Credits

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.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Remi Hirano -- Kikasete yo Ai no Kotoba wo(きかせてよ愛の言葉を)

 

Wow! The things that I learn about someone. Remi Hirano(平野レミ)has been a lady that I've seen from time to time on Japanese TV whipping up all sorts of stuff in the kitchen. She's so chatty and vivacious that I had assumed that she just has to be from Osaka when actually she was born in Tokyo and raised in Chiba Prefecture.

The other amazing thing that I've learned about her is that she has been a trained singer in the genre of chanson since 1970! Indeed, this gabby TV chef was also singing of l'amour all these years. I guess then that Fubuki Koshiji(越路吹雪)isn't the only chanson singer up on "Kayo Kyoku Plus".

In 1988, after years of releasing singles, Hirano released her first album titled "Kikasete yo ~ Chanson de Remi"(きかせてよ - シャンソン・ド・レミ...Speak to Me) and the opening track just happens to be a cover of the original 1930 love song by Jean Lenoir, "Parlez-moi d'amour" (Speak to Me of Love). The Japanese lyrics have been provided by 70s/80s music ranking show "The Best 10"(ザ・ベストテン)emcee and author Tetsuko Kuroyanagi(黒柳徹子). It's hard to believe that this lady who sounds like one of my dear departed aunts from the Kansai area can sing so sweetly.

Some more trivia about her family tree has come into my head. According to her Wikipedia entry, Hirano is actually one-quarter American thanks to her paternal grandfather who was lawyer and Japanologist Henry Pike Bowie. Her father was French writer Imao Hirano(平野威馬雄), her husband was illustrator Makoto Wada(和田誠)and on top of that, her eldest son is Sho Wada(和田唱)of the rock band Triceratops whose wife is actress Juri Ueno(上野樹里). Another daughter-in-law is the model Asuka Wada(和田明日香).

Hiroko Taniyama -- Gingakei wa Yappari Mawatteru(銀河系はやっぱりまわってる)

 

As I mentioned for singer-songwriter Hiroko Taniyama's(谷山浩子)first song on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" under her name, "Yoru no Buranko"(夜のブランコ), she's been someone that I've heard for years in the songwriting category for other singers. But indeed, she has also put out her own songs for just as long.

I also said that she put out her debut single in April 1972 just before turning 16 years of age, "Ginga Kei wa Yappari Mawatteru"(The Galaxy Does Turn). According to her J-Wiki profile, she hadn't intended to be singing behind the mike in any official capacity, being content with her dream of becoming a composer instead, but when a director at King Records plied her with the promise of putting out an LP for her if she would sing, she apparently changed her mind.

So as a high school student, her first single was released. Written, composed and recorded by Taniyama"Ginga Kei wa Yappari Mawatteru" is a curious little animal of a ditty with an opening reminiscent of the theme song from "The Odd Couple" and the adorably soft vocals by Taniyama herself. It's got a shuffling beat while the lyrics are fairly playfully nihilistic as the singer relates her tongue-in-cheek beliefs that even if Earth goes poof, the Milky Way will still be around. Well, I'm sure that the Vulcans, the Andorians and the Tellarites can breathe a sigh of relief.

Itsuro Shimoda -- Odoriko(踊り子)

 

In terms of weather today, it's a bit damp and gloomy out there. Also, some of that cold air is wafting into my room but it's not too uncomfortable for the moment as I type this in.

Moreover, it seems to be the ideal atmosphere for this beautiful folk song by singer-songwriter Itsuro Shimoda(下田逸郎). In all honesty, I'd never heard of this Miyazaki Prefecture-born folk singer before but he possesses this wonderful character in his voice which relates profound sadness and wistfulness. 

Shimoda has been active since 1967 but his first record didn't come out until the early 1970s. His third single, and the topic of this article, is "Odoriko" (Dancing Girl) in October 1974, which was also arranged by Masayoshi Takanaka(高中正義). A melancholy ballad that comes across as regret over a failed relationship as each partner is now looking for someone else, the melody by Shimoda has a very woodsy and ancient sensation. I'd say that it's even more fantastical than the average J-Folk song since I can easily imagine dwarves, elves and Orcs in this setting than I can Tokyo rivers, ordinary young folk and tiny tatami apartments.

His career in entertainment continued into the mid-1980s with singles and albums being released. But the singer then took a break of sorts for several years within Japan and outside of the country before returning to singing sometime in his 40s. Although he stopped putting out singles in the 1980s, he has been releasing albums up to 2018. His J-Wiki article stated that he was influenced by fellow folk singer-songwriter Chiharu Matsuyama(松山千春), and sure enough, Matsuyama below is covering "Odoriko".

P.S. on Tokyo House Party: 1970s Singers, Part 1 (Aidoru)

 

Happy Sunday out there! Last night, I had the honour of meeting Saira Chambers, Derrick Fields and Van Paugam on their livestreaming podcast of "Tokyo House Party" to talk about music in the Bubble Era through their "BUBBLES, BIJUTSU, AND BEATS: THE MUSIC, FASHION, AND ART OF JAPAN'S "BUBBLE" ERA" episode. It was a lot of fun although I think that at points with City Pop geeks like Van and myself at the party at the same time, Saira and Derrick may have been trying to calm down a couple of bucking broncos, so I will do the Canadian thing and thank my hosts and apologize at the same time.😅

With all the talk going on last night, I think one answer that may have gotten lost in the conversational shuffle was the one for Derrick's question about who I would recommend for the person interested in further exploring the wonderful world of kayo kyoku. As such, I've decided to provide a KKP PS from the podcast last night and for the next few days, I will provide some singers and bands that I think can start fitting the bill. And that will begin with such people who launched their careers in the 1970s (followed by artists from the 60s, 80s, the genres of enka/Mood Kayo and so on).

My recommendation list for the 1970s is not only a big one but it also consists of just my personal choices (and an incomplete one at that), and it should just be a starting point for the kayo newbies. I will leave a photo of the singer and then a couple of his/her hits which have already been profiled on the blog. From there, you can launch your exploration by going through YouTube and perhaps even buying an original album or a BEST compilation. At the same time, via the platform's all-magical algorithm, you may also find other singers and bands that you can take a look at as well.

First, let me provide some of the aidoru from the 1970s. Part 2 is now up as well.


Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵): Hito Natsu no Keiken(ひと夏経験)and Imitation Gold (イミテイション・ゴールド)

Pink Lady: UFO and Nagisa no Sinbad (渚のシンドバッド)

Candies: Haru Ichiban (春一番)and Toshishita no Otokonoko (年下の男の子)


Hideki Saijo(西城秀樹): Young Man (ヤングマン)and Kizudarake no Lola (傷だらけのローラ)


Hiromi Go(郷ひろみ): Otoko no Ko , Onna no Ko (男の子女の子)and How Many Ii Kao? (How Many いい顔)


Goro Noguchi(野口五郎): Aoi Ringo (青いリンゴ)and Amai Seikatsu (甘い生活)

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Aya Shimazu -- Uminari no Uta(海鳴りの詩)

 

When it comes to the works of enka singer Aya Shimazu(島津亜矢)on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", we've often brought her to articles where she has covered songs of the original singers.

Therefore, it's nice when we can cover a song that is one of her own, and that is the case of her 13th single "Uminari no Uta" (The Song of the Sounds of the Sea) released in June 1995. Enka is the one genre where having plenty of emotion on one's sleeve is pretty much a requirement, and I think Shimazu has one of those voices which can literally roar across the vocal spectrum.

Created by legends, lyricist Tetsuro Hoshino(星野哲郎)and composer Toru Funamura(船村徹), Shimazu can plumb the smoky depths of her voice and then bring it all the way up to the ear-ringing heights. Hoshino's lyrics contain a few kanji that I'm not too cognizant of, but from what I could interpret of them, it reads like a most epic account of a seaside-residing fishing family through the generations. Those proud horns and electric guitar complete the effect.

Come to think of it, Hoshino and Funamura did create the classic "Kyodai Bune"(兄弟船)for Ichiro Toba(鳥羽一郎)many years earlier, and it's the account of fishing brothers fighting the elements to get their catch for the family.

Shonentai -- Maittane Kon'ya(まいったネ 今夜)

 

The following isn't a City Pop song by any means but it sure does give that feeling of those champagne-and-caviar times of the Bubble Era.

Must give a caveat here before I go any further since the uploader piu mosso has slapped on an age-restricted label onto the video for some reason (no need to worry now since that video has been taken down), so most likely you may have to head to YouTube itself to view this. And that would be a pity since "Maittane Kon'ya" (Tonight's Tough, Ain't It?) is quite the stylish jazz piece for the Johnny's aidoru group Shonentai(少年隊). Released as their 14th single in June 1989, it's got quite the "Guys n' Dolls" thing going for it as the protagonist of the piece, an urban and urbane swinger, may have met his match in a woman who leaves him internally gasping for air (externally, he's gotta maintain that urbanity).

It's not everyday that I hear some good ol' swing as applied to an aidoru group so "Maittane Kon'ya" is nice to hear, so I have to offer my compliments to lyricist/composer Tomo Miyashita(宮下智). I've also noticed that there's a bit of "Mack the Knife" in the song, too. It hit No. 1 on Oricon (their 11th No. 1) and managed to become the 42nd-ranked single of 1989. Not only that, but Shonentai was able to appear on that year's Kohaku Utagassen to perform the song, their 4th of 8 straight appearances on the NHK New Year's Eve special. "Maittane Kon'ya" first appeared on an album via "Shonentai 35th Anniversary BEST" released in December 2020 which got as high as No. 4 on the Oricon weeklies.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Masanori Ikeda -- Let Me Love

 

Up to now, it's just been the one Masanori Ikeda(池田政典)song on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" and that was his contribution to the "Kimagure Orange Road"(きまぐれオレンジ☆ロード)series with his "Night of Summerside" in 1987. He had a relatively short stint as a singer but I was curious to see what else he had up his sleeves besides anything to do with anison.


(35:10)

Well, his debut album came out in October of that same year, "Quarterback", and one of the tracks is "Let Me Love". It's a smooth City Pop number with some of those silky keyboards and a snazzy horn section leading the way. I'd say that it would be perfect for a drive down the Shuto Expressway on a Friday night. Plus, listeners get another soulful electric guitar solo.

"Let Me Love" was written by Koichi Fujita(藤田浩一), a guitarist for the Group Sounds band Out Cast(アウト・キャスト), and composed by Toshitsugu Nishihara(西原俊次). I'd gotten some Omega Tribe(オメガトライブ)vibes from listening to the song, and sure enough, Nishihara was a keyboardist for the band. At the same time, there is also something rather Yasuhiro Abe(安部恭弘)about "Let Me Love" as well. In any case, it's a pretty classy tune.

Rie Murakami -- Say Cheese

 

This is another one of those "one & done" singers who inhabit the deep underwater recesses of my kayo kyoku iceberg. I couldn't find much information aside from scraps here and there but according to the Waltz Online site, Rie Murakami(村上リエ)only released the one album "Sahara" in 1984 before disappearing from view. But thanks to the wonders of YouTube and the renaissance of City Pop for the entire planet, "Sahara" has begun to flourish.

Not sure if the site were complimenting or criticizing the choice but the writer noted that the cover for "Sahara" looked more appropriate for an aidoru album. However, Murakami's sole outing is described as Japanese-style urban soul, so I gather that City Pop would be a good genre title here. And one track "Say Cheese", from the flowing strings to the mellow jangling guitar to the bass-piano combination, takes me back to 1970s Boz Scaggs and Bobby Caldwell. I'd also like to send my good thoughts to the electric guitar solo, and overall, the effect is that of a very comfy metropolitan strut.

Linda Hennrick provided the English lyrics while Masahiro Ando(安藤まさひろ), the leader of fusion band The Square, came up with the really pleasant City Pop melody. I kinda wonder whether the rhythm track for "Say Cheese" was made into the theme song for Masa -Neo CityPop's videos.

Kaoru Hirose -- Cosmic Space City

 

Over five years ago, I gave my thoughts on the jaunty "Information Love" by singer-songwriter Kaoru Hirose(広瀬かおる)from her 1982 "Shakin' It Up" album. On that article, I stated that there was perhaps some Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)in there although Yoichi Takizawa(滝沢洋一)was the one behind the melody, but I've realized since then that the keyboard and horn arrangements were more along the lines of Airplay (David Foster and Jay Graydon).


Well, I'm finally going ahead with my second Hirose article and it's for the first track from the aforementioned "Shakin' It Up", "Cosmic Space City". With a title like that, I had been expecting something a little technopop a la Yellow Magic Orchestra. However the song written by Hirose and composed by Alfred Chen actually still has that Airplay feeling in the keyboards with brief interludes that sound like a Hollywood trek into heaven. Also, if Pat Benatar had grown up in Japan and decided to go pop instead of rock, I could imagine "Cosmic Space City" being her song.

Hopefully, I won't have to end up waiting another five years to tackle the entirety of "Shakin' It Up" next time.

Sentimental City Romance -- Honey Lady

 

Happy Friday and perhaps today might be a happier Friday than most because there seems to be more optimism around the corner with another couple of vaccines approved for use here in Canada. That's the case despite the fact that the daily case count has been creeping up over the past few days although many more tests have been done thereby dropping the positivity rate. Even the mayor, who's been sometimes discouragingly straight with us about the situation, has said that there's a fairly good likelihood that the summer may be close to normal. Well, I'll believe it when I see it.

Along with "Nantonaku, Crystal"(なんとなく、クリスタル), I also ended up buying another book from Indigo a few weeks ago, and it's right up above. Yep, being the Steely Dan fan and having realized Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker's influence on one corner of kayo kyoku, I purchased "Steely Dan FAQ" on the history of the famous band since I wanted to know what made these guys tick. So far, I've made it up to the point where they completed "Pretzel Logic" (1974), and what I've read about them has made me wonder if a comedy-drama biography couldn't be produced.

Anyways, allow me to shift things to another long-running band in Japan, Sentimental City Romance(センチメンタル・シティ・ロマンス). Come to think of it, I wonder where some parallels could be made between Steely and Sentimental in terms of the direction of these two outfits. Both being born in the 1970s, I think they also started out dipping their toes in a number of genres such as rock and folk before getting a little jazzier and AOR, although perhaps SD may have gotten there a little earlier, thanks to "Aja" in 1977.

From their May 1982 "Smiling" album comes "Honey Lady" which was written and composed by vocalist Tokuo Nakano(中野督夫). I'm not sure if I can say that the arrangement is a full lift of Steely Dan hooks and chords but there is a definite essence of Fagen and Becker in this alternately smooth and strutting tune. Through the use of instruments, I also get both 1970s and 1980s City Pop/AOR vibes which I don't think I've ever felt in one song before, and yet on hearing Nakano and the rest of the guys singing in the chorus, I still feel that their folk-rock vibe never left them on entering the new decade.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Masahiko Kondo -- Royal Straight Flush(ロイヤル・ストレート・フラッシュ)

 

At first, when I saw the title of the song, I kinda scratched my head. I have played poker in the past and I knew about the rare hands of a Royal Flush and then the Straight Flush, but a Royal Straight Flush? Then I read over at Wikipedia that the Royal Straight Flush is just the full name for a Royal Flush. In any case, from what I remember from my card-playing days, I don't think I ever got that hand.

It looks like Masahiko "Matchy" Kondo(近藤真彦)was going for some sort of poker analogy with his 12th single "Royal Straight Flush". Released in November 1983, a game of Texas Hold' Em is being played out between a couple of lovers with the desired result of a Flush of Hearts. However, Takashi Matsumoto's(松本隆)lyrics aside, it's the funky strut that first got my attention. Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)was responsible for the music but it was City Pop musician Makoto Matsushita(松下誠)who took care of the arrangement, and so I kinda went "Naruhodo".

"Royal Straight Flush" was all aces for Matchy since it hit No. 1 on Oricon and was a long-lasting hit for the 80s aidoru. It was the 85th-ranked single for 1983 and even the following year, it still hung in there as the 93rd-ranked single.

DeBarge -- Love Me in a Special Way

 

Here I was about to devote this week's ROY article to the wonders of DeBarge and "All This Love", only to find out that I'd already devoted the classic soul ballad to ROY-dom last year! I may have to increase my intake of fish oil.

Still, the oversight gives me the opportunity to add another romantically-charged DeBarge love song to "Kayo Kyoku Plus", and that would be "Love Me in a Special Way". Next to "All This Love", this would be the DeBarge song that I adore the most. Released in November 1983 as a single, the El Debarge-penned "Love Me in a Special Way" is a slow dance-worthy or sway-worthy number that has a quietly grand opening with El's piano and then the gradual introduction of those strings. Stevie Wonder has always been the saffron in any R&B paella, and he does so here as well thanks to his solo guest appearance via a melodica or harmonica (the Wikipedia article for the song says both in different parts, but I think it's the latter).

Ironically, the "All This Love" article was the first time that I got the idea to apply the ROY tag to my old favourites from America, Canada and the UK. Anyways, I would love to add more DeBarge to this Label in the months to come.

Now what were the Top 3 of November 1983 on Oricon?

1. Seiko Matsuda -- Hitomi wa Diamond (瞳はダイアモンド)


2. Masahiko Kondo -- Royal Straight Flush(ロイヤル・ストレート・フラッシュ)

3. Seiko Matsuda -- Glass no Ringo (ガラスの林檎)

Mayumi Shinozuka -- Papa wa Mouretsu(パパはもうれつ)

 

When I first heard this song, I thought about one fellow especially, and that was Kogoro Mouri(毛利小五郎)from the "Detective Conan" manga and anime franchise. Being the father of the pretty Ran Mouri(毛利蘭), girlfriend of genius teen sleuth Shinichi Kudo (before he got miniaturized into Conan), I've found him to be a comically boorish braggart with a volcanic temper who may not be the sharpest private eye but will do anything to protect his daughter, although with her judo skills, she can take care of herself and others well enough.

Back in late 2019, I wrote about singer/songwriter and impressionist Mayumi Shinozuka's(しのづかまゆみ)final single "Taiyo no Kakera"(太陽のかけら)from July 1981. Well, here is her first single from May 1974, "Papa wa Mouretsu" (Papa's Fierce), and from listening to that intro with the guitar, I thought the melody was lifting something from an old Blondie song, "Call Me", but of course that hit by Debbie Harry and company wouldn't come out for several more years.

At the same time, there is also something rather disco and Pink Lady with the arrangement but as well, that duo would be a couple of more years away from hitting the limelight. In any case, the booming melody by Taiji Nakamura(中村泰士)behind Shinozuka reflects Yu Aku's(阿久悠)lyrics about how fiercely strict a young girl's father is. For most of the song, the singer seems to weave a tale of woe regarding how Showa her Showa Era dad is, only for her to concede at the end that she still loves him and that Papa is showing his love, too.

capsule -- Sakura(さくら)

 

My first sighting of a capsule video was "Music Controller" from August 2002 and so the impression that solidified in my head was of Yasutaka Nakata(中田ヤスタカ)and Toshiko Koshijima(こしじまとしこ)keeping up the Shibuya-kei fight, especially with the accompanying music video. Several years later, they took a pretty big leap into electronica, an area of their career that I have yet to explore fully although the images of the duo on the album covers in that phase have me thinking Daft Punk's Japanese cousins with a willingness to show off more of their faces.

Though capsule formed in Tokyo in 1997, their debut single wouldn't come out until March 2001. "Sakura" isn't even in the Shibuya-kei genre but it does have that techno exotica feeling and it's plenty jaunty as it combines that feeling of Japanese traditional and synthesizers.

The music video is even more revealing showing Nakata and Koshijima looking more like a singing team from avex trax, and dang, Koshijima just appears really cheerful and happy. I also have to agree with one commenter because her eyes are indeed quite pretty. It's always fascinating looking back at the beginnings of a long-established band.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Kyohei Shibata -- Nantonaku, Crystal(なんとなく、クリスタル)

 

When I got my invitation to come onto the "Tokyo House Party" talk about a month ago, I discovered the theme for the show on February 27th is to be the pop culture of the Bubble Era, those five years at the end of the 1980s which had the Japanese going through money like me going through a can of Pringles (yes, I'm quite ravenous about my potato chips). As such, I decided to get a translated copy of Yasuo Tanaka's(田中康夫)"Nantonaku, Crystal" (Somehow, Crystal).

The reason for the purchase was three-fold: 1) I'd heard about this 1981 Bungei Prize-winning novel by the future governor of Nagano Prefecture (2000-2006) ever since I was in university, 2) the story was all about the rich, footloose and fancy-free life of college-age students in Tokyo, a topic that I'd been interested in ever since that graduation trip to the nation that occurred, coincidentally enough, in that same year, and 3) I thought that reading the book would help give me some more insights about those times when Saira, Derrick and I start chatting on Saturday.

I'd already read a few reviews about "Nantonaku, Crystal" and they were wide-ranging. My feelings on the novel are that I was frankly surprised that it actually won the Bungei Prize since it's not particularly a long story (half of it consists of somewhat snarky footnotes by Tanaka) and it barely has any plot, and I've always thought that the judging panels for literature in Japan were a pretty starchy conservative lot. It truly is a slice-of-life book and the story ends very abruptly.

There aren't many characters in the 137 pages of the book (including footnote pages) but the story centers around a college student and part-time model Yuri and her days and nights of enjoying in a very blasé manner the life of shopping, dancing and fooling about. What was interesting for me was the amount of name-dropping that she does in terms of the famous shops, restaurants and even the West Coast AOR stars such as Michael Franks and Airplay that were coming into the local radio stations and record shops (plus some mention of the Japanese singers of the time).

For a book that was issued in the early 1980s, "Nantonaku, Crystal" struck me as something that would have also described life during the Bubble Era between 1985 and 1990 which made me wonder whether Japan was already having the time of its life from the beginning of the decade. It also made me think about how things must have been truly like at the height of the Bubble with super-expensive gold-flecked coffee and purchases of overseas properties.

"Nantonaku, Crystal" has stuck in my head all these years because the book apparently had such an influence that the media crowned that generation of college girls of the time as the "Crystal Tribe", whether or not the members of such a tribe particularly appreciated the label. And indeed a movie came out of the book in the same year; the video above has the first few minutes with Kazuko Kato(かとうかずこ)playing Yuri. Not surprisingly, the song that plays is an AOR tune: "I Go Crazy" by Paul Davis. According to the J-Wiki article on the novel, the soundtrack consists of such songs.


When I saw actor Kyohei Shibata's(柴田恭兵)name in the J-Wiki article, I naturally assumed that with his charisma and looks, he was the other star of the film adaptation. Nothing of the sort. His only contribution was his 5th single, "Nantonaku, Crystal", that was released in April 1981. It had been advertised as the main theme of the movie, but it actually never shows up in it at all, despite author Tanaka providing the lyrics against Haruo Chikada's(近田春夫)melody.

Speaking of the melody, "Nantonaku, Crystal" the song doesn't really come across as a City Pop or AOR tune (which may have explained why it wasn't used in the movie proper), but that impressive piano rumbling away adds some New Music flavour. I'd say that it probably would be ideal for one of those cop shows that Shibata was appearing in.

In any case, to sum up, I've let you know about the idiosyncrasies of "Nantonaku, Crystal" but if you are OK with the overall premise it and/or if you can find it in a library somewhere, have a look.

Ippu-Do -- African Nights(アフリカン・ナイツ)

 

Yellow Magic Orchestra was a band that initially put out its songs as fun little ditties of past genres such as surf rock and exotica transported through a technopop filter before looking a little harder into the synthesizers and sequencers as they entered the 1980s.

Meanwhile, although I don't have as much knowledge about the New Wave/synthpop band Ippu-Do(一風堂), which had its 1979-1984 run, I think vocalist Masami Tsuchiya(土屋昌巳)retained some of that exotica within his group throughout those five years, notably with their 1982 big hit "Sumire September Love" (すみれ September Love).

A couple of singles later, in April 1983, Ippu-Do released their 8th single "African Nights". The title and Takashi Nakahata's(仲畑貴志)lyrics about a romance trying to launch through Tsuchiya's light and seductive vocals may be within Africa, but there's something about Tsuchiya's melody that seems to hint more at that Singapore or Hong Kong bar in the 1930s...again through that technopop filter. But the atmosphere isn't anywhere nearly as thick as the smoke that must have filled those drinking establishments back in the day; it's nice and airy thanks to those instruments which I believe includes a melodica as well. Incidentally, the song is also on the band's July 1983 original final album, "Night Mirage".

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Hako Yamasaki -- Yokohama(ヨコハマ)

 

The bayside metropolis of Yokohama has been the setting for many a Mood Kayo song, and it's no wonder, considering how many bars and other drinking establishments are located there. At the same time, with its ideal location by the sea, there are also plenty of opportunities for romance.

Perhaps then, it's not that common a thing to come across a Japanese folk song about Yokohama. However, singer-songwriter Hako Yamasaki(山崎ハコ), who had actually come to live in Japan's 2nd-largest city (by population) when she was a child, created a very moody folk song about her city.

This is a track from her 4th album "Nagare Yoi Uta"(流れ酔い唄...The Drunken Song) which was released in June 1978. Simply titled "Yokohama", the setting is of a young girl in the rain, perhaps having suffered some sort of trauma, just yelling at a stationary barge in the river. It's definitely not the happiest situation but she insists that Yokohama is her home and she's fine to be living there. I wonder if it's autobiographical.

"Yokohama" starts off with a folk rhythm led by a gently propulsive guitar and Yamasaki's heartfelt vocals but then around the halfway point, a brigade of strings pours in like a flood to add some extra drama to the proceedings. Things get calm again and then the finale happens with the strings returning. No bars, no trysts...just a lass trying to regain her bearings in Yokohama.

UKO -- Signal

 

There isn't a lot of information on this singer-songwriter UKO but according to a description at Ototoy, her brand of music brings together disco, funk, R&B and some of that old City Pop. Her YouTube channel has been around since 2012 so she's been active as a singer since probably that time at least, with her debut single coming out in October 2014.

"Signal", written and composed by UKO, has got that brassy and shiny sensation of the 21st century urban contemporary music of Japan, and although she doesn't sound anything like Hitomitoi(一十三十一), UKO's soulful chops along with the melody remind me of some of the uptempo material from Ryusenkei(流線形). Perhaps this isn't so surprising considering Ryusenkei's leader Cunimondo Takiguchi(クニモンド瀧口)was responsible for the sound production of the singer's debut album "Saturday boogie holiday" released in April 2016.

Reading the description under the "Signal" video, along with UKO herself, there's another young lady as the main protagonist who is identified as Marina Saito(斉藤まりな). That rather sparked an engram of memory for me, but following some pondering, I realized that she has her own entry on KKP as well.

Goro Noguchi -- Sekai ga Tomaru(世界が止まる)

 

Perhaps one of the things that I will talk about with Saira and Derrick on Saturday night will be how the 1970s Shin-Gosanke(新御三家)heartthrobs of Hiromi Go(郷ひろみ), Hideki Saijo(西城秀樹) and Goro Noguchi(野口五郎)were more than happy to jump into the City Pop pool as of the latter part of that decade and well into the 1980s.

(32:49)

Case in point is this light and mellow number from Noguchi's February 1980 album "Jukai ~ Ballade"(樹海 Ballade...Sea of Trees) titled "Sekai ga Tomaru" (The World Stops). This bossa-flavoured dinnertime cocktail-friendly ballad doesn't hint at any sci-fi disaster but simply a very much in love couple enjoying time together so that what happens on the Earth doesn't really matter. If this were played at any City Pop party, it would be a slow dance to be certain. And you gotta have the sax in there, too!

Composed by Hiroshi Sato(佐藤寛), but not the musician/composer behind the 1982 "Awakening" album but actually Noguchi's older brother, and written by the late Rei Nakanishi(なかにし礼), Noguchi croons through "Sekai ga Tomaru" with aplomb and even makes a shoutout to an American AOR singer, Michael Franks. Come to think of it, I ought to dedicate my part on "Tokyo House Party" to Nakanishi and prolific kayo composer Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)who both passed away late last year.

Sandii & The Sunsetz -- Where the Fire Still Burns

 

Yeah, I would agree with one commenter under the YouTube video for this song that there is something quite Kate Bush about it.

And I think that commenter is probably thinking about the lower tones that Bush can reach rather than the really high notes which is more a comparison to Akiko Yano's(矢野顕子)vocals. But this time, we're talking about Sandii & The Sunsetz' "Where the Fire Still Burns" from the band's 1982 album "Immigrants".

Perhaps it's a bit of a punny thing to say considering the title, but indeed the song is very smoky, exotic and exotica as Sandii herself seems to slowly wisp herself around the many stems in the bamboo forest as she sings about a lady trying to salvage something out of a relationship that may be running out of fire and time. David Sylvian provided the lyrics, the synthesizer and the backing vocals while Makoto Kubota and Kenichi Inoue(久保田麻琴・井上憲一)composed the mysterious and enticing music.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Yaya Auga -- Close to the night

 

Last week, I was able to dig up a music memory from the late 1990s through the Komuro Boom when I re-discovered Leika Miku's(未来玲可)"Umi to Anata no Monogatari"(海とあなたの物語).

Actually, this video was in the backlog for much longer than the Miku single although I did hear of the name Yaya Auga(大賀埜々). Auga's birth name is Mikako Motoyama(本山美香子)and she hails from Sapporo in Hokkaido, and her career in entertainment first began as a model from the early 1990s when she was in her mid-teens.

However from 1996, she started the next phase in her career through singing (and the adoption of a stage name, Yaya Auga), and Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉)of avex trax produced her debut single "Close to the night" which was released in September of that year. Created by both Komuro and his old bandmate from TM Network, Naoto Kine(木根尚登), that Komuro sound is in there. As well, the vocal style of Auga is quite similar to that of the other members of the Komuro Family such as the aforementioned Miku, Tomomi Kahala(華原朋美)and tohko.

From about 2000, Auga made another switch and headed into acting. During her relatively brief stint as a singer, she left 6 singles and 1 album, "Orange" which came out in March 1998.

KAN/Juice=Juice -- Pop Music(ポップミュージック)

 

Well, who'da thunk it? Some 30 years after wholesome singer-songwriter KAN came out with his arguably most famous tune, "Ai wa Katsu"(愛は勝つ), he came out with his 35th single last year in February.

Not only that, but he actually does some choreography in the music video (shortened version) for "Pop Music" as if he were a boomer getting down with the millennials. The song obviously has the disco influences but there is also something in there which had me thinking old-fashioned kayo. Moreover, I can even hear a certain keyboard at points that reminds me of the 1990s urban contemporary sound in Japan.

But then, some weeks later in April 2020, Hello Project aidoru group Juice=Juice went full disco cavalcade with their cover of "Pop Music" under the full title of "Pop Music/Sukitte Itte yo"(ポップミュージック/好きって言ってよ...Tell Me You Love Me). Kudos to arranger Tomohiro Sumikama(炭竃智弘)for throwing in so many aural shoutouts to the music of the past through M's "Pop Muzik", the Village People's "YMCA", Van McCoy's "The Hustle" and even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". It's like Sumikama stuffed all of Studio 54 into the song.

The lyrics by KAN are also interesting and all-knowing since he basically explains the whole thing about not only pop music in general but the old kayo from the Showa Era as well. Maybe he didn't intend to, but I think he literally poses the question about how some of those City Pop songs have managed to instill that feeling of nostalgia in fans although they are hearing them for the first time.

Juice=Juice's cover of "Pop Music" peaked at No. 3 on Oricon, and the single is their 13th (excepting all of their digital download singles). As for this Hello Project group, I'd heard the name before but "Pop Music" is the first song that I've covered by them, and apparently HP founder Tsunku(つんく♂)gave them this unique name to signify various concepts such as "fresh", "all-natural" and "100%" like that orange juice I have every morning, according to the J-Wiki introduction.

They've been around since 2013 and with all of the lineup changes, Juice=Juice currently has seven members: leader Tomoko Kanazawa(金澤朋子), Akari Uemura(植村あかり), Ruru Danbara(段原瑠々), Manaka Inaba(稲場愛香), Yume Kudo(工藤由愛), Riai Matsunaga(松永里愛), and Rei Inoue(井上玲音). I've actually quite interested in their next single, scheduled to be released in April this year...a cover of Sugar Babe's "Downtown".

Did manage to find the full version of KAN's original.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Hiromi Go -- Chijo no Koibito(地上の恋人)

 

The last time I wrote about heartthrob Hiromi Go(郷ひろみ)was about a year ago when I took a look at his 1983 album "Hiromi-kyo no Hanzai"(比呂魅卿の犯罪), his tour-de-force collection of songs of City Pop and technopop extraction with able assistance from the guys at Yellow Magic Orchestra.

However, this time around, I'm taking things back to his 1970s aidoru roots although not too far back since I'll be writing about his December 1978 29th single "Chijo no Koibito" (Lover on Earth). Recently departed legendary composer Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)whipped up the somewhat mysterious melody and also handled the arrangement which initially sounds like something for a Sergio Leone western, although looking at the single cover with Go trying to go for the appearance of a young and feisty cop with a chip on his shoulder, maybe I ought to change my initial impression.

The lyrics were created by Yoko Aki(阿木燿子), the same lyricist behind all those latter-era Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵)hits, and although I couldn't find them anywhere online, from catching some of the lines, I think "Chijo no Koibito" may actually be more about a rather intimidating femme fatale that Go can't quite help but fall in love with. No matter which setting I go with, though, there's plenty of intrigue and drama in this one. The song managed to peak at No. 17 on Oricon.


Noriko Awaya -- Wakare no Blues(別れのブルース)

 

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm supposed to be having a talk on "Tokyo House Party" this coming Saturday night about kayo kyoku in the last years of the Showa Era, particularly the Bubble Era. However, thinking about what I'm to prattle on about on the 27th, I keep pondering that I will likely have to explain what kayo kyoku is first.

When I first started "Kayo Kyoku Plus" in January 2012, my feeling was that kayo kyoku consisted of songs created during the Showa Era (December 25 1926 - January 7 1989), and I think that still holds true, generally speaking. But over the years, I've come to realize that there is that category of song within the world of kayo kyoku that can't be placed within enka or Mood Kayo (the previous two rose in the postwar years) or jazz for that matter. Perhaps I can call such tunes jun-kayo or pure Japanese pop songs. And especially in the years before World War II, even though instruments in jazz were used to record these particular numbers, maybe the jun-kayo back then were more akin to the sweet music that was played against jazz. According to one book on the history of jazz that I've read a couple of times, sweet music was more the type of orchestral stuff that was played at those polite afternoon tea parties or classy soirees since jazz at that time was often treated as the devil's music.

I think when it comes to jun-kayo, I will be more than happy to introduce one of the most famous examples and that would be "Ue wo Muite Arukou" (上を向いて歩こう) from 1961. However, although I don't own this particular 45" myself, I can also say that this ballad "Wakare no Blues" (Breakup Blues) from 1937 applies. I certainly wouldn't ever call it an enka and if the original singer, the late chanson pioneer Noriko Awaya(淡谷のり子), were to ever hear me from the other realm use that genre term to describe it as such, she would probably hex me harder than Wanda Maximoff into the 22nd century (Awaya was definitely no fan of enka).

A song of longing and loss in romance, the lyrics by Ko Fujiura(藤浦洸)tell of a woman looking out over a harbour as the sailors get moving onto their ships and their ships get moving onto their next destination overseas. One of those sailors used to be her paramour. From what I've read on the making of "Wakare no Blues" in J-Wiki, the setting that was the model for the song was the Bund Hotel in Yokohama although I'm not sure whether the rooms actually had a good view of Yokohama Bay. Initially from reading Fujiura's lyric of "...an American harbour light...", I'd wondered whether the setting was San Francisco, but perhaps the American part was a name attached to that certain wharf. 

The music was created by Ryoichi Hattori(服部良一), the man who launched generations of music makers, and although "Wakare no Blues" isn't the first kayo with a title that has "Blues" in it (that honour belongs to "Sweet Home Blues" recorded in 1935 by Helen Yukiko Honda), the song is seen to be the first one that helped popularize Japanese blues. However, according to "Hattori Ryoichi no Ongaku Tengoku"(服部良一の音楽天国...Ryoichi Hattori's Music Heaven) via J-Wiki, even though "Wakare no Blues" has that bluesy mood, it doesn't utilize any of the blues chords. Instead, it is more influenced by chanson and kayo stylings, so it doesn't resemble anything that would be heard in American blues. Perhaps it can be said though that Hattori was indeed the pioneer for those Japanese blues kayo that has gone on through the decades with songs such as Mina Aoe's(青江三奈)"Isezakicho Blues"(伊勢崎町ブルース).

Another interesting thing about "Wakare no Blues" is that there had been some consternation among Awaya, Hattori and the others involved in the production about how it would be sung. Awaya had been known as one of those truly talented sopranos but the desire was that "Wakare no Blues" ought to be sung lower. In the end, the singer decided to spend a night smoking up a storm (she'd never smoked cigarettes before then) and then heading into the recording without a wink of sleep to get that certain gravitas-laden voice. Talk about suffering for one's art.

"Wakare no Blues" was covered by some more of the greats over the decades such as Naomi Chiaki(ちあきなおみ)and Hibari Misora(美空ひばり).

Risa Kubota -- Broko no Uta(ブロ子の歌)

 

MUST...EAT...BROCCOLI...NOW! 

MUST...FOLLOW...THE...DICTATES...OF...MY...MASTER...ROKO-CHAN!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I've actually liked broccoli for decades whether the vegetable has been in a salad or just plain steamed, so any attempts at mesmerizing me into ingesting it would have been useless. Preaching to the converted, it would have been.

However, my anime buddy a few months ago cottoned me onto a Fall 2020 anime called "Ochikobore Fruit Tart"(おちこぼれフルーツタルト...Dropout Idol Fruit Tart), a wacky comedy show adapted from a four-panel manga. It deals with a group of high school girls being groomed into aidoru with all sorts of fetishes and phobias being discovered among the ladies. Specifically though, my old friend told me about an earworm that started life as an insert song or as an aural bugbear for one of the characters, former child star Roko Sekino(関野ロコ)who gained fame for singing this wonderfully infectious campaign song touting broccoli...much to her trauma.


Well, it did a number on me as well as other folks according to YouTube, and after several weeks of wondering and waiting, "Broko no Uta" (The Broccoli Song) has finally made it in full onto the platform. Seiyuu Risa Kubota(久保田梨沙)as Roko handles the adorable vocals of making sure to chew on the springy veggie for happiness and health. Anison lyricist Sasa Ando(安藤紗々)and composer Eiko Shimamiya(島みやえい子)were responsible for "Broko no Uta" while Ginnojo Hoshine(星銀乃丈)took care of all of the arrangements along with that ghostly backing vocoder complimenting young Roko in the song.

Again, the song wasn't needed to convince me of the taste of broccoli but it's nice to know that the vegetable now has an ally in its corner in the form of this earworm.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Yasuko Kuwata -- Ku-gatsu ga Kite mo(九月が来ても)

 

I just realized that I haven't written about 80s aidoru Yasuko Kuwata(桑田靖子)since 2013 through her single "My Joyful Heart", so allow me to rectify the situation.

This isn't a Kuwata single but a track from her third album "Vacation"(バケーション)released in June 1984. "Ku-gatsu ga Kite mo" (Even When September Comes) is a spritely summer song that launches with a bit of happy West Coast flavour. Her J-Wiki article stated that the aidoru had a good high-toned delivery and I'd say that "Ku-gatsu ga Kite mo" is a nice reflection of those vocals. The song was written by Machiko Ryu(竜真知子)and composed by Wataru Kuniyasu(国安わたる).

From reading that J-Wiki article about her, I found out that her overall catchphrase was "The No. 5 Cutest Girl in Class" which struck me as being rather insulting and mystifying. Even on Kuwata's own blog, the singer-turned-tarento has refuted it as words that someone came up with.

Announcement: J-Canuck on "Tokyo House Party"

 

Media appearances regarding "Kayo Kyoku Plus" aren't very common but there was the interview that I had with Rocket Brown on his fine "Come Along Radio" podcast last year. Kinda stumbled along but I was able to get through it thanks to my friend and smooth congenial host.

Well, on Saturday February 27th at around 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (7:30 pm Chicago time), I will be showing up on the monthly livestream show "Tokyo House Party" hosted by Saira Chambers of the Japanese Culture Center and Arts Foundation in Chicago, IL and game designer Derrick Fields. On the show that will be up on Twitch, Saira and Derrick will be picking my brains (will probably only need tweezers) on the music of the Bubble Era in 1980s Japan. So, if you have some time wherever you are, come on in and join us not just for me but also for the rest of the show beginning from 7 pm EST (6 pm CST) when they tackle the theme of "BUBBLES, BIJUTSU, AND BEATS: THE MUSIC, FASHION, AND ART OF JAPAN'S "BUBBLE" ERA".

Personally, I'll be looking forward to having that opportunity to meet the guru of City Pop, Van Paugam, near the end of the session.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Makiko Takada -- Okuri Kaze(送り風)

 

I was reading on one Ameblo blog where the author believed that this track from Makiko Takada's(高田真樹子)1977 2nd album "Fukigen na Tenshi"(不機嫌な天使...Moody Angel) had been ahead of its time, and if it had been released later in the 1980s, it probably would have garnered a bigger response.

Not quite sure if I agree with that opinion since I think "Okuri Kaze" (The Blowing Wind) sounds just right for its time. The chorus, the electric guitar and the keyboards make the song a pretty quintessential 1970s light and mellow number, perfect for a stroll along the sunny beach. However, now that the comparison has presented itself, I wonder what an 80s-arranged version of the song would have sounded like.

I just talked about him a couple of days ago since he's due to retire at the end of 2021, but lyricist Kei Ogura(小椋佳)was responsible for the words for "Okuri Kaze" while Katsu Hoshi(星勝)took care of the music. According to that same blog, Hoshi was also helping out on backing chorus. By the way, I also wrote about another track from "Fukigen na Tenshi" a couple of years back, the cool "Yuutsu Denwa"(憂鬱電話).

Yoko Oda -- Shadow & Me

 


I remember when I first listened to the jazz torch song sensation of Yoko Oda's(小田陽子)"New York 1961 Fuyu"(ニューヨーク 1961 冬). There was something rather jazzy and romantically Henry Mancini-esque about that one which basically served as the title track from her 1981 debut album "New York 1961" although words and music were provided by folk singer-songwriter Akiyoshi Imanari(いまなりあきよし).


Well, a couple of years later, Oda released her 2nd album "Shadow & Me" and once again, I've gotten attracted to the title track (first track). To add onto the similarities, Imanari created the song for the Osaka native and as well, there is also something fairly Mancini in "Shadow & Me", but this time, the arrangement takes the melody into not only a straight pop vein but also into something Latin (bossa nova, perhaps?). In fact, I felt that there was a slight kinship between this song and Keiko Maruyama's(丸山圭子)"Douzo Kono Mama" (どうぞこのまま)which I've also compared to some of the movie music that Mancini provided in the 1960s.

I'd initially thought about putting this into the City Pop category but after listening to it a second time, I think the pop category is probably more appropriate. Listening to a few more of the tracks, I think that they rather skirt the borderline between pop and City Pop, so perhaps overall, I can probably place the album "Shadow & Me" as a solid adult contemporary release.

Hisako Manda -- Koi Suru Tsumori ni Nareba(恋するつもりになれば)

 

I've known actress Hisako Manda(萬田久子)but not so much for her thespian work since I haven't really been watching dramas in Japan for many years now. Actually, it's been more for her work in commercials and variety shows, and so I'm a tad surprised that she hasn't also been identified as a tarento in her J-Wiki article. Born in Osaka, she was also the Japanese participant in the Miss Universe contest in 1978 when she was just around 20 years of age.

One thing that I didn't know about Manda is that she was also doing some singing work. Mind you, she only released one single and one album exactly, and both came out in 1981. This article isn't about the single but it is about one of the tracks from her album "Natsu no Wakare"(夏の別れ...Summer Breakups), "Koi Suru Tsumori ni Nareba" (If You're Going to Fall in Love).

Manda does have that nice smoky voice going for her but not a lot of range...and indeed, singer was also an occupation that wasn't listed in her J-Wiki profile. However, I can't complain too much about Hiroshi Yasukawa's(安川ひろし)arrangement of Juichi Sase's(佐瀬寿一)melody paired with Takehiro Nakajima's(中島丈博)lyrics. It sounds like Yasukawa may have had some inspiration from the tracks in Quincy Jones' "The Dude" album from the same year. 

TOSHITARO -- Tight Night

 

Welcome to Friday! The photo above is of the Toki no Kane (The Bell of Time), one of the landmarks in the city of Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture. My friend and I visited the area when I visited Japan in November 2017.

Now, the reason for the photo is because the fairly obscure singer featured here just happens to hail from Kawagoe. His name is Toshitaro Hiejima(稗島寿太郎)but at the time, he released this particular album "Chic" in 1986, he was going for that cool mononym of TOSHITARO (nothing like caps to get your message across while screaming in script).

I couldn't find much information at all about TOSHITARO except from what I could glean at the Japanese-language "Music Avenue". "Chic" was his 3rd album, and from it, I have "Tight Night" which was composed by him and written by Ikki Matsumoto(松本一起). It's quite the cool and smoky mid-tempo nighttime City Pop number, and I have to agree with "Music Avenue" author kaz-shin that it's the type of song that would belong on a car stereo tape while bombing down the highways in Tokyo. The late Kenji Omura(大村憲司), who arranged everything, is handling the guitar solo.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Toshi Ito and Happy & Blue -- Gaman Dekinai wa(我慢できないわ)

 

As I mentioned in this week's ROY article for The Buggles, NASA and its fans are celebrating a return to the Red Planet thanks to the arrival of the Perseverance Rover earlier today. Putting the term perseverance into Jisho.org, I found the Japanese word gaman(我慢), and so just out of a sense of whimsy, I wanted to see if I could find a kayo with that word in the title.

It didn't take me long to find this particular Mood Kayo by Toshi Ito and Happy & Blue(敏いとうとハッピー&ブルー), a group that had great success with its "Yoseba Ii Noni" (よせばいいのに) , its 15th single released in June 1979. The following single, "Gaman Dekinai wa" (Can't Stand It Anymore), was a February 1980 release, and yes I know, this is actually showing someone who is no longer able to persevere, but hey, I only said that I wanted to find gaman in the title. I didn't state that negatives weren't allowed in my search parameters.

Written and composed by the same songwriter behind "Yoseba Ii Noni", Hiroshi Miura (三浦弘) , this particular Mood Kayo number is rather pensive as a woman is basically chewing on her handkerchief in frustration after pining for that certain someone for two years with no positive results. As the title indicates, she is at her wit's end, and ready to give up the fight. Plenty of fish in the sea, I'm sure, though. What prevents the song from going totally maudlin is the arranger's (perhaps Miura) jaunty approach to the song to the point that it even sounds a bit comical.

The Buggles -- Video Killed The Radio Star

 

Being the geek that I am, I was watching the live coverage of the landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars earlier this afternoon as NASA and fellow space watchers crossed their collective fingers and toes. The probe went through those 7 Minutes of Terror and landed safely which got everyone doing claps and backslaps, and I think the "Avengers" theme song sparked off in my head. Anyways, congratulations on the feat.

Words such as technology and the future also started to coalesce in my mind so today being time for a ROY article, I was thinking about what old song could bring about thoughts of the new age. Well, I've already featured Donald Fagen's "I.G.Y." back in November as a ROY, but there's also The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star".

Yep, although at the time, my television couldn't get MTV when it premiered in 1981, I did hear that the music video channel started its broadcasting life with "Video Killed The Radio Star". However, it was actually released as The Buggles' debut single in September 1979, and to my surprise, it was a cover of an original version by Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club that had come out earlier in January.

When I think of Fagen's "I.G.Y." from 1982, I think of that unusual fusion arrangement which came off as being very mellow but with that seeming reggae beat. There were also the singer's snarky predictions of a beautiful future viewed through a 1950s/1960s lens with all of that hi-tech. Donald Fagen may have been sarcastic but I still took it to heart as a hopeful sign of what may yet come to pass in my remaining decades on Earth. But with The Buggles' most famous song, that synthpop melody has always had me dreaming of the future as I see it now...with all those gleaming weirdly-shaped towers popping out of the firmament like mushrooms and sky pods flying among them in their air lanes. It would be downright Coruscant!

The things that made "Video Killed The Radio Star" a prized melody of my memories is not just the hopeful feeling but also Trevor Horn's delivery as if he were some old Hollywood radio emcee crooning into one of those huge NBC stand mikes contrasting with the technopop and of course the background New York accent-inflected vocals by the ladies. The album version finishes off with a poignant piano-and-synth combination that may signal a moment by an older man looking upon the past few decades of technological developments with some pride and contentment.


I don't know when and where I first heard "Video Killed The Radio Star". Most likely, it was just through watching one of the video shows that populated the airwaves here in Toronto at the time. From what I've read of the song on Wikipedia, it's been posited that the song was actually all about nostalgia (and it's certainly nostalgic listening to it now) for how things changed technologically back in the 1960s and the desire to look back. There is also the opinion that the young folks of today (oh you whippersnappers!) would not appreciate the past. Well, considering what I've seen of the comments for music of the past, whether it be Japanese, American, European, etc., I don't think that there needs to be any lamentation about that factor right now. It seems that plenty of the newer generation have been enjoying the songs of the 70s and the 80s on either side of the Pacific.

Now, what was released in Japan in September 1979?

Mariya Takeuchi -- September


Chage & Aska -- Hitorizaki(ひとり咲き)


Spectrum -- Tomato Ippatsu(トマト・イッパツ)




To finish off, here is the original version by Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club.