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, April 15, 2015

Misato Watanabe -- Growin' Up

Met up with a couple of old friends earlier tonight for dinner in the wilds of Mississauga, Ontario. We used to get together far more frequently when most of us were single a couple of decades back for food and movies, but my friends have become family men in the last several years. While we were noshing on clearly unhealthy fare, we were discussing on how quickly the next generation was growing. In my case, I was using my niece as a proxy. As I am approaching the big Five-0 this year, my darling daughter of my brother will be hitting the big One-0...I first met her when she was but 18 months old. Amazing how these whippersnappers sprout up like weeds.

Well, the above was an obvious segue to the subject of this article, Misato Watanabe's(渡辺美里)"Growin' Up". It's been some months since I wrote anything by the big-voiced singer so I guess there is some kismet here. This was Misato's 2nd single from August 1985, several months before her breakthrough hit of "My Revolution", and listening to this original version way back when, I kinda went "Awwww..." since she sounded so adorable. Not that I would identify her as an aidoru here but compared to her boomer of a voice later on, her vocals on "Growin' Up" had me thinking of her as that really energized teen trying her darndest to become a star....a J-Judy Garland, so to speak. The single didn't make that much of a dent on the charts, though....just getting as high as No. 83. I kinda wonder if that's the reason she's pouting on the cover above...or maybe it was that haircut.

Cue ahead nearly 7 years. Having become a big Misato fan during my time in Gunma Prefecture, it didn't take too much convincing for me to get her album of self-covers, "Hello Lovers" from July 1992 via "Eye-Ai" money order. Most of the tracks were fine although the orchestral version of "My Revolution" was just a bit on the pretentious side. However, I did think Misato hit pay dirt with the oomphed-up version of "Growin' Up", which was the very first version of the song that I heard.

Compared to the original from 1985, the 1992 cover had a Pet Shop Boys disco sheen grafted onto the Yasuyuki Okamura (岡村靖幸...yes, Mr. "Viva Namida" himself) melody and the Norie Kanzawa(神沢礼江)lyrics. But thanks should be given to arranger Goh Hotoda(保土田剛)instead for making "Growin' Up" a bit more grown up and a bit more fitted for warp speed. Plus, there were the fully adult vocals of the lady herself which sounded as if it had even more joy in them. Let's say in my mind whereas the 1985 version was a wonderful bit of busking fun, the 1992 "Growin' Up" was traveling on a jet going at Mach.

As for "Hello Lovers", it hit No. 1 on Oricon and finished the year as the 22nd-ranked album. The original "Growin' Up" was also a track on Misato's debut album, "eyes" (October 1985) which hit No. 4. Strangely enough, according to J-Wiki, that album finished 1986 also as the 22nd-ranked album.

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