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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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Chieri Ito -- Paradise Walker(パラダイス・ウォーカー)


My view of the 80s female aidoru scene all the way from Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)to Wink is that it was somewhat like a massive pyramid with the ones at the peak achieving pop superstardom, a second layer below with some more of those aidoru who never quite became supernovae but maintained enough popularity to keep releasing singles and make moves into TV as tarento. Then there is the humongous bottom layer where perhaps hundreds of teens were able to make their brief 15 minutes of fame for a handful of singles before quietly disappearing and retiring or transferring into other aspects of show business.

As much as I adore the upper echelons of 80s aidoru including Seiko-chan, Kyoko Koizumi(小泉今日子)and Akina Nakamori(中森明菜), I've also had an interest in seeing and listening to at least a small fraction of those aidoru from the bottom layer. Perhaps, they may not have become stars but I've always wondered whether they did come up with some diamonds in the rough, so to speak.


Marcos V. was the fellow to first bring aidoru Chieri Ito(伊藤智恵理)to "Kayo Kyoku Plus" via her 5th single "Coconuts no Kataomoi"(ココナッツの片想い). As he wrote, she was a minor aidoru who made her debut in June 1987 with "Paradise Walker". The song itself isn't particularly special (Oricon rank: 23 with 45,000 records sold) although there is some of that hint of what American pop music was like to me back in those days. However, I do like Ito's voice; I find it quite resonant. The late Masami Tozawa(戸沢暢美)and Ken Sato(佐藤健)created the song for her.

As it were, Ito released a total of 7 singles up to 1990 and 2 original albums. However, into the 1990s she did release 5 singles and 1 album under the new name of just Chieri, and even became the vocalist for the band The Rhythm Kings, releasing a couple of singles and albums with them.

4 comments:

  1. Hi J-Canuck!

    Thanks for bringing up these minor idols into the light again.

    As for me, I just realize that I do like "minor" artists more or equally to major ones. You might have also have noticed it with the suggestions I gave you before.

    Truth to be told, after 25 years starting listening to Japanese music I still don't own any of Seiko Matsuda nor Momoe Yamaguchi albums for example. And I don't think I'll buy some one day...

    I just bought my first Akina Nakamori albums this year (lost in a full batch of minor artists/idols :) ). And that's because of Joana's "The first" well written article. I decided to give it a second chance. I already feel 2nd and 3rd albums are enough for me.

    I guess major artists have a wider and longer exposure and I tend to get "bored" about them while minor ones still sound more fresh because of low rotation.

    The only downturn of minor artists is that their albums tend to be hard and expensive to find. But hunting them is a big part of the fun.

    As for Chieri Ito, I think she stands out of B-class idols. She has a nice voice and most of her songs are very catchy. Personal favourite is "Ame ni kieta aitsu" (雨に消えたあいつ)

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    1. Hi, Daemonskald.

      I'm good with both the major and minor idols. I think it's just that with the major ones such as Seiko and Naoko, they're kinda like family so I don't really get all that amazed; their hits will always be comfortable.

      But with the minor idols, of course, there will be the ones who didn't become famous because they were just bad. On the other hand, I've been lucky to find some pretty good songs by idols who didn't last too long in the industry. I guess what makes them more precious is that as you said, their albums or singles are very difficult to find nowadays. Perhaps YouTube may be the only hope int that case.

      I will have to take a look at "Ame ni Kieta Aitsu". Thanks for the tip!:)

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  2. Thanks for spotlighting relatively unknown idols like Chieri Ito. She certainly has talent and under the right circumstances she could have made it to the big time. It makes me wonder how many idols could have made that next step up the ladder if they had the benefit of the right composers or lyricists. I don’t think there is a huge talent gap between Ito and others like Chiemi Hori or even Miho Nakayama. Besides talent and luck I think there is also that certain unidentifiable quality that entertainers just have that attracts the attention of their fans. I often see Matsuda Seiko that way. She is talented and can sing. But she wasn’t the best singer or the cutest of her era. She was above average in these things but she also had very good song writers. I think she became a mega-star because of a certain unquantifiable quality that her millions of fans could not resist. Could Ito have been the person who caught that lightning in the bottle? I am not saying she is necessarily on par with Matsuda Seiko but I wonder why it was her and not one of the numerous other idols back then.

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    1. Hi, Wolf! And it's my pleasure.

      This is just my opinion, but I've always had the theory that back then there was a Queen Bee approach in the aidoru industry. I could imagine the powers-that-be at the talent-grooming agencies looking at a particular young ingenue and then declaring "Yes, SHE'S the one!" After that, she would undergo an especially harsh regimen of singing, acting and dancing lessons, along with little sleep although she would be getting some of the big songwriters in her corner.

      I'm not sure why Ito didn't make the cut while others did. Vocally speaking, I think she sounded somewhat similar to Minako Honda who eventually became a noted singer on stage. However, although Ito may not have become a super-aidoru like Seiko-chan, she was able to take her singing career into another direction...perhaps one that was more satisfying to her. Writing this, I remember that Maki Watase had also started out as an aidoru but then parlayed those early days in showbiz to become the lead singer of rock band Lindberg.

      I will see if I can find some more of those unknown aidoru in the bottom part of the pyramid. There are some songs in which I remember the melody but not the singer or the title. It would be great to make their re-acquaintance with them again.

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