She Says: Welcome back to our almost weekly series about Japanese Pop, Rock, Punk and Indie. Life and love distracted us from the important things like He Said – She Said, But we are back on schedule again now ! ! ! This week we have a really great variety with tracks from the 1960’s to now and variety of Genres and even a boy band ! ! ! So check out the post ! ! !
“Life and love distracted us from the important things like He Said – She Said” Speak for yourself, dearie! ! !
I have neither ! ! !
Anyway, E, the most common letter in English and reasonably common in Japanese too, fortunately ( what is the most commonly used letter in Japanese ?). Which means there were quite a few artists to choose from. Here are some of them. .
She Says – E is for Enka ! ! ! Enka is a style of Japanese popular music that is based on traditional motifs and was very popular in the post war period. Enka usually uses an Asian music scale called Yonanuki Tan-Onkai which is a type of minor scale used in Japanese folk music. Enka is normally very sentimental, and themes are normally about lost love, remembering your home village while drinking sake alone in a bar while it is raining outside, or lovers who take advantage of innocent girls and then leave them alone in world.
Enka is a genre where women singers are very popular as they seem to fit the sentimental broken hearted themes quite well. Guys usually sing songs about being strong and leaving the woman they love to lead a lonely life because the woman they love is too good for them. I like to think of Country and Western as American Enka and like country music, the difference between cheese and a classic is emotional honesty and the best Enka transcends sentimentality to address true emotional experiences. Everyone has a favorite Enka singer and everyone has an Enka song in their Karaoke repertoire ! ! ! Even today it is popular with all ages and a new generation of Enka singers are making the genre popular again in mainstream music. The song I have chosen is my current Enks favourite ! ! ! I recently heard this song in a drama on TV and it has been in my mind ever since, . . who knows it may find it’s way to earworms soon ! ! !
It is sung by Hibari Misora who was maybe the most famous Enka singer of the post war period. She sold 80 million records and was awarded the Medal of Honor for her charity work and was the first woman ever to receive the People’s Honor Award.
Her songs have been covered by countless artists, including the European classical outfit The Three Tenors. In 2010 a special tribute concert was held in the 42,000 seat Tokyo Dome which featured the most famous J-pop acts, including AKB48, and my other choice for “E” – Exile. She was beautiful, clever, funny, talented, generous and kind and loved in all Japan ! ! !
She died in 1989 and is very much missed ! ! ! The song is not one of the sentimental typical Enka tracks, but it is a funny track about a girl who gives letters to a Rickshaw driver to deliver to her lover. The rickshaw driver delivers the letter fine, but he delivers the reply to the wrong woman ! ! ! I hope you like it ! ! !
Hibari Misora – Kurumaya san
He says This is , I think, what a lot of people think of when they think of “Japanese Music” ( if they ever do). It’s also , I think, where many Westerners “hit the wall” as it can sound a little samey and a little maudlin. It’s not always so, of course and it pays to dig a bit deeper, there are some great Enka artists and this lady is most certainly one of them.
I love the way she “swings” in her Kimono and trad gear !
He says – E is for Etsuko Yakushimaru
Well, I did not know anything about this lady apart from the fact that I love the one album of her stuff that I have. Now it all makes sense. What a talented girl she is. The music is almost Psychedelic at times. Quite a gal !
Etsuko Yakushimaru – Cosmos Vs Alien
She says Etsuko Yakushimaru is a very talented and versatile girl and a very busy one ! ! ! She is a singer and songwriter both for her solo work and for the group Soutaiseiriron. As a lyrist she has worked with a host of great musicians including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Keiichi Suzuki, Haruo Chikada , Yukihiro Takahashi, Yoshinori Sunahara, Kuricorder quartet, Otomo Yoshihide, Giulietta Machine, Jim O’Rourke, and Yoko Kanno. She also works as an illustrator, story teller and music producer . . . .and she is still only 27 years old ! ! ! As a solo artist she has recorded two albums and six singles, this is from the 2010 single Jesus and Venus.
She Says – E is for Exile What does a boy band do when they grow up? They become a man band ! ! ! Exile seem to have been with us forever ! ! ! They actually formed as Exile in 2002, but the main members were in two groups before that J Soul Brothers and Zoo since 1999. They have had a never ending string of hits since then and so far have sold 20 million albums and every year they make sell out tours of all the big stadiums in Japan. They are really great professionals and give a great show. ( Yes I have seen then in the Tokyo Dome a year or so ago ! ! ! ) They are certainly not innovators and faithfully follow what ever the latest trends in pop music happen to be. I actually like their earlier tracks which were more RnB style. These days of course they do hip hop and rap. The track I have chosen is a live version of one of their old numbers. I hope you like it ! ! !
Exile – Coo Choo Train
Errr….I think I’ll pass on this one. If I was a 13 year old Japanese girl ( or pretending to be one) I might like this kind of thing but I’m not and I don’t. .
He says – E is for Eel
Every stouthearted Cockney loves their eel and , as the Grandson of one, so do I. This is the kind of thing I really go for. Independent woman making quirky yet tuneful music that exist not for fame or fortune ( though she’d probably not turn them down) but because she feels the need to make something that belongs to her personally. Or something.
Eel – Hungry Panda
She Says: Eel is another very talented female musician. She started her career in 1999 with a European and Bossa Nova influenced album which was in the Shibuya Kei style. Later she moved into computer influenced music and produced a series of pop punk tracks with a nice kawaii style from 2002 to 2010 and her latest album is again an acoustic Bosa Nova album released last year. She works mostly from home making her tracks over quite some time. I really like her work and I love her independent way of working.
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So there you go . Hope you enjoyed the E’s as much as I did ( bar one), some of my favourite sounds featured this week.What will “F” bring …..find out some time in the future.
We hope you have enjoyed the E’s next time we will look at F. I think we had nice variety of tracks this time and I think it was a fun week ! ! ! I hope you found something you liked in the post ! ! !