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 27, 2018

Mari Iijima/Nana Kondo -- Ichi Gram no Shiawase(1グラムの幸福)

For a number of Mari Iijima(飯島真理)songs that I've covered on the blog, one Label that I did place on her was "Aidoru". I've had to re-think that since although her iconic anime character of Lynn Minmay was indeed an aidoru, I've come to believe that Iijima herself wasn't and isn't an aidoru. She hasn't been categorized on J-Wiki as such, and her discography outside of "Macross" has been solidly pop with some aspects of City Pop, AOR and R&B depending on the tune that she has penned. I think it's been because of her looks and sweet voice that the aidoru label had initially come to mind.

However, the songs that Iijima has crafted that I have heard so far such as "Cecile no Amagasa"(セシールの雨傘)and the tracks from her "Rosé" album have been these catchy pop tunes blessed with the songwriter's own lovely vocals. Her delivery is sweet and light like that of an 80s aidoru but there is that maturity and talent as well. It's kinda like eating a chocolate eclair made by Godiva.

Anyways, going away from the food analogy, "Ichi Gram no Shiawase" (One Gram of Happiness) is another fine example which was her 4th single (November 1984) coming right after that famous song. Composed by Iijima and written by Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆), the arrangement by Nobuyuki Shimizu(清水信之)makes it really tempting for me to say that Minmay the SDF-1 aidoru has come back to put out a single into the real world, thanks to that young and adorable voice. However, I will not cave in here and will still place it as a pop tune. That sweet melody has been underlined with a cruising urban beat.

Not surprisingly, "Ichi Gram no Shiawase" was used as the ending theme for 4 years for the long-running TBS variety show "Waku Waku Dobutsu Land"(わくわく動物ランド...Thrilling Animal Land)which is all about the adorable animals on Earth. The original single version got as high as No. 22 on Oricon.

There is something that can be said about letting a song cook for a while, say, 10 years or so. Iijima recorded "Ichi Gram no Shiawase" again for her 1995 BEST compilation "Best of the Best" (although in 1994, there was also another Iijima BEST release called "BEST OF BEST", also with "Ichi Gram no Shiawase" a year and a definite article of difference). And I have to say that I enjoy this "Best of the Best" version even more than the original single. It seems more resonant and richer for a lack of a better word. More Godiva chocolate!

A year later, another pop singer, Nana Kondo(近藤名奈), gave her own rendition of "Ichi Gram no Shiawase" as her 12th single in August 1996. This cover sounds somewhat more earthier and countryside-ish. And in keeping with the TBS tradition, Kondo's cover was used as the theme song for a drama for that network this time, "Love no Okurimono"(ラブの贈りもの...Gift of Love).

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