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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Miki Asakura -- Hip City

Just to echo some of the YouTube comments that I've seen for the cover of Miki Asakura's(麻倉未稀)"Hip City" (June 1983)...ah, yeah, I have to admit that when I first saw it in my bible of "Japanese City Pop", I wasn't quite sure if that was indeed a man or a woman tipping the hat in greeting. I mean, the kanji for the given name was indeed Miki which was usually for a woman's name, but still....

In any case, on seeing some of the other album covers for Asakura, I was quickly convinced that Miki was indeed a woman. For "Hip City", I am providing the title song which is also the first track for the album. It's another one of those melodic struts downtown as Asakura cordially invites with internally curling fingers all suitors into this wonderful metropolis. The funky strut gives way from time to time into something soaring and shiny just like the latest glass-and-steel skyscrapers.

The only other intrigue is the title itself. I realize that the meaning for "Hip City" in English is of course a cool and happening city. However, when I first saw the title in "Japanese City Pop", I had to scratch my head with some good humour since in Japanese, "hip" actually refers to one's butt. I could only imagine what Asakura's fans and/or potential buyers of "Hip City" were thinking initially at the time. Tip of the hat, indeed.

Now, if I'm not mistaken, this final article for 2019 is the 900th, thus smashing a record for being the most prolific year in "Kayo Kyoku Plus" history. Readers may be wondering why I was writing up 10 articles today on New Year's Eve. Now you know...just had to do it. Anyways, I would like to wish all of the readers, commenters and collaborators (Marcos, Larry, Joana, Noelle, and everyone else who has contributed this year) a very Happy New Year! See you in the new decade!🎊

Oricon Top 10 CD Singles of 2019

1.  AKB48                                Sustainable
2.  AKB48                                Jiwaru Days
3.  Nogizaka46                         Sing Out!
4.  Nogizaka46                         Yoake made Tsuyogaranakutemo Ii
5.  Keyakizaka46                      Kuroi Hitsuji
6.  BTS                                     Lights/Boy With Love
7.  Arashi                                  Brave
8.  Hinatazaka46                      Kyun
9.  Hinatazaka46                      Konnani Suki ni Nachatte Ii no?
10.  Hinatazaka46                    Do Re Mi Sol La Si Do

Maki Ohguro -- Lie, Lie, Lie

New Year's celebrations over in Japan may have become more fun-filled and varied in recent years, especially in the cities, but I think the usual feeling is that it's still a fairly family-oriented and quiet time. Of course, over here in North American cities such as Toronto and New York, it's basically party time. And as such, I would like to start the evening segment of "Kayo Kyoku Plus" for this final night of 2019 with something festive. So, why not have veteran singer-songwriter Maki Ohguro(大黒摩季)star in a video of her own rambunctious hostess club?

The music video is for her 34th single, "Lie, Lie, Lie" released in September 2017. However, instead of that video, I first cottoned onto Ohguro's spicy number when I was in Japan in November that year and caught an episode of "Meitantei Conan"(名探偵コナン...Detective Conan)on the hotel TV and saw "Lie, Lie, Lie" being used as the opening theme for the show at that time. We've only been getting the 2017 episodes in the last couple of weeks here on TV Japan.

Apparently, "Lie, Lie, Lie" was Ohguro's first anison in 20 years since her "Sora"(空)for the anime "Chuuka ga Ichiban!"(中華一番!)back in 1997. The singer took care of words and music for "Lie, Lie, Lie" as it peaked at No. 20 on Oricon, and it's also a track on her 14th original album, "Music Muscle" from December 2018. Although Ohguro is someone that I've often treated as a pop/rock singer, she can really put in the dazzling samba steps for some of her other creations.

Oricon Top 10 Download Singles of 2019

1.  Kenshi Yonezu                    Lemon
2.  Kenshi Yonezu                    Uma to Shika
3.  Aimyon                               Marigold
4.  Back Number                      Happy Birthday
5.  Masaki Suda                       Machigai Sagashi
6.  Official HIGE DANdism    Pretender
7.  Foorin                                  Paprika
8.  King Gnu                            Hakujitsu
9.  LiSA                                    Gurenge
10.  Radwimps                         Ai ni Dekiru Koto wa Mada Aru kai

Keiko Okuda -- Yume Kudasai ~ Chi-Teki-Yuu-Yuu(夢ください―知・的・優・遊―)

This is one of the more elegant and exotic 80s aidoru tunes that I've come across. So, perhaps I shouldn't be all that surprised since it was composed by Koji Tamaki(玉置浩二), the charismatic vocalist of Anzen Chitai(安全地帯).

Keiko Okuda's(奥田圭子)debut single is "Yume Kudasai ~ Chi-Teki-Yuu-Yuu" (Give Me Your Dreams ~ Intellectual Gentle Play) from February 1985. It was also used for a Pilot fountain pen ad, and though I'm not totally reassured on my translation for that subtitle, there's an element in Keiichi Oku's(奥慶一)arrangement that makes me think that this could have been put into enka mode, but that's just my deranged opinion. Minori Suzui(鈴井みのり)came up with the lyrics that I think are about the vagaries of love.

Another interesting thing about "Yume Kudasai" which truly feels like it's taking place in some sort of dream world (the music video helps with the illusion) is in the refrain when there are two voices working together. There are Okuda's high-toned sighing vocals but then there is that really low vocal giving some subtext, it seems. I think that might be her voice as well but it's the first time in an aidoru song that I've heard a singer going really high and really low.

"Yume Kudasai" peaked at No. 32 for Okuda.

Tsunaki & Midori -- Futari(ふたり)

The first time I mentioned about the husband-&-wife duo of Tsunaki & Midori(つなき&みどり)was through their love ballad "Ai no Banka"(愛の挽歌)which I've described as being somewhat sultry in a jazzy way.

Well, their 3rd single from July 1973, "Futari" (A Couple) has got more of a different feeling in that I imagine a Japanese version of Ike & Tina Turner blasting out a kayo with a rock edge to it. But once again, the duo behind "Ai no Banka" were also responsible for "Futari", lyricist Jun Hashimoto(橋本淳)and composer Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平). Although I wouldn't consider it City Pop, the overall feel to the song makes me think that the story here is taking place deep in the metropolis. Some nice bossy brass in there, too.

Getting as high as No. 63 on Oricon, "Futari" sold a little over 20,000 records. One of the other bits of trivia I've picked up here is that Tsunaki Mihara(三原綱木)actually became the leader of Hiromi Go's(郷ひろみ)backing band in 1976.

Naomi Sugimura -- Nageki no Surrender(嘆きのサレンダー)

I gotta admit that "Nageki no Surrender" (Surrender to Grief) isn't exactly the happiest title for a City Pop song, but man, the melody sure does move quite a bit. Perhaps it's about the lady running away from a sudden breakup either with much sobbing or a slap in the face or even both.

"Nageki no Surrender" is a track from Naomi Sugimura's(杉村尚美)first album, "Naomi First" released in 1981. Couldn't find out the songwriters (actually, check below) but it's pretty polished with the usual frenetically delivered sax solo, cutting and soaring strings, and the Fender Rhodes putting in its two cents. I don't think Sugimura, formerly of the band Higurashi(日暮し), is a natural fit for the genre since her voice sometimes get so breathy that I'm afraid that it might blow away, but she does hold onto the horse until that final high note.

Oricon Top 10 CD Albums of 2019

1.  Arashi                                   5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019
2.  King & Prince                      King & Prince
3.  Nogizaka 46                         Ima ga Omoide ni Naru made
4.  Gen Hoshino                        Pop Virus
5.  BTS                                      Map Of The Soul:Persona
6.  TWICE                                #TWICE 2
7.  Back Number                       Magic
8.  ONE OK ROCK                  Eye of the Storm
9.  B'z                                        New Love
10.  Queen                                 Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack

Gen Hoshino feat. Superorganism -- Same Thing

One of the acts that I did catch on the live broadcast of the Kohaku Utagassen this morning, and by the way...Happy New Year to everyone in Japan, is singer-songwriter Gen Hoshino(星野源)who's been appearing frequently enough on the New Year's Eve special that he even has his own segment while dressed as a Sazae-san clone.

This time, though, he sang his song at the top of Shibuya's newest mammoth structure, Shibuya Scramble Square, which has a breathtaking view of one of Tokyo's most famous neighbourhoods. The last time I was in Tokyo was in 2017 so maybe even the shovels weren't in the ground at that time, but that's obviously not the case now.

The other notable thing is that Hoshino didn't perform a variant of the happy and quirky tunes that I've associated him with, such as "Koi"(恋)from a few years back. Actually, it was something more along the lines of indies pop with the help of English band Superorganism. With their cooperation, Hoshino came up with a digital download EP released in October called "Same Thing".

In a different way, "Same Thing" is another catchy one for Hoshino, and the lyrics are all in English so looking at them while he's singing away at the top of the Scramble, I appreciated his shoutout to the good folks in "Lost In Translation", and even the swearing like an elementary school student. Ah, actually, Hoshino provided a more PG version of the song here (after all, this is an NHK family special), compared to the original swarthier version. "Same Thing" hit No. 1 on the charts.

Hiroshi Miyama -- Bokyo Sanga(望郷山河)

Not sure how many of you were able to watch the live broadcast of the 70th Kohaku Utagassen today, but as usual, when I woke up in the Eastern Standard Time zone, NHK was already two-thirds into the special. However, I've been able to record it through PVR, so I figure that the whole family can catch it tomorrow night (or to be more accurate, fast-forward to the parts we like) following osechi.

One of the segments in the live broadcast that I did miss due to sleep was enka singer Hiroshi Miyama's(三山ひろし)usually zesty performance. The thing here, though, is that he and several dozen other folks were trying to see if they could top their official Guinness world record performance from last year's Kohaku in kendama catching. I won't give any spoilers can just watch the show for yourself, but as you can see in the above video, the Force truly is with Miyama.

The song that he performed on the Kohaku earlier today was his March 2019 single "Bokyo Sanga" (The Mountains and Rivers of Nostalgia). Whenever I think of New Year's Eve and the New Year's holidays in general in Japan, enka does come into the mind because of its traditional nature. Of course, folks there will head for their hometowns everywhere in the country during this time so Miyama singing this proud ode to the old surroundings was appropriate, I think.

With lyrics by Makoto Kitajo(喜多條忠), Miyama may be relating about the purifying power of the homeland and family, and that all of the problems one might have don't amount to a hill of beans when it comes to what the natural surroundings have gone through over millions of years. Plus, family is also there to help you get over what's troubling you. It's kinda like the enka version of a breath of needed fresh air. Tensho Nakamura(中村典正)composed "Bokyo Sanga"; it was most likely one of his last creations before his passing later in August this year at the age of 83.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Beat Takeshi -- Asakusa Kid(浅草キッド)

Well, will wonders never cease? Even one of the top three comedians in Japanese pop culture history, Beat Takeshi(ビートたけし), will be making his singing debut on this edition of the Kohaku Utagassen.

The previous article was on Mariya Takeuchi's(竹内まりや)"Inochi no Uta"(いのちの歌)which relates the ups and downs of life shaping a person. I could think that the song could also apply to Beat Takeshi considering his upbringing in a tough family in a tough neighbourhood in Tokyo, working all sorts of jobs such as waiter, airport baggage handler, product demonstration man, taxi driver, etc., entering university to study as an engineer before dropping out, and reaching success as one half of the manzai comedy duo Two Beat(ツービート)before also making his mark as an actor, director and TV commentator. Even at the top, though, there were some incidents that he had to plow through such as a serious motor scooter accident in 1994 which left lasting damage to his face, and some controversy about some of his jokes that even got him banned from NHK for a time.

What I hadn't known was that Beat released his fair share of music starting from 1981. However, the song that he will perform tomorrow night is "Asakusa Kid" which was the title track for his August 1986 album. He himself came up with words and music for this bluesy ballad about paying his dues during his time in Asakusa as he went up the entertainment industry ladder. According to the J-Wiki article on "Asakusa Kid", he had gotten the idea behind the song while working on the film "Yasha"(夜叉)in Fukui Prefecture before completing it at a hotel.

In "Asakusa Kid", Beat makes a reference to the cheap old restaurant in the area that he used to eat at to keep expenses down with the main dish being stew. According to Livedoor News, that stew was gyu motsu nikomi(牛もつ煮込み)or cow intestine stew or simmered beef giblets, if you prefer.

Took me years to brave eating chopped intestines but I eventually became OK with the grilled version at Korean BBQ restaurants in my last several years in Tokyo. Never got around to eating the stewed variety, although I have to admit that looking at the above recipe video for the dish, it may not be too bad to try.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to seeing ol' Beat hitting the microphone at NHK Hall.

ManaKana/Mariya Takeuchi -- Inochi no Uta(いのちの歌)

The various editions of NHK's Kohaku Utagassen have had plenty of hearty sentimental segments, and for tomorrow's showing, it looks like the organizers are doubling down. We will have the return of Hibari Misora(美空ひばり)through technology, Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)and Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実)are coming back, and actor/comedian/director Beat Takeshi(ビートたけし)is slated to perform a song on the Kohaku for the first time that will describe his life and times.

Then, there is Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや)who will make her very first appearance on the annual New Year's Eve special. Rocket Brown of Come Along Radio and I were talking a bit on Saturday, and he was good-naturedly trolling me a bit by "accusing" me of hoping that Takeuchi would be singing "Plastic Love". To be honest, I had been hoping that would have been the case, but as a part of a medley of her hits. However, the schedule shows that she is only slated to sing one ballad: "Inochi no Uta" (The Song of Life) that has been getting some attention in the run-up towards the Kohaku.

Originally, "Inochi no Uta" was something that had been written by Takeuchi under a pseudonym, Miyabi, and composed by pianist Takatsugu Muramatsu(村松崇継)to be performed as an insert song by the sisterly tarento duo ManaKana(茉奈 佳奈)for the late 2008 NHK morning serial drama "Dan Dan"(だんだん...Over Time)which also starred the sisters. It was also released as the duo's 4th single in February 2009.

I read one Japanese comment under the above video which blithely stated that Takeuchi sings this far better than ManaKana. Well, yeah, that's not exactly a heart-stopping revelation, but I think the point is that having the sisters sing "Inochi no Uta" in that somewhat less refined way kinda brings that down-to-earth family feeling. The original single went all the way up to No. 18 on Oricon and is also available on the sisters' 4th album "Sweet Home" from April 2011.

The only other song by ManaKana that I have on the blog is their contribution to the various theme songs for the anime "Chibi Maruko-chan"(ちびまる子ちゃん)which was recorded over a decade earlier.

In the last little while, the rendition of "Inochi no Uta" that I've been hearing is the cover version by Takeuchi herself. The song was actually released in January 2012 as her 39th single, and her lyrics are meant to be a tribute to all who have gone through the good and bad times of life. All that has happened before leads to the people who we are now. Supposedly, the Kohaku performance will be prefaced by notes from various citizens about how "Inochi no Uta" has resonated in their lives, and most likely, there will be photos of people flashing across the screen while Takeuchi sings. The sentimentality will be strong with this one. The single did manage to hit No. 10, and it's also on her September 2014 album "Trad" which was No. 1 on the charts and No. 15 in the annual rankings for that year. Have the hankies ready.

This may have little probability of coming true although NHK has pulled a few surprises in recent Kohaku shows, but I wonder about the possibility of Takeuchi still doing some of her discography, and maybe even dragging her husband onto the stage. Gotta be optimistic.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Kanako Wada -- Sayonara Jasmine Breeze(さよならJasmine Breeze)

Good heavens! It's been almost a year since I put up anything by Kanako Wada(和田加奈子). Allow me to rectify.

I think that I've covered most of Wada's singles' A-sides and a few of her albums in general. However, this is the first time that I've even heard of "Sayonara Jasmine Breeze", a B-side for her May 1988 single, "Lucky Love", a slightly mellower cover of Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky".

Not quite as catchy as some of her other songs, it does have that Doobie Bounce in the intro going for it and that twangy guitar, but I think that the thumping is a little too strong. During the refrain, Wada's voice and the bass (synth?)/drums seem to be competing too hard with each other for dominance. Shun Taguchi(田口俊)and Tsukasa(司)were behind the creation of the song. I'm not sure whether the song actually got placed onto an album.

bohemianvoodoo -- Adria Blue

Gotta say that as soon as I started listening to the light Latin jazz of "Adria Blue" by the cool group bohemianvoodoo, I figured that these were guys that I would have loved to have seen live at an intimate jazz club in Shinjuku such as Dug.

"Adria Blue" is the starting track on bohemianvoodoo's 2nd full album "Scenes" released in December 2012. I've only listened to the song a few times but I keep getting feelings of Pat Metheny and Django Reinhardt, and basically there is something rather European in the arrangement of "Adria Blue". Frankly, if I could ask someone who has synesthesia, I would want him/her to describe the appearance of this unique colour on hearing the song.

The band consists of guitarist bashiry, pianist Iori Kimura(木村イオリ), bassist nassy and Takuya Yamamoto(山本拓矢)on drums. According to their website, bohemianvoodoo first got together in 2008 to start performing mainly in the Tokyo and Kanagawa areas. They have released mini-albums and full albums with their most recent release being "Moments" which came out in March 2019.

Hibari Misora -- Wakaretemo Arigato(別れてもありがとう)

You know when the Kohaku Utagassen is fast approaching when NHK starts doing the preview special. That did occur tonight for the 70th Kohaku with announcers, performers and guests chatting about what to expect. One nifty segment was going through the 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th and 60th Kohaku highlights as we all got a look at how the music changed over the decades. I got to see old hits along with some new songs that I hadn't encountered before.

One such song is "Wakaretemo Arigato" (Though We Part, Thank You) which I'm assuming was released in 1969 since it was performed by the late Hibari Misora(美空ひばり), who will be getting her comeback of sorts during the 70th edition on New Year's Eve, on the 20th edition in that same year. It's got one of the bluesiest saxophone solos that I've ever heard, so it's definitely a really smoky Mood Kayo.

Written by Yasuteru/Yasutoshi Miura(三浦康照)and composed by Kosho Inomata(猪俣公章), "Wakaretemo Arigato" has got that slightly bittersweet tone (more sweet than bitter thankfully for the characters involved) as a couple decide to break up but with no regrets. Considering the genre, I would think that the parting involves drinks at their favourite watering hole followed by some cheek-to-cheek dancing. Misora herself adds to the atmosphere thanks to her vocals along with the silky strings and gentle guitar.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Yuko Imai -- By The Side of Love

Y'know...I really ought to pay more attention to this singer, Yuko Imai(今井優子). Up to this point, there have only been four articles related to her on the blog, and hearing some of her material, there's indeed a lot to like.

Case in point: this track from her 5th album "Do Away" from April 1990 which was produced by Toshiki Kadomatsu(角松敏生). "By The Side of Love" was also written by Kadomatsu and composed by the bassist who performed on the album, Tomohito Aoki(青木智仁). I'm biased toward the urban contemporary side of Japanese pop, but I really love this tune as one of those mid-tempo melodic pleasantries with that particular sound arrangement (especially the keyboards) I've associated with the turn of the 1980s into the 1990s.

There were some pretty big musicians involved in this project. Kadomatsu himself was on guitar, keyboards and chorus with Shuichi "Ponta" Murakami(村上秀一)on drums, Tsuyoshi Kon(今剛)and Shigeru Suzuki(鈴木茂)on electric guitar, Nobu Saito(斉藤ノヴ)on percussion, Shin Kazuhara(数原晋)on flugelhorn and Yasuhiro Kido(広谷順子)and Junko Hirotani(広谷順子)also on chorus, among other session musicians. That's a pretty slick lineup. But most of all, I am really starting to admire Imai's light and resonant vocals.

Seishiro Kusunose -- Hottokenai yo(ほっとけないよ)

I hear this song and it seems like a realization of joy such as when someone finds out that he/she has just won a major lottery or that parenthood is on the way or even when love has taken full flight for the first time.

Seishiro Kusunose's(楠瀬誠志郎)10th single, "Hottokenai yo" (Can't Leave You Alone) was released in November 1991 but his melody sounds like happy pop straight from the mid to late 1980s. Shota Namikawa(並河祥太)was responsible for the lyrics of discovering that one has fallen head-over-heels and is more than willing to move Heaven and Earth to make his/her confession to the love interest. If it sounds like that it would make for a nice story, it was actually the theme song for a TBS drama "A.D. Boogie"(ADブギ)centering around the lives of three assistant directors.

"Hottokenai yo" peaked at No. 6 on Oricon. Considering the time of year that I'm writing about this, the song can also be a tonic against the winter blues.

Yoshimi Tendo/Yoshiko Hanzaki -- Osaka Koi Shigure(大阪恋時雨)

With the 70th edition of the Kohaku Utagassen just three days away, I was looking down the lineup on the Red and White teams. One current perennial participant has been Yoshimi Tendo(天童よしみ), an enka singer that is on my parents' favourite list, and my parents are quite particular about who they like even among the traditional performers.

According to the Red team list, Tendo is slated to perform "Osaka Koi Shigure" (The Seasonal Rains of Osaka Love), her 74th single and her most recent release from June 2019. Written and composed by Yoshiko Hanzaki(半崎美子), aka The Shopping Mall Diva in Taiwan, I can't really categorize this as an enka tune, though. It's got an old-style Western blues-and-soul tone and it sounds like something that veteran Akiko Wada(和田アキ子)would tackle.

 (shortened version)

However, Tendo's full-bodied vocals are more than up for the challenge. With the liberal usage of the Kansai dialect in Hanzaki's lyrics, "Osaka Koi Shigure" really gives off that robust vibe about the trials and tribulations of love in Japan's second-largest city in terms of area.

Though I don't think Hanzaki herself has released her own cover of "Osaka Koi Shigure", I wanted to show a somewhat more melancholy but no less bluesy performance by the songwriter herself. Will be looking forward to Tendo's take on New Year's Eve. In any case, in that article featuring Hanzaki, I mentioned that perhaps someday she would make her own way to the Shibuya stage for the Kohaku. Well, she won't be doing that this year at least, but in a way, she will have representation due to work on the song.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Toshiya Igarashi -- Before We Say Good-Bye

Before we say goodbye for today's entries on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I just wanted to say that earlier today, I got together with some good friends, including fellow KKP collaborator Larry Chan, for lunch at my favourite izakaya, Kingyo. Very nice as usual and since I had my tonkatsu lunch, I got my dose of dietary fibre from the mountain of requisite cabbage. It ought to be a very regular Saturday, if you know what I mean.😌

Then, later in the afternoon, I got to see a certain movie of note. All I can say is that it didn't quite rise enough. But before we say goodbye to the Skywalker Saga, I just want to opine that as long as the potential for money and interest are still there, this isn't really going to end the Skywalker Saga (the name's Skywalker, Cade Skywalker).

But getting back to the matter at hand, before we say goodbye to this broadcasting night, allow me to introduce "Before We Say Good-Bye", a track from the 1983 album, "Lady Danger", by singer-music director Toshiya Igarashi(五十嵐寿也). Beginning with some mysterious keyboard work and clinking of ice cubes in a glass, the strings then take us flying into some introspective high-in-the-sunset-clouds City Pop. I don't know whether it was indeed Igarashi who provided words and/or music but his comforting and crooning voice sounds fairly similar to that of Fujimal Yoshino(吉野藤丸). The soundscape would be perfect except that I think the violin solo at the end went on a tad too long.

Igarashi does have a J-Wiki bio and it seems as if "Before We Say Good-Bye" was the B-side to his lone single "Kanojo no Nikka"(彼女の日課...Her Daily Routine), also from 1983. In addition, "Lady Danger" ended up being his only album. But since then, Igarashi has provided a fair share of anison, primarily for "Transformers" in 1988 and also some tokusatsu songs for "Kamen Rider Black" in the previous year. That's too bad about him releasing just the one single and one album since I think he's got a pretty good voice and "Before We Say Good-Bye" itself is quite promising for whatever else is on the original LP.

Miho Morikawa -- Kyoshitsu(教室)

Miho Morikawa(森川美穂)isn't a singer that I have covered a lot but my impression had always been based on her "Blue Water", the theme for the NHK anime "Fushigi Umi no Nadia"(ふしぎの海のナディア), and I think for that article, I compared her to power pop specialists such as Kahoru Kohiruimaki(小比類巻かほる)and Mariko Nagai(永井真理子).

Little did I know that half a decade earlier, Morikawa had debuted as a typically high-voiced aidoru of the mid-1980s. But that was indeed the case with her first single "Kyoshitsu" (The Classroom) released in July 1985. Certainly from that music video above, I would never have recognized this lass as Morikawa of 1990 who looked more like a happy-go-lucky rock singer with long wavy tresses according to one album that I have of hers.

"Kyoshitsu", which was written by Kazuya Senke(千家和也)and composed by Minoru Komorita(小森田実), is one of those bittersweet tunes of parting-is-sweet-sorrow themes, as a high school girl, who for some mysterious reason can no longer attend the same school as the target of her affections, makes one final trip to his desk to plant a kiss there before leaving forever. Ah, seishun! It's a short-but-sweet number that probably didn't make Morikawa an overnight sensation but it didn't too badly on Oricon, placing in at No. 38.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

J-Canuck's Fantasy Kohaku Utagassen II: The WHITE Team

A few hours ago, I completed my "Fantasy Kohaku Utagassen II: Red Team" list...a shorter list, to be sure. Now, let me go on to the White team of male performers.

1. Masayuki Suzuki -- Love Romantic

I'm confessing this, but Martin has actually shown up on the first Fantasy Kohaku. However, when I learned that he was not going to appear on this year's real Kohaku next Tuesday with "Love Romantic", I was pretty disappointed, and that was the catalyst triggering me to come up with the Fantasy Kohaku Utagassen II lists. Man, I would have wanted him to be up on the stage. To be honest, it doesn't happen all that often that an anison for a show on one of the commercial networks would get its due on NHK, but still, this is one cool song manned by one cool dude in his sixties who just emanates charisma in his performances.

2. Kazumasa Oda -- Love Story wa Totsuzen ni

As with Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之), this is perhaps another hedge because Kazumasa Oda's(小田和正)old band, Off-Course(オフコース), has also been mentioned in the first White team list back in 2015. However, I've always thought that Oda's solo work and the works of Off-Course were always different. So, using that loophole, why not have him come to Shibuya to perform that theme song from that Japanese drama? It would truly be a special moment since Oda has never been the most comfortable fellow on television.

3. Daishiro Masuiyama -- Yuko no O-Mise

The enka/Mood Kayo contributions have been difficult. Many of the singers have pretty much permanent resident status when it comes to the Kohaku. I mean, some of the legends possess double-digit status well into the 30s regarding the number of their appearances and what they have sung. Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎)even hit 50 appearances. So how am I ever gonna be able to follow my own rules here?

Well, interestingly enough, a sumo wrestler-turned-enka/Mood Kayo singer that I've been seeing in recent years on the regular NHK programs, Daishiro Masuiyama(増位山太志郎), apparently has yet to get his invitation to the Kohaku. I'm surprised since I've cottoned on to his songs over the years and had thought he already had a few appearances under his belt (...or mawashi?).

4. Original Love -- Primal

I don't think Takao Tajima(田島貴男)has ever appeared on the Kohaku so I believe I'm safe here. It would be nice to have a ballad after the above uptempo songs. "Primal" is one lush love song, too. If Tajima ever plays this, I want those full strings behind him as they were on the CD single that I bought years ago.

5. AB'S -- In The City Night

Perhaps Van Paugam and Rocket Brown would like my choice here. I guess that I gotta have my White team City Pop entry along with the one that I have on the Red team. AB'S can take the baton smoothly from Takako Mamiya(間宮貴子)when she goes off-stage and still perform in front of that skyscraper background. There's nothing like having more of that slap bass in a Kohaku performance.

6. Kirinji -- Aliens

If I had the full lineup of performers on my Kohaku, I would probably place Kirinji(キリンジ)on after a whole spate of uptempo performers. "Aliens" is one of those songs that would make for a fine breather ballad to simply listen and appreciate. Y'know, the Horigome brothers have never been on the show, perhaps from NHK not giving out the invitation or maybe they have even politely declined the opportunity, but I think they would make for a fine addition to the team nonetheless.

7. Shinji Harada -- Candy

I guess once in every Kohaku generation, there will be that whimsical White team entertainer with a certain je ne sais pas pop flair. Recently, it's been Gen Hoshino(星野源), some 30 years previously it was probably KAN and then even earlier in the 1970s, it was Shinji Harada(原田真二). I'm still getting to know this boy wonder through his music, and he actually did perform "Time Travel" at the 1978 show. However, that was the only time he's been invited, and I wouldn't mind him coming through time to perform "Candy".

Good heavens! I got the lists done before midnight. You can also have a look at the much larger 2015 list for the White team.

J-Canuck's Fantasy Kohaku Utagassen II: The RED Team

Near the end of 2015, I decided to get really imaginative (the Chateau de Thunderbird helped!) and come up with my own list of a Fantasy Kohaku Utagassen in tribute to the upcoming NHK New Year's Eve special for both the Red (women's) and White (men's) teams. Well, 4 years later, I've once again opted to go for a second collection for a reason that I will explain in the next article for the White team. But for now, let me provide my Fantasy Red team list.

Compared to the lists that I provided back in 2015, these lists will be shorter since frankly I didn't want to exhaust my remaining brain cell any more than necessary. However, the same rules will basically apply:

1) I will pick anyone who is still with us or has left this mortal coil already.
2) The choices will be singers who have not ever appeared on the program.
3) Alternately, if the singers have appeared on the program, then I will go with songs that they have never performed on the Kohaku.

Without further ado then, and some tongue firmly planted in cheek, here is my list for the RED team.

1. Takako Mamiya -- Love Trip

As the saying goes, a person can dream, right? When kayo fans somehow fantasize about a miraculous return of Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵)onto the NHK stage after four decades (which is why I included her on the first list), then I can fantasize about having the Greta Garbo of City Pop appear in front of a cool backdrop of downtown skyscrapers and star-filled skies to sing the title track from her one-and-only 1982 album.

2. Junko Yagami -- Mizuiro no Ame

Unlike Ms. Mamiya, Yagami(八神純子)has appeared once on the Kohaku to sing "Purpletown" but even more than her now-globally famous Bay City tune, I would love to have her perform "Mizuiro no Ame", the original snazzy version from 1978. It's the first song that I had ever heard by her and this particular amazing tune provided me with one of the first examples of proof that kayo was not restricted to enka and aidoru tunes alone. Admittedly, though, there are so many choices of song that I would have loved to have her perform on the show.

3. Bird -- Life

Now officially, it's Mondo Grosso with "Life" featuring Bird. However, if MG and Bird can agree to swap billing just for this appearance, then I would be awfully grateful. As it is, I am also grateful for this wonderful song which has always had me doing a samba in my seat...which would also explain the several typos that I've had to correct typing this paragraph. Once again, I'm letting my mind come up with the setting on the Shibuya stage: a dedicated band for Bird with a lot of Carnaval dancers and even audience participation.

4. Keiko Fuji -- Shinjuku no Onna

The late Keiko Fuji(藤圭子)appeared on the Kohaku a total of 5 times between 1970 and 1976. However, she never performed one of her trademark tunes, "Shinjuku no Onna", during any of those appearances. It would bring back the feeling of the older Kohaku and also the sensations of pub crawling in East Shinjuku. There probably wouldn't be any need for a fancy backdrop setting for Fuji: just set the lighting low, focus the spotlight on her, and have her step down the grand staircase onto the stage.

5. Yukiko Okada -- Dreaming Girl

80s aidoru Yukiko Okada(岡田有希子)never got her invitation to come to the Kohaku but I'm sure that had she lived, she would have gotten her chance. If she had, I would have loved to have seen her perform one of my favourite songs by her, "Dreaming Girl". It's so breezy and cheerful. Her suicide affected all of her fans and it even became one part of the interview with Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや), who had written a few of her songs, during a recent NHK documentary.

6. Pizzicato Five -- Tokyo wa Yoru no Shichi-ji

It's a pity that I could only find one video that featured this song and original performer Maki Nomiya(野宮真貴). Not paying too much attention to the Kohaku Utagassen in the 1990s, I never knew whether Shibuya-kei had gotten its due in the hall where the special is held, despite the fact that it was literally in the same neighbourhood after which this eclectic genre was named. As far as I know, Pizzicato Five has yet to make its inaugural appearance but then again, perhaps in its heyday, the group probably felt themselves too cool and different to show up on stage. But wouldn't it have been quite the thing for Nomiya and Yasuharu Konishi(小西康陽)to perform "Tokyo wa Yoru no Shichi-ji" on New Year's Eve before the year of the next Tokyo Olympics?

7. Lindberg -- Ima Sugu Kiss Me

The band Lindberg actually made one appearance on the Kohaku in 1992 but it wasn't to perform this song, which could arguably be their most famous contribution, "Ima Sugu Kiss Me". If vocalist Maki Watase(渡瀬マキ)and the rest of Lindberg ever came back onto the Shibuya stage to perform this one, the nostalgia quotient would just leap over buildings in a single bound. There would even probably be several middle-aged folks in the audience pumping fists into the air.

Now, on to the WHITE team...

In the meantime, if there are any collaborators and/or commenters who may want to put up their own fantasy teams, they have my blessing.

Yasuyuki Okamura -- Kareshi ni Natte Yasashiku Natte(彼氏になって優しくなって)

Yeah, I realize that this isn't really about a disco song but it's the closest appropriate thumbnail that I can come up with at short notice. Anyways, I figure that following last night's Xmas feast and before the beginning of Holiday leftovers, perhaps some exercise in the form of dancing may be in order. You guys can go ahead...I'll sit this one out lest I fracture a hip or something.

Who better to lead the charge than Japan's Funkiest Corporate Section Chief-looking Guy, singer-songwriter Yasuyuki Okamura(岡村靖幸)? And the song is "Kareshi ni Natte Yasashiku Natte" (Becoming a Boyfriend, Becoming Nice), Okamura's 29th single from November 2014 A.D. (or November 1 A.V.N.).

Written and composed by the man himself, he struts and dances up a storm in the music video (which he took care of himself) as he relates the story of how suddenly love can smooth out the roughest edges in even the toughest of fellows. Okamura is the same age as me, so I can only look at his moves with great envy. Maybe he and Tom "Loki" Hiddleston can do a dancing duet someday. I also have to admire that dish of seafood pasta.

The single peaked at No. 15 on Oricon and it was also placed as a track on Okamura's 7th original album "Koufuku"(幸福...Happiness)which went all the way up to No. 3.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Kenji Sawada -- Burning Sexy Silent Night

For a lot of us here in the Eastern Standard Time Zone, we are all probably in the midst of digesting our Christmas meals of turkey, ham, stuffing, rolls, etc. I certainly am...along with my sister-in-law's delicious homemade apple pie.

Although perhaps the famous carol "Silent Night" was probably at its most appropriate the night before, I think that a breather tonight out on the porch after much eating and heating up while listening to this can also be quite nice. However, how about a burning and sexy silent night?

Yeah, that's kinda weird but singing and songwriting bon vivant Kenji Sawada(沢田研二)did just that with his "Burning Sexy Silent Night", the final track on his 1983 album "Julie Song Calendar". Nothing solemn about this one as good ol' Julie gives his heartfelt serenade to his beloved. With those added adjectives, I couldn't really think of it as being a "silent" night...nudge nudge, wink wink, if you know what I mean. 😎

(clears throat) Anyways, the other interesting observation about "Burning Sexy Silent Night" is how very conventionally pop it sounds. First finding about Sawada when he was already in thrall to his Glam Rock phase in the early 1980s, it's been imprinted upon me about how quirky his costumes and songs were at that time. So, listening to something as down-home as this one when it made its presence known has been an intriguing experience.

"Julie Song Calendar" is an album that I've already mentioned because my last article on Sawada a few short weeks ago dealt with another track, "Menuki Douri no Roku-gatsu"(目抜き通りの6月). Enjoy your further digestion.

Saori Yagi -- Hitomi de Kataomoi(瞳で片想い)

About a little over a year ago, I wrote an article about 80s aidoru Saori Yagi(八木さおり)who would later have a more successful career as an actress. The song was "Tsuki to Koigokoro"(月と恋心), a fairly bouncy number composed by Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉)for her 2nd album in 1987.

I mentioned this in the original article but because of Komuro's influence, there was something about "Tsuki to Koigokoro" that reminded me of some of the songs that Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里)performed at around the same time, although I think Yagi's vocals weren't quite up to that singer's levels. Here, I'm talking about Yagi's debut single "Hitomi de Kataomoi" (Falling In Love with My Eyes), released in October 1986.

Written and composed by Etsuko and Takao Kisugi(来生えつこ・来生たかお), "Hitomi de Kataomoi" is more of a dreamier mid-tempo aidoru tune about making that crucial eye contact and deciding that, yep, he's the one. I think this sort of tune fits Yagi better with the tandem of the Kisugi siblings (who've always been adept at the wistful love ballads) because of the sing-song style of her vocals, and I especially like the harmony that starts the refrain.

According to J-Wiki, "Hitomi de Kataomoi" scored a No. 20 on Oricon. It sold a little over 30,000 records.

Akira Fuse -- Tamaranaku Tasty(たまらなくテイスティー)

There were quite a few actors and actresses outside of Japan who caught the public's eye there for many years. One such thespian is Alain Delon from France, and with performers who have become popular in The Land of the Rising Sun in the decades since, they will almost inevitably be brought over to do a commercial for a Japanese product. Delon was apparently no different as he touted the merits of an early 1980s Mazda Capella.

The song that came with the commercial was Akira Fuse's(布施明)"Tamaranaku Tasty" (Irresistibly Tasty) which was his first single under Philips Records released in September 1982. So far, under the Fuse file, the man with the big voice has done pop, Mood Kayo and some jazz. But this is the first time for me to hear him tackle the urbane sounds of City Pop.

Written by Masako Arikawa(有川正沙子)and composed by GANGY, this is perhaps the type of song that you would like to hear while driving in a Capella...preferably along the coast bombing down to Hakone. The lyrics by Arikawa don't give praise to a car but a woman for whom Fuse seems to be absolutely head-over-heels in love with that mighty big reference to Venus herself. It's about as City Pop as one can get with that little spritz of Latin.

Fuse himself once had a personal connection with one of those thespians who grabbed the Japanese spotlight. He married actress Olivia Hussey of "Romeo and Juliet" fame in 1980 before getting divorced in 1989. In 2013, though, he married singer Yukari Morikawa(森川由加里).

Junko Hirotani, Yuko Kawai, Eri Sugai and Yasuhiro Kido -- It's a Merry Christmas to You

Merry Christmas to everyone out there! I'm hoping that all of you are enjoying presents, each other and the eventual feast (turkey or ham or KFC).

Let me begin with something that was pricking the curiosity of my mind like pine needles for the past couple of years. It must have done quite a lot of pricking to a lot of folks globally since it has become quite the meme in both the Xmas and anime/gaming fields. There is something called "Padoru" which involves a cute little anime girl in a Santa Claus outfit singing the first several words of "Jingle Bells" in Japanese before yelling out "Padoru Padoru". It's gotten mention in the "Know Your Meme" website a couple of times now including an article just a few days ago.

Well, I found out that the excerpt came from the PlayStation game "Fate/Extra" with the character of Nero Claudius (Red Saber) doing the cute thing. It's the "Padoru Padoru" that was making me wonder all this time. I'd initially assumed that it had something to do with paddling, but apparently it's the Japanese onomatopoeia for the reindeer clopping their hooves on the roof. Other information I found was that the seiyuu is veteran Sakura Tange(丹下桜). Plus, the original Japanese lyrics for "Jingle Bells" were written by the late poet/lyricist Shoichi Miyazawa(宮澤章二)shortly after the end of the Second World War.

Now that this mystery has been solved, let me show you an original J-Xmas tune that would make The Manhattan Transfer swoon with holly-covered happiness. I found this video containing a track called "It's a Merry Christmas to You" from the 1995 album "Christmas Mail ~ Voice Fill".

Some nice jazzy vocals are provided by singer-songwriters Junko Hirotani(広谷順子), Yuko Kawai(河合夕子), Eri Sugai(菅井えり)and Yasuhiro Kido(木戸やすひろ)with music/arrangement by Sugai and lyrics by Lynne Hobday. As I said, there's something quite Manhattan Transfer about it and I am even reminded of The Andrews Sisters (of course, I also think about the vocal groups in Japan such as Hi-Fi Set and Circus). Along with some scatting, there's even a bit of tap dancing which had me humorously wondering if one of the singers decided to adopt comedian/actor Billy Crystal's technique at 3:10 above. Hearing it a few times now, I can envisage someone like Kohmi Hirose(広瀬香美)covering this one, too.

Anyways, let me leave you with a dance remix of "Padoru Padoru". I wonder whether Tange ever thought about getting this whole thing trademarked.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Akiko Kobayashi -- Anata ni Suteki na Christmas Present Agetai na(あなたに素敵なクリスマスプレゼントあげたいな)

There's a small municipality just north of Toronto called Unionville which I think may be one of the most Christmas-y places in the local region. I was there when my brother got married and the family took the wedding photos at one of the parks but that was in late summer. I have yet to go there in person during the Xmas season; I would love to head there one time but since I cannot drive and I frankly don't want to pester anybody to take me to Unionville just for my sake (I really haven't gotten any inkling over the years that anyone around me is particularly interested), at this point, I will settle for watching videos and TV footage (as for the video above, that must have been taken in the middle of the night).

(very short excerpt)

However, that's the atmosphere and image I sense when I listen to singer-songwriter Akiko Kobayashi's(小林明子)final track, "Anata ni Suteki na Christmas Present Agetai na" (I Want to Give You a Wonderful Christmas Present) from her debut album "Fall In Love" (1985), the same album that has her most famous hit, the title song itself. I think that this final track is probably the final song that I will cover from "Fall In Love" since I believe that I've covered every other track piecemeal over the years rather than highlight the album itself.

(karaoke version)

"Anata ni Suteki na Christmas Present Agetai na" is most likely one of the first J-Christmas songs that I have ever heard since I bought the LP of "Fall In Love" back in my university days. This is before I had even heard of Tatsuro Yamashita's(山下達郎"Christmas Eve" which I first learned about during my JET days at the end of the 1980s.

As I mentioned above, the quiet of Xmas Eve is what I think is the setting for this romantic and introspective ballad by Kobayashi. I believe that a couple is just at the very happy beginning of their relationship and perhaps celebrating their first Christmas together, and the woman is going through some child-like giddiness about what to get her love (probably nothing by Black & Decker).

(brief excerpt)

The hushed feeling surrounding the song is enhanced by the fact that it's basically a piano, a synthesizer and Kobayashi's echoing vocals producing "Christmas Present". One final anecdote is that during my university days, I lent my good friend from the Japanese club a tape with a recording of the entirety of "Fall In Love" with her, of course, listening to this Xmas ballad. She actually enjoyed it very much except for the solemn introductory piano which seemed to hit a wrong chord with the player (presumably Kobayashi herself) quickly trying to cover it up with a brief flourish.

I'm not sure what the meaning behind the so-called misplayed chord was. Was it a melodic attempt to lighten the mood before going into the special Xmas romanticism? Was it an honest mistake that tickled Kobayashi and recording staff enough for them to let it go? I don't have any particular complaint about it and in fact, it's the one part of the song that acts as a memory aid for "Christmas Present".

On that point, then, on this December 24th, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas! Get some sleep!

Mariko Takahashi -- Midnight Christmas Eve

We're in the final hours in Toronto before Christmas 2019 arrives. I basically have everything ready for tomorrow so it's really just putting up the last few articles for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" before hitting bed.

Somewhat ironic having that thumbnail photo of "Happy Holidays" up at the top since the latest Xmas song is more on the melancholy side of things. "Midnight Christmas Eve" is a track from Mariko Takahashi's(高橋真梨子)September 1991 album "Sweet Journey".

The lyrics by Tetsuo Kudo(工藤哲雄)speak of a woman about to board a plane heading off to places unknown over the Holidays to help her forget...or at least, put a past romance in better perspective. When it comes to Japanese pop music, traveling seems to be the tonic for whatever ails the broken heart. Takashi Tsushimi(都志見隆)is the composer for the gentle and compensating optimistic melody. Maybe it's the hint that the clouds are finally parting for the protagonist here.

Of course, Takahashi is wonderful here. Of all of the various famous singers bringing their form of Xmas jolly/melancholy tunes, I'd always wondered whether this chanteuse had ever contributed a song to the Yuletide. Well, I no longer have to worry.

Ryoko Sano -- Aoi Pianissimo(蒼いピアニシモ)

Just a couple of months ago, I wrote about one of Ryoko Sano's(佐野量子)latter-era songs in the early 1990s, "Hoshi ni Negai wo" although I had known her as an 80s aidoru.

Well, I'm letting the pendulum of time swing to the other end. Here is her 2nd single from July 1985, "Aoi Pianissimo" (Blue Pianissimo). Written by Yasushi Akimoto(秋元康)and composed by Kazuhiko Matsuo(松尾一彦), I think this particular tune kinda represented a lot of aidoru tunes from the late 1980s. Instead of having that sunny-side summery song sung by the early 1980s aidoru such as Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)and Naoko Kawai(河合奈保子), "Aoi Pianissimo" is this lush, string-filled number with a touch of Old Europe...almost fantasy-feeling that seemed to be the song of choice for a number of teenybopper singers in the latter half of the decade, although Miho Nakayama(中山美穂)and Shizuka Kudo(工藤静香)were probably the exceptions.

No idea how "Aoi Pianissimo" did exactly on the charts although according to her J-Wiki bio, the song was actually her first to get into the Top 100 on Oricon.

Yuko Tomita -- Yanagi ni Dakarete(柳に抱かれて)

It seems that Yuko Tomita(とみたゆう子)has ranged somewhat among pop, City Pop and AOR but for this one particular song, she may have also dabbled a bit into the synthpop as well.

"Yanagi ni Dakarete" (Embraced by the Willows) begins with a cute synthesizer and then Tomita's coquettish vocals come in for a pop song that fills in with a whole number of synthetic sounds. Sounds rather Sakamoto-esque. Although Tomita has often helped out in creating her songs, for this one, Miku/Mirai Maeda(前田未来)and Yoshihide Maeda(前田義秀)took care of words and music respectively. The song was a track on Tomita's first album "Colours" released in September 1981.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Carmen Maki -- Never On A Monday

And now we come to the end of another broadcast day...

On this eve of Christmas Eve, I will finish things off tonight with a Carmen Maki(カルメン・マキ)song. Now, from what I've heard of her reputation and according to the CD of her BEST material that my good friend and drummer, Hiro, gave me many years ago, she was this rather iconic rocker.

However, the very first Maki song that I put up on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" back in 2016 was a folk song which was her debut single all the way back in 1969. This time, though, I did find something of hers more in the rock vein, "Never On A Monday".

First appearing as a track from her June 1979 album "Night Stalker", "Never On A Monday" blasts off with some fine drums before Maki chimes in. I don't know very deeply about the various types of rock music (so please feel free to give insights about her here), but there's something kinda reminiscent of the duo Heart (although that cover of "Night Stalker" rather screams Pat Benatar) when I hear Maki's grand vocals and the overall music. Perhaps it's more along the lines of folk rock or pop rock? Plus, considering the time period, maybe there's even just a hint of New Wave in there. It has the feeling of something anthemic.

"Never On A Monday" was also the B-side to a Maki EP, "It's Only Rock'n Roll" which was released in 1980.

Sambomaster/Bird feat. Kuchiroro -- Sekai wa Sore o Ai to Yobundaze(世界はそれを愛と呼ぶんだぜ)

Over 10 years ago, there was the story of "Densha Otoko"(電車男...Train Man)about an Akihabara otaku and young lady who get into an unlikely romance when the former rescues the latter from a drunken idiot on the train. The Train Man is shocked and delighted to perceive some possible interest from the woman code-named Hermes and has to consult with his fellow geeks via 2channel about how to handle the situation.

The story was intriguing enough that it was adapted into both a movie and a TV series. I'd heard all about "Densha Otoko" when I was living in Japan, but by that point, the petals had fallen off the flower long ago when it came to my interest in the local TV dramas, so I never bothered watching.

It's only been recently that I discovered that the ending theme for the TV series was rock band Sambomaster's 5th single "Sekai wa Sore o Ai to Yobundaze" (That's What the World Calls Love). I had also heard about the band before since the vocalist Takashi Yamaguchi(山口隆)has had a penchant for going from soft vocalization to throat-shredding screams.

With "Sekai wa Sore o Ai to Yobundaze", which was written and composed by Yamaguchi, I think that the downtrodden corporate cog may have found his/her rallying anthem to get that second wind and go for something bigger and better. At the very least, the average salaried worker now had another song at the karaoke boxes to mightily de-stress. As for me, along with that feeling of getting off one's duff and becoming a hero to someone special, I've also enjoyed those key shifts in the refrain. Not sure if I could ever sing the song but I wouldn't certainly mind hearing someone sing it at karaoke.

Coming out in August 2005, the song went Gold, reaching No. 7 on Oricon and becoming the 76th-ranked single of the year. The single also ended up on Sambomaster's "Boku to Kimi no Subete o Rock 'n Roll to Yobe"(僕と君の全てをロックンロールと呼べ...Call Everything About You and Me Rock 'n Roll), their 3rd album from April 2006, which peaked at No. 8.

"Sekai wa Sore o Ai to Yobundaze" has been covered by a number of singers over the years including Bird who performed her version with the pop unit Kuchiroro(□□□)in 2007 on her "BIRDSONG EP-cover BEATS for the party-". Her take is also pretty cool with that familiar Latin/club treatment that I've known her for.

I was surprised that "Densha Otoko" didn't quite get the interest of Hollywood since they were more than happy to adapt all those horror stories like "Ringu" along with heartwarming tales such as "Shall We Dance?" and "Hachiko". But then again, maybe something similar happened on TV instead.😁