A few weeks ago during Holiday season, I got together with KKP collaborator Larry and Gary, a fellow translator, for some ramen at Santouka downtown, and somehow we got into a conversation about the band Queen. Gary mentioned that Queen was probably even more popular in Japan than even here which wouldn't surprise me since a few other bands have hit a higher legendary status in the country of my ancestors such as The Carpenters and The Ventures.
Then, just this morning, as I was watching "NHK News at 9", there was a short feature recognizing that the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody", which has been quite popular at the box office despite some not-so-great reviews, was doing gangbusters in Japan. Apparently the movie there hit the 10 billion yen mark (about $91 million US) after its release in early November. One person in the industry remarked that there has been a lot of repeat business.
I rather forgot about the above commercial. This was playing all the time when I was living in Ichikawa. Osaka comedian Takashi Okamura（岡村隆史）was cutting up quite the rug for a Kirin drink while Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" was playing. A number of Queen songs have been used for Japanese ads in the past.
My own connection with the British band goes all the way to that summer graduation trip to Japan in 1981. One of my classmates was playing a lot of David Bowie, Brian Eno and Queen on his Walkman on the flight and in the hotels throughout the trip (the fact that he had a Walkman made him a particularly popular member of the class), and of course, the one song that I always remembered was the song "Bohemian Rhapsody". I had known about Queen for some time beforehand, but I only started to get to know Freddie Mercury and the guys through the repeated listenings to "Bohemian Rhapsody" during the Japan trip.
Several weeks ago and I assume that it was because of the debut of the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody", NHK News did do a feature on Queen and their visit to Japan in the 1970s. It was during that feature that I learned that Queen lead guitarist/songwriter/astrophysicist Brian May had written and composed a song called "Teo Torriatte" to be released as a single only in Japan in March 1977 although it was already a track on their 1976 album "A Day At The Races".
"Teo Torriatte" from its romanized spelling looks somewhat Italian but actually it is a Japanese title since a couple of the choruses had been written in Japanese. I only heard a small sliver of the song during the NHK feature but I've finally gotten to hear the whole thing earlier.
A sweet Queen ballad, the lyrics seem to give a "Hope is not lost at all" message as someone seems to be exhorting from the afterlife to his/her beloved that there are many happy tomorrows to be savored, so time to get off the butt and get back on that horse again. I wonder whether "Teo Torriatte" was played when the Japanese news shows were broadcasting on Freddie Mercury's too-early passing.
Some Japanese singers have covered "Teo Torriatte" over the years including singer-songwriter Kokia. Her version came out on her 2008 album "Christmas Gift". Her "Teo Torriatte" has an ethereal and spiritual atmosphere...very soothing.