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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Yukiko Okada -- All Songs Request

A little over 4 years ago, contributor JTM provided a detailed description of his BEST album for the late Yukiko Okada(岡田有希子), "The Premium Best", along with his own insights into the aidoru herself. I don't think I can add anything more to his comments except to say that Okada was a prime example of a singer who had the fine backup of some big songwriters behind her such as Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや), Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉), and Chinfa Kan(康珍化). But in her case, she was also blessed with a pretty talented voice in my estimation. I noticed that the common colour theme with the videos that were put up in JTM's article was pink, and that is the right colour for her. She just came across as cute, fresh and all cherry blossoms.

This is the first time in the history of "Kayo Kyoku Plus" that one singer has gotten two BEST album articles. JTM briefly mentioned about this compilation that I got during Xmas last year, "All Songs Request". It was released in May 2002 and my friend wondered aloud how a certain song didn't get onto this one CD. Well, I read in the J-Wiki bio that "All Songs Request" was a fan-based creation in that Pony Canyon had invited folks to tell them their favourite Yukko songs on their website during the period of March 2002 and the top 17 vote-getters got in.

And here they are:

1. Sayonara Natsu Yasumi (さよなら・夏休み)
2. Little Princess (リトル・プリンセス)
3. Akogare (憧れ)
4. Sonnet (ソネット)
5. First Date (ファースト・デイト)
6. Dreaming Girl
7. Futari Dake no Ceremony (二人だけのセレモニー)
8. Anata wo Wasureru Mahou ga Areba (あなたを忘れる魔法があれば)
9. Sweet Planet
10. Lonesome Season (ロンサム・シーズン)
11. Mizuiro Princess (水色プリンセス)
12. Summer Beach
13. Love Fair
14. Kuchibiru Network (くちびるNetwork)
15. Koi no Etude (恋のエチュード)
16. Hana no Image (花のイマージュ)
17. Believe In You

Track 5 happens to be Okada's debut single from April 1984, "First Date". This was a short and sweet introduction to the charms of Yukko via the songwriting talents of Mariya Takeuchi. Melodically speaking, Takeuchi manages to relate the story of the high and low emotions racing through a high school student due to her upcoming first date with the popular guy in class at a movie his invitation. She doesn't seem to feel worthy of his attention although as for the singer herself, I'm sure she had a lot of the male fans swooning.

"First Date" was used as a campaign song for a Glico Dairy Products commercial. It did OK on the charts by peaking at No. 20. The song was also placed in her debut album, "Cinderella" (シンデレラ) which was released in September 1984. Basically, I think the Takeuchi/Okada ventures were very successful.

Track 8 is another romantic entry by Yukko titled "Anata wo Wasureru Mahou ga Areba" (If Only There Were A Spell To Forget About You). This probably had a lot of fans, male and female, either nodding sagely or sighing while lying in bed since Chinfa Kan's lyrics have the aidoru singing about loving that guy from afar but just never getting the right time and place to express her feelings. Masataka Matsutoya(松任谷正隆)created the interesting melody which starts off slowly but then goes off into heroic heights which perhaps adds a different nuance to the lyrics.

"Anata wo Wasureru Mahou ga Areba" was not a single but a track on her 2nd album "Fairy" from March 1985.

What was also a track on "Fairy" and "All Songs Request" was "Futari Dake no Ceremony" (A Ceremony Just For Two), a mid-tempo celebratory melody about a young couple commemorating their graduation by themselves at some place whether it be at a restaurant or on the top of a hill with a picnic basket. Jun Natsume(夏目純)took care of the lyrics while Ami Ozaki(尾崎亜美)made the music which swung between some synth-based ceremonial notes and the happy-go-lucky melody for the celebrating duo.

This was Okada's 4th single from January 1985 and it became her most successful release until "Kuchibiru Network" by hitting No. 4 on Oricon and becoming the 85th-ranked song of the year. What I also read from J-Wiki is that the original single version hadn't been put onto CD until "All Songs Request".

As soon as I heard "Sweet Planet", I knew this had to be a Tetsuya Komuro concoction, and sure enough it was. I mean, this was probably a tune that Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里), another Komuro client back in the 1980s, could have sung. Yoshiko Miura(三浦徳子)wrote the lyrics about a girl who seems to be getting herself back on her feet after finishing a relationship. Komuro's music pretty much telegraphed the lass jumping back on the road to heartbreak recovery. "Sweet Planet" was the first track on her 3rd album "Juugatsu Ningyo"(十月の人魚...October Mermaid).

My final entry here is "Koi no Etude" (Etude of Love), which was the B-side to Yukko's 8th and final single "Kuchibiru Network" from January 1986. It was the other song that hadn't ever been put onto CD until this compilation, and it makes for a nice counterpoint to the happy aidoru-esque "Kuchibiru Network". Tetsuro Kashibuchi(かしぶち哲郎)was the lyricist who had the singer going through a whole range of emotions when it comes to her current beau and his past. Hiromoto Tobizawa(飛澤宏元)came up with this technopoppy piece of exotica that makes "Koi no Etude" sound like as if it had been set in some European mansion party hosted by Falco.

I don't know how "All Songs Request" did on the charts but this particular BEST compilation worked for me in that I was able to get to hear some of the songs that probably wouldn't have gotten onto a regular BEST album since I've often found that what Oricon likes and what the fans like don't always coincide. As of this date, it's been over 30 years since Okada's untimely passing and considering how wonderfully she sang as an aidoru that could have out-aidoru'ed even Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子), the songs that she has left us seem even more precious now and make me wonder what other tunes she could have made past 1986.

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