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, January 16, 2014

ZARD -- Makenaide (負けないで)

It's hard to believe that it's been over 20 years since this one came out. My first encounter with ZARD was through the late Izumi Sakai's(坂井泉水)debut single, "Goodbye My Loneliness", this low-key and down-to-earth pop/rock song. However, if you asked me what the quintessential ZARD song is, it would be "Makenaide"  (Don't Give Up), and for those ZARD fans tuning in, I'm pretty confident that most of them would agree.

Released in January 1993 as ZARD's 6th single, the same tandem behind "Goodbye My Loneliness" was behind "Makenaide", namely Sakai on the lyrics and Tetsuro Oda(織田哲郎) on the music. It was used as the ending theme for a Fuji-TV comedy-drama titled "Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu" (白鳥麗子でございます....My Name Is Reiko Shiratori)based on the original manga by Yumiko Suzuki(鈴木由美子).  It hit the top spot on Oricon and went over the million barrier in sales before finishing the year as the No. 6 single.

However, rankings and sales aside, "Makenaide" has taken on a nearly-legendary status, way beyond its start as a drama theme. Since its release all those years ago, it's been a musical tonic for all that ails. Friends use it in karaoke to cheer up a down-in-the-dumps buddy and they can also use it as a rallying cry to get over that hump....such as university entrance exams (a hump the size of Mt. Fuji for a lot of high schoolers).  Beyond that, it has been used in television for mammoth quiz shows and telethons and charities. It was used for the 1994 Japanese High School Baseball Invitational Tournament held annually at Koshien Stadium, an event that is pretty darn equal to the Super Bowl in terms of popularity. And when the 2011 Earthquake happened in the Tohoku area, the "Makenaide Project" charity was started with the song itself as the theme. On TV Asahi's long-running "Music Station", it topped the list of the Top 120 Cheer-Up Songs.

(karaoke version)

I think for a lot of people, it's awfully easy to suddenly get amped up when that guitar intro just revs into gear. And considering how early Sakai left this mortal coil, the song can be pretty poignant when she goes into the famous refrain. Perhaps it's a bit corny to say this, but nowadays whenever the song is played anywhere, it feels like she still hasn't quite left us.

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