Being someone who has been enjoying Japanese popular music for many many years, there will always be aspects that I miss. I've mentioned this before but I miss some of the soul music that came into J-Pop in the early 2000s via songstresses such as bird and Misia. Even a decade earlier than that, there was also a brief dalliance in the early 1990s when there was a small cadre of female singers and/or songwriters providing some nice urban contemporary balladry.
Back on New Year's Day, I wrote about a nice song sung by Hikaru Nishida（西田ひかる）titled "Kinou to wa O-Chigai"（きのうとは大違い）which popped up by chance while I was searching for any more music by the songwriter of the piece, Kyoko Endo（遠藤京子）.
Well, it turned out that I found this wonderful ballad written, composed and sung by Endo called "27-sai no Seishun" (My Youth at 27). Also arranged by Yoko Kanno (菅野よう子...who would later be responsible for a number of amazing things, including one of the most iconic themes in anime history), this song is one of the prime examples about that urban contemporary balladry I was referring to earlier.
"27-sai no Seishun" was released as Endo's 14th single in March 1993 and was also a track on her 7th original album "Koibito ni Naritai"（恋人になりたい...I Want to be a Lover）which also came out on the same day as the single. The singer-songwriter-actress had already been in the music business since 1981 but never quite hit the huge fame that some of her clients such as Nishida or Hiromi Iwasaki（岩崎宏美）did. Not that it would really matter; her ability to not only write but also deliver a tune probably has garnered a very dedicated group of fans, yours truly included.
This particular song may or may not be categorized as City Pop. However, I am since from the music I can't imagine any place other than a big city where the music or lyrics can be played out. With that slight sense of bossa nova in there, "27-sai no Seishun" has that romantic flair masking a deep sadness in the words. That title may look and sound like something to be envied but according to Endo, it's quite the opposite as described in the wording. The heroine is describing perhaps yet another failed relationship, something that she had thought would only be occurring with any frequency during her true adolescence when she was younger, more reckless and more willing to roll with the punches. Well, in Japan, she's now 7 years past her official inclusion into adulthood and disillusioned that this part of youth has not let her go yet, and perhaps she's wondering whether it will ever do so. Certain listeners may want to have a stiff belt of scotch with this one.
Still as I've said, it's a lovely song although very bittersweet. It has renewed my nostalgia for those ballads from over 20 years ago.