There seems to be an underlying sub-genre when it comes to kayo kyoku that perhaps transcends the various Japanese music genres. Songwriters sometimes love to explore the theme of that emotion known as jealousy. The actual word has been used in titles and has imbued itself into the lyrics. I think that the frequency of jealousy is even higher in Japanese pop music than in the American variety. I'm obviously no expert in Japanese psychology or sociology but perhaps I can posit that there is a certain allure to the more devilish side of love in a society which doesn't tend to wear its heart on its collective sleeve as a general rule but seems to have an affinity for truly melodramatic stuff on TV and in music as well.
So it is here that I introduce "Jealousy" by Momoe Yamaguchi（山口百恵）. I've pretty much covered all or almost all of the legendary 70s aidoru's major songs, so it's always nice when I can make a new discovery when it comes to her.
"Jealousy" is a track on Yamaguchi's 16th album, "Manjuu Shaka"（曼珠沙華）from December 1978. I've never bought the album but I get the impression that this one has quite a good variety in it since it has the atmospheric title track and one of her truly famous hits, the wistful-with-a-capital-W "Ii Hi Tabidachi"（いい日旅立ち）. "Jealousy", though, stands out because it firmly takes the singer into the City Pop realm right from the intro and has her make some shoutouts to a couple of the fun areas of Tokyo, Harajuku and Omotesando.
And when I compare the songs from her special 18th album "LA Blue", which was her exploring more of the American AOR beat, "Jealousy" sounds like a truly Japanese tune which takes place in the city with that arrangement of strings, thumpy bass, that certain keyboard at the end and plucky electric guitar. It's starting to grow on me with each listen but I can understand why it didn't get placed as a single in its own right since it keeps that unspecial steady pace all throughout its 4 minutes-and-change without making any big jumps. As well, perhaps that syncopated delivery by Momoe may have polarized her fans, but I think it's pretty interesting, and I'm beginning to think that maybe it represents that state of mind of that jealous woman who seems to spend her times in cafes in Harajuku and Omotesando while struggling to keep that green-eyed monster at bay when she spots a happy couple. At the very least, that singing could represent her well-manicured nails rhythmically tapping on the table. Finally, the beat got me humming the song!
Katsumi Usami（うさみかつみ）wrote the lyrics while Mitsuo Hagita（萩田光雄）composed the music for this musical study in jealousy. As for the album, "Manjuu Shaka" peaked at No. 7 on Oricon. The songwriters were not Yoko Aki and Ryudo Ozaki（阿木燿子・宇崎竜童）, who took care of Yamaguchi's more blistering works in the latter half of her career, but I think Usami and Hagita kept the singer on that path of seen-it-all, done-it-all weariness and hidden fury.