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, December 25, 2017

Chris Hart/Chemistry/BENI/Kick The Can Crew/Beat Ratio -- Christmas Eve(クリスマスイブ)

Happy Christmas to all of you this day...or perhaps it's more like Happy Boxing Day or simply sympathies for your massive hangover.

The movie "White Christmas" (1954) has once again made its annual appearance on TV here. It's one of the favourites of the season in my household. But of course, the song itself is one of the most famous Xmas tunes in existence and therefore has been covered by just about everyone ranging from Barbra Streisand to Sailor Mars.

Five years ago, one of the first J-Xmas tunes I wrote about here on the blog was Japan's equivalent of "White Christmas", "Christmas Eve" by Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎). It has also been covered a number of times by various artists in both English and Japanese. Ah, yes, I know the above is a parody of the famous JR commercial featuring the song.

The first cover of "Christmas Eve" that I had ever heard was the rap version by hip-hop group Kick The Can Crew when they released their "Christmas Eve Rap" as their 4th single in November 2001. Peaking at No. 5 on Oricon, it sold approximately 400,000 copies. The band never placed it in an original album since it was a seasonal song but it is a track on their "Best Album 2001~2003" from November 2003. That album hit No. 1 and became the 44th-ranked album for 2004.

Several years later in 2008, the R&B duo Chemistry crooned their own take on the song through their album of ballads called "Winter of Love". The album came out in November and hit No. 7 on the charts.

Okinawan singer BENI then gave the English version of "Christmas Eve" a whirl on her own album of covers titled "COVERS:2" from November 2012. It peaked at No. 5.

Exactly 2 years later, Chris Hart sang his rendition of the Yamashita classic in his Xmas album "Christmas Hearts" which peaked at No. 8. Out of the versions mentioned so far, I think I like Hart's cover the best.

Yesterday on Xmas Eve, I received a friendly greeting from a fellow by the name of Beat Ratio from Australia who also shares my affinity for City Pop and 1980s Japan in general. He's been interested in breaking into the music industry and heading to Japan so he showed me his self-made video and cover of "Christmas Eve". I asked him if I could upload it here and he was very gracious in allowing me to do so.

Also if he is interested, I would also like to ask Beat Ratio why he wanted to cover this particular song by Yamashita. In any case, it's just another 364 days before Xmas Eve again.


  1. Thanks for including me in this amazing Christmas list! (^^)/

    I have many of Tatsuro Yamashita's albums on vinyl including "Melodies" but somehow, クリスマス・イブ being a very season-specific song on an album full of summery vibes (well, mainly on Side A), never quite stood out to me; especially when listening to it at any other time than the pre-Christmas months. (I wonder if that's the reason the song didn't skyrocket to success until it was used for the JR Tokai's Christmas ad some five years after its original release.)

    A few months ago, when talking with some Japanese friends, クリスマス・イブ came up and I was really impressed that they knew all the words by heart so I decided to give it another listen and became hooked. Around the same time I had this idea of making a video about not being able to adjust to a summer Christmas since moving to Australia about three years ago and decided that Yamashita's lyrics about snow, rain & Christmas trees would provide a great contrast.

    [But I'll let you in on a little secret: in typical Melbourne fashion, on the day of the shoot the temperature dropped about 20 degrees from the previous day leaving room for a freezing wind that just kept growing in intensity over the three or so hours that it took us to film everything. So it didn't feel too unseasonal after all.. ;) ]

    Like many of Yamashita's songs, the arrangement is seemingly simple but quickly revealed its intricacies when deconstructing it to create a synthesizer version for my cover. It was a nice challenge which made me appreciate the song even more and once again confirmed Yamashita's as one of my favourite Japanese songwriters.

    1. Hi, Beat and thanks for your prompt reply.

      Yes, I guess what "Christmas Eve" needed for it to blossom was the right environment. Folks probably couldn't envision Yamashita as a fellow being an Xmas song at the time. But when that JR commercial came up, something finally clicked. Perhaps even Tats himself was taken somewhat aback at this delayed reaction to a song of his that he had concocted several years prior.


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