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, March 13, 2017

Linda Yamamoto/Haruo Chikada/Etsuko Yakushimaru -- Kirikiri Mai (きりきり舞い)

In all honesty, I thought that I had exhausted all of my "Kayo Kyoku Plus" talk on force-of-nature Linda Yamamoto(山本リンダ). The last time I wrote about her was over 4 years ago with "Nerai Uchi"(狙いうち). Of course, when it came to Yamamoto, it had usually been about the hot and sexy. Well, strangely enough, I recently encountered one of her songs that was more on the cool and sexy side.

Now, compared to some of her past hits with all that hip-swinging choreography, Yamamoto's 11th single from December 1973, "Kirikiri Mai" (Going Round and Round) was a relatively modest success, despite the title, peaking at No. 28. And it was also another collaborative creation by Yu Aku and Shunichi Tokura(阿久悠・都倉俊一), the brains and hands behind the aforementioned "Nerai Uchi".

I think part of the reason that "Kirikiri Mai" wasn't a Top 10 barnburner was that Yamamoto turned down the heat somewhat. As you can see from the video above, she didn't really whirl around the stage in that long hair and bell-bottom pants. It was a surprisingly subdued performance. However for myself, "Kirikiri Mai" could be one of those underrated gems or at the very least, an interesting tune for Yamamoto in that she sings it with a certain measure of sultriness that has me thinking Kahimi Karie (カヒミ・カリィ) a couple of decades later with that French kitten persona.

Aku's lyrics have Yamamoto kinda/sorta apologizing for being such a force of nature but also stating that is simply who she is and perhaps what is attracting the guy/victim to her. The slightly whispery and staccato delivery also has me imagining Brigitte Bardot for some reason, and the music by Tokura, especially with that wind instrument, hints at her unrepentantly flirtatious nature. Yeah, maybe "Kirikiri Mai" is comparatively comatose compared to her earlier material (and I have yet to see it performed on any of the NHK music shows that I have seen over the past few years), but I think it still has sex appeal of another kind.

Perhaps the song wasn't a huge hit in the Yamamoto discography, but it has gotten its due through cover versions. In fact, a few years down the line, it was released by composer-musician Haruo Chikada(近田春夫)and his band, Haruofon (ハルヲフォン), as a zippy New Wave number which ended up as his 5th single from July 1978. I only had to listen to the song to get that New Wave vibe, and sure enough, when I checked the J-Wiki article for his band, they were indeed labeled as such a group.

I was mentioning Shibuya-kei artist Kahimi Karie a few paragraphs up. Well, I don't know whether she actually did cover "Kirikiri Mai" but I found a singer who provided a good emulation. Whispery Etsuko Yakushimaru (やくしまる えつこ) gave a soothing cover with a soupcon of bossa nova which was recorded in a special box set paying tribute to the songs of Aku, "Shin Ningen Man'yoka ~ Aku Yu Sakushishuu"(新・人間万葉歌〜阿久悠作詞集...New Human Man'yoka ~ The Collection of Yu Aku's Works) from 2010.

Strangely enough, listening to all of the versions of the song reminded me of the 1970s comedy "What's Up, Doc?" with Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand as whirlwind victim and whirlwind respectively. I was very young at the time I saw this on ABC one night but I remember feeling distinctly sorry for O'Neal's character (at least, initially) due to the antics of Streisand's overly free spirit.

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