J-Pop Lessons

You only have one chance to make a first impression.  Well in one case I had two.

Over a decade ago I had the pleasure of going to karaoke with a bunch of co-workers, almost all of them from Japan.  For some of them, karaoke was perhaps their only opportunity to have a drink, relax and lift a veil and show a sillier side of themselves.  There’s not a better form of expression that’s more fun, especially when it’s directed at people who “get it.”

On this day, I wasn’t one of those informed individuals.  See, I LOVE Japanese pop music but have several blind spots in time.  One of them is the 1980s: J-pop stars like Nakamori Akina, Hikaru Genji and even Onyanko Club are still difficult to relate to, not unlike the styles of a distant, yet well-documented past.  I was there in body but not in spirit.

My brain was going through cultural overload when the gals began busting out the songs of 10-15 years ago.  I was assured that all these tunes were famous and iconic.  Still it’s difficult for someone like myself who never gotten into a new song from ANY era.  It takes days and days for me to “accept” a tune into my personal consciousness.  The catchiest, most-beloved songs that I love to this day probably took over 24 hours to assimilate.

In the middle of all this a co-worker, Miyoko, took the microphone and began singing a tune that everyone in the room reacted strongly to.  Except the myopic gaijin minority of one.  However…  

This song struck me differently.  First of all, Miyoko was doing ALL the hand gestures of the original act.  And so did everyone else who “got it.”  The melody of the song was also structured in a way that grabbed me effortlessly.  I was getting into this tune before the second verse, which NEVER happened before, much less a tune being done at KARAOKE, for crissakes!  I was feeding off the energy put out by everything: the song, Miyoko, and everyone in the room.

Naturally I HAD to get the info on this song.  I asked the person next to me and she gave me this WTF! look like I’d never heard of Elvis or breathed oxygen in my life.  “Matsuda Seiko, ja~an!”

Whaddya all think?  Needless to say, I was knocked out!  What a spectacle!  My god, I GOT IT!

And the adventure continues…

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