Credits

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, July 21, 2012

Mike Maki -- Bara ga Saita (バラが咲いた)



Mike Maki(マイク眞木) is a name I've heard now and then in these music retrospectives that often pop up on Japanese TV. And even at the age of 68, he still turns up on the odd variety program, always as the straight man alongside the wacky Osaka comedians who always populate these shows. He's also been an actor on a number of these trendy dramas; the one I remember is "Beach Boys", a popular Fuji-TV serial that had Maki play an old surfer dude.

However, he started showbiz life in 1963 by starting a band called The Modern Folk Quartet (probably adapted from The Modern Jazz Quartet in America), and then he started a solo career with this song, "Bara ga Saita"(A Rose Bloomed). Known as the first Japanese-made folk song hit (written and composed by Kuranosuke Hamaguchi/浜口庫之助), according to the author/webmaster of "Hamadayama Life", OKA, in his article "Japanese Popular Songs Between 1945-1970", he mentions that the song isn't particularly sophisticated. And I'm not particularly surprised. I think when it came to adopting American musical forms at that time, it was more about style over substance. But that was OK with the Japanese since the song managed to sell over 300,000 records. Folk music had existed before this song came along but this song succeeded because it was lyrically simple (the translated lyrics are available near the bottom of the article) and just illustrates a simple truth about that lone rose blooming in the garden: when it came to pure pop music, listeners just wanted a pleasant melody with uncomplicated wording (a policy that continued far into the 80s) For the more complex stuff, they turned to enka and the message folk songs.


"Bara ga Saita"is, in fact, so simple that I thought it was originally a children's song. I've often heard it sung at kindergarten in Japan. (May 5 2018: Strangely enough, a commenter informed me that there is a kid's song, "One Little Finger" that sounds fairly similar.)



Now, as for the last piece of trivia for Mike Maki. He happens to be married to late 80s singer, Kanako Wada (和田加奈子)


4 comments:

  1. Do you think 'Bara ga Saita' and the English kid's song 'One Little Finger' are related? They sound so similar. I wonder if one copied the other song...

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    1. Hello there.

      I just took a listen to "One Little Finger" and also noted the similarity. I couldn't find out the origins of the song, though. However, I did make an addition to the text above thanks to your comment, including the person who had created "Bara ga Saita", Kuranosuke Hamaguchi. Thanks!

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    2. Thank you for your reply! I'd been trying to find out if Bara ga Saita is the original and One Little Finger copied it, but couldn't find any information about it. Maybe it's coincidence that they sound similar :)

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    3. You're very welcome. To be honest, when I got your question, I was also wondering about the similarity. If "One Little Finger" had come out before "Bara ga Saita", I wouldn't be surprised if there were some copying or inspiration since in the long history of Japanese pop, especially during the 80s, there has been some borrowing of certain musical phrases from Western pop songs. But on the other hand, as you mention, it could be coincidental.

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