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.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Akina Nakamori -- AL-MAUJ(アルマージ)

It may be Friday July 13th so the superstitious ones are avoiding sidewalk cracks and black cats, and in the small community of Port Dover, Ontario, motorcycle enthusiasts have been rolling in as they always do on Friday the 13th, but for us Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)fans, July 13th is the birthday we celebrate.

Happy 53rd birthday, Akina! Good heavens, it was over 6 years ago that I wrote my first article on the songstress. In fact, it was just the second day of existence for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" when I gave my thoughts on her album "Bitter and Sweet", still my favourite album by her.

As such, I would be remiss if I didn't write an article about Akina-chan today, and although I had been a little worried that I wouldn't be able to find anything, I was able to track down this particular single that I hadn't tackled yet.

Back in the late 1980s, my feelings on Nakamori had been that she had gone into a "weird" phase due to the fact that she seemed to become more experimental with her album releases starting with "Fushigi" (1986). At the time, I wasn't quite as open to her more creative ventures and it's only been recently that I re-conciliated with "Crimson" (1986) at some sacrifice. My somewhat unsure impressions of her unfortunately did filter into her singles to a certain extent as well (although those singles didn't get onto those albums, except for the BEST compilations and "Cruise"), including her 20th single "AL-MAUJ" (Waves) which was released in January 1988.

Now, it wasn't the first time that Akina had tackled something with that old exotic kayo feeling. There was "Sand Beige" from 1985, but I think she dove deeper into the mood with "AL-MAUJ".

And that included her appearances on the music shows when she came out in that full regalia. The music by Takashi Sato(佐藤隆)seemed to undulate like those waves, and with Akira Ohtsu's(大津あきら)lyrics about a bewitching and intoxicating and perhaps dangerous romance, all "AL-MAUJ" needed was Akina's deep and dramatic vocals (including her famous vibrato at the end of refrains) to set the mysterious atmosphere surrounding the song. For "Sand Beige", it was about the singer making the transition from really popular aidoru to pop superstar but with "AL-MAUJ", the diva had indeed landed.

The song was another No. 1 hit for her and it became the 14th-ranked single for 1988. It made its first appearance on an album through her second BEST compilation "BEST II" which came out on Xmas Eve that year.

"AL-MAUJ" will still not enter my Top 6 favourite Akina songs but with mellowing age and growing nostalgia, I'm good with it now. And it's definitely 100% Akina.

P.S. I know that there a few collaborators on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" who are Akina fans as well, so I invite them to write about their favourite Akina tunes or the Akina song that got them to become her fans, if they are so inclined.

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