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.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hiromi Ohta -- Amadare (雨だれ)

Last night, on NHK's "Kayo Concert"歌謡コンサート), I got to see Hiromi Ohta(太田裕美) appear for a bit of a chat with the host before her performance. I first got to know her through "Sounds of Japan" and her very summery song, "Minami Kaze"南風...Southern Wind), and then came what is her trademark song, "Momen no Handkerchief"木綿のハンカチ-フ...Cotton Handkerchief), also a very cheerful kayo kyoku classic.

Ohta spoke about her early days. In 1969 as a junior high school student, she went to an audition in place of a friend for a spot in The Schoolmates, a vocational school to groom future actors and TV personalities (singers ranging from Mariko Takahashi to Candies to Shinichi Mori have gone through the school). She passed the audition and accepted the offer because she thought she could have a chance to meet her idol, singer Kenji Sawada(沢田研二). She didn't say whether she did get to meet him during those days, but said that it hadn't been her intention to become a singer.

However by 1974, that chance...or sing arrived. And that was indeed the song Ohta performed last night. I'd never heard of "Amadare"(Raindrops) before last night, but Ohta on the piano gave this classy sweeping rendition. I decided to talk about this song tonight, thinking that that rendition on "Kayo Concert" was a more classical version that a lot of former teen aidoru-turned-veteran singers tend to give of their old pop hits.

But listening to the original version above, released in November 1974, "Amadare"is indeed a dramatic song of a young woman sadly remembering happier romantic times through the rain. It was a bit of a revelation since I had always known her as this happy singer of the 1970s. Written by Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆) and composed by Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平), it has that dramatic heft but also has that familiar 1970s kayo kyoku sound with the orchestra backing her up. She was also on the piano in that recording, something that was a trait for many of her earlier releases.

There is a longer, album version of "Amadare" which skews even more to a classical arrangement. I'd say it hints at what Taeko Ohnuki's(大貫妙子) musical direction would be like going into the 1980s, although without the synths. Her debut album, by the way, was "Magokoro"(まごころ....Devotion), released in February 1975 which peaked at No. 45 on Oricon. As for the single itself, it went as high as No. 14 and ended up becoming the 66th-ranked song for 1975. It also earned Ohta several Newcomer awards, including one from the Japan Record Awards.

The 1970s era of aidoru could be seen as one of peppy and poppy radio-friendly hits, but I've also enjoyed it when singers like Akiko Kosaka(小阪明子) and Hiromi Ohta could give these tenderhearted ballads as well.

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