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, July 14, 2018

Akina Nakamori - Yokan

Yesterday was Akina Nakamori (中森明菜)'s birthday and attending to J-Canuck's invitation, I'm leaving my own article to celebrate.

Yokan (予感) is a song originally included in the álbum Bitter and Sweet from 1985, which means it was already covered in the blog, but still, I think it's relevant enough to have an article of its own. Not only is one of my absolute favorite Akina songs, it's also one that while not being very popular with the general public, is a staple of her career. In one of the first albums I ever listened from her, the Best Collection from 1998, it was the only song that received a rearrangement and hadn't been an A-side in one of Akina's singles.

Penned and composed by ASKA (I only looked it up now, but it does sound like something he'd release), the song has some meaningful lyrics. "If you're going to hate me anyway, I would rather hate you with all my heart" is the initial phrase that sticks in my ear whenever I think about the song. It's one of those that only gets more melancholic over the years as Akina's own life got more tragic and she herself matured.

So, it's basically a tearjerker, but something about it makes it pleasant to hear. The distinct sounds of the original arrangement place it clearly in the decade it was released, but also make the song somewhat eerie. It's hard to put into words, but I like it very much.

I've been delving very much into the darkest side of modern idols and sometimes I consider Akina the darkest of Showa era mainstream idols. Not only for the recurrent sad/tragic tunes, but also for her alternative stance (Fushigi says hi). She may not have liked the sad songs, but she definitely couldn't help but insert some melancholy even in self-produced releases.

I'm reminded of her several times because when I started listening to her, it was kind of a challenge to my own boundaries. It wasn't the kind of music I was used to listen, it was a bit more heavy - but I loved it. And it has happened again as I discovered WACK (BiS and company) and other recent alternative idols. I'm even listening to EDM and punk rock, genres I thought I didn't like until some time ago. Seeing Akina experimenting with several genres of music made me want to listen to diferent stuff as well, and I'm very grateful for that.

Once again, happy birthday, Akina-chan. I hope she's doing fine, wherever she is right now.


  1. Hello, Joana.

    Thanks for putting up "Yokan" as its own article and for bringing in some deeper insights. If I remember correctly from "Bitter and Sweet", it was Track No. 3 right after the fun and high-tempo "Kazarijanainoyo Namida wa" and "Romantic na Yoru da wa", so the smokiness of the ballad made for a lovely contrast.

    The final statement of your article "I hope she's doing fine, wherever she is right now." is a telling one since it seems to be an automatic statement from any Akina fan nowadays. Even I have used it before. Even before her suicide attempt in 1989, she always struck me as being somewhat fragile (despite that early tsuppari image) and in the many years since then, she seems to have gotten even more so. Perhaps that fragility and the air of (dark) mystery surrounding her has helped her reputation and our sympathy for her but I sometimes wonder about the costs to her.

    I don't know where she is now or what she is doing but I hope that she is happier and enjoying life.

  2. She has tuned into a recluse after that incident but she is still making music to this day. Her latest album, AKINA, was released last year. She almost never appears on TV these days. The only exception was her appearance on NHK's Kohaku Uta-gassen a few years back. Even then, instead of performing on stage in NHK hall, her segment had been taped in a recording studio in NYC.


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