Friday, November 27, 2009
The Best Japanese Songs of All Time?
Japan's Metropolis magazine asked 16 local writers and musicians to describe a formative encounter with a Japanese song. The resulting mix — from folk to noise to metal and enka — represents a half-century of sounds from one of the most diverse music scenes on the planet. This is my bit of the feature; the rest of the story can be found online from today HERE:
When local kids here in Japan deride enka, I try to nudge them in the direction of singer Sayuri Ishikawa’s classic 1977 outing, 'Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki'.
Literally translated as “Winter View of Tsugaru Straits,” this song represents the ’70s and Japan at their best. Mournful and kitsch, grandiose yet poignant, the music here sublimely infuses a funky orchestral backdrop with graceful power vocals that drift toward Gloria Gaynor.
The song was conjured up by lyricist Yu Aku with composer Takashi Miki (a.k.a. Tadashi Watanabe), who passed away earlier this year and who was also responsible for the insanely catchy 'Anpanman no March' theme song.
This is the first and only enka number I’ve actually fallen in love with — there’s fuyu (winter, left), my favorite season (I have a silly tattoo of the kanji to prove it), and as a hack DJ I’ve dropped this song between techno and hip-hop tunes in clubs as far afield as Beijing and Melbourne... and it’s (somehow) worked.
It’s also the one song I coerce my Japanese mates to sing at karaoke — they’re never quite Ishikawa, of course, and they grimace a bit, but they always give it their best.
Read the rest of this story here.