Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Marcos V.’s Special Selection Vol. II
Miho Fujiwara – Streets Are Hot
Probably the rarest song featured today, Miho Fujiwara’s (藤原美穂) “Streets Are Hot” is a true 80s gem, direct from 1986. Apparently, it was one of the songs used in “California Crisis”, an obscure anime OVA that seems not very great aside from its OST. Anyway, the song is a great example of City Pop from its time, with the irresistible groove, catchy melody, and sunny feeling. Even Miho’s vocals, which may sound a little too Kate Bush at some points, adds an admirable heat to the song.
Takako Ohta – MAGICIAN ~in the midnight~
And here’s another 80s gem, but now in the form of Takako Ohta’s (太田貴子) “MAGICIAN ~in the midnight~”, from 1989, that was produced by jazz saxophonist and composed Bobby Watson, and features a delicious and funky singalong chorus. Aside from all the Creamy Mami (魔法の天使クリィミーマミ) stuff that Ohta recorded in her aidoru days, she also released some interesting City Pop/R&B albums during the late 80s. Unfortunately, her fame has always been restricted to the anime niche, and true funky gems like “MAGICIAN ~in the midnight~” just got buried with time.
CHAGE and ASKA – Trip
After becoming with “Boku wa Kono Me de Uso wo Tsuku” (僕はこの瞳で嘘をつく) earlier this year, I had the pleasure of buying CHAGE and ASKA’s “SUPER BEST II” compilation from a fellow Brazilian for a very cheap price. Time passed by and it became the album I listened to the most this year (2017 is not over yet, but still). Aside from the aforementioned upbeat tune, “Trip” is the one song I keep returning to, thanks to its gorgeous melody and ASKA’s powerful delivery. Well, he’s always great, but there’s something special in “Trip”, and even a hint of sadness at some points. It’s interesting how it wasn’t a true hit when it was released back in 1988. The duo had to wait until the economic bubble burst to have their second, and definitive, wave of success.
The Checkers – Sea of Love
Even though it’s was not released as a single, “Sea of Love” is a big highlight from The Checkers’ (チェッカーズ) final album, “Blue Moon Stone”, which was released in 1992. Coupled with the band’s usual groove, the charming and soulful Fumiya Fujii (藤井フミヤ) delivers a sexy vocal performance that represents very well their maturity in this last effort.
Rica Matsumoto – Alola!! (アローラ!!)
Pokémon is a big part of my life, since my childhood days. Last year, when new titles Pokémon Sun and Moon were announced for the Nintendo 3DS, I knew it was my chance to buy a Nintendo portable for the first time in my life (a very old dream, since the Game Boy days) and start a new journey in a place called Alola, which was heavily inspired by Hawaii. Game story aside, new Pokémon games means a new season of the anime, which also got me pumped (I stopped watching the anime years ago, but playing the new games just got me interested in accompanying Ash/Satoshi and Pikachu in their journey again). So, after a few episodes, I started liking the opening a lot, even if it’s just another upbeat tune for a kids show. Maybe it was the Hawaiian touches, such as the timid inclusion of ukulele in the arrangement, or the infectious chorus sang by Rica Matsumoto (松本梨香), or the wild horns playing non-stop… or even that cute singalong interlude featuring Pikachu. The thing is, “Alola!!” (2017) became one of my favorite Pokémon opening themes, right next to the very old ones.
Hikaru GENJI – Nettaya (熱帯夜)
I remember talking about Hikaru GENJI’s (光GENJI) “Waratte yo” (笑ってよ) a while ago, and “Nettaya” is somewhat similar in the sense that both are Latin-inspired songs. Released in 1991 as the coupling song to the single “WINNING RUN”, “Nettaya” explodes in an exuberant and glossy summer song that almost makes me want to sing the owaranai masquerade… owaranai natsu (終わらないマスカレード… 終わらない夏) from the first chorus together with the boys. The melody is so vibrant that almost masquerades (yeah, pun intended) Hikaru GENJI’s limited vocals, and I also love the arrangement composed mostly by keyboards, strong horns and the main synth line that shares its melody with the chorus. Great summer song by the guys!
Chisato Moritaka – Kanojo (彼女)
I generally tend to write about Chisato Moritaka’s (森高千里) Eurobeat tunes, but the hard rock of “Kanojo” just hit me hard since she released 1991’s “The Moritaka Tour” DVD/Blu-Ray (「ザ・森高」ツアー1991.8.22 at渋谷公会堂) for the first time ever a couple of months ago. The song is almost a duet of Chisato with the guitarist, thanks to the well-executed guitar solos. Of course, the rest of her band was also essential, like the omnipresent bassist, and it’s strange to almost see her as part of a band instead of as a solo artist. In the end, rather than the colorful and light sound we’re used to from her, I see “Kanojo” as a grey and hard song thanks to its very specific sound (at least in Moritaka’s overall discography).
Takuya Nakazawa – Aoi Diamond (青いダイヤモンド)
“Aoi Diamond” was a nice surprise that was released at the beginning of this year (2017). Takuya Nakazawa (中澤卓也) was also a new name for me, since I don’t follow the enka world with dedication. In fact, I don’t know if the song can be classified as pure enka, since it misses some of the genre’s main quirks and characteristics. Maybe some sort of Kayo Kyoku or Showa Era pop would be more adequate, even if rather vague… and I really like how the meaty vocal performance are a good show off of Takuya’s crooner skills (the big smile and plastic appearance helps too). As for the song, it’s surprisingly catchy for what it is, and I just love to sing it while watching the live performances. I want to hear more from Takuya, since he has such a beautiful voice and pleasant style.
Greeen Linez – Sallot Ski
After “Hibiscus Pacific”, “Sallot Ski” (2012) is my favorite offer from the British duo Greeen Linez and their obsession with 80s Japanese aesthetics. There’s some sort of mystique in this song that I’m not even able to explain, but I drown into this strange feeling every time I play it. Of course I do a little head dance as well, but that’s only because of the obvious groove. In the end, this is a gorgeous underground tune.
Tatsuro Yamashita – REBORN
To end this list, a song from a true master! Honestly, I’m not well familiarized with Tatsuro Yamashita’s (山下達郎) songs, but I know how the singer-songwriter is considered a legend in the Japanese Record Industry. And “REBORN”, released in 2017 as a theme for the movie Namiya Zakkaten no Kiseki (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟), showcases a basic element that Japan seems to like very much: melancholy. Thanks to the keyboard bits, coupled with Yamashita’s soulful vocal, all the melodic shifts, and the song’s overall ethereal mood, we’re simply in front of a great song.