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, June 21, 2018

Checkers -- NANA

Can't quite remember when exactly Checkers(チェッカーズ)made that transition from doo-wop teenyboppers with a New Romantic fashion sense to a more jazzy rock n' roll sensibility along the lines of a Peter Gunn soundtrack, but perhaps their 11th single "NANA" was one of the early examples.

Released in October 1986, the lyrics were written by Checkers' vocalist Fumiya Fujii(藤井郁弥)and the music was taken care of by his brother and band saxophonist Naoyuki Fujii(藤井尚之). Looking at the cover of the single above, the fellows kinda look like they would invade any of the watering holes that Gunn would regularly visit.

I was surprised that it's taken so long for me to put "NANA" up since it was a song which was performed pretty often on those videos of "Best 10" or "Top 10" that I used to borrow from Nippon Video. Watching the guys perform on those music programs was also interesting since Checkers were singing this 1950s nightside stuff while dressed in something more New Wave.

According to the J-Wiki article on "NANA", vocalist Fujii related that when he was coming up with the title, he decided to go with a name that could span the worlds of enka and the nightclub life. Who am I to argue? As for his lyrics, they are about how hot some guy is for the titular lady and apparently, the lyrics themselves got so hot that NHK went "No, no" on "NANA" so that Checkers couldn't perform it on the Kohaku Utagassen that year, instead going for the much less salacious prior single "Song For U.S.A.".

It was just as well since "Song for U.S.A." did better on the charts anyways. "NANA" was no slouch, though, by scoring a No. 2 ranking on the Oricon weeklies and a No. 48 ranking for 1986 singles. "NANA" was also a track on Checkers' 5th album "GO" from May 1987. The album was a No. 1 hit.

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