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, January 2, 2017

Iyo Matsumoto -- Taiyo ga Ippai (太陽がいっぱい)

I've been in a small quandary for the last several days when it has come to the oeuvre of former aidoru-turned-tarento Iyo Matsumoto(松本伊代). Recently, I was kindly given the works of Ms. Matsumoto so I've just perused the first of four discs summarizing her singles up to 1990. The question that I have is considering all of the big aidorus to come out of the early 1980s such as Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子), Akina Nakamori(中森明菜), Kyoko Koizumi(小泉今日子), etc., why is it that I only know Matsumoto for just that one song which happened to be her debut "Sentimental Journey"(センチメンタル・ジャーニー)?

Matsumoto had been a semi-regular presence on the telly during all my time in Japan as a TV personality, especially when it comes to the matter of being a celeb housewife and mother. However, when it comes to her music career, the TV hosts and producers inevitably merely show footage of her teenage self bopping about to "Sentimental Journey".

Listening to CD 1, her songs from the early 1980s aren't too bad as far as aidoru stuff goes. But perhaps any lack of exposure of her other songs may be due to the fact that aside from her debut song, they didn't break into the Top 10 of Oricon (proven wrong with at least her 9th single, "Toki ni Ai wa"). Also, as composer Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)admitted in the liner notes in that box set for Matsumoto, she didn't particularly have a beautiful voice although he also noted in the same sentence that Iyo-chan's vocals are included in his personal favourite Top 3 voices alongside those of the nasal Hiromi Go(郷ひろみ)and the breathy Miki Hirayama(平山三紀). Perhaps Iyo-chan appealed to a smaller fan base of a certain taste.

One of the songs on the first disc that pricked up my ears was "Taiyo ga Ippai" (Full of Sunshine), her 7th single from June 1983. Written by Mayumi Shinozuka(篠塚満由美)and composed by Kenji Hasama(羽佐間健二), I liked the Latin-tinged melody of intrigue and I will always be happy for the presence of spicy horns. I mean, it was good enough so that I was left with the feeling that I should have picked up on this sooner. Well, better late than never.

"Taiyo ga Ippai" managed to peak at No. 14. Nope, not a runaway hit by any means but still quite respectable. Matsumoto has that nasal quality in her singing that she still has in her speaking voice but it's still quite distinctive. I could listen to a song of hers without any prior notice and still identify it as hers easily. So at this point, I'm having a good time exploring her music and will be awaiting what I come across in the other discs.

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