"Uta Kon" (うたコン) had its theme of broken hearts a few nights ago, and one song came up as performed by former 80s aidoru-turned-actress Yoko 'Nanno' Minamino（南野陽子）titled "Anata nara Dou Suru" (What Would You Do?) as written by longtime lyricist Rei Nakanishi（なかにし礼）and composed by Kyohei Tsutumi（筒美京平）. In fact, Nakanishi was sitting with the rest of the hosts and guests since his songs were getting their due on the show...no pressure there. But as soon as I heard the plaintive title refrain, I knew that I had heard it before!
And it turned out to be during my Gunma days back in the late 80s and early 90s when the song was used as a commercial jingle for the coffee whitener Brite. Considering that song title and what I know about the chemical composition of things like Coffee Mate now, I would be more than happy to stick with real cream, thank you very much.
If I had known then what I knew now, I would have figured it out almost immediately that "Anata nara Dou Suru" was more than just an especially well-constructed jingle. It was actually Ayumi Ishida's (いしだあゆみ) 2nd-most successful hit released as her 30th single from March 1970, and it was quite the revelation to me since I knew Ishida as the singer behind the legendary "Blue Light Yokohama" (ブルーライト・ヨコハマ) from a couple of years previously.
Over the last few days, my two active collaborators, Noelle and Marcos, have been talking with me about the angsty charms of the late Keiko Fuji（藤圭子）. And at first thought, I had gone with the opinion that "Anata nara Dou Suru" would have been the ideal cover for her and was surprised initially that according to J-Wiki at least, she never gave her version of this song. As you might guess, Nakanishi's lyrics were not about whether to choose coffee whitener over cream but about how to handle suddenly being dumped by the guy you love. I mean, wouldn't this be Fuji territory?
However after a bit more consideration, perhaps the original "Anata nara Dou Suru" as sung by Ishida was not quite dark enough. There is that tone in Ishida's voice which hints that the crisis is still ongoing with the (faint) hope that something can be salvaged from the relationship. With Fuji, there was always that feeling of "way too late" resignation and it was time to creep on, rather than move on.
Getting back to Ishida, what makes this ballad work is not just the downtrodden lyrics but again that heartfelt refrain of the singer as a woman who has just stumbled through the rain in shock to consult with an old friend at a bar for some liquid healing.
Although Fuji may not have covered it, a lot of other singers dove into the "Anata nara Dou Suru" pool which explains the loaded article title on top. It's quite something about the release of kayo kyoku back in the old days. It would seem that if there were even a faint whiff of hit potential with a certain song, then a good number of singers would record their own takes at the same time. Just imagine, not just Michael Jackson releasing "Beat It" but Hall & Oates, Quincy Jones, James Ingram etc. jumping on the bandwagon in the same year.
And that is what happened with this particular song. There may have been as many as 6 acts alone who had covered "Anata nara Dou Suru" between 1970 and 1971 along with Ishida herself. All of them were album tracks, though, with one of those singers being Jun Mayuzumi（黛ジュン）. Her clear take on the ballad has a bit more of a bossa nova feeling and is available on her 1970 album "Jiyu no Megami -- Mayuzumi Jun Big Hit wo Utau"（自由の女神 黛ジュン・ビッグ・ヒットを歌う...Goddess of Freedom -- Jun Mayuzumi Sings The Big Hits）.
Then there are the distinct vocal stylings of Naomi Chiaki (ちあきなおみ) who also recorded her version in the same year for her album "Ai wa Kizutsukiyasuku -- Chiaki Naomi Hit Pops wo Utau"（愛は傷つきやすく ちあきなおみ ヒット・ポップスをうたう...Love Hurts -- Naomi Chiaki Sings Hit Pops）. Ishida's plea for help is in there but it's bolstered by some of that ennui and smokiness that Chiaki is famous for.
And here is Nanno providing her take on the song as one of several actresses performing covers of Nakanishi kayo for a 2016 tribute album titled "Nakanishi Rei to 13-nin no Joyu-tachi"（なかにし礼と13人の女優たち...Rei Nakanishi and 13 Actresses）. This is a follow-up album from the previous year which featured 12 thespians.
Of course, we gotta put in the fine synth-vocal stylings of Miku Hatsune（初音ミク）. As for the success of the original "Anata nara Dou Suru", it peaked at No. 2 on Oricon and later became the 21st-ranked single for 1970. Ishida would also appear on the NHK Kohaku Utagassen for the 2nd straight time to sing this one after her inaugural performance on the New Year's Eve special with, of course, "Blue Light Yokohama". In total, she appeared on the show 10 times with her last appearance in 1993.