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, March 26, 2012

The Chanels -- Runaway

The doo-wop group, The Chanels, first started coalescing in 1975, when Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之)decided to form a group with his high school buddy, Masashi Tashiro(田代まさし), and a couple of junior high school friends. At that time, the four admired the American doo-wop unit,  Sha-Na-Na, and another band called The Channels, and thus the name The Chanels was adopted. Furthermore, the original members wore T-shirts and jackets reminiscent of the gangs in "West Side Story". After the usual paying of dues and various changes in the lineup, one day, Tashiro was watching a movie in which the main character, a con artist, was done up in blackface. A light went off over Tashiro's head and it was decided that the main vocalists would also blacken their faces and don cabaret tuxedoes to impress the audience while the other members would remain sans makeup. By that time, The Chanels' membership had increased to 10 members.

"Runaway"(not to be confused with the Del Shannon classic) was the band's debut single as a professional unit. At the time, there were some interesting trends happening in popular music: technopop was huge, thanks to The Yellow Magic Orchestra, the second wave of aidoru started with Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子) and Naoko Kawai(河合奈保子), and there was an interest in emulating American pop of the 1950s. Because of that last factor,"Runaway" became a runaway hit for The Chanels with sales in excess of 1 million records. The song also was at No. 1 from late April to early June 1980, and it ended up becoming the 4th-ranking song of that year. The song, by the way, was written by Reiko Yukawa(湯川れい子)and composed by Daisuke Inoue(井上大輔).

A few years later, The Chanels would be forced to change their name since the cosmetics giant, Chanel, started lodging complaints. Therefore, the band became The Rats & Star...which is, by the way, a palindrome. As for the derivation, and I'm getting this from Wikipedia, it was thought that even scurvy rats in the bad part of town could become stars through the singing of doo-wop. Hey, whatever works, man.

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