his truly joyous reaction when the Cubs finally won.

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