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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Akiko Kobayashi -- Koi ni Ochite (恋におちて)

This tune got a lot of heavy rotation at that Yorkville karaoke bar we frequented back in the late 80s. A lot of the Japanese romantic ballads did, and even albums by Akiko Kobayashi(小林明子)were fairly common in the Chinatown record stores.

In Japan, "Koi ni Ochite"(Fall in Love) did even better. Released in August 1985, it took 7 weeks for it to hit No. 1 on the Oricon charts, and not only did it become the 3rd-ranking single of the year but it also became the 6th-ranking single for the next year. It was originally a theme song for a drama sequel titled "Kin'youbi no Tsumatachi e 3"金曜日の妻たちへ 3....To the Wives of Friday 3), but more importantly, it was the debut single and launch pad for Kobayashi's career as a professional singer. Kobayashi composed the song while the prolific Reiko Yukawa(湯川 れい子)provided the lyrics.

Kobayashi was born in Tokyo in 1958 where she earned a degree in philosophy at the prestigious Gakushuin University. She then became a secretary for a professor before working in a similar position for a music publishing company. Her very first work in music was as a composer of a song for the folk duo, Bread & Butter in 1984. Then came "Koi ni Ochite".

The aspect that struck pretty much everyone around her and everyone (including me) who has listened to her is how much she sounds like the late Karen Carpenter. Now, her voice is actually a little higher in register when compared to Karen, but the cadence is there and the songs that she sings are basically in the same genre as that of The Carpenters. Eventually, Kobayashi and Richard Carpenter were introduced to each other, and the result was her 4th album, "City of Angels" which he produced and provided backing vocals. The Carpenters are considered even bigger legends in Japan than in their native United States, so that couldn't have hurt Kobayashi's career.

There was an English version of the song that was released on her second album "Kokoro no Mama ni"心のままに...Still in my Heart) in 1986. The original as above is on her first album titled appropriately "Fall in Love". Kobayashi has been living in the UK for several years after marrying an accountant there, and often sings under the name Holi.


  1. I found this karaoke programme with May J and Akiko Kobayashi performing Koi ni Ochite. After so many years of living in the UK, Akiko sings the English bits with a distinctly English accent. I'd love to hear the older Naoko Kawai speak in English, and whether her English contains any Ostrailian.

    1. Hello, Jim. Thanks for the vimeo link. Good was like listening to the original recording. No wonder everyone was silent while Akiko was singing. I think at least one of the audience was in awe.

      Would be interesting to hear whether Kawai picked up some of that Aussie delivery. It would be a nice addition to her Kansai-ben!


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