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.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wink -- Samishii Nettaigyo (淋しい熱帯魚)

Since arriving in Japan for the JET Programme, this was a song that just about flooded the airwaves and the soundstages for the remainder of that year. And it was my introduction to the world of Wink. "Samishii Nettaigyo"(Lonely Tropical Fish) was the duo's 5th single and breakout song, released in July 1989. Any music show or variety show just had to have Wink on board for a performance of the song....or if they couldn't make it, a couple of other TV personalities performed the karaoke version.

Sachiko Suzuki(鈴木早智子)of Saitama Prefecture and Shoko Aida(相田翔子)of Tokyo first joined up after they had both entered a magazine beauty contest back in 1987. Suzuki won the contest while Aida was one of the runners-up. Some months later in 1988, Wink was officially on the J-Pop map with their first single, "Sugar Baby Love", a cover version of a 1974 pop song by British group The Rubettes (the same song was covered by another legendary 1970s female aidoru group, The Candies). Wink would follow a pattern of covering songs by foreign singers while also performing original material.

Another Wink characteristic which stood them apart from other aidoru groups of the time or even female aidoru duos from other eras was their delivery style. A decade before Wink's arrival, the legendary duo Pink Lady was well-known for their bright smiles, frenetic choreography and roller disco fashion. On that level, you might call Wink the anti-Pink Lady: emotion-drained faces, robotic moves utilizing mostly their upper bodies, and Lolitaesque dresses. They looked just like porcelain dolls given life. Whoever came up with the idea of this counter-intuitive approach at the girls' talent agency probably earned a hefty bonus at the end of the year. My thought on seeing Wink several times on TV was that time really had passed by between Pink Lady and them.

Wink would become forever connected with "Samishii Nettaigyo", and for good reason. The song hit No. 1 and ended up as the 7th-ranked song of the year. It also earned the Grand Prize at the Japan Record Awards, and earned the ladies their first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen. And I could imagine that a lot of the year-end parties in 1989 involved drink-filled women (and maybe some men) performing the song....with stiff choreography intact.

BTW, the single was also a track on Wink's 3rd album, "Twin Memories" released in December 1989. It peaked at the No. 2 spot on Oricon. The song was written by Neko Oikawa(及川眠子)and composed by Masaya Ozeki(尾関昌也).


  1. "They looked just like porcelain dolls given life."

    Well put! No cute smiles or exaggerated dance moves but instead carefully crafted elegance and mannequin-like beauty. They had plenty of good songs, both covers and original ones so it's hard to name a single favourite but my favourite cover is definitely "Boys Don't Cry". "One Night in Heaven" is great too - do you know if it's a cover song as well?

    1. Morning, Nekromantis. Yep, they certainly stood out in the annals of aidoru-dom.

      I think for me the above song is my favourite one. As for "One Night in Heaven", I think it may have been a Wink original. According to J-Wiki, it was composed by Steve Lironi and Dan Navarro, but the lyrics were supplied by Takashi Matsumoto.

  2. When I think about the late 80's, Samishii Nettaigyo is one of the songs that comes to my mind. Correct me if I'm wrong, Wink's Eurobeat sound, borrowed from "Stock, Aitken and Waterman" productions in the UK, were quite popular in Japan at the time. Chisato Moritaka and Lemon Angels were trying out this genre as well.

    Although, as you said in the article, Wink would be always connected with "Samishii Nettaigyo", I still prefer "Ai ga Tomaranai ~Turn It Into Love~". I don't know why but I find it very touching, and I'm not even talking about the marvelous synth bridge near the end of the track.

    As discussed before, Wink's performances were very classy, and they were "almost porcelain dolls given life", but it was fun to see that the girls sometimes didn't resist their own gimmick and put up a smile in the end of their live TV performances.

    It's sad that they disbanded in 1996. Later singles as "Sakihokore Itoshisa yo", "Itsumademo Suki de Itakute" and "Angel Love Story ~Akiiro no Tenshi~" were very beautiful, but couldn't accomplish the same success of their early hits. Times were really changing in Japan.

    I just wish they could reunite to give us a new live concert DVD. It would be awesome.

    1. Hi again, Bode1967.

      "Ai ga Tomaranai"is also a nice song by the duo; I also ended up getting that single. I also remember early in my time in Gunma-ken when there was some sort of international volleyball tournament coverage on Fuji-TV. Wink's cover of "Special To Me"(originally by Bobby Caldwell) was the tournament theme song.

      I'm not sure how the ladies felt about keeping up appearances, so to speak, during their heyday. But I think they were very professional about it...I can't ever recall them cracking a smile at all during their appearances on TV. After the duo broke up, Shoko Aida became a TV personality and although she still came across as fairly reserved, she was a lot more relaxed in her new role.

      You never know about Wink or any other 70s/80s/90s singers. Japan loves the oldies and doing retrospectives on them. It wouldn't be surprising if Shoko and Sachiko did come back for a special tour.

  3. I'm a little late, but I've always considered 'Samishii Nettaigyo' a Freestyle song. I know most of their songs were eurobeat or synthpop sounding covers or originals, but listen to the songs 'Come Go With Me' and 'Point of No Return' by Expose. Especially the video for 'Come Go With Me'. Compare that to the video for Samishii Nettaigyo. I always wonder if it's concidence or not. One day I'll probably do a mash up of the music videos.

    1. No worries, Manowar2010. No one is ever late here. Unfortunately for me, I'm not too knowledgeable on the various techno/dance genres. What is the difference between a Eurobeat and a Freestyle song? Is it the number of beats per minute or something like that?


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.