Credits

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 31, 2020

Michiru Kojima -- Namaiki CINQ(なまいきCinq)


Another singer that I haven't covered in a while is Michiru Kojima(児島未散). Just judging from the very first song that I heard from her, "Gypsy"(ジプシー)back in 1990, I simply treated her as a performer of moody pop numbers. It wouldn't be much later that I realized that she did have a past performing some pretty snappy urban contemporary fare.

(4:47)

My feeling is that I really should grab Kojima's 1989 album "Key of Dreams" if it's still available and not piled up on the dreaded hill of haiban. For one thing, the title track is a smooth-as-glass City Pop song for the late 1980s with all of that sophisticated pop goodness. You can listen to it again here as the above video is for the full album and the song "Key of Dreams" starts things off.

Right after that one, though, is "Namaiki CINQ" (The Audacious Five) which seems to refer to what any young lady of Tokyo needs for the good life, I believe. I heard things like luxury, a diary, and a history as some of those ingredients but not quite sure since I couldn't find the lyrics online. There's more of an active beat with "Namaiki CINQ" compared to the slightly mellower "Key of Dreams" as if Kojima is prepping for a night out on the town, and even the synths provide some semblance of jazzy instrumentation.

As with "Key of Dreams", Yumi Yoshimoto(吉元由美)is the lyricist with "Namaiki CINQ" while Etsuko Yamakawa(山川恵津子), who arranged that title track, is fully behind the melody for the second track on the album.

7 comments:

  1. The arrangement for 'Namaiki CINQ' sounds like it could pass for BGM to Sega classics like the original Sonic The Hedgehog and NiGHTS. Same goes for 'Key of Dreams' which was also arranged by Etsuko Yamakawa. She composed music for Kimagure Orange Road and has worked with quite a number of artists.

    https://www.generasia.com/wiki/Yamakawa_Etsuko

    Michiru Kojima has a pleasant singing voice. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi, Michael.

      Oh, believe me, I'm an Etsuko convert! I actually devoted a Creator article to her: https://kayokyokuplus.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-works-of-etsuko-yamakawa.html

      And there's that one-off album as one-half of Tohoku Shinkansen. https://kayokyokuplus.blogspot.com/2017/07/tohoku-shinkansen-thru-traffic.html

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  2. Listening to her works, I detect a great variety of inspirations sprinkled throughout. Her melodies are graceful and refined. Her arrangements serve to aggrandize the songwriting, so even when she plays with harmonic embellishments, ornamentation of strings and such (as on 'Hotel Twilight' by Yuko Imai), it never distracts from the vocals.

    Some other arrangers out there have a tendency to overdo things and/or don't know how to keep their performers' egos in check. I think Keiichi Tomita has a tendency to fall into this trap. While technically he's a superb arranger, he tends to give his performers too much free reign to litter his songs with senseless drum fills and fireworks which greatly hamper the listening enjoyment. Nobody can overcompensate for lackluster songwriting by using theatrics and studio wizardry.

    Anyway, check out this excellent live version of 'Hotel Twilight'. Yuko's voice is superb and the performances are all in the pocket.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHFYiW73ynQ

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Michael.

      Obviously, I've never had the opportunity to meet Yamakawa so I don't know what she's like as a person. However, my speculation is that she's quite the people person who tries to fit her arrangements with her clients' melodies...which is probably why whenever I see her name in the liner notes, I have good expectations.

      I've got one Yuko Imai album thanks to a fellow writer's generosity, and she's definitely one that I would like to get to know better.

      As for Tomita Lab, I'm a big fan of his as well and the impression that I have of him is that he really likes to mix in that funk and bossa. I can understand what you're saying about him going overboard especially since funk has that potential of being over-the-top, but so far, I haven't had anything to complain about with his material.

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  3. I'll use the track '横顔' to serve as an example of what I'm talking about. It establishes itself as a fine mid-tempo light jazz-pop song. Then almost mid-way through, for no apparent reason, everything begins to build up into a crescendo of sound smothered in senseless drum fills... and then it returns to normal again. It comes across as tacky showmanship ("Look what I can do!") and ruins the nice mood that the song established.

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    Replies
    1. Are you talking about the original song by Taeko Ohnuki or a Tomita cover? And is there a YouTube video with it?

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  4. Tomita's version. I looked for the song on YT but unfortunately nobody currently has it up.

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Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.