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 27, 2013

Pornograffiti -- Saudade (サウダージ)

I didn't have a long history with the Hiroshima Prefecture band Pornograffitti but during the turn of the century, I thought they had some great hooks in their early hits. "Apollo" and "Music Hour" were fun tunes to listen to, and the voice of Akihito Okano(岡野昭仁)just had this quality I had never heard before. But, of course, there is the name of the band itself. According to the J-Wiki write-up, one of the members stated early in their career that they needed a name that would have an impact if they were to get a jump on their rivals, so they chose the title of one of the albums by the American heavy metal band Extreme known as "Pornograffitti" (fortified with the extra 't').

It certainly had an impact with one of my students. She related to me that her daughter was a huge fan of Pornograffitti. One day, my student had found out about her girl's new favourite band rather shockingly when the daughter started excitingly asking her mother for money to get tickets to their concert by exclaiming "I WANNA SEE PORNO!!" Enough said. One of the band's abbreviations happens to be just that, but the members have admitted that they have had to be careful about using it, and so probably prefer that some of their other nicknames be used such as "PG", Porugura" or "Gurafu". 

Anyways, onto "Saudade". For me, whenever I hear about Pornograffitti, my first thought goes to this song, their 4th single released in September 2000. It starts out with this great galloping bass piano and bongos before the dramatic strings, guitar and Okano's voice rumble in. The previous single "Music Hour" was a fun-in-the-sun musical romp, but although "Saudade" does its own soaring, it also has a bit more gravitas with the Latin twist and the other arrangements. The original music video for the song was pretty slickly done with the band members portraying their current young selves and then putting on the makeup to become their aged future counterparts.

I'd invited a few students over to the apartment for some yakiniku one Sunday; as we were starting to fry up some of the tenderest Matsuzaka Beef this side of Kobe (yep, you heard me....I was in a pretty generous mood that day), the video came on TV. The lot of us sat transfixed watching the video instead of tending to our tasty (and pricey) morsels; the video was that well done and our first round of steak was also that well done.

"Saudade", by the way, is the Portuguese word that apparently cannot be directly translated into the English language, although I will give it a good try. It supposedly describes a wistful nostalgia for something that cannot ever be experienced Matsuzaka Beef on sale for a yakiniku party in Ichikawa City on a Sunday. All joking aside, I think the Japanese probably have had much better success in translating it into their language since wistful nostalgia is a much-treasured feeling in many aspects including kayo kyoku.

Written by Pornograffitti guitarist Haruichi Shindo(新藤晴一)and composed by ak.honma, "Saudade" quickly hit the No. 1 spot on Oricon....their first time at the top....and was a million-seller. It only took a few months for the song to be placed at No. 28 in the yearly rankings, and even a year later, it managed to stay solidly in the Top 100 at No. 68. A trip to the Kohaku Utagassen was also one of the other benefits. The song was also a track on the band's 2nd album, "foo?", released in February 2001, which made it all the way to No. 2 on the Oricon weeklies and finishing as the 20th-ranked album of that year.


  1. Well, they certainly weren't careful with using their name when they named one of their concert DVDs "Awaji Romance '08 Yokohama Pornography, 10 Year's of gift!". Yep.

    I used to listen to this group a lot when I first came across their music. Really enjoyed the Latin flavor in some of their early songs such as this one as well as "Agehachou" and "Yo Bailo". They're also pretty fun to watch live (I'm talking about videos, of course). Time to give them a spin again.

    1. Hi, nikala. I'm pretty sure the production staff were having some giggle fits when they named the DVD. :)

      I listened to "foo?" over the weekend after a long time. Some pretty good songs in there that weren't released as singles, but I think the highlights for me are definitely "Music Hour", "Saudade" and "Saboten". The album version of the middle song had that bonus of a contrabass starting things off.


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