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, July 31, 2013

Akio Kayama/Mika Hino/Teresa Teng -- Hisame (氷雨)

Probably one of the most recognized enka songs there is, "Hisame" (Icy Rain) is the song that most likely every enka singer and even beyond has tackled on stage or in front of the TV cameras. On YouTube, Mood Kayo veteran Kiyoshi Maekawa (前川清of The Cool Five) has given his rendition, but Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)also covered it some years ago, and even the late singer Minako Honda(本田美奈子) gave her tribute to it.

But I wanted to center this article on the renditions by the original singer, Akio Kayama(佳山明生), the first female enka singer to give it a spin, Mika Hino(日野美歌), and finally Teresa Teng(テレサテン), who makes any enka song sound great. "Hisame" was written and composed by Ren Tomari(とまりれん), and it follows the classic enka trope of "crying into your sake" as the lonely protagonist just hangs about in a bar feeling sorry for himself/herself since there is no one home to come least, not anymore.

The very first version of "Hisame" came out in December 1977 as Hokkaido-born Akio Kayama's debut single. It seems to have been the enka song that would never die as it was released again in late 1981, and then a 3rd release was made in July 1982. Well, it was three times lucky for Kayama as this version torpedoed into sales of about 800,000 records into 1983. I'm not sure if the 1982 version had undergone major changes from the first two attempts, but the video above is for this version, and it is the one with that famous melancholy intro that has greeted professional enka singers, karaoke amateurs and audiences alike for years. It peaked at No. 2 on Oricon and eventually became the 5th-ranked song for 1983. And at the Japan Record Awards for 1983, it won the Grand Prize as well as the Long-Seller's Prize. I guess timing is everything, even for a song that at the time was already 6 years old.

In December 1982, Mika Hino covered "Hisame" as her 2nd single. The arrangement here is different but no less melancholy. Although the song can and has been covered by male and female singers alike, I've wondered if the song was truly made for a woman. Kayama's delivery seems, at least to me anyways, to take on a feminine quality, and Hino certainly makes her version her own. Her delivery has a bit more of a fuller body and more resonance when she sings it. And apparently, the lyrics for her version have also been slightly altered. As for her success with the song, it peaked at No. 5 and then became the 15th-ranked song for 1983. I can gather that it isn't everyday that the same song sung by two different singers can get into the Top 20 of Oricon in the same year.

Teresa Teng's cover of "Hisame" was never released as an official single, but I've always enjoyed her voice when she delivers those enka classics. The melody follows that for the Kayama original.

At this point in my life, I don't think I would ever be able to competently give my own version of the song in the karaoke box, but I'm more than content to listen to the professionals handling it.

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