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.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

J-Canuck's Valentine Choices

I was watching the news this morning when the newscaster read out that two-thirds of Canadians had little interest in Valentine's Day. Perhaps I would have tut-tutted the information and gone onto a reinforced soapbox and exhorted "What is wrong about LOVE?!", but then again, when I'm frankly as romantic as a Vulcan after a successful Kolinahr ritual, I don't think that I really can earn that soapbox.

Anyways, I was still surprised to realize that I had never put out a Valentine's Day list of my own in the 7 years of "Kayo Kyoku Plus", although JTM did release his "Romantic 80s Playlist" back in 2014. Well, it is indeed Valentine's Day today, so allow me to give some of my choices for the Day of Love. There are of course tons of kayo/J-Pop...way too many, in fact, to even sate a comprehensive list of which this is certainly not. In point of truth, there are songs that are knocking me upside the head like a Gibbs' slap at this moment for not being included. So, all I can ask humbly is that if any of you folks have your own choice for an ideal J-Valentine's song, please inform me.

Incidentally, all of these already have their own articles so this is more of a summary.

1. Megumi Asaoka -- Watashi no Kare wa Hidarikiki (1973)

Let's start with something nice and 70s and kayo-like by the adorable Megumi Asaoka(麻丘めぐみ). "Watashi no Kare wa Hidarikiki"(わたしの彼は左きき)is a spritely and proud tune about the fact that one lady's Mr. Right is always on her left with the premise being that they are blissfully together and in love. Somehow, I've gotten the impression that is not so much a boyfriend-girlfriend situation but more of a just-married couple starting out on their life together.

2. Anzen Chitai -- Koi no Yokan (1984)

Those opening notes from Anzen Chitai's(安全地帯)"Koi no Yokan"(恋の予感)are enough to get me all nostalgically moody. I don't think the song was ever meant to be recorded with Valentine's Day in mind but there's something about Koji Tamaki's(玉置浩二)delivery and the songwriting by him and Yosui Inoue(井上陽水)that makes this ballad ideal for an intimate dinner or a romantic walk in a park on February 14th (we are talking about Tokyo...not Toronto).

3. Sayuri Kokusho -- Valentine Kiss (1986)

If I'm doing a Valentine's Day list of Japanese pop songs, then Sayuri Kokusho's(国生さゆり)"Valentine Kiss"(バレンタイン・キッス)has just got to be included. No exceptions! When compared with the mature themes of the above "Koi no Yokan", "Valentine Kiss" possesses the spirit of a 1950s novelty pop confection and the image of a junior high school girl nervously leaving homemade chocolates secretly in the school shoe box of a boy she likes. From personal experience, I hope that the lucky lad gets to the box early enough, lest those sugary creations end up smelling like feet! By the way, "Valentine Kiss" peaked at No. 2 on Oricon and ended up as the 14th-ranked single of the year.

4. Yumi Matsutoya -- Anniversary (1989)

"Anniversary ~ Mugen ni Calling You"(無限にCALLING YOU...Eternally Calling You)is probably one of Yuming's(ユーミン)most heartfelt ballads about a bride ready to take the walk down the aisle, and she's absolutely sure of her life choice. I think that people in that situation would need to grab for a Kleenex when they hear this special single. Although I don't think that this particular song has made it up to my own Top Ten list of Yuming songs, "Anniversary" has most likely made it onto BEST lists by other fans.

5. Mariko Nagai -- Zutto (1990)

"Zutto" was forever and always a love song that wafted through the air and inside the karaoke boxes and bars around that time. And it's the reason that Mariko Nagai(永井真理子)has stayed with me as one of the notable singers during my years in Gunma Prefecture on the JET Programme. Her plaintive "ZU-TTO, ZU-TTO, ne" strikes a nearly automatic Pavlovian response in listeners to start swaying from side to side.

6. Reimy -- Marry Me (1990)

Reimy(麗美)may not have become a huge superstar on the level of Yuming or Miyuki Nakajima(中島みゆき), but she still has gained a loyal cadre of fans including me for the lyrics and music that she created. "Marry Me" is one of my favourites as an intimate love letter of a ballad with a down-to-earth arrangement and a great guitar solo. Plus, of course, the title itself is an invitation for my list.

7. Kazumasa Oda -- Love Story wa Totsuzen ni (1991)

Kanchi! and love in one of the biggest and most vivacious cities on Earth, and with a theme song that brings to mind a certain time and place. Poor wishy-washy Kanji Nagao in "Tokyo Love Story" had to make that difficult choice between the ever-lovable yet unpredictable force-of-nature Rika and the more down-to-earth Satomi, his old crush from high school in Ehime Prefecture. Not exactly an ideal Valentine situation but I still had to include "Love Story wa Totsuzen ni"(ラブ・ストーリーは突然にー)as a song of the season with oomph. The above video is a short clip of the song but at least, it actually has Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)singing one of his best songs.

8. Yutaka Ozaki -- I Love You (1991)

I not only think that "I Love You" by the late Yutaka Ozaki(尾崎豊)is the song to be performed at a wedding reception but I could easily see it as the ideal proposal ballad. Plus, wouldn't it be something if the proposer sang it with a guitar bandied over his shoulder? An old friend of mine actually did just that when he popped on a Shinkansen from Tokyo to his girlfriend's home hundreds of kilometres away, although I don't know whether he sang this particular Ozaki ballad. But obviously since they did get happily married with kids, it was all good.

Anyways, this was just a sampling of some of my choices for a February 14th custom. Nothing happening here at home today but perhaps I will pick up a chocolate bar tomorrow.

72% cacao

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