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 22, 2020

Kaela Kimura -- Butterfly

When I first heard Kaela Kimura's(木村カエラ)"Butterfly", I thought it was the perfect pop song for a children's musical about the moral of a shy young girl metamorphizing into that beautiful and confident and splendid lady. Certainly the music video for the song helped in my impression (unfortunately the above video has been truncated).

But then, I started to hear about "Butterfly" being put alongside songs such as Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi's(長渕剛)"Kanpai"(乾杯)and Yuming's(ユーミン)"Anniversary" as wedding reception-friendly tunes, and yeah, I guess there is a certain celebratory regality to Kimura's 1st-ever digital download single released in June 2009. And in fact, the whole project began when a friend asked the singer to write and perform a song at a wedding party which in fact she did. Pretty soon, the wedding-themed magazine "Zexy" picked "Butterfly" up as its campaign tune on commercials which led the single to not only hit No. 1 on iTunes and No. 2 on Sony's online music store mora for the entire year, but also get her first invitation to NHK's Kohaku Utagassen at the end of 2009.

The "Butterfly" snowball continued to gain speed as her Kohaku performance got even more love from the masses to the extent that the song had over 2 million downloads. "Butterfly" would get onto CD, though, as a track on her 5th major album "HOCUS POCUS" which came out in the same month as the download single. That album peaked at No. 3 on Oricon and ended up as the 37th-ranked release of the year. A couple of years later, the song would be used in a TBS matchmaking variety show hosted by the Osakan comedy duo 99.

Kimura did write the lyrics but the music and arrangement was left to Atsushi Suemitsu(末光篤), aka SUEMITSU & THE SUEMITH, the fellow who came up with the theme song for the anime version of "Nodame Cantabile" (のだめカンタービレ) in 2007. In coming full circle with my comparison of "Butterfly" to the ideal song for a children's musical, there is something very down-home contemporary pop in the verses, but when the chorus comes around, I keep thinking that there is also a Gilbert & Sullivan sensibility as if Kimura is singing alone on the stage in a prim Victorian dress while her hands are clasped in prayer and her face is pointing toward the heavens.

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