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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

B.B. Queens -- Odoru Ponpokorin (おどるポンポコリン)

People know when the weekend is almost up when the 6 p.m. hour arrives on Fuji-TV on Sunday night, and the twin anime of "Chibi Maruko-chan"ちびまる子ちゃん)and "Sazae-san"サザエさん)start up.

"Chibi Maruko-chan"(Tiny Little Maruko) was a shojo manga first created in 1986 by Momoko Sakura(さくらももこ), and depicts the life of a young and slightly cheeky girl named Maruko Sakura in suburban Japan of the mid-1970s. It was basically a semi-autobiographical account of the author's life as a girl back in those days. As with the much older "Sazae-san" series, it gained its popularity due to its nostalgic, down-home style. In 1990, Fuji-TV picked "Chibi Maruko-chan"up as an anime series for an initial run of 2 years, and then started it up again in 1995. In terms of ratings, the show attained a whopping 39.9% of the audience, the highest ratings ever garnered by an anime at that time.

The original ending theme of the show also enjoyed similar fame. "Odoru Ponpokorin"(Dancing Ponpokorin) was composed by singer Tetsuro Oda(織田哲郎) (known for composing hits for rocker Nanase Aikawa and summer band TUBE) and written by Momoko Sakura herself. And the band making their first single all come alive was the unit B.B Queens, a happy-go-lucky amalgam of otherwise serious musicians.

The band name was a riff on the blues singer B.B. King. The main vocal is Osaka-born Yuiko Tsubokura(坪倉唯子)who has had a career since 1979 as a studio musician and backup vocal (Miyuki Nakajima, Misato Watanabe) but also has had her own solo career as a pop singer. For "Odoru Ponpokorin", Tsubokura sings it as if she were Chibi Maruko-chan, and looks like a combination of Mrs. Doubtfire and former First Lady of Japan Miyuki Hatoyama.

Her partner is Fusanosuke Kondo(近藤房之助), a blues-and-rock singer who hails from Aichi Prefecture and has been in the music business since 1976 when he started with the band BREAK DOWN. He barks his vocals in a loud rasp and looks like a psychedelic Snidely Whiplash. The trio of backup vocals for B.B. Queens ended up becoming the neo-retro group Mi-ke a couple of years later. Both Kondo and Tsubokura have their own songs on YouTube, and they sound very, very different.

Here are the ending credits to the original run of "Chibi Maruko-chan" in 1990. As I said, "Odoru Ponpokorin"became a huge hit when it was released in April. It was the No. 1 song for July and September, and eventually became the No. 1 song of the year, staying on the charts for 54 straight weeks. The creators of the song, Oda and Sakura earned Japan Music Awards, and of course, an appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen was a foregone conclusion. It sold close to 2 million discs as a single and is included on the band's debut album, "We are B.B. Queens" which got as high as No. 32 on the Oricon weeklies. And of course, I'm sure karaoke box and bar owners were also very grateful to the band.

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