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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Junichi Inagaki/Junichi Inagaki & Kohmi Hirose -- Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa(クリスマスキャロルの頃には)


Ah, yes! This is one of the biggies for J-Xmas music. I first heard "Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa" (At The Time of the Christmas Carols) when it was actually used temporarily as the theme song for that Saturday night music show on TBS, "Countdown TV". I'd known about Junichi Inagaki(稲垣潤一) for a few years as this crooner of Japanese adult contemporary music since I already collected a few of his discs with hits like "Natsu no Claxon" and "Long Version"....summer sunset songs. So it was a bit of a surprise to hear him tackling the very seasonal topic of Xmas. However, this song has turned out to be probably his most famous hit to the public at large.

"Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa" was originally the theme song for a drama titled "Homework". Never saw it but I did catch the opening credits on YouTube one time, and I just thought it was somewhat of a mismatch hearing this song against some very un-Christmas-y scenes of summer. However, according to the lyrics written by current AKB 48 Svengali Yasushi Akimoto(秋元康) (composed by Makoto Mitsui「三井誠」), the song deals with a man's view on the current doldrums of his relationship with his girlfriend; they are currently living far apart, and the man is considering how to make things right. So, not particularly the most Yuletide of themes, perhaps, but considering the title and its release date of October 1992, its status as an Xmas song has stuck. For me, whenever I hear the melody at least, my image is that it should've been the theme for some sort of Tokyo-based suspense-thriller.

The song entered Oricon at No.3 and within a couple of weeks, it hit the top spot for a total of 4 weeks (not consecutive). Inagaki's 27th single was his first really big hit in about a decade since his 3rd single, "Dramatic Rain" in 1982. It would become the 34th-ranked song for 1993.

(karaoke version)

In November 2009, Inagaki's 48th single was in the form of a duet covering this song with songstress Kohmi Hirose(広瀬香美). Also, it was included as a track in his 2nd album of duets with other female singers, "Otoko to Onna 2" (男と女2....Men and Women 2). I did get the single for myself but compared to the original, I found this version to be a bit underpowered.

The original still contains a lot of punch 20 years after its release, and it gets a lot of airplay in my ears around this time of year. Not surprised by this piece of trivia considering how self-effacing Inagaki is, but the singer has remarked that one time when he went into his local supermarket, he heard a Muzak version of his magnum opus on the speakers....and quickly made a beeline for the exit.

Junichi Inagaki -- Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa
(I wonder if this cover was meant to be seen with 3D glasses.)

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