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 5, 2012

Frank Nagai and Kazuko Matsuo -- Tokyo Nightclub (東京ナイトクラブ)

Another one of those oldies but goodies that I've heard since my days in diapers. "Tokyo Nightclub"is also a duet song that has been tackled by singers ranging from enka stars such as Yujiro Ishihara & Aki Yashiro(石原裕次郎・八代亜紀)to one-off pairs such as Shinichi Mori & Naoko Kawai (森進一・河合奈保子)(via the 1981 Kohaku Utagassen). Years before the word "karaoke"was coined, this song seemed to have been custom-made for the hobby. Whereas previous duets involved male and female singers singing them section by section, "Tokyo Nightclub" was the first hit duet song to be structured more intimately along the lines of a conversational give-and-take. It would influence future enka duets.

It was created in 1959 by Takao Saeki and Tadashi Yoshida(佐伯孝夫・吉田正), the same pair behind the 1962 hit duet tune, "Itsudemo Yume wo"いつでも夢を). As I've mentioned, singers across the decades have sung this prime example of the Mood Kayo genre, but it's always been the first pairing of Frank Nagai and Kazuko Matsuo (フランク永井・松尾和子)that has been connected with "Tokyo Nightclub". And in fact, the two would appear together often over the years on the Kohaku and various other music programs to perform it.

Composed for the express purpose of illustrating the atmosphere of nightlife in the big city, the melody sounds like something played during a quiet interlude at a Latin nightclub. The video above has Nagai and Matsuo singing their most famous song together. Lyrically, the two are exchanging flirtatious teases as if they've already had a few tumblers of that special whiskey. I think part of the song's initial success lied in the fact that it gave listeners a vicarious image of what the good life was like.

The staying power of this song has been amazing. If the Oricon rankings had been established at the time of the original's release, it probably would have been at the No. 1 spot for weeks if not months.

One of my own pictures from Akasaka.
Lots of Tokyo Nightclubs there.

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