Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Marcos V.'s short selection of 80s B-rated female aidoru singers
One of my new hobbies is Japanese literature, with a very special focus on Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫) – who quickly became my favorite writer ever, right next to Marquis de Sade –, Kafu Nagai (永井荷風) and, right now, Ryu Murakami (村上龍) – also known in the West as “the other Murakami”. From the latter, I’m reading a collection of short stories called “Tokyo Decadence” (2016), and the first two parts of the book, comprised of seven short stories selected from “Run, Takahashi!” and “Topaz”, were published during Japan's bubble years (1986 and 1988, respectively). So, with the word decadence in mind, Murakami introduces a lot of intriguing characters and plots, such as in the lovely and very interesting story about a truck driver who discovers a new life as a host in a gay bar after passing through a divorce and losing his job, or the creepy story about a young man with mental disorder who ends up killing almost everyone in a family (man and two kids), with the exception of the woman, after stalking this same woman for a while, and some stories revolving around call girls specialized in sadomasochism. Yes, the content can be a bit crude (like in the call girls’ stories), and sometimes creepy (the young man with mental disorder who ends up becoming a killer), but that’s why I became interested in Ryu Murakami in the first place.
Since these stories were written by Murakami during the bubble years, and they seem to take place in that time frame, I like to read them thinking about my favorite Japanese cultural phenomenon from the 80s, aka female aidoru singers, which can also be related to the era's overall decandent feeling. And with that in mind, I decided to talk about five songs, recorded by not-so-famous aidoru singers, ranging from the late 80s to the early 90s – well, I'm aware that's not a new topic coming from me, but whatever.
Starting off, here’s “Black Velvet” (ブラック・ベルベット), one of my favorite songs recorded by sexy aidoru Aya Sugimoto (杉本彩). Originally released in 1988 as a song from her second album, “Mizu no Naka no Chiisana Taiyou” (水の中の小さな太陽), it became one of her concert staples, and I’m not complaining, since I love its funky synthpop sound that was so common during the first Eurobeat era. And really, when I think about decadence, Aya Sugimoto always pops on my mind... but I do like her a lot, which can be kind of surprising. About the video, I have three or four different live performances of “Black Velvet” stored, but Aya is particularly bouncy in this one. Vocals are always bad, so that doesn’t matter.
Risa Tachibana (立花理佐) is another aidoru who I like a lot. At first, I thought about writing about her most unique song, the over the top “Risa no Yousei Densetsu” (リサの妖精伝説), but I couldn’t resist posting the ridiculously catchy “Do You Do You?” here (I keep singing the “do you do you remember me?” part on and on). Like Aya Sugimoto’s “Black Velvet”, and also the following songs in this list, the late 80s/early 90s Eurobeat sound is predominant here, even though the song is quite rooted in a traditional pop style. It was released as a single in 1989.
Kind of similar in sound to “Do You Do You?”, here’s Miwa Kawagoe (川越美和) with her second single, “Tenshi to Yu-Waku” (天使とYu-Waku), which was also released in 1989. I particularly like the wild cascade of synths in the background during some sections of the song. Besides that very particular detail in the arrangement, it’s a generic lost tune from its time. Well, no song in this list is very memorable, but that’s the fun of listening to B-rated aidoru singers in the first place.
In general, I dislike a lot of 80s aidoru’s debut songs, basically because they all sound similar to each other, but also very tame, especially if compared to the aidoru’s following outputs. That’s not the case with Eri Aikawa’s (相川恵里) “Junai Countdown” (純愛カウントダウン), my favorite of her singles, which, unlike a traditional aidoru debut song, is not a mid-tempo ballad, nor a pure ‘fifteen years old girl’ type of song. Released in the 1988, it makes sense that the arrangement is quite heavy on the horns, synths and bouncy bass line. Besides appearing in her first album “Kiiroi Kirin” (黄色い麒麟), it was later remixed for her second album, “O.TO.NA”, turning into an even more explosive song.
To finish the post, here’s “See Through” (シースルー) by Akiho Sendo (千堂あきほ), which happens to be the lone child of the 90s in this list, being released as a single in 1991. This one also features a heavy – and melodic – synth sound, but this time with a little rock twist, so common during the beginning of the 90s. It still sounds like an 80s tune, but with a pretty nice edge. In my opinion, it’s one of Akiho Sendo’s best songs (the other being “Glass no ECSTASY” [硝子のECSTASY]).