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.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Chinatsu Akasaki, Haruka Tomatsu & Aki Toyosaki -- Wa! Moon! dass! cry!(輪!Moon!dass!cry!)

Another anime Sunday has come and gone. One of the other comedic shows that seem to have popped in fairly good quantity for Summer 2019 is "Joshi Kōsei no Mudazukai"(女子高生の無駄づかい...Wasteful Days of High School Girls). It's been compared to a 2012 anime called "Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou"(男子高校生の日常...Daily Lives of High School Boys)in which for both shows, the episodes deal with zany students doing and saying zany things. I never saw "Danshi" but with "Joshi", I've been seeing it as a series about high school girls who seem to want to join the Yoshimoto Kogyo comedy troupe once they graduate (...if they graduate).

The opening theme is still a couple of days away (July 24th) from being released for sale, but I couldn't help but jump the gun since "Wa! Moon! dass! cry!" (Ring! Moon! That (German) Cry!) has become an earworm as much as the opening/ending themes for another Summer 2019 show, "Danberu Nan-Kiro Moteru?"(ダンベル何キロ持てる?) have.

Performed by the three main seiyuu Chinatsu Akasaki(赤﨑千夏), Haruka Tomatsu(戸松遥)and Aki Toyosaki(豊崎愛生)as this anarchic and catchy semi-rap as if their high school characters of Baka, Wota and Robo were just freestyle singing in the nearest karaoke box, I can only imagine how many practice runs they did in the recording booth. And just wait for the full-length version. "Wa! Moon! dass! cry!" was written and created by Shingo Yamazaki(山崎真吾), the same fellow behind the ending theme for  "Gabriel Dropout" (ガヴリールドロップアウト)"Hallelujah Essaim" (ハレルヤ☆エッサイム).

What also helps are the opening credits especially when there's that extended part of all of the characters floating up in the air while on their way to school.

Marcos V.'s short selection of 80s female aidoru singers

Eri Nitta -- WHO?

Starting off this list with Eri Nitta’s (新田恵利) awkward, but surprisingly captivating baby voice, “WHO?” is a bouncy and serviceable Eurobeat song released in 1988. Even though I still feel Nitta’s voice was a joke, I actually find it full of personality here, and the chorus is quite catchy as well. Nothing groundbreaking, but it deserves a listen, even if just for the fun.

Minako Honda -- Tokyo Girl

It’s been just a few days since I talked about Minako Honda’s (本田美奈子) English language “OVERSEA” album here on the blog, but now I want to highlight one of her Japanese songs, and a rather rare one, called “Tokyo Girl”. Released as the coupling song to her single “Help”, in 1986, “Tokyo Girl” is a very nice pop song, and I just love the way Honda almost dramatically sings “You are Tokyo girl…” and “I am London boy…”, or the opposite, during the choruses. I can’t help but sing along with her.

Mami Yamase -- Aishuu no Barcelona

When I see the name Mami Yamase (山瀬まみ), it’s her wacky and punky persona that comes to mind. However, before committing to this particular style, her career started in a more traditional aidoru route. And even during her “normal” days, she was still able to surprise us with things like “Aishuu no Barcelona” (哀愁のバルセロナ), a dramatically-sung track with a cold and ominous Euro/synthpop arrangement included in the album “PRIVATE EDITION”, from late 1987.

Rumi Shishido -- Cosmic Rendezvous

Just like Mami Yamase, Rumi Shishido (宍戸留美) also recorded traditional aidoru pop before doing her more experimental stuff, and her debut single, “Cosmic Rendezvous” (コズミック・ランデブー), is probably the best example of it. Released in 1990, I just love the mess that is the cute-faced Shishido singing this aidoru/Techno Kayo tune while showing her long legs in a Moritaka Chisato-esque (森高千里) outfit and doing a choreography with a stick.

Eriko Tamura -- NEXT

The talented and voluptuous Eriko Tamura (田村英里子) is the aidoru behind today’s final song. Called “NEXT”, this over-the-top song is probably my favorite in all her discography, and the reason lies on the devastatingly dazzling Carnival-esque synth arrangement that permeates most of it. Other than that, well, Tamura can’t dance properly, but her awkward choreography is what makes the video so endearing in my opinion. “NEXT” was the coupling song to her single “Honki” (真剣), released in 1989.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

ALEXANDROS -- Moon Song(ムーンソング)

With this article, I'm killing two birds with one stone. I am continuing on my mini-mission to provide moon-related J-Pop songs in honour of the 1969 moon landing 50 years ago, and I'm also finally putting forward a song by the rock band ALEXANDROS. This is a group that has been in existence since the early 2000s, and up to March 2014, they had been known as Champagne. I always saw those guys in promotions on TV Japan for upcoming episodes of "Music Station" from TV Asahi but because I no longer watch that program, I never got to see or hear them. With a Greek-sounding name, I was quite curious about what ALEXANDROS was about.

Currently a four-man band consisting of vocalist/guitarist Yohei Kawakami(川上洋平), bassist Hiroyuki Isobe(磯部寛之), guitarist Masaki Shirai(白井眞輝)and drummer Satoyasu Shomura(庄村聡泰), they've released a total of 17 singles and 7 albums under their former and current names. I discovered this song called "Moon Song" as the opening track on their November 2016 album "EXIST!".

Written and composed by Kawakami, I like "Moon Song" for that clean (?)-sounding arrangement. I mean, the guitars and the piano sound pretty pure and clear, and I also like Kawakami's delivery including some of those English phrases. They make me wonder if he had spent an extended time overseas when he was younger. The English already provides clues but the lyrics relate the story of someone going on with a new phase of life, no longer burdened by the shackles of the past.

ALEXANDROS' 6th album hit No. 1 on Oricon and went Gold. The band has yet to make it onto the Kohaku Utagassen but perhaps that might change soon.

Main Cast of "Sailor Moon"/Momoiro Clover Z -- Moon Revenge

Well, it is the anniversary of the moon landing, after all! I couldn't let the day go by without ignoring this one. So I am continuing on from today's moon-theme songs.

I recall my anime buddy showing me "Sailor Moon R: The Movie"(劇場版美少女戦士セーラームーンR)from 1993 years ago, and from what I could remember was the title character dying (again) and revived (again) on some sort of meteor with all of the other Sailors collapsing on her in a heap of relieved tears. You know it's serious when even Sailor Mars is happy to see Sailor Moon alive again.

To be honest, it's been the ending theme of that movie, "Moon Revenge", which has stuck with me in the years since. With the clamor of banging 80s synths and percussion, the song just takes off with such an intrepid beat that it could probably go up against "Moonlight Densetsu"(ムーンライト伝説)as the theme for the franchise. The music seems to be fairly screaming "I'M SAILOR MOON, B**CH!"

And for that, we have to thank singer-songwriter Akiko Kosaka(小坂明子)for that melody and lyricist Kayoko Fuyumori(冬杜花代子). "Moon Revenge" got no higher than No. 85 on Oricon, but I think the Sailor Moon fans will always cherish it. Besides the entire main cast is behind the mike: Kotono Mitsuishi(三石琴乃), Aya Hisakawa(久川綾), Emi Shinohara(篠原恵美), Michie Tomizawa(富沢美智恵)and Rika Fukami(深見梨加).

I read that "Moon Revenge" has been covered by a few other singers including songwriter Kosaka herself back in 2013. And I did find this cover by dynamic aidoru group Momoiro Clover Z(ももいろクローバーZ)which was released in July 2014 as a part of their 12th single, "Moon Pride", the opening theme for the reboot series "Sailor Moon Crystal"(美少女戦士セーラームーンCrystal). The single peaked at No. 3. Nice guitar solo but I will have to go with the original.

Itsuro Takeyama & Ryoko Fujiwara -- Tsuki yori no Shisha(月よりの使者)

"That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

Yup, it's the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20th 1969. I was actually around on that day but being so young, I couldn't remember the event.😞 Still, I've been able to see the video of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the Moon many times and uttering that famous declaration after which I got to watch the usually unflappable CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite have a rare loss of composure.

So, today in tribute to the great adventure of Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin Jr., I've decided to feature a few kayo or J-Pop tunes with the title of "tsuki" (moon). I've already got a few such songs up there over the years: a jazz standard-turned-anison theme, some bossa pop, an enka number by Noelle, a legendary anime heroine theme, and another romantic bossa-tinged ballad by a band from Hokkaido.

To start off, I'm going with an even older enka ballad from 1949 performed by the duo of Itsuro Takeyama(竹山逸郎)and Ryoko Fujiwara(藤原亮子)titled "Tsuki yori no Shisha" (Emissary from the Moon). This was the theme song of the second version of a movie of the same name. The movie was about a woman with a complicated past who tries to escape it by working as a devoted nurse in a Nagano Prefecture sanitarium on a highland where the patients become aware of her beauty and thus call her the title emissary from the Moon. And then comes that one special patient...

Written by Takao Saeki(佐伯孝夫)and composed by Shunichi Sasaki(佐々木俊一), "Tsuki yori no Shisha" has that gentle and wistful melody that could describe the pastoral life up in the mountains. What struck me was how both the voices of Takeyama and Fujiwara just sweep up in the first few notes of their singing as they relate the story of Nurse Nonoyama and Mr. Hirota.

It looks like the song has become one of those chestnuts to be covered over the decades. The above performance has Takeyama alongside Aiko Hirano(平野愛子)to perform "Tsuki yori no Shisha".

Then, we have original singer Fujiwara do a solo here.

Finally, singer/actress Chieko Baisho(倍賞千恵子)provided a more contemporary cover of "Tsuki yori no Shisha" which seems to take the song a little closer to Mood Kayo.

Friday, July 19, 2019

RIP SLYME -- Nettaiya(熱帯夜)

Although the hip-hop group RIP SLYME has gotten its first appearance on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" through the article for the BEST compilation for Master of Groove Keiichi Tomita(冨田恵一), tonight will have RIP SLYME in their first article all on their own. However, the question that had been bugging me for years was how these guys got their name.

Well, according to J-Wiki, when RIP SLYME started up in 1994, the collective of 3 DJs and 2 MCs brought their heads together and it was decided that the first name would consist of the first initials of the three DJs: RYO-Z, ILMARI, and PES while SLYME was a stylized spelling for the word slime which happened to be a popular toy in Japan at the time (I thought Slime was a 70s thing in North America).

Now that the mystery has been solved, we come to RIP SLYME's 13th single which was released in July 2007, "Nettaiya" (Sultry Night). Created by the group, Luis Gonzaga and David Nasser Zedantes, I'm not a big hip-hop fan but I have to admit that this is darn catchy. What helps is that Latin beat running underneath that sounds like it was inspired by Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66 which might also explain that feeling of lounge-y 60s I can hear.

I gotta admit that the music video is quite the thing, isn't it? Not sure where it was filmed but it looks like the boys enjoyed that filming experience thoroughly while wearing their cheesy John Travolta disco suits and almost wearing the ladies in their excessively endangered bathing suits. Incidentally, I also found out from J-Wiki that those women were actually Japanese porn actresses (I wonder whether RIP SLYME asked for their autographs). Anyways, good times!

"Nettaiya" went Gold as it peaked at No. 3 on Oricon. It was also a track on RIP SLYME's 6th album, "Funfair" from November 2007 which all the way up to No. 2 and also went Gold.

Rie Nakahara -- Dreaming Love(ドリーミング・ラブ)

Several days ago, a commenter asked me about a song by singer/tarento Rie Nakahara(中原理恵)which has a karaoke version on YouTube. The only thing is that the karaoke version is...well...not the greatest-sounding, so perhaps when the original recorded version ever appears there, I will take another look at it.

Instead, I would like to introduce all of you to another Nakahara ballad that got onto her 2nd album "Killing Me" from December 1978 called "Dreaming Love". There are a few things that stand out about this one. For one thing, those boozy keyboards in the intro have always kinda haunted me in a good way, and then, the melody segues into this Motown soul of the early to mid 1970s punctuated with a French horn. That's a pretty interesting arrangement about a couple very much in love. In fact, the whole setting may have them sitting on a comfy couch in the dark while this very song is playing in some dandy apartment in Tokyo.

The final thing is that "Dreaming Love" was created by the potent duo of lyricist Minako Yoshida(吉田美奈子)and composer Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎). It seems like anything those two put together comes off as pretty golden. Maybe the backing chorus could indeed be Yoshida and Yamashita as well.

Recently, I've been realizing that Nakahara had also quite the comical presence along with the romantic side of her. There are quite a few videos of her guesting on the Drifters'(ザ・ドリフターズ)old comedy-variety show. And here, she's playing a somewhat clueless cop against Chosuke Ikariya's(いかりや長介)bemused robber. Ironically, the late Ikariya would end up playing the venerable detective on the eve of retirement on Fuji-TV's "Odoru Dai Sosasen"(踊る大捜査線)many years later.