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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.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

J-Canuck's Favourite Technopop Tunes (Part 1)


Far back in 2014, contributor nikala was kind enough to contribute her playlist of techno kayo songs (aidoru edition) consisting of a number of different artists. When I looked through her list again, I realized that I had yet to put in my own choices when it came to technopop tunes from Japan, and that is rather ironic, since although I grew up with a lot of enka and Mood Kayo (though I didn't know of the genre names at the time), the first two genres that I got into when I fully embraced my love of Japanese pop music in 1981 were indeed aidoru (thanks to Seiko and Naoko) and technopop (thanks to Yellow Magic Orchestra). And yet, I hadn't even put up a list of my favourite digital ditties on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" in the past 6+ years, although there are hundreds of entries in the Techno category.

Well, that ends this weekend. As I was mulling over my choices over the past day and night though, I realized that this would be a challenging endeavour. Such was the difficulty and plethora of choices that I've decided to split my favourite technopop tunes into two parts. In both parts, I haven't bothered to order the songs in any particular way; just throwing them out there. And considering that all of my choices have gotten their own articles already, I won't give any long descriptions. I am merely providing the ones that have stuck in my brain all these years.


1. Perfume -- Night Flight (2009)

Marcos V. had introduced "Night Flight" to me through his own article on the technopop trio and this earworm. It has so thoroughly dug under my meninges that for all intents and purposes, "Night Flight" is the representative song for Perfume in my ears and eyes. There is so much of that spirit of YMO and perhaps even Kraftwerk imbued into Yasutaka Nakata's(中田ヤスタカ)work that I'm hoping that royalties didn't become an issue.


2. Akihiko Matsumoto(松本晃彦)-- Rhythm And Police (1997)

Before "Rhythm And Police" came out as the classic opening theme for Fuji-TV's "Odoru Dai Sosasen"(踊る大捜査線), the typical theme song for a police drama in Japan probably would have taken on the form of some downtown funk, perhaps heavy with bass. Then, Akihiko Matsumoto came along and created an eccentric technopop piece based on a Mexican song "El Cascabel" of which one copy is now floating with a group of other sounds on a probe heading out of the solar system. Nowadays, whenever police cars pass by through Tokyo with sirens a-blazing, pedestrians will probably hear this song instead.


3. Miharu Koshi(コシミハル)-- Hashire Usagi (1985)

Had no idea about Koshi's past as a New Music/City Pop diva in the 1970s. "Hashire Usagi"(走れウサギ)was my first exposure to the weirdly wonderful world of Miharu Koshi in her techno mode. This particular entry was quite perfect to describe the urgent run of a rabbit through the forest, and this would be my most representative song by her during this period.


4. Kenji Sawada(沢田研二)-- Rokubanme no Yu-u-u-tsu (1982)

"Rokubanme no Yu-u-u-tsu"(6番目のユ・ウ・ウ・ツ)is probably the first techno rock/New Wave song that I heard from Japan, and it would take fashion chameleon and envelope-pusher Kenji Sawada to pull this off. After first seeing his performance on the Kohaku Utagassen, I heard it on "Sounds of Japan" and liked the original version even more. Maybe there were those in the audience in NHK Hall on December 31st 1982 who glared and squinted at the spectacle of New Wave Sawada, but those space-age synths did it for me.


5. trf -- Boy Meets Girl (1994)

Even before I boarded my Air Canada flight to head to Tokyo for my long second odyssey as an English teacher, trf's "Boy Meets Girl" was one of a large tapeful of songs that had garnered my attention. You might say that it served as my musical introduction to my 17 years as an Ichikawa resident. I hadn't known at the time that it was serving as the campaign song for Coca-Cola but "Boy Meets Girl" certainly had the high-octane caffeine energy to match. The Komuro Boom was on its way.


6. Miki Nakatani(中谷美紀)-- Kinokhronika (1997)

This is still one of my favourite Japanese technopop songs and it's created by YMO's Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一). I've told Marcos once before that I couldn't tell the difference between drum n' bass and electroclash, and so I wouldn't know what "Kinokhronika" would be categorized as (it apparently means "newsreel"). It's still cool as heck, though, and the song could probably tell some sort of suspense tale among its beats.


7. Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)-- Kinku (1983)

As I mentioned in the original article, this is the first Akina song that I ever heard, again thanks to "Sounds of Japan" and the 1983 Kohaku Utagassen. Furthermore, "Kinku" may be the first techno aidoru tune that I have heard, now that the bloops and bleeps by Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)are now well buried in my brain. When I compare "Kinku" with the other aidoru hits of the time, I realize that this does really stand out since it is a nifty technopop take on Akina's early misunderstood teen persona singles.

You may be wondering why I haven't put in any Yellow Magic Orchestra in here. Well, that's for Part 2 and that will have a slightly different format due to my prior consternations about what to choose. Hopefully, that list will be on the blog as early as tomorrow afternoon.

2 comments:

  1. Does 3 carat diamond count as techno, or is it still disco, or maybe on the border? The beat and build up is reminiscent of techno and Eurobeat, but it has more proper instrumental backing than your average electronica outfit. It came out a month after YMO's Technopolis, which according to wiki was one of the early influences of techno.

    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x37oznt

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    Replies
    1. Hello there!

      Thanks for the question since it got me the opportunity to check out a Hiromi album, "10-Carat Diamond" that I haven't heard from before.

      As for the opening track of "3-Carat Diamond", aside from the first few seconds, I would probably consider it one of those disco pop songs that Hiromi was singing a lot of in the late 1970s, instead of it as a technopop tune.

      Actually, there is one Hiromi song that I have considered to be a technopop tune (or at least more of one anyways) and I didn't include it in this list because I could only the excerpt of it at iTunes. The song is titled "Koi wa Senso"(恋は戦争)and it is Track 3 of her 1982 album "Yuugure kara...Hitori"(夕暮れから…ひとり). https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/%E5%A4%95%E6%9A%AE%E3%82%8C%E3%81%8B%E3%82%89-%E3%81%B2%E3%81%A8%E3%82%8A-original-track-listing/254333469

      Let me know what you think.

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