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, December 19, 2012

Rebecca -- Friends (フレンズ)

I'd always wondered where the band got its name. The first leader of the band, guitarist Takehiko Kogure(小暮武彦), revealed that "Rebecca"came from Kate Douglas Wiggin's "Rebecca of Sunnybook Farm"(according to J-Wiki)....not sure if he had been a fan of hers. Another interesting piece of trivia I got was that he and lead vocalist NOKKO had actually gone to America before the band got started in 1984 to try their luck there, but didn't quite succeed so they returned.

My first sighting of the band was on one of the music ranking shows, and they did a live remote appearance of one of their hits, "Monotone Boy"(so probably around 1987). I'll be honest with you...NOKKO's vocals were off, and the song was meant to be fairly screamed out, so I wasn't too impressed. I just thought "NEXT!"

Then, I came across one of their earlier singles, and thought it a lot more appealing. "Friends"was Rebecca's 4th single, released in October 1985, and whenever I hear it now, it just takes me back to those days when there were bands and singers which were going a different way from the aidoru and enka routes. NOKKO just reminded me of a softer and perhaps shorter version of Pat Benatar, and this single sounded, in a glancing way, of Benatar's big hit, "Love is a Battlefield". The sound also made me think of some of the pop/rock that had been going on in the early 80s back in the US; stuff by Quarterflash, for instance.

Written by NOKKO and composed by Rebecca keyboardist Akio Dobashi(土橋安騎夫), "Friends" also happened  to be the theme songs for two different TV dramas, "Half-Potato na Oretachi"ハーフポテトな俺たち....Us Half-Potatoes) in 1985 and "Lipstick" in 1999, both programs about growing up as teens. I saw a few episodes of the latter show, and the reappearance of the Rebecca classic got people remembering and probably singing it in the karaoke boxes. In its original release, the song got as high as No. 3. It was also a track on Rebecca's 4th album, "REBECCA IV -- Maybe Tomorrow"(November 1985) which hit the top spot on Oricon and became the 3rd-ranking album for 1986.

Still not sure about "Monotone Boy", but "Friends"...and "Lonely Butterfly" are some of my late 80s touchstones.


  1. Thanks J-Canuck for posting this entry on レベッカ! One of my favorite J-Pop bands from the 80s. Nokko was tiny and cute but had a great powerful voice. In the beginning I always thought she tried too much to fashion herself (style wise) like Madonna (their song ラヴ・イズ・Cash sounds very similar to Material Girl). "Nervous but Glamorous" is probably my favorite song from them followed by "Bottom Line". Off topic - 広末涼子's リップスティック was a very dark J-Drama but one of my favorites in the 90s. I remember the ending really was sad and tragic.

  2. Yeah, seeing the video for "Friends", I did wonder if Nokko was going for a bit of the Material Girl's look. But then again, I think a lot of singers around the planet were going for her look.

    The few episodes that I did catch of "Lipstick" were very dark. One scene I remembered was of Ryoko Hirosue's character confronting the evil mother of her dead friend at the funeral. I just recall the mother reacting like a total Lady MacBeth lunatic.

    Still, it was good to hear that title tune again.


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