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, March 20, 2013

Chisato Moritaka -- OVERHEAT NIGHT (オーバーヒート・ナイト)

Today I’m going to talk about “OVERHEAT NIGHT”, the second single released by Chisato Moritaka (森高千里), in October 1987. After talking specifically about the song, I make some considerations about the fashion style portrayed by Moritaka and some other sexy idols that were active during the late 80s/early 90s.

In general, “OVERHEAT NIGHT” is a disco inspired song with some eurobeat elements. We can find three different versions of the song in Moritaka’s discography. The single edit version, the full album version found in the “Mi-Ha” album (ミーハー) and the “new recording” version found on the “Moritaka Land” best album (森高ランド). The version presented in the beginning of the article is the single edit and its video features a young and not-very-sexy Moritaka. My favorite one, however, might be the “Moritaka Land” version. Therefore, I decided to share the version performed on the “Mite Special Live” (見て ~スペシャル~ ライヴ) from 1989 (one of my favorite idol concerts ever) because it is similar to the one found on the “Moritaka Land” compilation. This specific recording of the song is even more disco inspired, with a groovy bassline and some nice synth work. Also, we can note that Chisato, during the “Mite Special Live”, makes use of her typical and famous sexy/pin-up persona.

Making some comparisons, we can relate Moritaka’s music to Minako Tanaka (田中美奈子), Aya Sugimoto (杉本彩) and Reiko Katou (かとうれいこ), three idols that were relying heavily in disco/eurobeat inspired songs at the time. About Minako Tanaka, I remember that when I first watched her singing in a TV show, she was almost a replica of Chisato Moritaka: the long/straight/black hair, the up-body outfits, the mini-skirts and, of course, THE LEGS (in my humble opinion, Moritaka’s were better). Aya Sugimoto and Reiko Katou, on the other hand, were overly sexual examples of late 80s/early 90s idol. So, based on these four girls (Chisato, Minako, Aya and Reiko), we can see that a different kind of idol, not focused just on the cute look, was emerging in Japan around the late 80s/early 90s. Therefore, it’s quite suggestive that during the so-called “winter era of idols” or “idol cold age” (Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture. PALGRAVE MACMILLAN, 2012, p. 24), this new kind of feminine representation came to light in the Japanese idol world.

Take a look at the videos below. The songs are, respectively, “Tell Me” (1989) by Minako Tanaka, “B&S” (1989) by Aya Sugimoto and "Listen To Your Heart" (1990) by Reiko Katou. In general, they are good pieces of late 80s dance-pop music, so enjoy the songs and the girls’ charms.

(I'm sorry but the Kato video has been taken down.)

Although I’m not a late 80s fashion expert, I noticed that Chisato and Minako were influenced by some outfits used in England during the SAW (“Stock Aitken Waterman” production team) heyday. I selected, for example, a performance by singer Sinitta. The name of the campy/cheesy song is “Toy Boy” (1987) and the male dancers’ choreography/outfits are creepy as hell, so forget them and focus on Sinitta, please. Basically, we can see that her clothes are not so far away from the outfits used by the two sexy Japanese idols mentioned above. (I'm afraid that particular video has been taken down but here is the original music video.)

Curiously, I remember watching a 2007 Japanese comedy/sci-fi movie called “Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust” (バブルへGO!! タイムマシンはドラム式) and, as the title reveals, the movie is passed in 1990, when the bubble economy times were going down of the roof. The plot is kinda cheap and is not very interesting for this article, but the hairstyle and outfits used by the actresses (not Ryoko Hirosue [広末涼子], the main one, because she was a time traveler from 2007) were very similar to the ones used by Chisato Moritaka and Minako Tanaka. As I didn’t live/visit Japan at the time (I couldn’t as I was born in 1990), I can’t really tell if that kind of look was trendy, but based on Chisato, Minako and this particular movie, I created some sort of image of Japanese girls fashion during the late 80s/early 90s. Also, I don’t know if this fashion style was common in the United States as well. I need to check this better someday. But take a look at one scene of the movie below. The song playing in the background is, of course, "Diamonds" by PRINCESS PRINCESS (プリンセス プリンセス), the number one song of the year 1989.

As I said earlier, “OVERHEAT NIGHT” was Moritaka’s second single, released in October 1987. The single reached #24 on the weekly Oricon chart and sold around 22,000 copies (source: generasia). The song was placed in a full format in her second album “Mi-Ha”, released in March 1988. It was later included in three compilations: “Moritaka Land” (1989), “The Best Selection of First Moritaka 1987-1993” (1999) and “The Singles” (2012). The song was written by Hiromasa Ijichi (伊秩弘将) while the music and arrangement were made by Saito Hideo (斉藤英夫).

Even though “OVERHEAT NIGHT” isn’t Moritaka’s best, I enjoy it a lot, and it was one of her first songs that hooked me. So I consider it a special song.

To end this article, here’s a photo of my own copy of “The best Selection of First Moritaka 1987-1993” compilation. “OVERHEAT NIGHT” is the second song from the first disc.


  1. Great post. I think I have seen nightmares of Aya Sugimoto's Usagi. She would receive the Worst Dresser award, if there hadn't been Yumiko Takahashi live concerts.

    I wondered for a moment why Chisato Moritaka reminded me so much of Noriko Kato. Quick check revealed: Kondo watashi dokoka tsurete itte kudasai yo - lyrics Chisato Moritaka, composition Hideo Saito! But of course.

    1. In general, Aya Sugimoto's outfits were very bizarre. But that was part of the game, for sure.

      I don't consider Usagi a great song, but I enjoy it sometimes. Coincidentally, korean idol group T-ara is releasing a Japanese single called "Bunny Style!" today. And of course they wear a bunny outfit in some scenes of the music video.

      Yeah. "Kondo watashi dokoka tsurete itte kudasay yo" (wow, that's a very big name) is a Moritaka song. About Kato's version, I find it kind of lazy because the arrangement is almost the same and the song was already three years old when she covered it.

  2. Thanks Marcos V for this awesome post on 森高千里's 「オーバーヒート・ナイト」. I like how you included both the single edit version and the 「見て ~スペシャル~ ライヴ」 version (I agree this version is the better version). I also liked your segue into 田中美奈子's 「TELL ME」, 杉本彩's 「B&S」 and かとうれいこ's 「Listen To Your Heart」 which all have the same type of Euro-Beat, Hi-NRG Freestyle sound. The fashion and music style seemed to almost foreshadow the whole ジュリアナ東京/MAHARAJA 90s disco-techno club scene. The Sinitta video of 「TOY BOY」 is pretty interesting and I definitely like her original better than the KAYOCO's cover. I kind of liked 『バブルへGO!! タイムマシンはドラム式』, it was a fun film almost in the same spirit as "Back To The Future" but then again I'm biased as I'm a huge 広末涼子 fan. Being an American I can definitely say the U.S. 90's fashion and Japanese 90s fashion were very different (and still is to a certain degree). I remember early 90s fashion in the US to be more along the lines of streetwear and hip-hop. A lot of leggings, leotards, baby doll dresses for girls and grunge looks for the guys. I think Japan fashion trends always tended to follow the European side more.

  3. Hello JTM. Thanks a lot for your comment.

    I never heard of KAYOCO's version of "Toy Boy" before. The arrangement is quite good at some points, but the vocals are not my favorite. I like the way Sinitta sings it. Her voice is very well combined with the cheesy lyrics. In the end, "Toy Boy", although not everyone's cup of tea, is a very fun song.

    I remember that idol group Lemon Angel covered it on their second album (the name of the song was inverted to "BOY'S TOY"). Unfortunately, I couldn't find their version on YouTube.

    I think Japan was very influenced by Europe since the late 80s and 90s. People always talk about Japan's cultural exchanges with USA, often neglecting its cultural exchanges with Europe. The high-popularity of italo-disco/eurobeat in Japan is, for me, a proof of that cultural interaction, as the genre was never really popular in USA (as far as I know). But I have to reflect more on this subject.

    About Moritaka, I've read somewhere that she was very influenced by Janet Jackson. But her music never really demonstrated that. Maybe (just maybe) some songs of the "Mite" album (like "Watashi ga Hen?" and "Detagari"), but nothing very obvious. Also, I don't know a lot of Janet's work. I've listened to the famous "Rhythm Nation" song some years ago, but don't remember a lot of similarities with Moritaka's work. Probably the influence was more on the fashion side than in the music.

  4. Since I was posted all the way out in the Japanese Alps, I could only see the current urban fashions on TV during that time. It is indeed revealing (in a number of ways)through the various artists posted that a number of singers were going for that leggy and long-haired look. Seeing those videos and especially "Toy Boy" (which I first came across during a Yoko Oginome/Iyo Matsumoto performance on a "Kakushigei Taikai" special), I got reminded of all the hoopla surrounding the famous Julianas disco in Tokyo.

    Although probably in the minority, I also did notice a number of women going the other way and taking on a pageboy bob-like hairstyle. I think singers like Mariko Nagai and actresses like Honami Suzuki were in that category.

    I never saw "Bubble Fiction" but I remember catching the commercial. I had a good laugh at the scene where Hirosue's character reacted to all those Julianas girls with their super-bushy eyebrows.

    1. I've seen a lot of great videos on YouTube that captures the spirit of some of the famous 80s and 90s discos like "Juliana's Tokyo", MAHARAJA and VELFARRE. The songs played at them were, in general, really great. A lot of eurobeat, for sure. I remember that in one of the videos, the DJ mixed Wink's "Ai ga Tomaranai ~Turn It Into Love~" with Max Coveri's "Bye Bye Baby" (a great eurobeat song from 1987). It made me feel really excited. I wish I could go on a discotheque like that in Brazil, but I think it's almost impossible.

      I've read in Wikipedia that Juliana's Tokyo was famous for the OL dancing with the kind of tight dress that Chisato, Minako and Sinitta used a lot. It made me remember of Chisatos's song called "Aru OL no Seishun ~A Ko no Baai~ (Moritaka Connection)". I wonder what the song is about and its relation with OL. It's something that I will understand when I learn Japanese.


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