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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Kaoru Akimoto -- HItomi ni Utsushite/Sayonara no Toiki ~ Hold Me Tight(瞳に映して・さよならの吐息)

Roppongi Hills...not Starfleet Academy.

A small brainwave went through my head just now. I was just thinking about all those examples of sophisticated urban music or champagne pop by female singers from the late 80s into the early 90s that I had already written about. One prime example is Chikaco Sawada's(沢田知可子)"Aitai"(会いたい)which was released in June 1990, and I remember it as being the ending theme for the late-night TV Asahi program "Tonight". Somehow, my feeling is that the producers of all those talk/variety shows past midnight must have thought they had found a gold mine of wonderful music for night owls to head to slumberland to.

Well, I'm not sure whether these two songs by Kaoru Akimoto(秋元薫)were ever used as theme songs for those late-night shows, but if they hadn't, they should have. "Hitomi ni Utsushite" (Reflecting in My Eyes) was only Akimoto's 2nd single (released in 1991), years after her debut of "Paradox"(パラドックス)in 1985. And for those folks who haven't immediately picked up on the name, she's the "Dress Down" lady that has become the darling for Vaporwavers and Future Funksters everywhere. "Dress Down" was a track on her only album "Cologne" and that came out in 1986.

Written by Emiri Emily(エミリー絵美里)and composed by Akimoto, "Hitomi ni Utsushite" is a romantic urban ballad worthy of backing that couple taking that close-to-midnight half-sleepy/half-giddy stroll before retiring for the night. I love Masaki Iwamoto's(岩本正樹)arrangement here with those strings and champagne synths, and as much as I love her earlier "Dress Down" as one of the anthems for fans who have discovered 80s urban Japanese pop in the last few years, I think Akimoto's voice is even better here.

I did mention that I thought "Hitomi ni Utsushite" should have been a theme song for a late-night talk show. Well, apparently, it was actually used as the commercial song for the GEOS Language School. I guess English teachers needed a cool urbane theme, too.

The coupling song for "Hitomi ni Utsushite" is "Sayonara no Toiki" (Goodbye Sigh), which this time was written and composed by Akimoto with Iwamoto again handling arrangements. The song also has that sparkly bright-lights-big-city feeling of the 1990s with maybe a hint of 1950s pop balladry included. There is also that feeling of soaring high over Tokyo in the clear night sky as this is being sung.

The above information was gleaned from the site of this Japanese blogger who specializes in talking about the old 8cm CD singles, and he mentions how mystified he is about the fact that this lovely singer released her material very sparsely. I also wonder myself. Akimoto wasn't quite as Greta Garbo as Takako Mamiya(間宮貴子)but with that voice of hers, it's only a pity that she wasn't all that prolific, or as prolific as her admirers had wished her to be.

In any case, if I had purchased this single years ago, I probably would have first played it on my ancient Sony Discman as my head hit the pillow. Ah, incidentally, that blog which I mentioned in the previous paragraph is titled "Ushinawareta Media ~ 8cm CD Single no Sekai"(失われたメディア-8cmCDシングルの世界-...The Lost Media ~ The World of 8cm CD Singles). My respects to the author.

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