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, December 24, 2016

Maiko Okamoto -- Aitte Ringo desu ka? (愛って林檎ですか)

Well, I hadn't thought about doing it until after breakfast this morning but I decided it was time. I had already been scheduled to meet up with my anime buddy one more time for lunch before he took off for another excursion to Japan from next week. However since he was just gonna head home after our final meal together for the year, I decided to catch the latest "Star Wars" entry, "Rogue One" later in the afternoon on my own. It's been out for a week now and it's been getting some great reviews across the board which is something I hadn't seen even for "The Force Awakens" (and even I wasn't a great fan of that one). And sure enough, watching it today actually gave me hope for the future of the franchise, and that was basically the theme of the movie. Plus, I got to see some of the best space battle scenes in decades.

Now, after having such a rich cinematic treat today (and "Rogue One" came after a tonkatsu lunch), I thought it would be nice to have something nice and sweet and light...or at least write about a song on the blog in that manner. Happily, I was able to find one such happy song by happenstance during my usual browsings of YouTube.

This happens to be Maiko Okamoto's(岡本舞子)"Aitte Ringo desu ka?" (Is This Called Love An Apple?). You readers may be having a few questions immediately as did I when I came across it last night. One would be "Who the heck is she?" and the other may be "What is up with that title?".

Well, as for Question 1, I had no idea who Okamoto was either until 24 hours ago. But according to J-Wiki, she was an aidoru and actress from Tokyo who started out in child roles and then grew into duties on variety shows as a teen. Then former singer and music producer Hisahiko Iida(飯田久彦)saw some promise in the lass as a pop singer but she went through the cute teenybopping aidoru route from which she debuted in 1984.

"Aitte Ringo desu ka?" is her 2nd single from April 1985 which brings up that second question. Well, I can only assume from the lyrics that Okamoto is asking whether this whole thing called love can be savored as something sweet like a Golden Delicious or could she experience that odd stomach-killing crabapple once in a while? And the interesting thing is that those words were provided by none other than the Irving Berlin of kayo, the late Yu Aku(阿久悠)with Etsuko Yamakawa(山川恵津子)coming up with the melody.

Aku was someone that I had always associated with the music of the 1970s and 1980s but not particularly in the 1980s aidoru genre. But there he is. However, since I've always been more of a melody guy rather than a lyrics fellow, I've been getting more interested in the works of Yamakawa since she could also apparently come up with the typically sweet aidoru melody as well as the City Pop music that I first knew her from. I mean, it is just so sweet and innocent and solid (like a nice ripe apple) that Okamoto is almost obliged to wear a cotton gingham dress to sing "Aitte Ringo desu ka?" Yamakawa nailed down the Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや)style like a pro. Moreover, the aidoru's delivery is reminiscent of Yukiko Okada(岡田有希子)with a face similar to that of Narumi Yasuda(安田成美). The topper is that just judging from this song alone, I think Okamoto did have some actual talent although I'm not totally surprised that the powers-that-be decided to try her out in the aidoru vein for a while.

The song only got as high as No. 67 on Oricon. As it were, Okamoto released just 7 singles between 1984 and 1987 and 2 albums. She actually won a number of Newcomer awards and was continuing her presence through musicals and the like but after 1987, she decided to call it a celebrity career and retired. A collection of her hits was released in 2004 "Okamoto Maiko Collection"(岡本舞子コレクション).

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