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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shigeru Matsuzaki -- Ai no Memory (愛のメモリー)

Shigeru Matsuzaki(松崎しげる) nowadays pops up on a lot of TV shopping infomercials and quiz shows in Japan. With his perpetual tan, he could probably sell a salon or two. However, back in the day, he was a singer who debuted back in 1970 and had his first hit with "Kiiroi Mugi Wara Boushi"黄色い麦わら帽子....The Yellow Straw Hat) in 1972. After that, came a very dry spell for the next four years.

In 1976, he was recruited to sing a powerful European pop-style ballad written by Takashi Taka(たかたかし) and composed by Koji Makaino(馬飼野康二) at the Majorca Music Festival in Spain. It was thought that Matsuzaki had the chops needed to tackle "Ai no Hohoemi"愛の微笑...Love Laughter) to make a good impression on the foreign audience over there which he certainly did. He placed in 2nd as Best Vocal; an amazing feat considering that the judges included Paul Mariat and Michel LeGrand. But his achievement didn't make any ripples overseas and certainly not in Japan. It would be another long year as insult was added to injury as doors were slammed on him as he and his manager tried to sell his songs; some of the demo tapes were unceremoniously shown the round file.

But finally, the proverbial ray of hope came from the Ezaki Glico company which were willing to put "Ai no Hohoemi"into one of their chocolate commercials. The final stumbling block was another jingle with the same title that was going to be sung by Japan's sweetheart couple at that time, Momoe Yamaguchi and Tomokazu Miura(山口百恵・三浦友和). So, there was a change in lyrics and in the title itself. The new "Ai no Memory"(Love Memory) was released in August 1977 and became a huge hit for Matsuzaki. It peaked at No. 2 on the Oricon weeklies and was the 18th-ranking song of the year. It even managed to stay in the Top 100 in 1978, as it ranked 87th.

Matsuzaki also got his entry into the 1977 Kohaku Utagassen, and "Ai no Memory"remains an evergreen standard from the 70s.

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