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, October 16, 2012

HEY! HEY! HEY! Music Champ

On November 4 1994, I had gotten off the airplane at Narita Airport after another arduous 11-hour flight from Toronto to Japan on what would be my longest stay in the country. Unlike my arrival at the same place over 5 years previously, there was no huge welcoming committee, nor was I part of a huge group of eager beaver JET English teachers. It was just me and one young lady, and it was just a sole representative from the NOVA Corporation, which had been the largest English teaching school in the country (let me emphasize the Past Perfect on that last sentence), to meet us outside of Customs. It was then another couple of hours of criss-crossing on trains as the NOVA rep first dropped off the woman at her tiny apartment on the western side of Tokyo, and then taking me back east to Shibamata, Katsushika Ward (yep, Tora-san's neighbourhood) to escort me to my (temporary) NOVA apartment. I was absolutely exhausted when the rep introduced me to my roommates, a friendly Australian couple. Their hearty good cheer lifted my spirits, and the very first TV program I was to see on their small set was this program. It was nice to see some old faces again.

Mind you, the wildly popular Osaka manzai comedic duo, Downtown, was hardly geriatric. I'd first known the guys during my Gunma stint as they had the young folk rolling in the aisles on various variety shows and as part of Fuji-TV's own version of "Saturday Night Live", "Yume de Aetara"夢で逢えたら...If We Meet In Our Dreams) on Saturday nights at 11:30 in which they did skits with another popular duo, Ucchan-Nanchan, impressionist Michiko Shimizu and comedienne Naoko Nozawa.

It wasn't the first time that a comedian had hosted a music show, but it was the first time as far as I know that a comedic duo actually successfully brought their zany brand of humour and incorporated it into the hosting of the show. "HEY! HEY! HEY! Music Champ" premiered on October 17 1994, just a few weeks before I came into town, but judging from what I blearily saw on TV, it looked like the meshing of manzai and music was a genius move. Fans wanted to see the hilarious interview segments as much as or probably even more than the performances, and it looked like the singers were more than happy to indulge their funny can take a look below at the video with tsukkomi (straight man) Masatoshi Hamada(浜田雅功)and boke (the dolt) Hitoshi Matsumoto(松本人志)doing what they do best.

For the first few months, this was the must-see TV for my Monday nights. Unfortunately, when my work shift switched to Monday nights til 9 p.m.(the program has been airing from 8 to 9), well, I was pretty much restricted to catching it on the odd holiday Monday. During the 18 years "HEY! HEY! HEY! Music Champ"has been on, the sets and the formats have changed. It used to be that  Downtown would interview just individual singers and bands between performances, but by the time I left Japan for good last year, the format had changed so that it was pretty much a gaggle of TV personalities (tarento) popping up half the time while they reminisced about their old time favourite songs from the 70s/80s/90s, with a couple of those old-timers showing up to perform their hits. But the one thing that has remained constant is Downtown's bawdy humour. Of course, there was the occasional visit by an international superstar, e.g. Mariah Carey. It didn't faze the boys at all. In fact, I think Downtown was even more revved up (...if only the powers-that-be hadn't taken down almost all of the Carey coverage from YouTube).


  1. It must be the decline of the show that made Fuji TV to announce recently that Hey3 will end this year. I wonder what Matsumoto and Hamada will do after this. Life would not be complete without their insane new year specials.

  2. Hello, Jari.

    Ahh...they couldn't quite make it to 20, eh? That's too bad...good run, though. I'll miss the craziness but I guess when you have TV personalities on for most of the show to reminisce about songs from long, long ago, the end is probably nigh.


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