Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Posts tagged ‘Pop Music History’

“Stay awhile …” WHACK .. ow ….

Please enjoy this great new music video from my favorite American band : She and  Him.

Zooeys intimate dance with "The Invisible Man"

Zooeys intimate dance with “The Invisible Man”

The song is “Say Awhile” originally made a hit by Dusty Springfield in 1964. It will appear on the new She & Him album “Covers” coming out on December 2. Yes, I already pre-ordered it!

I love the Modern-Meets-Retro styles presented here. It looks like a copy of “Better Homes” magazine circa 1966. The choreography is wonderful. The special effects look great (watch in the available HD)!

In case you could not figure it out: This was how the man was making her feel in the bedroom.

In case you could not figure it out: This dream sequence represents how the man was making her feel in the bedroom.

Matt’s production is a great tribute to the original.  Zooey is beautiful of course, and … WHACK!

Ow. Sorry everyone. Mrs. Sinnoh often hits me with a frying pan whenever I stare at Zooey Deschanel too long. … and I was NOT looking when her dress twirled up at time 1:53

WHACK!!

You will have to admit, “The Invisible Man” is one lucky dude here …

WHACK!!!

Gotta go now … ow …

Did you see the shadow of Matt’s guitar at the end?

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My Pop Music History: What ever happened to CHAM ?

CHAM_by_MirrorQueen

Most anime fans are familiar with the late Satoshi Kon’s directorial debut  “Perfect Blue” (trailer linked here).  The all-girl Jpop Idol group “CHAM” were an important part of this compelling, and mind-bending drama. Despite the initial  popularity of CHAM, the group has now been relegated to the “Where are they now?” files of Pop Music History.

I LOVED their big hit single: “Ai no Tenshi”.  The video below captures Mima, Rei and Yukiko at the time just  before they would rocket to stardom. It is a fantastic peak inside the recording studio.  The girls are not wearing their stage outfits here —  but who cares – they look (and sound) AMAZING.

One of the greatest anime film songs ever IMHO.

Here is a brief snippet of how they appeared in the German (translation) version of the film. Sorry for the obscure video reference — original CHAM footage is very hard to find, and valuable these days.

They were an exciting Jpop trio to watch live.  CHAM paved the way for other Idol groups.  Without CHAM’s trailblazing, Jpop girl groups today would probably not be the same!

cham on stage

Classic CHAM moves. They did it first. They did it better!

The ladies also recorded an English language version of “Ai no Tenshi (Angel of Love)”.  The song has been covered and performed in stage concerts by American singers Madonna and Tiffany. (No, Denny is NOT making that up!)

The lyrics translated into English, although seemingly cute and innocent, recap the very creepy story that is “Perfect Blue”

“Angel of Love” translation:

And now you come and see it all just for yourself
See the angel’s wings, but something else is there
And all those magic hearts are all for you again

And then you come and listen to the sweet little voice
Singing there for you and only just for you
She is protecting you right now…

And if sometimes you feel for your love
Send a little heart for her
And she’ll be there with you with her love
Waiting only for you!

And when you love her, love her she will be
A little angel, angel in your heart
You’ve got to push it, push it for her love
And then forever, ever she will be
A sweet angel of your heart to be there together

And now you need a little faith in me and yourself
When you make your way to change the destiny
If you could only see what I could do for you

And even when you feel you have a difficult time
Listen to my heart who sings to make you shine
When you start to fall in love …

Another amazing moment was captured on this YouTube video. After years out of the limelight, CHAM makes a sudden guest appearance at an Anime convention. Here, the cameraman only captures part of their show.  I do not blame him however.  My jaw would have dropped in shock: OMG — IT’S CHAM!!! … grab the camera!!!  Pardon the quality, but can you imagine, being at an Anime Conference in Russia, when CHAM makes a surprise appearance after being gone for so long?

The group had its ups and downs over the years. Mima graduated from the group to purse an acting career.  Although she was critically acclaimed, she never reached the commercial success and popularity of CHAM.

For a few years group member Mima tried to go solo as a singer, and made a number of convention appearances. Yet these never came close to matching the appeal of the three-member unit.  The video is very low quality … still any CHAM footage is valuable. Please forward to time 1:35 to see Mima’s solo.

The group would often appear at conventions, but mainly to sign autographs as they were without a record contract for over a decade.  The ladies appeared in various commercial ads, sometimes as solo models, and sometimes in pairs (Documented in this slideshow below.)

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Many years later the group surfaced at this Lisbon, Portugal fundraiser in support of Pancreatic Cancer research. This performance may actually be a little difficult for dedicated fans to watch.  The ladies are older, out of shape, and have a hard time performing their moves. Still, it is an interesting, and final note of CHAM history.

Although CHAM may have now faded into pop music history, they will be remembered as one of the most inspiring pioneers in the Idol genre.

perfectblue06 cham poster

CHAM is gone, however fans keep a Facebook page linked here.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/CHAM/278278312204229

 Enjoy the memories. It took 12 years for the light of “Perfect Blue” and CHAM to reach my world.

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She and Him: “It’s hard … to be ignored …”

the cover for S H classics

Denny coined the phrase: “modern-meets-retro”

PART I: I am very happy to report that there will be a new She & Him album released December 2!

The album is called “Classics” and it will be a “cover”album of classic songs, performed in that Modern-Meets-Retro sound that Mr. Matthew Ward-sama applies to his records.  Very authentic.  Not sarcastic …  not a parody … the sound is a tribute. She and Him covers are faithfully made with love to the genres — and to the eras.

They are perhaps my favorite American group. You will get about a 23 preview of the Dusty Springfield cover in the clip here.

I love this clip — too bad it is so short.  Did you see me enjoying my stereo? I was thin and professional looking at the time.  The only way it would have been more accurate would be if I were in my bomb shelter (hiding from tornadoes).

You may visit the official She & Him website linked here. I just looked and …

OH WAIT!!! The whole song is available on the official channel now!  Super! Super!!

Can you tell that I am happy? … and did you SEE those HAIRCUTS?

However, I am perhaps only slightly disappointed that Zooey Deschanel has not written another collection of songs for the album.  I consider Zooey Deschanel to be a brilliant pop-music songwriter.  As I had blogged about in a previous post linked here, I get a lot of weird looks and laughs when I make that statement.  “But she is a woman!” “She is only an ACTRESS!” they say, meaning that they think she can’t be a serious songwriter-musician. “But she is too pretty!” – they say, meaning that she cannot be taken seriously.  I disagree … but I digress …

The new album was recorded “Live in the studio” with a 20-piece orchestra.  This will be the track list, and who the originals were by …

1. Stars Fell on Alabama (Guy Lombardo, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong)
2. Oh No, Not My Baby (Maxine Brown, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Carole King)
3. It’s Not for Me to Say (Johnny Mathis)
4. Stay Awhile (Dusty Springfield)
5. This Girl’s in Love with You (Herb Alpert)
6. Time After Time (Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker & Shirley Bassey)
7. She (Charles Aznavour, Elvis Costello)
8. Teach Me Tonight (Frank Sinatra, the DeCastro Sisters)
9. It’s Always You (Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Chet Baker)
10. Unchained Melody (The Righteous Brothers, Elvis Presley, Lee Ann Rimes)
11. I’ll Never Be Free (Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Jean Shepard)
12. Would You Like to Take a Walk (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong)
13. We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn, the Byrds)

Soon "Classics" will be heard on this radio!

Soon “Classics” will be heard on this radio!

PART II: The Misunderstood Deschanel-sama

Let me share a little more She and Him music with you, as I am now jumping out of my pants in anticipation …

My favorite She & Him album is 2010’s Volume II.  “In the Sun” is a bubbly throw-back to 1970s pop.  I will share the MISUNDERSTOOD music video on this YouTube link:

Why misunderstood?  The official music video looked very “High School”.  Critics thought that Zooey-chan was just badly imitating Britney Spears.  By her own admission, Zooey is not the best dancer (I always thought she was fine, but we are sometimes our own worst critics).  The “big butts” missed the point of the song, but that is always par for the course.

This high-school theme masks the simple, yet poignant lyrics about a woman who is slowly coming to the realization that she wants to leave her husband.

Full lyrics and guitar chords linked here.

On that note, I will also share this perhaps better, more sincere, She & Him performance on the David Letterman Show later the same year.  Turn on the HD! At the end, even Paul Schaeffer exclaims “I LOVED THAT”.

So do I, and I will be patently waiting for more Deschanel-penned originals : )

See more Zooey and Matt on my Pinterest board linked here

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My Gingham Checked Nostalgia

“Should I tell you how I feel inside?  … I feel just like Gingham Check”

Slide1

Young Denny was full of good ideas!

If you are following this blog, you are likely already familiar with AKB48’s fun and crazy  “Gingham Check” music video.  The official YouTube video is below. (I remind you to turn on HD and “CC” for English translated lyrics.)

I think that a lot of AKB fans — and all of the the big-butted critics — could not appreciate the nostalgic meaning contained within the lyrics however.  The lyrics may have gotten lost in these humorous parodies of Japanese horror movies.  The video was a lot of fun, but it has already been the subject of other blogs. I will not talk about that now —  but I will share this screen shot I once used as computer wallpaper:

Yuki Kashiwagi suggests this wallpaper for your computer.

Yuki Kashiwagi suggests this wallpaper for your computer.

The video is so Japan-pop-culture-bat-shit crazy, and the music is so fast paced, it may be difficult for one to catch the endearing simplicity and meaning in the lyrics.  Despite the crazy humor of the video, it is actually a sweet, nostalgic song.  The original lyrics are by Yasushi Akimoto.  The Japanese/English translation is available from Stage48 linked here. (I do think that the English translation for the JKT48 later is a much better  translation.)

I always loved the original, but now I think I like the JKT48 version more.  It is sung in an Indonesian-dialect.  Turn on the HD!

Somehow, someway — I am transported back to my childhood.  In this twisted, time-distorted realm, the JKT48 girls are there!  We are at one of those Americana “theme” restaurants, which feature pop culture artifacts such as Marilyn Monroe posters, juke boxes, neon signs, gas stations, etc.  I do not know how, but the girls transport me back to my youth in the early sixties. This JKT48 music video is all about how I wanted to go on a date with this one girl that I liked. Somehow she has also been transferred to this time-and-space distortion.  

Slide2

Even at that age I was already girl crazy! Here I am being a little gentleman.

The Jakarta 48 girls will help me out, as you will see.

Thanks for all the advice ladies!

Thanks for all the advice ladies!

This video version is probably a little better at capturing the spirit of the original song lyrics.  Gingham Check is another “boy’s perspective” song, a format often used in the Idol genre. (i.e. although it is sung by a woman, the lyrics tell a man’s story). I think the lyrics read better if said by a male, and that is how I will explain the song.  (Although the video above does not describe the lyrics exactly, it is still closer than the AKB48 version.) The tempo of the song is the same — upbeat, fun, and contains those great searing guitar parts.  I think they used the same music track as AKB48, but just added JKT48 vocals in Indonesian. The happiness of the music perhaps masks the bittersweet nostalgia and (perhaps) emotional pain of the lyrics.

The song is about a boy and girl walking their bikes to work on a summer morning.  I will infer that they work at the same seaside resort.  The young lady wears a blue and white “Gingham Check” uniform for her job.  The boy is in love with the young girl, who, unfortunately for him is only his “friend”.

He feels very conflicted.  He likes the girl but is too afraid to ask her out.  This conflict is symbolized by the blue and white “Gingham Check” pattern on the girl’s uniform.  “Blue-White-Blue” is the pattern the pretty young lady wears, but it is also the pattern of his internal conflict.  He wants to tell her he likes her, but what if she rejects him?  His good intentions are checked by his doubt — blue-white-blue

You girls have no idea how hard it is to make that first move. If women have the physical pain of childbirth, then men have the emotional turmoil of asking a girl for a date. I know, you are sitting in the comfort of your computer chair thinking: “That’s so easy. He should just tell her!!!”  Well, he does not want to ruin their friendship.  You see, he likes her, which makes him happy, but he likes her so much it hurts. Conflicted in opposite directions … blue-white-blue … just like Gingham Check.

As the sea comes into view,

 In a single shade of blue, 

It will tell me all I have to do,

All it takes is just one word inside my mouth,

But I try to speak and nothing will come out ..

I remember having these same feelings. I think that anyone can relate.

The summer goes on. Everyday he thinks that THIS WILL BE THE DAY that he will finally tell her how he feels.  But of course he doesn’t.  Blue-White-Blue.  Of course, he is kicking himself, but there is always the next day when he will walk with her to work again.  Should he tell her?  … “Yes-No-Yes” … feeling conflicted by LOVE cross-hatched by DESPAIR  … Blue-White-Blue

The summer days, begin to shorten, the days become cooler, and the boy realizes he will never tell her.  They will work together again next summer, so he might tell her then.

Should we be critical of the boy for never having the guts to speak up?  No.  That he never tells her of his love — is maybe not such a bad thing.  One has to have compassion, even for your former self.

There was once a great movie line read by actor Jack Palance in the old Billy Crystal comedy movie “City Slickers”.  The Palance character describes a farmhouse woman he would often see while riding herds back and forth across the prairie.  He describes her beauty, and the song she often sang as she hung out her laundry.  Smiling, he tells the other cowboys that he fell in love with the woman, and goes on to say what the memory of her means to him.  The other guys exclaim: “But why didn’t you approach her … she could have been the love of your life”!   Palance replies “… She is.”

It may be difficult for a young person to understand that.  When you eventually reach the nostalgic place a mature heart has traveled, you may understand. Do we have the compassion to forgive ourselves?

I am also going to include the “English Version” performed again by JKT48.  English lines are onscreen. Although some lines feel a little forced, a little awkward, in order to match the rhythm of the song, I think that the simple sweetness of the Mr. Akimoto’s lyrics shine through.

Lastly I will share with you the cover by GooseHouse sung in Japanese.  It is very sweet.  Full of joy in the way that only GooseHouse can make it! Their version slows the song and captures the bittersweet emotions and simplicity of the original Japanese lyrics.

The music video is FUN and CUTE.  It makes me happy, in my world that is otherwise filled with ugliness. The “Big Butts” will never understand.  Yet another reason Why I Like AKB48 — and the 48 Families!

Starlight: The JKT48 Indonesian version took four months of light-speed travel to reach my world.

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Hanako Oku and “that smirk” …

that smirk

奥華子   やさしい花      Hanako Oku performs “Yasashii Hana” “Friendly Flower” or “Gentle Flower” I’m not sure which is a better contextual translation.  I am very friendly to this song, and it makes me gentle.  Like a gentle flower, I am adaptable to growing in compost.  In fact, the sign outside my office reads “The Place Where The Gentle Flower Blooms”.

This video clip is part of an older concert — from what I call her “Knotts Berry Farm” period.  There are several great videos from this concert posted on YouTube.  They are good.

I like that just as she begins the song, she gives a little — well … a SMIRK. I will not call it a “smile.”

You are not fooling anyone with that innocence look Oku-san.

She KNOWS that she is about to play something special.  I am thinking that The Little Great One KNOWS that she is about to give another performance that will directly touch my heart.  Move, it warm it, then devastate it.  My quill pen is empty, but my plume is still quivering … 

It is my 2nd favorite song off of her 2006 album “Yasashii Hana no Saku Basho”.

hanako oku knotts berry farm period

“Shake The Music Live”

I also wish to extend my special appreciation to Tsukiokuhime from the blog Palace behind The Moon , who provided an English translation of the lyrics   linked here  .  Thanks Tuki!

Starlight:  It took nearly six years for this performance to reach my world.

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What I look like when I watch AKB48 music videos:

what i look like when watching2

This is exactly what I look like when I watch AKB48 music videos!  I know, my cap is a different style, but I groove at the computer just like the actor here (see time 1 minute 45 seconds).  This is a very fun and cute music video, and it is an important part of AKB48 History. I think any Pop Music historian would like it.

Sorry only 480 p is available, but you can turn on English translations(!) if you click the CC button.

This one goes all the way back to 2010.  Even casual Jpop fans are familiar with AKB48’s hit song “Heavy Rotation”.  However, most are not familiar with this song “Namida no See-saw Game” (See-saw Game of Tears), which was the coupling song (B-side) of that hit single. The song is performed by the “UnderGirls” unit.  It makes a great B-side, and it was good that the understudies got this chance to shine.  Many went on to become members of other AKB teams in the reassignments that would come later.

The clip is an homage to the old musical show “SOUL TRAIN”.  I used to listen to it on Saturday afternoons growing up in the 1970s.  The song begins with the AKB48 “manager” (not Yasushi Akimoto, oddly) giving the girls a pep-talk before they perform on live TV.  They really were at the start of their careers, so the managers words about “this will make your careers” were true.  Especially as this was filmed just before “Heavy Rotation” became a big hit, and the AKB juggernaut rocketed to success. “Let’s Go!”

At first I was a little confused with the introduction.  The same actor who plays the manager ALSO plays the emcee.  He is just wearing different clothes and a wig. He should have deepened his voice a little, in order to make himself sound more like Don Cornelius, the longtime host of Soul Train.  They could have hired another actor.  I would have imitated Don Cornelius, if they had asked.

There are a lot of great moments as you will see.  The girls look super-pretty-cool-retro-great in their 1960s-1970s-styled clothes and hair.  Some are even sporting “Afro-style” hairdos!   They really are the “epitome of cute” as the emcee says.

b w undergirls see saw

Interesting: At time 2:15, the TV performance turns from Black-and-White to color!  Who knew — you could change a B&W TV to color just by “slappin’ it upside”?

bw to color by slapping the tv

… and there I was for the entire 60s and 70s watching in B&W, like a big idiot.  If only I had known.  Also, I do not remember so much Japanese Katakana on American TV back then.

color undergirls on tv

The song itself, owes a lot to the 1960s hit song by The Supremes —  “You Can’t Hurry Love” linked here.  For Buddha’s sake,  listen to it if you have never seen it.  It is a very important part of Pop Music History.  Mr. Akiomoto-san, I said your song “owes a lot to” — I am not saying you plagiarized  it.  This music video is a perfect tribute.

Stop in the name of See Saw video image

“Stop — in the name of Namida See Saw Game”

Another Funny moment: At time 3:30 this guy swoons …  and falls in love with AKB48.  Then at time 3:33 is immediately smacked by his jealous girlfriend.  Yup, know what that’s like.

If you want to see a LIVE version of the same song, here is a DailyMotion link:

Full lyrics are available from Stage48.net linked here.

Starlight: It took two years for me to receive this incredibly fun music video.

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